This has been a frightening, devastating time for police officers in our community.
Richmond County Deputy J.D. Paugh was shot and killed last October. Aiken Public Safety Master Officer Scotty Richardson was killed in December. Then, just a few days ago, Aiken Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers was shot and killed.
Deaths of police officers in our community typically are rare. This tragic trio has made their jobs seem all the more dangerous.
Keep in mind: These deaths didn’t come during what the officers thought were takedowns of violent criminals, or raids on meth labs. All of these officers were shot and killed during traffic stops or while checking out suspicious vehicles, a seemingly “routine” part of their jobs.
But there’s nothing “routine” about it. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, more than 150 officers died during traffic stops in the past decade.
It wouldn’t hurt all of us to remember those statistics, and the recent deaths of our local heroes, the next time any of us is unlucky enough to get pulled over.
If a cop gives you a ticket, it isn’t because he wants to hassle you. And it certainly isn’t because he wants to put his life in danger.
If you get pulled over, it’s probably because you broke a law. Be respectful and take your ticket. Want to fight? Go to court.
While you’re there, you’ll see all manner of people just like you. Most are law-abiding people who just slipped up. It happens. Judges know that, and treat people in their courts accordingly.
Judges also often ask the officer if the person pulled over was cooperative. Keep that in mind if you decide to compound your bad day by acting like a jerk to the cop: He’s trained to take the verbal abuse without letting it escalate – and he’ll happily relate your behavior to the judge.
Our law enforcement officers have a tough enough job, and with these deaths among their colleagues, it’s understandable if they’re all on a state of high alert. Make their job easier by meticulously obeying the law, including traffic laws. And if you slip up? Take your ticket – and thank them for their service.