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Local View: City morally, ethically obligated to purchase equipment

The Duluth City Council is scheduled to consider a resolution today to purchase replacement personal protective equipment for the Duluth Police. This includes helmets; face shields; and knee, elbow, and body protectors to help prevent officers from sustaining serious or even life-threatening or debilitating, possibly career-ending, injuries.

Just imagine a brick, rock, or bottle being thrown at an officer and hitting him or her in the face or head. This is a reality for officers sent to the scenes of riots or other violent civil disturbances. They don't have the choice or luxury to avoid the hazard; rather, as a requirement of their job, they must respond to protect the public and restore order.

From a human-resource perspective, employers have a legal, moral, and ethical obligation to provide for the safety of their employees. Would anyone expect people working in high places not be provided with fall-protection equipment? Or miners not be issued hard hats? Or welders eye protection?

Another consideration is that without this equipment, a properly equipped outside jurisdiction would need to be called in for an emergency. This response would not be timely and would be less than ideal.

Our local officers are deeply rooted in our community. They were here before and will be here after any incident.  They are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and friends. They are uniquely qualified to protect and serve this community, as they are vested in the community and accountable to the community. It is their job, one they take very seriously.

The safety of the community starts with the safety of those we depend on to protect us.

I urge the City Council to approve providing personal protective equipment. It's the right thing to do.

Patricia Stolee of Duluth is a certified human resources professional with more than 20 years of experience and is the spouse of a Duluth police officer.