Each day, thousands of law enforcement officers serve the public across the state of Iowa. These officers stand on the front lines in our communities. Every time an officer goes on duty, that officer accepts a measure of personal risk that few in our society face in their everyday jobs. They do so in order to continue the fight against violent crime. They do so in order to combat the dangers of the opioid epidemic. But these officers also risk their lives in ways that are often too easily taken for granted. They patrol our neighborhoods to safeguard our families and our property. They protect our schools. They investigate crimes from theft to murder. They assist those who have lost their way and they provide help to those in need.
How often do we stop and think about the dedication and courage that it takes for an officer to perform even seemingly routine duties — like conducting a traffic stop on a busy highway after dark? The vast majority of law enforcement officers accept these risks — not for personal reward or recognition — but simply wanting to serve their communities well. And when they do so, they are doing far more than their fair share to help establish and maintain a safe and just society. For this, every one of us owes a debt of gratitude.
Toward that end, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week surrounding as Police Week. This year, Police Week runs from May 13 to May 19. During this week especially, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa wishes to recognize and thank each and every federal, state, and local law enforcement officer in Iowa for making so many sacrifices to keep us safe.
It is also important to recognize and thank our law enforcement officers’ families for the sacrifices they make every day. For every officer putting his or her life on the line, there are people back home, worried for their loved one’s safety. Without the strength and dedication of their families, these officers would not be able to do what they do each day to protect us and our families. And for the families of those officers who have given their lives in the line of duty, there is little that words can do to ease the suffering of their loss. But we can pledge to honor their loved ones by cherishing the freedoms we enjoy.
The United States Attorney’s Office is dedicated to supporting our law enforcement partners at every level. We do this, first and foremost, through a commitment to our common goal of enhancing public safety. Through our Project Safe Neighborhoods program, we work together to take dangerous criminals and guns off our streets. Through our Heroin Initiative, we work together to attack the opioid crisis through enforcement and community outreach.
This Police Week, we are asking the public to join us in saying “thank you” to our friends in law enforcement. We can do this by taking any opportunity to make their jobs just a little easier. We can also say “thank you” by taking the time to share a story about a friendly interaction with an officer, or about a time when we were in need and it was an officer who was there to help. Finally, we can simply and sincerely say “thank you” to the next officer we see.
To our friends on the force, the United States Attorney’s Office thanks you for your service.
• Peter Deegan Jr. is United States attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.