Officers deserve better treatment, more pay

By Wayne Addison

We all know their number: 911. From the most trivial moment to the most dangerous, we immediately think to call law enforcement for assistance. That’s OK, because the many amazing men and women of law enforcement are ready to respond.

I have been a part of and heard so many stories of requests that seem trivial; however, to the caller it’s an amazingly stressful situation. Then on the reverse, some of the most horrific calls come in.

Amazing dispatchers gather the information, try to keep the caller calm and then put out the call so officers can head that way to assist.

Police are constantly dealing with people who are angry, enraged and under the influence of serious mind-altering drugs. They have to try to isolate, contain and negotiate with armed and often suicidal people. They must deal with people experiencing psycho-medical emergencies and those suffering from severe mental health disorders. When police are needed, no one hesitates to give them a call.

Why, then, do we have police officers all over the country being killed in the line of duty? Why does it appear there is a war on law enforcement officers?

I have always made the statement that every law enforcement officer has the same No. 1 priority when beginning a shift: to go home safely to family. So that means when an encounter occurs in which the life of that officer is in jeopardy, sometimes the only way to accomplish that goal is to use deadly force.

Throughout our country, so many people will immediately begin to protest and automatically assume there was no justified reason to injure or kill the offender. They immediately blame the police officer. Various groups immediately give out false statements and want to insinuate the police are the “bad guys.”

They immediately claim their civil rights were violated when, in fact, they know nothing about what their civil rights are and more importantly what they are not. They have not been taught the important role of police officers in American society and therefore have not been taught proper behavior and respect for law enforcement officers during an encounter.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the defendant pulls a gun or knife or fights; they immediately feel they must be an innocent victim. A nice way of putting that thinking is to compare it to the substance you find in a bull farmer’s manure spreader.

Parents have to teach their children to respect law enforcement. People have to learn to respect law enforcement. I truly feel, like everything else, most people absolutely do respect and have high praise of law enforcement officers, especially in Hancock County.

I was recently having lunch with a couple of deputies who were set to testify in court, one of whom was my son Kyle. One was in a nice suit, and the other was in his sheriff’s uniform. When our waitress came over, she told the officer in uniform that his meal was paid for by another customer. I thought that was an amazingly kind gesture from an unknown person. I ended up paying for the other officer because Kyle just happened to forget his wallet that day.

Another way we as citizens of Hancock County can help our officers is to support them in any type of effort for better pay and more assistance. Hancock County deputies are some of the best officers around, but they are among the lowest-paid in the counties surrounding Indianapolis. Yet, our officers still encounter some of those dangerous predators who seem to sneak over the county line.

If we want quality officers to be ready to respond to those 911 calls, we need to do what we can to help them to provide an adequate living. I feel it is time to start looking for better ways to support our law enforcement officers who ensure our safety every day.

If you agree, start talking of ways to help the County Council come up with additional funds to properly reward these brave men and women who answer the calls, respond to the calls and then house and care for the offenders in our local jail, all while putting their lives on the line every day. I know they would all appreciate it, but realistically it is the right thing to do.

Wayne Addison is chief probation officer for the Hancock County Probation Department. Send comments to