We’re writing, as leaders of the largest police organizations in Minnesota and former officers ourselves, to share the truth about the courageous and professional services provided by law enforcement officers each and every day in our communities, all throughout the state.

Unfortunately, when we open the newspaper, turn on the TV, or check social media, we see a small but vocal group of people demonizing law enforcement officials. There are pictures of graffiti-laden buildings in the aftermath of the Minneapolis and St. Paul riots emblazoned with the phrase “ACAB,” which means “All Cops Are Bastards.”

The constant drumbeat in the last months has been, by some, to cast an entire profession in a false and negative light.

The truth is: Police officers sign up for a dangerous profession and do it to serve their communities. As former officers ourselves, we’ve seen first hand how officers serve as peacemakers to help bring safety and security for all. Every police officer has their own reason for getting into law enforcement, but the common reason across every story is we want to help keep our communities safe. The job involves putting personal safety at risk every day, and police do it to protect and serve.

The truth is: Police officers answer everything, from calls about noisy fireworks, to speeders in front of a school, to the more traumatizing cases of drug overdoses and domestic violence. When officers answer those calls, they are doing it because of the kids walking home from school who need to be safe from a speeding car. They do it because if we are able to deliver life-saving Narcan to an opioid overdose victim, that is one less family burying a loved one. And they do it because a domestic assault victim needs someone to stand with them against an abuser.

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None of these calls are easy to see, but cops do it every day. Seeing society at its worst is incredibly hard, and they do it because the victims of crime deserve compassion and support.

So the next time someone tries to send the message, “All Cops Are Bastards,” remember it’s the police officer who is called and is the first to respond when a violent crime is being committed. It’s the police officer who helps make sure the street in front of your child’s school is safe from dangerous drivers. It’s the police officer who shows up to do a welfare check on a family member who hasn’t been heard from in too many days.

The truth is: Police officers are your friends and neighbors, and they do the work because they choose to help our communities and keep us all safe.

Sean Gormley, is executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services. Brian Peters is executive director of Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

LELS is Minnesota’s largest law enforcement labor union, representing more than 6,000 officers in the state. MPPOA is the largest association representing public safety professionals in the state. It’s 10,000 members hold active law enforcement licenses, such as police officers, correction officers, dispatchers and firefighters.