As we near the close of National Police Week, we're moved to reflect on the role of police in our communities.
President John F. Kennedy established National Peace Officer Memorial Day in 1962 and Congress later that year passed a joint resolution establishing an entire week to both remember police officers who died in the course of their work and to show our respect for those who still put on the badge every day.
What better way to do that than through the words of a pair of veteran local cops who've seen a great deal in their years on the job and attained a high level of respect?
For Thursday's newspaper we asked Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steve Casstevens, who is a vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and immediate past president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, to offer thoughts about National Police Week and the role and challenges of policing today.
We also published an interview with Ray Rose, whose storied 50-year career led him to Elk Grove Village, Franklin Park and Mundelein. After a 50-year career, he is retiring as Lake County Undersheriff.
Both men espouse a need to learn from the erosion of trust during the tumultuous last few years, the need to embrace a oneness between the police and those of us they protect and the need for all of us to see each other as neighbors.
"Every community is different ... but the simple fact is we need to continue to work together to build authentic bridges of respect and tolerance, to build a common language of trust and confidence and to find paths that emphasize our unity and not our division," Casstevens wrote.
"Outreach and dialogue are two-way streets; it is critical for citizens to get involved with their police departments."
Rose offered some good advice for those entering the profession:
"Even now, we use the phrases like 'warrior,' that police officers should be the warriors of the community. But it's becoming very clear that police officers have to become the guardian of the community, which is different. There are times where you will have to be in the warrior role, certainly that's not going to change, but that's not a constant.
"These are golden opportunities for us to change the face of law enforcement and how we do business. It's the perfect time to bring us back as partners in the community. It's not us versus them, it's all of us together to be successful. This is a noble profession."
Indeed, it is.