Nearly 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officer's Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
This year, National Police Week will be commemorated with virtual events that can be viewed from anywhere in the world. From May 9-15, the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum will deliver programs to keep current officers safe and healthy, as well as ceremonies to honor those fallen officers whose names have been recently added to the Memorial.
Since January 91 Police Officers have been shot across the United States, with 19 killed by gunfire and 23 shot in ambushes. Even more eye opening is that 60,632 police officers were assaulted in 2018 (the most recent year for statistics). This past year, 5 Parsons Officers were assaulted and injured in the course of making lawful arrests.
The average size of an American police agency is just 25 officers. That is where the meat and potatoes of American policing occurs day in and day out. Policing in small towns is no less dangerous than in large metropolitan areas (in fact statistics show that the risk to police officers in small rural communities is actually greater than in the downtowns of most metro-cities). The difference is that in cities like Parsons, Independence, Coffeyville and hundreds of others, local police officers are active and engaged members of the communities and neighborhoods they police.
The police are you. And the community is responsible for policing their city by engaging in crime prevention (lights, locking doors, reporting suspicious activity), providing necessary resources for professional policing and in owning the livability of their town.
No question, we have seen some illegal, unprofessional, and discouraging acts by a small fraction of the policing community over the past year. Those actions have to be condemned by professional law enforcement and our larger community. Fortunately, our ever-evolving Parsons Police Department continues to lead in meeting regional, state, and national expectations for our work. We are an award-winning police department that is committed to continuous improvement. We have made significant investments in the transparency of our organization.
There is of course much to do - our community is a busy town. Merely making arrests will not solve some of our deep seating community challenges of domestic violence, drug addiction and people in crisis. But we remain open to partnering with all facets of our community. We all live here, we all call Parsons's home, and we will continue in our efforts to WOW our fellow neighbors, friends and Parsonians.