Gratitude to NOPD Blue

Thursday, 9 February, 2012 - 9:26 pm

This week I had the honor of attending the NOPD swearing in ceremony, to watch my good friend Brian Weiss assume the position of Commander. It was a fairly short and business-like event in which new commanders, lieutenants and sergeants were presented with their new badges and the oath of office was administered by Chief Serpas.

I watched these men and women take the oath and accept their badges as their families looked on, and several things crossed my mind. My first thought was a sense of gratitude to a fine group of people who put their lives on the line to protect us and our city.  I was struck by their dedication and the look of determination on their faces.

Seeing the officers with their families also made me contemplate the fact that they are regular people with families whom they love and who love them. Too often we see “cops” as part of the scenery in a city, or worse, as the ones who give out tickets. When we see police on the scene of a crime or cruising around the streets, we generally think of them as entities rather than people. It is important to remember that the officers have feelings; they have concerns about their children and finances just like each and every one of us. This attitude shift will do us all some good.

The ceremony came against the backdrop of some pretty hefty controversy regarding the NOPD this week. While there is undoubtedly room for improvement and there are certainly some officers that are not worthy of the position, I still think it is important to be mindful of the gratitude we owe the individuals who maintain the rule of law in our town, even as they risk their own safety in the process. I invoke the words of the Mishna in Ethics of our Fathers, “pray for the welfare of the government, for if not for rule of law one man would swallow up his fellow.” Until the world reaches a state of perfection and redemption, we will need the rule of law to ensure that anarchy and chaos are not the norm. Law enforcement officers are an integral part of preventing “one man from swallowing up his fellow.”

All of the complaints aside, we have much to be thankful for that we live in a country and city where we are free to observe our religion and that we live in relative safety and protection (notwithstanding all of the things that have been going on in New Orleans recently). This does not happen in a vacuum. There are many “parts” in this machine of freedom and democracy and the NOPD plays an important role in the local process. Next time we see an officer, think of him or her as a husband, wife, parent, sibling or child. Be grateful for their dedication and sacrifice.

I, for one, am thankful for their service and was honored to be amongst them.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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