Oak Harbor resident Helen Mosbrooker asked Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker, “What can the community do to support you during these hard times?”
This was his response:
• Understand police officers are people just like you, who choose to go into this profession for a variety of reasons; the most common is to help people.
• Understand law enforcement is a dynamic and challenging profession. It involves periods of boredom, frenzied activity, tedious paperwork and processes, excitement, challenges, fear and apprehension, empathy, compassion, sadness and depression. And always present to at least some small degree, knowledge that there are some evil people in this world who won’t hesitate to kill a police officer or citizens we are sworn to protect.
• Understand police officers can be presented with situations where they must instantly call upon all their training and experience to make critical decisions, leading to actions based on situations presented to them. We train to try and make sure we’re prepared to make the right decisions and take the correct actions. However, please understand the real world is not like a Hollywood movie or even like watching a video of an incident. Bad guys/gals do not typically just put their hands behind their backs and within half a second, they are handcuffed. People who are intent on hurting others frequently do not stop their actions by just being asked. People who choose to fight with us have a variety of motives and desires for doing so, and we likely won’t know what that is as they begin to fight. Fights are generally not “pretty” and can be intensely vicious.
• We are tasked with a vast variety of roles and responsibilities by society and our communities. We are often the first ones people call when they don’t know who to call about a variety of problems or questions. Our mental health system is inadequate, so we frequently deal with subjects afflicted by mental health issues, similar to the frequency in which we deal with those with substance abuse issues. We respond to calls involving fights, medical issues, animals, accidents, requests for information, littering, lost people, upset people, suicidal people, non-coherent people, thefts, people intent on stealing or hurting others, found property, fires and an endless variety of other calls.
• Understand that through all of this we (police officers) do what we do for you and we do it with pride. We are not perfect, but the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers in our country do this job for the right reasons and with the correct intentions. We chose this career and don’t seek pity, just understanding.
• Finally, understand that policing in large cities and in different geographical areas of the country, while all theoretically sharing the same common goal, can be dramatically different just as crime and social-economic issues vary.
• When you see us, just say “hi.”
• If we contact you as part of our job, please understand the city (all of you) wants the police to enforce the laws, do investigations and protect the community. We need to be professional and do our job, which may include unfortunate activities such as issuing a speeding ticket.
• Focus on your police officers and what they do for your community. Do not let what you see in the news media, regarding a situation far removed from this community, form your opinion on local law enforcement. We don’t always have “perfect days” on this job, but I firmly believe your local law enforcement officers do quality work for you and they hold each other accountable to be professional.
• We appreciate the cooperation, partnership and support you show us each day.