To acknowledge that there is a continuing public safety crisis in our nation is clear. Even in a culture where nearly every aspect of everyday life has divided political overtones, unease about violence and crime is widespread. At a Chicago Police Department (CPD) awards ceremony held yesterday, Chaplain Kimberly Lewis-Davis provided an opportunity for clarity. In her opening remarks and prayer, she spoke about the stars that filled the room. Star imagery is particularly impactful in places where the badges worn by police officers are formed in the shape of a star. Chaplain Lewis-Davis spoke on how in darkness, the stars provide us light. Her prayer acknowledged the stars that filled the room. In communities across America, such reason for celebration, and yes gratitude, abounds.
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CPD Monthly Department Awards Ceremony
Each month the Chicago’s Police Superintendent presides over a ceremony honoring CPD members for exemplary performance of their duties. This month’s ceremony acknowledged the work of 242 officers.
Yesterday’s awardees included a 16th District sergeant and officers honored for their efforts in saving the life of a infant in distress. A 25th District sergeant and personnel from the district’s Strategic Decision Support Center, who were acknowledged for their roles in multiple apprehensions of robbery, burglary, and gun offenders.
Area 3 detectives, who solved an extensive pattern of 18th District burglaries. 15th District officers, who located and successfully pursued a vehicle wanted in connection to a homicide. Two firearms and DNA evidence recovered from that vehicle were key to charging the offenders. Additionally, 11th District officers were recognized for utilizing witness statements and video surveillance to locate the armed offenders responsible for a double shooting and murder.
Challenging Times, Yet They Endure
A June 2020 survey conducted by Caliber Press and the law enforcement profession news site Police1 was disturbing. The timing of the survey was at the height of 2020’s civil unrest and anti-police rhetoric. The national murder rate surged nearly 30% in 2020. Looting, rioting, and attacks on the police were all too frequent occurrences across the nation. We all know this. There were other issues as well, and it was a year like no other in America.
More than 10,000 officers across all ranks and year’s of service participated in the Police1 survey. 35.6% of the officers said if they had to do it over again they would not join the profession. 80.5% said they would not encourage their son or daughter to become a police officer.
Policing has long been a profession with family connections. From my earliest ages I knew I wanted to pursue a career in public service. I have always held deeply to America’s ideals, and I thought that one day I might even be president. I was also always inspired by my father’s integrity, courage, and example. It was and remains a privilege and honor to have followed him into policing.
One Officer Among Many Giving Reason for Hope
Yes, Chaplain Lewis-Davis was correct in her reminder to be inspired by the stars among us. Yesterday, it was good to be back in CPD headquarters to see so many stars. Among those was a young woman who joined the profession in 2018. Before the wheels came off in 2020. She was a U.S. Army Reservist working toward her degree in nursing. She was inspired to become a police officer. Her brother was already an officer. There was a positive and welcoming aura about her.
She began her career in Chicago’s 11th District, and she currently works on the Area 4 Saturation Team. She is providing police service in an area of Chicago where for decades maintaining public safety has been the most challenging. I asked if she had not joined policing in 2018 would she have done so now, and she said no. She explained that she probably would have finished the track she was on before CPD, and would have become a nurse. But, even in this reflection, she displayed her commitment to her current path. She acknowledged that her experiences as an officer have changed her perspective and the direction of her life.
Policing and Life’s Work
When I asked her what award she was receiving, she smiled and said she was receiving a lifesaving award. When I asked her to tell me what happened, she said she was not sure for which incident she was being honored. Her uniform already displayed the lifesaving green ribbon, so she had already been credited with saving a life. Since then she has continued to save lives on Chicago’s west side. She spoke about two incidents where she applied tourniquets to stop the bleeding on shooting victims.
As she was ready to walk across the stage and receive her award and congratulations from the superintendent and senior command personnel, a brief narrative read. “Officers responded to the scene of a person down…” It was yet another incident. In this case, our young officer worked together with her partner to provide CPR to a man who had no pulse. “The victim regained his pulse and thanked the Officers for saving his life after being stabilized in the ER.” While she may not be a nurse, she is still saving lives. Perhaps even more so.
There to witness this officer’s moment of recognition were her mother and niece. When I said how great it must feel to have her mother there with her, she smiled again. Then she added, her mother “loves this stuff.” To that I say to you, me too.
I am grateful our young officer chose to become a police officer. Grateful she continues to remain an officer. I am grateful for all of the officers there in that room yesterday, and elsewhere across our nation who continue to serve. As a community, we should all be grateful. Our communities are safer, stronger, and better because of their efforts.
I pray for their safety and that they will be successful in their efforts to bring about public safety. I hope this Thanksgiving Day is one of family, peace, and gratitude for all.
Chicago Police Chaplains Ministry
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