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Ahead of National Police Week, A Sheriff Remembers That Knock at the Door

| April 26, 2013

National Police Week falls between May 12 and May 18 this year. (© FlaglerLive)

National Police Week falls between May 12 and May 18 this year. (© FlaglerLive)

By Jim Manfre

It was the best time of the week–Saturday morning. No school and plenty of cartoons on TV. I was seven. There was a knock on the door in the late morning that led my Mom, pregnant with my younger sister, to answer. It was a man in a blue uniform, a police officer. He asked to come in to speak to my Mom. Very slowly, or so it seemed, he delivered the words that would change our lives forever.

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre. (© FlaglerLive)

Your husband has been in an accident with a drunk driver. He will live, but he is seriously injured.

Over the next several weeks that officer came to our home several times to make sure my Mom was OK. It took several weeks before my Dad could return home, but the officer came to check on him as well.

We all have our first impressions of a police officer or deputy. For some it was police shows such as Dragnet, Mayberry RFD, CSI or the countless other shows or movies that highlight the humorous, the serious or the violent side of law enforcement. For others, it was actual contact with law enforcement either good or bad. Clearly, we all have our opinions of law enforcement based on our point of view, experiences and upbringing. Mine was frozen in time by that first experience and stays with me today. Law enforcement is there to protect and serve.

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The role of law enforcement has changed dramatically in the 48 years since that Saturday morning. It has changed from being a keeper of the peace and traffic control to being a grief, marriage, mental health, alcohol and drug counselor, an accident reconstruction, ballistics, DNA, forensics, hazardous and bomb materials expert, a school, courthouse and inmate security officer, a mentor, educator and recreational adviser to our youth, a member of a SWAT, K-9, bike, boat, animal control, agricultural, narcotics, undercover and detective unit, a first responder and assistant, if required, to medical and fire calls and, in the last ten years, a part of homeland security and anti- terrorist efforts.

All of these duties are conducted under the constant pressure of at times violent reactions from suspects. They’re all carried out in tandem with the danger of driving hour after hour on local roads (traffic related incidents cause more injuries to law enforcement than any other event), and the wearying 24-hour shift schedule that plays havoc with family life.

No one is complaining of these additional duties. We have all gone into this profession with the knowledge of these issues and duties. In fact many embrace this profession because of its importance to the community in the face of these dangers. It seems important and relevant to address these issues when, as a nation, we observe National Police Week in Washington, D.C., May 12-18. Also, it has been ten years when, during my first term, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office lost Deputy Chuck Sease on July 5, 2003. He was placing stop sticks on I-95 while attempting to stop an out of control drunk driver. He was the first law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in 75 years in Flagler County.

There is no worse duty for law enforcement executive than to have to go to the door of the fallen officer’s home and tell a spouse and loved ones of the passing of the officer or deputy. This message may seem especially meaningful in light of the death of Sean A. Collier, the young campus police officer murdered on the MIT campus while pursuing the two Boston terrorists.

Regardless of your present personal feelings towards law enforcement and all first responders for that matter, in light of National Police Week and the incredible actions of the Boston Police Department, the military, the FBI and other assisting agencies, please take time to appreciate the daily efforts of law enforcement in your community. Perhaps just a thank you when you come in contact with Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and Flagler Beach and Bunnell police officers over the next two weeks. Remember, they ensure the freedom inherited from two hundred years of patriots, freedoms we too often take for granted.

If you have any problem recognizing a law enforcement officer, they are the ones running towards trouble when everyone else is running away. Thank you to all past and present officers and deputies for your dedication to a job that is so integral to our way of life.

Jim Manfre is the Flagler County Sheriff. Reach him by email here.

Peace Officer Memorial Day, every May 15, was created in 1962 and signed into law by President John F. Kennedy to remind the public of the dangers and sacrifices of America’s law enforcement officers. National Police Week was to be anchored each year around that date. Below is the original proclamation.

JFK’s 1962 National Police Week Proclamation

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9 Responses for “Ahead of National Police Week, A Sheriff Remembers That Knock at the Door”

  1. Jack Howell says:

    Well written and heartfelt. Nice job Jim!

