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Maybe it's the boomer in me, but I still see police work as honorable.

Columnist Loren Else says times might be changing, but the need for compassionate officers of the law remains.

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig
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Growing up, I viewed a police officer as an honorable profession. I saw integrity and a desire to help those in need within each uniform. It was not chasing bad guys that appealed to me as much as what the police officer stood for.

Early on, our generation saw them as depicted in the 1958 Norman Rockwell painting "The Runaway." This is the famous image of a police officer sitting at a diner counter with a youthful boy who had decided to run away from home. The takeaway was that the officer was spending a little time with the lad, probably giving advice before escorting him home.

Book cover .jpg
Loren Else enjoyed reading "Reimagining Blue," a book about the possible future of policing.
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For quite a few baby boomers, we also knew our fathers and, in some cases, mothers, answered the call and served during World War II or Korea. We understood there was something righteous and admirable about veterans.

This respect for veterans has remained, but opinions regarding police officers have changed. A couple of years ago, I ran into a friend I had not seen in a while. He told me his son was interested in going into law enforcement and then indicated that he was very uneasy about this and was not supportive of his son's decision. This troubled me, but I understood.

The call for changes in law enforcement, discriminatory legislation, and even the police culture across our country has been thunderous. Although I no longer work in law enforcement or corrections, my opinion in what I read is that positive progress is being made. Maybe not everyone agrees.

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A Rochester police officer recently used deadly force during an incident where a suspect charged the officer with an ax . This incident reminds us that law enforcement officers must make decisions in seconds.

A sad day for a family and a difficult day for our people in the Rochester Police Department. The officer was put on administrative leave, and the investigation is underway.

My granddaughter and I spent a little time at the Olmsted County Fair. She enjoyed the bunnies, goats, cheese curds and a root beer float. Grandpa kept pulling the wallet out, but it was all good. Before I left, my wife said, "Be careful." Safety is now a concern more than ever when attending public events.

I am not writing this column to discuss crime or what needs to be done and why, but I see a crisis in hiring police officers and other law enforcement staff in our country. We must have law and order in our communities to live and raise our families in peace.

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We need a diverse workforce, more women, and more sons and daughters following in their parents' footsteps. We need the first from a family to enter law enforcement. Families should be encouraging, supportive and proud.

To grandparents and great-grandparents, do not be troubled to recommend law enforcement as a career. I know many who have retired from the county, state or federal level. All are proud of their career.

The police and other agencies need to hire kind, caring, intelligent people who will lay their life on the line for members of the community. The best of the best need to be seen in elementary, middle and high schools. At times, they should have their uniform on, with medals attached to the attire.

The police will always need funding to keep the correct number of officers on the street, to keep providing training, to attend to the health of the staff and to ensure performance expectations will be met.

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I just finished a book, "Reimaging Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, And A New Way Forward In Policing" by former Aurora, Illinois, Police Chief Kristen Ziman. She dedicated the book to the police officers across the globe who are aligned to purpose and service. She stated in the dedication that she has tremendous faith that law enforcement will continue to improve – not because it is broken, but because they must always be better.

They must not only be better but darn near perfect. Ziman said departments must build a culture of police officers who are compassionate and empathetic guardians of our cities yet run toward horrific things that no one else will.

That is much to ask for, but it is a very honorable profession.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com .

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