It’s “Police Week” in the United States, an annual observance dating back to 1962 when President John F. Kennedy established the tradition.

Law enforcement officials are often in the headlines, but it’s usually when something tragic happens.

Just last year, a police officer died in America every two-a-half-days. Of the 136 officers killed, 47 were shot, 37 died in traffic-related incidents, and the other 52 died from other forms of violence.

Over 700,000 men and women in America wear the badge, accepting daily risk in exchange for modest financial reward. There aren’t too many professions where you leave your home each day not certain you’ll be returning, but law enforcement is one of them.

The first police in America were in Boston and New York in the mid 1600s. Known as “Watchmen,” many were volunteers. Modern-day policing emerged as populations grew along with the size of cities.

As crime escalated, officials reached out to police, politicians, and preachers, believing that moral and spiritual reform were inextricably linked.

Sound familiar?

It was J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who wisely noted, “No amount of law enforcement can solve a problem that goes back to the family.”

It seems to reason that as family stability goes down, crime goes up.

Today’s police officers don’t just serve as law enforcement, but often as counselors, coaches, consolers, referees, pastors, paramedics and even sometimes parental figures.

Police have a nearly impossible job. They’re expected to be tough – but also tender. They need to keep the peace – but are prepared and trained to go to war. The public expects them to be friendly, but they also need to be firm. If they’re too friendly, especially a man to a woman, they can be accused of harassment. If they’re too stoic, they can be accused of being a cold-hearted bully.

Police are given a loaded gun – but are discouraged from using it. Imagine being in a dark alley and in a split second, you have to decide whether to pull your regular gun or your taser. Not only will the decision you make impact the life of the suspect – but it will likely shape your life and future for years to come.

Police arrest someone at midnight – and then see the suspect back on the street by their next shift.

Cops in certain cities know the names of the criminals, even where they’ll likely commit their next crime, but they’re understaffed and under supported, and they can’t nab everyone – and some liberal politicians would prefer it if they didn’t arrest anyone.

Scripture speaks admiringly and approvingly of justice and those put in places of authority to help keep it, including armed guards (Nehemiah 4:13) and judges (Ezekiel 44:24). The Psalmist pleads for the weak and needy to be delivered from the “hands of the wicked” (82:4), and Jesus could be lauding the brave and sacrificial members of the Blue Line when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Of course there is the rare rogue officer who may act in a way that dishonors the profession, but that’s the exception. In a fallen world, sin seeps into every profession.

Sgt. Bill Hooser, a Santaquin, Utah, officer who was killed last Sunday during a traffic stop, began his career as a volunteer.

“It was a decision he made,” said his younger brother, Michael. “Something he wanted to do and something that he loved to do.”

Sgt. Hooser, a happy and faithful family man, leaves behind his wife of 29 years, along with two daughters and a grandchild.

His senseless murder highlights once more the high stakes career of law enforcement. They are worthy of our praise – and needful of our prayers.

Police are warriors and wonder workers, courageous, brave, selfless, sacrificial – and public servants who keep the peace and prevent the chaos.

As we recognize Police Week, please pray for the Hooser family and others who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, along with all those in uniform who protect us on a daily basis.


Image from Shutterstock.