  2. David R Campbell says:

    Thank you, Sheriff.
    My first encounter with law enforcement was when I was 11 years old and living in Orlando.
    I was an orphan and had been placed with a couple there.
    At one point my foster female brought home a bicycle that one of her friends had found abandoned near her house. I didn.t even know how to ride a bike. Foster her and foster him taught me how to ride in their yard.
    Eventually I was allowed to ride the bike to my school.
    One day I was pulled from my class and escorted to an office there in the school.
    Two Orlando cops questioned me as if I was under investigation for a most heinous crime. That had me crying, and I had no idea why they were accusing me of stealing a bicycle.
    The cold part of it that will remain with me forever is that between my sobbing and the jerks’ finally contacting my “her” person-they found the truth-and never ever eased the conscience of a small boy who was totally innocent…they never attempted to tell me that they were wrong and that they were sorry.
    Sheriff Manfre,
    Please teach your deputies to show compassion towards the little people. Whether dealing with something as innocuous as being in possesion of a deceased cat or maybe just being caught in the vicinity of a broken window…all may not be as it seems. ()

  3. confidential says:

    Lets honor, smile and wave to our law enforcement officers that risk their lives day in and day out to protect us. I will always remember officer Chuck Sease jovial and cordial personality around our community, same was with officer Frankie Celico, untimely departure within his years of service in our Sheriff Department, were he held his first and last job as law enforcement officer. Lets keep in mind that most of these deputies today were those kids growing up in our neighborhoods and deserve all our respect and support, for their risky vocation!.
    Thank you Jim for reminding us!

  4. Boston P.D, says:

    My first encounter with Police was my Dad.I remember the words on his car ” To Serve and Protect ”
    Two of my Brothers followed in his footsteps.I am very proud of my brothers and love to watch how children
    would act around them the respect they worked hard for and the feeling of safty they offered people of the neighborhood. The Respect an officer gets from people is earned not given because of a uniform.I have meet many good officers in Flagler Brant,Bevino,Dawson,Clair there are many.For the most I have meet get NO Respect from me and others.One day in the Hammock Publix myself and friends watched a Deputy
    write a lady who looked to be about 30 a $76 ticket for rideing her bicycle against the arrow in the parking lot.Mean while 5 cars parked in handicap spots no tag, When asked about this he asked my friend for friend has been with customs for 30 years, I found this whole thing quite funny.So Manfre before you go tooting your horn put the to serve and protect back on OUR cruisers and remind your Deputys they work for US. Thank You

  5. RNYPD says:

    Way to keep the spotlight where it should be.

  6. David R Campbell says:

    @ confidential,
    Your post is damn near perfect!
    Whatever vehicle I am driving at a given time I ALWAYS lift a hand from the steering wheel when being approached from the front by a *law enforcement-emergency type* vehicle. It’s just a human reaction which comes naturally to me.They are there to protect, and at gunpoint you couldn’t get me to join their ranks!
    My earlier post on this link was just background info relating to the subject. While I never will forget that episode so described, I have over the years come to enjoy the company of many law enforcement people. And sadly, I have known several who disgraced the position. They became ‘history’ to me the moment they disgraced that trust.
    Thanks for your post. ()

  7. Really? says:

    I wonder if Sheriff Manfre respects women Deputies and Female Administrators ? How ironic his article truly id.

  8. NortonSmitty says:

    Mr. Manfre, with all due respect, I must point out one glaring fact that you addressed in your post, but we have seen incessantly every time an officer passes away. And I am going to try to convey my point with all the tact, respect and appreciation I can muster, and ask anyone, these traits don’t seem to come naturally to me. But Mr. Manfre, how is it that we have drilled in to our heads every day how the Thin Blue Line lays their life on the line for us every day to protect us all. And how dangerous this job is, so we must not only respect but glorify them with 5 mile processions and hundreds of their brothers when they die.

    But Mr. Manfre, and all of our Blue-clad brothers, if this is true, how is it that in all sympathy and respect to his loss, Officer Sease was the first Officer to die on the job in 75 years in Flagler County? Since 1928, how many Roofers, Electricians, Truckers, Carpenters and other good working folks have died here just doing their jobs? Not to belittle yours, but none of them got close to a 500 car funeral.

    I guess my point is, if you do your job well and take pride in it, you will hopefully die with a certain amount of dignity and the respect of your fellow citizens. But you can’t just claim it as your right regardless of what you do to earn your check. You have to earn it by the acclaim of your community once you pass on for it to have any true meaning. Not for any other reason whatsoever.

    I hope this is understood in the manner I intended, with respect and concern.

    • Ray Thorne says:

      I would imagine that falling off a roof, although tragic, is not the same as placing yourself in harms way in the hopes of stopping a criminal before they find their next victim. Sometimes that next victim is the cop.

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