Today Chief Tom Ross participated in the Davis County Officer Memorial. This is in an event dedicated to honoring and remembering the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers. Below is the speak given.
I am humbled to stand before you and pay tribute to our fallen law enforcement brothers and sisters on this special day of remembrance. I can’t think of a more honorable sacrifice than to lay down your life in defense of another. It makes me extremely proud to call myself a law enforcement officer and be associated with such honorable men and women. Today also gives us the opportunity to say thanks to all those who have served and continue to serve as law enforcement officers.
Over 25 years ago I made a critical choice in my life to apply for and accept a job as a law enforcement officer in Bountiful City. I had given this career path a lot of thought and the decision was one that I did not take lightly. It also is a choice that I have not regretted for a single day.
Like many of you here, I started my law enforcement career not fully understanding the verbal contract I had made that would bind me to my community and to those individuals I would come to serve with. I knew I wanted to be a force for good and a defender against evil. I felt I was up to the challenge, but I had no way of realizing how big an impact this contract would have on my life. It would ultimately re-define core beliefs as to how I see my role in society and even change how I viewed the world I live in, surprisingly for the better.
As I grew in my career I realized there was an important and recurring theme that I would have to fully embrace in order to truly protect the citizens I am responsible for. It is the concept of sacrifice which has been described as selfless good deeds or a short term loss in return for a greater power.
I had no way of anticipating the importance of the sacrifices I would make and ultimately come to embrace. But as my career progressed, I became aware that without sacrifice, we cannot truly commit ourselves to the role of a protector. Those of us in law enforcement, and our families, know there are many sacrifices required of us as we move throughout our careers. They include the more common talked about sacrifices of wealth, time with family and loved ones, missed holidays, shift work, etc. Then the realization of even greater demands are revealed such as how to live with being hated and despised, how to process indescribable trauma and pain, overcoming fear and the loss of innocence; and for some families, the loss of life.
So one might ask, why do we do it? How could this profession with all of the negatives we are exposed to end up making life better. The answer is really quite simple, first: the benefits of living the life of a protector. There is an extreme sense of pride and fulfillment in being a protector and defender of a community, someone who is willing to fight for liberty and freedom to the end. The sheep dog watching over the flock ready, and more importantly, willing to take on any and all intruders, fully accepting the costs associated with this duty. It has become who we are and has defined our lives into something bigger than ourselves. This is the reason we are here today: to mourn the loss of our law enforcement brothers and sisters and to celebrate what their lives stood for.
Second: I have found a peace in being able to see past the criminal conduct and recognize that most of these people have good inside them even though it may be hard to see at times. Through poor choices, addiction, illness, they have become lost and many are looking for a way back. This doesn’t excuse their behavior and the consequences of that behavior, but if we look for the good, it just might save us in the process and keep us from becoming cynical and damaged. My eyes have been opened and I have personally benefitted by becoming more accepting, understanding and compassionate. In short, my life has been blessed because I know why I am here and it gives me purpose.
I have also been blessed to be able to see individuals in our community at their best. I have witnessed individuals rise up from tragic situations and rebuild their lives. I have seen individuals overcome fear and oppression taking back their lives. I have seen complete strangers risk everything to help someone in need. It is witnessing events such as these that have made the world I live in better.
So today we celebrate sacrifice. These men and women who have died while earning the right to wear a badge on their chest. It is you who gave America a model to emulate. These unselfish men and women placed themselves in harm’s way fighting for the oppressed and defending our freedom. They showed courage and displayed the heart of a warrior in their most desperate moment. It is these men and women we salute today and every day, knowing they fought the fight to the end and passed the torch for us to carry forward. May we all do so with the courage and honor they displayed. May we commit ourselves to being ethical, honest, disciplined and ready to serve something greater than we are alone. For this is the life we have chosen and to do anything less is to disrespect their memories!
In closing I would like to recite a verse from a song I feel depicts what I have spoken about today. The song is called; Everything I do, I do it for you by Bryan Adams
Look into your heart, you will find
There’s nothin’ there to hide
Take me as I am, take my life
I would give it all, I would sacrifice
Don’t tell me it’s not worth fightin’ for
I can’t help it, there’s nothin’ I want more
You know it’s true
Everything I do, I do it for you
To the families of the fallen officers whose lives we honor today, I pray that you are able to find some level of comfort and the strength to continue moving forward. I believe your protector is still watching over you helping to guide you back home. May God bless you and may God bless all law enforcement employees!