Patrick Walsh is a 2005 graduate of the University of South Carolina and co-founded the non-profit organization Heroes in Blue along with Kassy Alia following the tragic death of Greg Alia. He currently serves as the Associate Director of Athletic Communications at Louisiana Tech University.
One of the main goals of Heroes In Blue is to bring awareness of the positive impact members of the law enforcement departments have on their communities. After South Carolina honored some of the heroes that gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our communities, this is a great opportunity to take a closer look at what law enforcement officers provide.
In addition to the rigid structure and simplistic beauty of a group of impeccably uniformed men snapping to attention, law enforcement officers bring peace and a sense of security to our communities.
While the 24-hour news cycle has a news thirst that cannot be quenched might disagree, the predominant actions of police officers across the country are those that are good and contribute to society. Oftentimes they go untold. They often give back selflessly with little to no fanfare yet any single mistake made is vilified on public display. The exception to the rule may get the most public and media notoriety but on Wednesday, South Carolina honored the men who contributed the most. They gave their lives.
The Palmetto State recently honored men like 32-year old Greg Alia, whose stories of charity and kindness were tragically not told until after his death. It honored Delton Daniels and Stacy Case, who were tragically killed in automobile accidents last year. Next year the state will honor Allen Jacobs, who was killed in the line of duty after first selflessly serving his nation, then his community.
To be completely honest, I was somewhat ambivalent about law enforcement officers in the past. I have been extremely fortunate to not need their services other than to give me the occasional speeding or parking ticket. But it is the things you need the most that you take for granted and miss the most once they are gone.
On September 30 of last year my friend, Greg Alia, was shot and killed in the line of duty. Since that day I have had a much greater appreciation for the sacrifices and actions of our law enforcement officers.
They give without being asked, they offer things not demanded but in need and they are always the first to “fulfill their duty” and help in the event of an emergency.
But all these officers seem to donate without cause to do so. They give back to their communities not because it makes their job easier but because they see the struggle and strife of the citizens around them and know that it will help others.
They are the first to be blamed and the last to receive praise. They are underpaid by a lot for what they actually contribute to society. A whole lot.
Sadly, all too sadly, it takes tragedies like these to bring to light the incredible positive impact these men and women have on our communities and lives.
No police officer will ever be rich, unless they were to randomly and improbably win the lottery. But their actions help us all, whether we acknowledge that in our everyday lives or not. Their actions make the world a better place for our children.
Thank you to those that put on their uniform every day. Thank you to those that humbly serve and protect our communities. Thank you to our Heroes In Blue.
Photo: Law enforcement officers and family members at the 2016 South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial, held at the Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia (courtesy of Heroes in Blue)