Recent Op-Eds

Police Officers Answer the Call

By Sen. John Thune

May 12, 2023

Every day, no matter the hour, there’s a police officer on duty. It’s not an easy job – we ask a lot of our law enforcement community. An ordinary day for the men and women in blue takes extraordinary character, courage, and commitment. During National Police Week, we honor their service and remember those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Being a police officer isn’t just a job. It’s a calling. They run toward the unknown and confront threats on a daily basis. If you ask a cop, they usually tell you, “It’s just part of the job.” But this job entails an array of responsibilities, from catching criminals to keeping drivers safe to teaching kids about the dangers of drugs. There’s a great deal of character behind the badge, and I commend these public servants for answering the call to protect and serve their communities.

Policing has never been easy, but the men and women who choose it often do so despite the challenge and risks. Over the last few years, though, steady criticism and vilification of the police, which has sadly been amplified by far-left politicians, has taken a noticeable toll. Retirements and resignations are on the rise nationwide, without enough applicants to fill openings. Facing staffing shortages, many departments are stretching their resources extremely thin. Some have innovated, including the Sioux Falls Police Department, which recently partnered with Southeast Tech to create a pathway for individuals to explore a law enforcement career while earning a paycheck and college credit. I hope programs like this encourage more people to answer the call to serve their community in law enforcement.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the United States are also continuing to adapt to new threats to public safety, particularly those spawned by the crisis at our southern border. County sheriffs and police departments, which were already facing budget cuts, officer shortages, and rising crime, now find themselves assuming de facto national security duties. And drugs coming across the border are making their way around our country. South Dakota law enforcement traces the increased presence of drugs like fentanyl and meth in the state to the border crisis, which will only grow worse now that Title 42 has been lifted. Drug overdoses, which continue to trend upward, have taken too many lives, and confronting the flow of illegal drugs will continue to take a concerted law enforcement effort both at the border and in communities across the country.

There will always be challenges to maintaining law and order, but we can take comfort in knowing that there will always be men and women willing to keep watch, go after criminals, and protect the public. Police officers make sacrifices every day to protect and serve our communities. National Police Week provides an opportunity to be especially grateful for these brave men and women who put service above self to keep us safe.