Living with the sacrifice: A clarion call for 2012


Dignity — we all strive to live our lives with dignity. We want to serve and protect with dignity. We want to treat others with dignity both in our personal lives and in how we deal with citizens (and even crooks) on the job.

We strive to be treated with dignity in return.

All of us wish to die with dignity.

Dignity in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Webster’s defines dignity as the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed; worthiness. The degree of worth, repute, or honor. The goal of this column is to help officers and their families who are living with the sacrifice live with dignity. To make sure they feel honored and esteemed, worthy of our gratitude for the sacrifice they live with, and not feel forgotten.

I receive emails containing inspiring stories from officers who are living with the sacrifice with dignity and courage that bring me to tears.

Other stories anger me because the agencies and communities that officers served and protected are not treating them with dignity.

Many of these officers struggle with devastating injuries and struggle to maintain dignity in the aftermath of losing a career and livelihood, of losing the bond to the law enforcement family, and their trademark as a cop.

I hear the same story from all over the globe from officers and their families struggling to maintain their dignity while battling for benefits. This battle often takes place in open court for all the public to see.

The battle to prove their pain, their loss, their disability.

These battles are just as stressful as battling for one’s life in a gunfight.

We wouldn’t leave a fellow officer to battle alone in a gunfight, now would we?

We provide backup.

So, why don’t we do the same when an officer has been injured?

A Clarion Call for 2012
I challenge the law enforcement community to show their spirit in 2012 and step up to the plate to support injured officers.

Help me fill the Honorable Mention column with stories of how the law enforcement community has risen to the task to honor and maintain the dignity of injured and disabled officers.

In recent years, we have vastly improved how we honor the memories of our fallen comrades and how we treat their families. We need to do the same for those officers, and their loved ones, who live with the sacrifice.

I invite the officers living with the sacrifice to let me know how we can better serve your needs. What are the most important issues you and your family are facing and how can we help?

Remember the definition of dignity: The quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed; worthiness. The degree of worth, repute, or honor.

Let injured officers know they are worthy of your time. Honor them by not allowing them to feel forgotten. Show them your esteem by championing their causes or honoring them within your agencies.

If you are a sheriff, chief, commissioner, or superintendent of a law enforcement agency, use a computer-based calendar program that reminds you to call injured officers on their birthdays and anniversaries of their injuries. That act won’t cost your budget-strapped agency any money. Only the time and effort to enter the information into a calendar program.

The call will go a long way to honor and heighten the dignity of an injured or disabled officer under your command.

About the author

Barbara A. Schwartz retired after 30 years with NASA in Houston where she worked in Mission Control and Astronaut Training. She is a former reserve officer serving in patrol and investigations. She has been writing about law enforcement officers since 1972 and has been a contributing feature writer for American Police Beat for the past 10 years. Her articles and book reviews have also appeared in Command, The Tactical Edge, Crisis Negotiator Journal, The Badge & Gun, The Harris County Star, The Blues, and The Police News.

Schwartz earned a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University with electives in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She helped fund her education by working for the campus police department.

Contact Barbara A. Schwartz

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