Peace officers

Jim Arness (1923-2011) was Matt Dillon in all 635 episodes of Gunsmoke’s 20-year TV run. He shot 383 people: One every 1.7 episodes. That’s a lot, but most of the smoke was from other guns. Arness had a peaceful demeanor. His character was reluctant to use force.

I prefer the term peace officer. It’s a subtle but basic shift. At their best, peace is what they do. It’s who they are. Let’s honor our peace officers and lift up those who model the profession’s best practices.

I agree with Peggy Noonan that we need more, not less, funding for peace officers. We ask too much and pay too little. The “defund” movement seeks to redirect resources to accomplish some social service roles we ask of law enforcement. It can be both/and, not either/or. Fund the cops. Find ways to offload some of their social work duties.

In 1985, Charles Strobel, a Roman Catholic priest in Nashville, opened his church to the homeless. Until then, when the dispatcher received a complaint about a homeless person, an officer’s only recourse was jail. Strobel’s work led to Room in the Inn, a faith-based shelter-providing network that has been replicated in other cities. There are creative ways citizens can be involved.

From “13 certified as peace officers,” by NPC, White Mountain Independent, June 25, 2021

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