• 57°

Officers deserve our unwavering respect

Known as the Home Seekers Paradise, Brookhaven over the years has too been affectionately referred to as Mayberry. A comparison to a popular 1960’s sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show — about a small North Carolina town. An idyllic community where everybody knows each other on a first name basis; kids played freely with little concern to the world around them while their parents sat on the front porch watching the world go by.

Mayberry was the perfect American small town watched over by Andy Taylor — a common sense sheriff who did not carry a gun for his folksy manner could solve even the worst of issues, although his deputy did carry an unloaded pistol with a single bullet in his front shirt pocket. You had to love Barney Fife.

All of us Baby Boomers grew up on a weekly dose of Andy, Barney and Aunt Bee. Those were simpler times.

This week we buried two of our finest citizens, Zack Moak and James Kevin White — police officers who gave their lives last Saturday morning protecting the rest of us. Just over a year ago we buried Sheriff’s deputy William Durr who gave up his life protecting us too.

The innocence and safety of a Mayberry is no longer but in reality that innocence left us long ago.

A chilling sentence was in the lead story published in The Daily Leader’s special edition on Sunday. Speaking to the newspaper reporter about the Saturday morning gunshots one resident commented, “he thought nothing of it (gunfire) because gunfire is commonly heard in the area.”

Think about that comment for a moment. While on one side of town residents deal with the anger, frustration and fear of cars being broken into during the night. Residents across town deal with something completely different — gunfire! So much gunfire that they “think nothing of it!” It is just part of daily life.

Yes, gone are the days when Andy and Barney calmly talked down a dispute.

Brookhaven and Lincoln County citizens are blessed with excellent law enforcement in Chief Kenny Collins and Sheriff Steve Rushing. We are blessed with the dedication of their officers and deputies. They are our friends and neighbors.

Just as officers Moak and White did last weekend, law enforcement officers go to work every day not knowing what their shift might bring. At home, loved ones nervously say a prayer for the unknown is always there.

In Chief Collins’ comments Thursday he called police work not a job but a calling. He is right, it is a calling, a calling to protect and serve our community. Only a few very special brave men and women answer that calling. They deserve our communities unwavering respect for answering that call.

Unfortunately we live today in a society who sometimes takes that calling for granted — until they need assistance. We live in a social media world where people are quick to form opinions based on another’s comment — regardless of facts. Alternative truth is a new concept. Law enforcement has become a favorite target in some circles.

Chief Collins addressed social media during Thursday’s service. He voiced his frustration.

Be it a make-believe Mayberry, a real life Brookhaven or any other community across this state and country, respect, trust and support of these officers is paramount to the community’s wellbeing.

We need to show that respect daily. For there is no easy answer to crime issues Facebook posters would make you believe. A unified community vocally supporting our men and women in blue would go a long way to finding Mayberry again.

Bill Jacobs is the former owner, editor and publisher of The Daily Leader.