Protect and serve – Georgia’s law enforcement officers uphold this noble call to action every day when they leave the comfort of their homes and families. Honorable men and women of the badge – all across our state – willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow citizens.
While most Georgians realize the important societal role that officers play, I am increasingly concerned that the tremendous sacrifices these heroes make are not fully appreciated.
Think about your last interaction with a deputy or police officer – for most, it probably was not a pleasant experience. It likely stemmed from a simple traffic violation or car accident. I often hear citizens complaining about overbearing officers issuing tickets – especially from those who rolled through a stop sign or were speeding on their way to work. Such an inconvenience, despite often being our fault, is seen as an annoyance and unfortunately leads us to devalue the incredible sacrifices made by these selfless individuals.
This has been a tough year for Georgia’s law enforcement community. Since February 2016, 10 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Ten Georgians with bright futures cut short. Ten families are grieving the loss of their loved ones. These lives were cut short – for you and me.
There simply is no greater sacrifice than giving your life to protect your fellow citizens. Georgia’s law enforcement officers are the best in the nation, and we must do more to compensate them for their courageous actions. This is why, as your lieutenant governor, I am actively working with Public Safety Chairman Tyler Harper and Sen. Greg Kirk to enact legislative reforms that will “Back the Badge.”
Through these measures, we will send an unmistakably clear message: Georgia’s law enforcement deserves nothing but the best. We must enforce harsher penalties upon those who inflict harm on our officers, and ensure the families of our fallen heroes are taken care of when tragedy strikes. We also must join with our local elected officials and ensure every local officer in Georgia receives the compensation and support they need to keep doing their job.
I am determined to make these efforts a reality. Join with me in doing your part to “Back the Badge.” Thank our officers, and let them know that their service is appreciated. Do your part to encourage others to honor our men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe. We are forever indebted to these selfless service-members, and I always will “Back the Badge.”
(The writer has served as the 11th lieutenant governor of Georgia since 2007.)