Op-ed: Law enforcement officers deserve to be treated with respect
Senator Pat Toomey
Since 1947, the Philadelphia Police Department has partnered with residents, businesses and local community leaders to run the Philadelphia Police Athletic League, or PAL.
The mission of the PAL is a simple one: “Cops Helping Kids.” It is how the PAL helps kids, though, that is the story.
Police officers from across the Philadelphia operate both educational and recreational programs for kids in some of the most dangerous sections of the city in an effort to reduce crime and to promote a sense of self-worth. In many cases, PAL-operated facilities serve as a safe place for young people from across Philadelphia. To date, PAL has worked with more than 15,000 kids.
A few weeks ago, while on his way home to his family after a 12-hour overnight shift, Radnor Police Officer James Gallagher encountered the scene of a terrible multicar crash on I-476. Stopping to help, he first approached the car of a couple and their 1-year-old son. The husband had already passed away, so he turned his attention to the mother and her child. Officer Gallagher quickly cut the car seat free and moved the child to a safe area before returning to help the mother. His life-saving actions didn’t end there, as he assisted arriving emergency personnel by continuing to approach involved cars to assess who needed help.
These are just two recent examples of law enforcement officers serving and protecting our communities. These stories don’t always make the headlines or the evening news. It’s too bad, because these are the police men and women we encounter most every day.
That said, we have seen headlines about protests that criticize law enforcement in light of events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island. These protesters have sometimes made threatening remarks about police officers. And unfortunately, some opportunists are also using these anti-police protests to encourage disruptive acts that damage property and wreak havoc on everyday, law-abiding citizens.
Let me be clear, every American has the right to peacefully protest. And when officers break the law, they should be held accountable. However, those protesters cross a line when they endorse violence – particularly violence toward law enforcement.
Protesters in New York City recently chanted, “What do we want?….Dead cops!” as they marched. This disgusting and ominous chant was shouted just days before two NYPD officers—Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu—were murdered.