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Keeping the faith: Balancing rights, freedoms, and laws

It’s amazing to me that the Fourth of July has once again sneaked up on us. As a resident of Wisconsin, Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. It brings back the memories of my youth that were filled with Fourth of July parades, contests, and fireworks. More recently, it has been all about family pool parties and barbeques. These are good times, spent with family, doing what you want to do. It is sometimes hard to remember that over the centuries, a lot of hard work, sweat, and blood have been spent securing these freedoms for us. There is a reason that our citizens can do whatever they choose to do on our Independence Day.

In a free society, you have a choice to do what you want to do on the Fourth of July with no requirement to participate in some government-sanctioned and coerced mass demonstration of support for the current government in power. Being somewhat of a free-thinking and independent-minded individual, I like this about the United States of America. I like hanging out at a family pool party so I do so. This is possible in a free society.

But, as was stated before, there is a cost for freedom that has to be paid everyday both internationally and domestically. Internationally, this is painfully apparent with our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – not to mention our soldiers stationed throughout the world. There is a cost in human lives and suffering that has to be paid to keep us safe. Domestically, law enforcement personnel are paying the price every day to keep us safe and secure. They are all on duty 24/7 to make sure that our safety, security, and freedoms remain intact. My hat goes off to all of these dedicated professionals.

Let’s focus on the domestic side of the equation for a moment. It is difficult to be a law enforcement officer in the United States. Citizens have rights and often tell us what’s on their minds. In some other countries, this just doesn’t happen or if it does it is dealt with very harshly. Heaven knows, we fought the American Revolution so that we, as American citizens, could ask of our government and its representatives the question: “Why?”

Douglas Simpson, a Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney, put it this way: “In a free society, law enforcement officers must be able to justify why it was necessary to restrict the rights of citizens that are guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

Although this makes our jobs more difficult, I like the fact that I can ask those same questions as can my family, my children, my friends, and the rest of the American public.

We need to be very proud of what we as law enforcement do day in and day out. We balance the safety and security needs of society with the rights of citizens that we have fought so hard to establish and protect. We are being stretched more and more every day with additional duties and assignments along with budget and staff cuts. It is a hard job.

I would like to leave you today with a comment that I heard during a tactical team training class attended by police, corrections, and military team members in the timeframe between the first and second Iraq conflicts. One of the soldiers in attendance said, “You cops amaze us. We train every day for a war that may never happen while you fight a war every night that you never have time to train for.”

Think about it. Although our military is now engaged in several wars, we still fight the battle every night. This is a two-part battle. The first part of the battle is against the predators who would victimize our citizens and try to tear our society apart. The second part of the battle deals with winning the first battle while maintaining the freedoms that we have fought as a nation so long to establish and maintain. Retaining this balance is our real challenge.

Congratulations on a job well done. Keep up the good work. Keep the faith.

Stay Strong and Stay Safe!

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