AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL CHICAGO POLICE OFFICERS
from the Executive Board of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation
May 10, 2016
To All Chicago Police Officers:
A short time ago, thousands of Chicago Police officers and their families turned out on a cold, raw windy Saturday morning to join us at the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s 12th Annual Run to Remember. The very next morning, many thousands more took part in the annual St. Jude march to honor Chicago’s 574 fallen heroes.
Every May, which is National Police Month, our calendars fill up with events to honor our fallen colleagues. In communities across the country, in cities like ours and in our nation’s capital, our brothers and sisters in law enforcement pause to reflect on what it means to serve.
We take the time to remember those officers who were killed while serving their community because we know that our support lifts families of those fallen heroes.
We also remember and reflect because we know that your work brings great risk. Trying to put an end to things that put communities in danger every day is not easy work. Merely showing up every day places you directly in harm’s way. That knowledge places a great strain on your families, especially your spouses and children.
So, memorial services, wreath-laying ceremonies, marches and charity events like the ones taking place throughout the month serve as touchstones for us to honor those who went before us. They also serve to reaffirm our commitment to the noble calling you have all answered.
This year, these events come at a time when the Chicago Police Department and the entire law enforcement community are under a great deal of scrutiny.
We don’t have to tell you that it’s not easy being a Chicago Police officer these days.
From questions about reforming how officer-involved shootings are investigated, to speculation that officers aren’t doing their jobs or are being dishonest, to broad accusations of bias-based policing, all of the work you do is now viewed with some level of skepticism.
What is unfair to us is that good, decent police officers who serve their communities dutifully and honorably are the ones shouldering the heavy burden of public criticism. Officers who serve their communities with distinction, respect and professionalism are now viewed as being among the small number of officers who do not. And that is troubling to us. We know that the overwhelming majority of Chicago Police officers are, in fact, part of the solution and not part of the problem.
So, given the current climate and challenges ahead, please always keep this fact in mind:
Your work keeping communities safe, helping those during their hour of need and being a force for good in our city is appreciated. There are good, hard working people in every neighborhood in this city that are thankful that you’re out there on every watch working to make them safer.
Men and women who spend their careers placing the safety of others above their own are to be lauded, honored and recognized.
Can the law enforcement profession do a better job on any number of fronts? Of course it can. If there is any good news stemming from the current state of affairs, it is our belief that the Chicago Police Department will emerge from this better equipped to deliver on its mission to make every neighborhood safer.
But more importantly, in the midst of such a negative drumbeat about the work you do, we thought we would just take a moment to write and remind you that you are a part of a noble profession, your work is valued and you are appreciated and respected by the vast majority of citizens whom you are in touch with day in and day out.
While Police Month is filled with somber occasions to mark the passing of our fallen heroes, it is also a time where we celebrate our profession. We are reminded that each May, the Chicago Police Department bestows its highest awards for bravery and valor at the annual recognition luncheon.
We wish every member of the public could be there to hear the remarkable accounts of true heroism at work. In our view, this event, and the stories that are told at it, is a more fitting and accurate representation of the work you do to help all Chicagoans.
So, on behalf of the Executive and Advisory Boards of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, thank you for all the work you do. Thank you for your ongoing support of the CPMF’s mission. And, most importantly, at the end of your tour of duty, go home safely to your families.
Chicago Police Memorial Foundation