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Monday, April 28, 2008

Creating a Tapestry (Appeared in the Beacon News on May 11, 2008)

The police and the community have often fought the adversarial perception of one another and it is my hope that this forum will be a method to bridge that gap.  As a police officer and a resident of the City of Aurora, it is very clear to me that the police and the citizens have more in common than we have in conflict.   We all want peaceful neighborhoods and a high quality of life.  We want the violence to cease and we want our children to be safe.  The struggle for both of us is to learn how to do this more effectively.  Our goals are the same and so is our passion against injustice.  For that reason, it is only fitting that we open the dialogue and create an atmosphere where thoughts can be expressed and questions can be asked. 

I have spent 34 years of my life in the city of Aurora.  Growing up the daughter of a police officer, I learned at a very young age that law enforcement was more than a profession - - it is a way of life.  It is comprised of small acts of heroism along with feelings of helplessness and sheer terror all in a days work.  The dinner table was a place to listen in wonderment to the adventures in my father’s day and it became clear to me that it was so much more than a job.  As a young adult open to the world’s possibilities, I opted to pursue that way of life rather than the lives of my college-bound childhood friends and I have never looked back. 

When I donned the light blue cadet uniform in 1991, I remember the energy and excitement that filled me at the notion of changing the world.  Nearly 17 years have gone by and I’ve yet to change the world but I still feel the same excitement each time I put on the unflattering polyester pants.  I have pinned the star over my heart more times than I can count and with each clasp, I am reminded of my higher calling as a public servant. 

Many police officers have answered the same calling with service and justice being the fundamental force.  Policing defies the notion that we must look out for ourselves.  Instead we believe that our moral obligation is to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  The police run towards screams for help or the sound of gunfire while the natural instinct is to run away.  This is not because we are unafraid but because our obligation is to uphold the constitution and impose faith in those we serve.

There are 300 other brave men and women on the Aurora Police Department who share my passion and commitment.  There is a dedicated support staff that ensures efficiency and holds the same vision. We are warriors in the quest for peace but even warriors understand that the battle to be won is only possible with the contribution of each soldier.  We can easily say that the police are the front line but it is the citizens of Aurora who empower the police. 

In order to grow together, we must learn to see the world in a different way – with new eyes.   Ask a question.  Make a statement.  Speak your mind.  This column is to create a tapestry out of the invisible threads that connect the police and community. In my young, idealistic quest to change the world, I’ve learned that we must first start with the space we occupy.