Opinion

Time to thank our officers

By Laura Briggs

Since starting as a cadet journalist at the Shepparton News earlier this year I have been submerged in a world of news I had previously escaped.

As the only person living in my house, one of many aspects I consider to be a major pro is the fact my house is television-free.

I have a strong intolerance of the irritating noise that flows from a television, and living by myself I enjoy the freedom of silence.

So, before being dropped into the newsroom, unless I happened to stumble across something online or a friend was to tell me, I did not have any regular source of news.

In a way I actually liked that. I was not aware of all the bad news that happened every single day and I did not want to be.

Now, being a journalist, it is my job to know these things — and it has been a real eye-opener.

Before starting at The News I knew bad things happened around town — I knew people were regularly affected by drugs, family violence, death and unfortunate events and circumstances.

But being in an environment that frequently crosses paths with Shepparton police, whether through emergencies we are attending or other events in the community involving police members, I am grasping what their role entails and gaining a new appreciation for our local police.

From my teenage years through to adulthood I have gone through a number of phases.

As a teenager, I dreamt of becoming a police officer. A dream based purely on what seemed like the fun part of the role — carrying a gun and having the authority to slap fines on brothers and sisters who travel at 80km in the 60km/h zone on either end of the causeway.

After getting my own licence, it was only a matter of time before I received my first speeding fine. This saw me enter the phase of anger towards police — angry they would spend their time pinging those who were travelling 8km above the 100km/h speed limit when there were others dealing drugs and robbing people.

A few extra years down the track, I have come to the conclusion gratitude and commendation of our local police should be a regular occurrence.

As regular people with regular jobs, it is easy for us to go about life without a true understanding of what is involved in the role of a police officer.

But if we would just stop and think...our police deal with the worst — they see the condition of people after high-speed crashes, they deal with people who choose to end their life, they approach families with the news a loved one will never return home, they deal with those who are intoxicated and mentally unstable — just to mention a few of their duties.

But in the midst of all that, police continue to serve our community with the aim of providing a safer environment for all of us.

It has become such a natural expectation that if anything goes wrong, the police will figure it out and see justice is served.

But this service and their investigative skills should not be taken for granted. It is their job, yes, but no amount of money could prepare a police officer for the trauma they witness.

I have noticed a rise in support available to current and former police officers around mental health.

While it concerns me a career can cause so much damage to the mind, I’m glad such an important support service is available and I really hope it helps those members who do face any mental health issues as a result of their role.

But beyond that support, I think our local police deserve the support of the community.

Rather than get angry when you’re slapped with a fine or are pulled over on the road, choose to be thankful for what it is that our police officers do to improve our safety, and the services they offer 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Laura Briggs is a News journalist.