By Chief Martin Skibba
Special to the City Times
As newly hired police officers, we pledge to be stewards, seeking to earn our community’s trust while striving to make it a better, safer and secure place to live.
As we become part of this community, it is not the 25 or 30 pounds of equipment we are asked to wear that weighs us down. Nor is it the firearm we carry to every call; trained, knowing one day we may be called to use it. Rather, it is the burden of knowing we were not always able to keep you from harm or protect a loved one.
Over 25 years ago I was privileged to become a steward of this community. Countless times unconditional trust was given to me as individuals in need called for help, as they relied on a complete stranger to enter their lives and assist them through one of their life’s worst moments.
Like all those who came before me and will follow, we have been witness to some of the worst tragedies imaginable, but we have also been blessed to see the best humanity has to offer.
Every day in Stevens Point, 43 other men and women — police officers — and I strive to demonstrate we are worthy of that trust and the precious value of each and every person in our care. We have taken an oath to comfort and protect and will not waver in that duty. Upholding this promise, we as officers stand where others are unable to.
We are that surrogate family member who offers support and comfort, protection and trust when no one else can. Sadly, this promise comes with a heavy cost and when a citizen or officer is killed, it is a family member that has been taken from us.
There was a time in humanity’s history when each and every one of us was responsible to protect one another. As time passed peace officers came to be, filling that role as guardian. I believe it is time we recognize that like family members, we need one another, officers and citizens together making the whole of our society better than the individual parts.
It is not ether citizens or officers who are solely responsible for this, but rather it is the responsibility of each of us — citizen and officer alike. As a member of this family, I promise to do my part, and I know 43 others who stand by my side each day making that same pledge. Moreover, I know countless individuals in countless communities who strive to do the same.
I want to thank each and every one of you for that.