ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

‘End of watch’ always remembered

Last month, law enforcement officers from across the country honored our fallen brothers and sisters for Law Enforcement Memorial Week, May 15-21. Here in Duluth, we were no exception. Every year we celebrate by having the local law enforcement c...

Last month, law enforcement officers from across the country honored our fallen brothers and sisters for Law Enforcement Memorial Week, May 15-21. Here in Duluth, we were no exception. Every year we celebrate by having the local law enforcement community come together and remember those in our profession who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  

For the week, we wear black mourning bands covering our badges. At the gathering, each agency reads the names of their fallen. The Duluth Police Department reads the names of eight officers who died in the line of duty.

We call an on-duty death “end of watch.” The officer no longer needs to guard the flock; the duty to serve is done. When we read the names, we think not only about the sacrifice of these officers but also of the sacrifice of the families. Children who grew up without fathers or mothers, wives and husbands who grew old without companions and grandchildren who never knew their grandparent.

Across the nation in recent years, tremendous angst and public scrutiny of police is often withering for officers to endure day in and day out, news cycle to news cycle. Law enforcement, like any profession, has people who don’t belong in our business. However, the vast majority of officers are dedicated, caring and compassionate. They take care of you no matter if you are a friend or stranger. Some officers got into this work to be protectors while others are witness to injustices and make it their life’s work to change them.

Our day starts a little different than most. We put on body armor, pin on a badge as a symbol of public trust and strap on a gun, hoping we never are forced to use it. We then ready ourselves for the day ahead. Preparation is personalized. Some exercise, some listen to music and some say a prayer for strength and guidance. Others enjoy meeting with their fellow officers for a laugh or a story.

ADVERTISEMENT

One commonality shared by every officer is that we consider our mortality and the seriousness of the tour of duty ahead. We take stock of those we love and the importance to return home to them at day’s end. Pictures of kids, spouses and loved ones adorn lockers where we dress and prepare to go to serve our community. Opportunity for one last glance at those who mean so much to us.  Many times, these are the very people who motivate us to do the work we do by standing up for those who can’t, helping those in need, easing fears and providing a sense of safety.

Back at home, our loved ones sleep alone in bed and worry and pray for our safety. Kids understand the significance and danger of our duty at a young age. I recall my kids coloring a picture for me, asking me to make sure I wear my bulletproof vest. We sometimes miss our kids’ concerts, games and activities. Our significant others stay up late with sick kids, eat meals alone and get kids off to school without our help. Our families serve silently beside us, giving us the support we need to serve the community.  

We serve others in the face of fear and danger. Sometimes that means knowing our well-being may be in jeopardy. To overcome our fears takes tremendous courage, commitment and character. We know the risks but steadfastly serve even if it means our duty may lead us to die for a stranger. We do so because the work is bigger than any of us.

We are honored to carry on the proud tradition of the Duluth Police Department to selflessly serve you. We stand tall for those who are bullied, broken and scared. We give a hand up when no one else can. We will calm, reassure and comfort you when you are overcome with sadness, disaster or worry. Please remember us in your prayers and all those fallen in law enforcement who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving you.

It is our honor and privilege to serve for you. We will be always be here for you and thank you for being there for us.

Mike Tusken is the chief of the Duluth Police Department.

0000017d-fa0b-d169-a77d-ffffff980000

 

What To Read Next