Police officers deserve our thanks, support

Recent debate over a proposed ordinance to regulate and enforce the operation of motorized bicycles within the city of Parkersburg sparked some debate and public comments that I found both concerning and deleterious to the fabric of support and trust that our police officers depend on as they protect our community.

Some individuals used terms such as “strong arm” tactics, and indicated that our police are incapable of fairly and justly applying discretion in the discharge of their duties.

I would counter that situations such as an officer writing a warning in lieu of a citation for a moving violation, or reducing the speed noted on a traffic citation to make the offender less likely to experience adverse effects on his or her operator’s license or insurance, are pointed examples of an officer exercising and applying discretion in a manner that no one should take issue with.

Police officers across this country have, over the past many years, been subjected to intensified scrutiny and second-guessing by elected officials and some citizens, as well as both traditional and social media outlets at a time when the threat to their safety and difficulty of their jobs has increased dramatically.

As Mayor of Parkersburg I want to assure the community that regardless of comments from some elected officials, I personally take officer conduct seriously and regularly discuss and review training efforts and history with our Police Chief. I am confident that our Police Chief takes complaints seriously, and investigates them thoroughly and with alacrity.

The job of a law enforcement officer is one of the most difficult in society today. Too much of an officer’s time is spent responding to and dealing with persons with less than altruistic intentions or behaviors. Those of us who are fortunate enough to interact regularly with people who want to make our community a better place take this for granted.

I encourage those who appreciate what our police, fire and EMS personnel do to take the opportunity to thank them for their service at any chance you get, and to create those opportunities when they don’t present themselves.