As a city, one of our greatest assets is our citizens, because it takes great citizens to make a great community. Recently, one of our local citizens, along with his staff, started a movement to support our police officers here in Piqua following all of the violence that has happened recently toward those in law enforcement in our country. It is true that what happened in Dallas and in many other places here in our country still has us all reeling.
Thanks to Jim Oda, the director of our Public Library, and his dedicated staff, a campaign to support our police department began. Directly after the horrific tragedy in Dallas, blue ribbons were placed on the large columns outside the library. Shortly after that, I began promoting through my blog “Eye on the City,” Facebook, and Twitter the “Sea of Blue” campaign because I believe that our Piqua Police Department needs to hear from ALL citizens that we support them and give thanks for ALL they do to keep us safe. It is true that our police officers put themselves in harm’s way daily for us, the citizens of Piqua.
In the “Sea of Blue” campaign, I am asking ALL citizens to show their support of our police force by creating a “Sea of Blue” throughout our community. I am encouraging folks to hang blue ribbons on a tree, a post, a light fixture, your car, any where they can be seen. By doing this, our police officers will know they are appreciated and supported by the citizens they serve and protect.
It is wonderful for me to see blue ribbons pop up throughout our community in front of homes, businesses, on trees in the boulevards, on lamp posts, and in many other places. Yes, a “Sea of Blue” is happening and I thank the citizens of our community for showing the love and support they have for our police officers.
Last Friday, I did a ride-along with our police department to show my support as mayor, but also to get a bird’s-eye view into their job. I rode with two of our officers, Lt. Marcos Rodriquez and Officer Todd Voskuhl. As we traveled throughout our city, we chatted and I got a bit of a taste as to what their daily job entails.
The first thing that popped out to me was how they differ from our fire department. Now I knew some of this after chairing the Safety Service Levy Campaign a few years ago. At that time, I worked closely with both departments and other citizens working hard to get that levy passed and I heard time and time again about how firefighters are perceived and how police officers are perceived. Yes, both jobs are very different.
When you see our fire department, they are coming to help and many of us see them as heroes because they “save the day” as they come to help fight a fire or attend someone who needs medical attention and could be in harms way. They bring in the “jaws of life” and get people out of cars. After this happens, we all want to hug them and shower them with praise and thanks.
Well, think about this from a police officer’s perspective. Their job is to serve and protect, and many times this means giving tickets for speeding, for failing to stop at a stop sign, or for driving with a suspended license. As I was riding along last Friday, we did pull over someone who was driving a bit questionably as they stopped in the road where there was not a stop sign. It turns out that they were driving without a license and were ticketed for that. I can tell you that as the passenger got out and they changed places so the passenger could drive, neither one of them gave Lt. Rodriquez a hug or high five. He was doing his job, but I would believe he was not a welcome sight to the one who received the ticket.
As I sat in the car watching this traffic stop unfold and at a few other times on my ride-along when officers were called to houses for disturbances and complainants, I have to admit that my blood began to race a bit as they walked into situation after situation of the unknown. And the truth is that they do this each and every day! What dedication and love of the job they have to keep doing this time after time again.
I finished up my ride-along with Officer Voskuhl, who was born and raised here in Piqua. He told me stories of growing up in Candlewood with his brother, who is also in law enforcement. In the stories that Todd shared with me of his childhood and growing up, I was reminded that behind these uniforms they wear lies someone just like you and me. They have the same dreams and fears as we do, and still they go to work day after day and put on the uniform unknowing what will be next.
We talked about his wife and family — Todd has three young children — and how they have dealt with the tragedy in Dallas. I thought about my own son and how he would react knowing that one of his parents was in a job where people were shooting at them as they tried to do what they were hired to do. How do you make sense of that as an adult, but as a child I can only imagine it is even scarier!
Todd said they have open conversations about what happened in Dallas and together they watched the TV coverage of it and talked about what happened and the feelings that his children had because of it. Even so, I still wonder why these innocent children have to even think about this at their young age.
You know, there was a time that law enforcement was a career that was respected and held in high honor. My uncle trained law enforcement officers at the local junior college in the community I grew up in, and I can remember him talking proudly about his students and where they ended up after graduation. As a child, I found myself looking at police officers and wondering if my Uncle Larry might have once been their teacher. Yes, there was a time when we honored authority and held the job of police officer in very high esteem.
I pray that we can get there once again, Piqua, not only here but throughout our country! Our police officers are here to serve and protect and we need to be behind them with love and support.
May the “Sea of Blue” continue to roll through our community showing our love and support to those who do SO much to keep us safe here in our community.
Kathryn “Kazy” Hinds is the mayor of Piqua. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.