We just concluded National Police Week -- and in no other year has the remembrance of fallen police officers meant so much to those of us who support law enforcement.

America, quite frankly, is a pressure cooker.

There has been a global pandemic. A heated election. Racial unrest -- much of it police-related. An insurrection at the nation's capitol.

And through it all, police officers have had to deal with ridicule and scorn from much of the population.

In 2020, 362 police officers died on the job. In 2021 alone, over 100 have perished.

Each year, during National Police Week, our nation celebrates the contributions of law enforcement from around the country, recognizing their hard work, dedication, loyalty, and commitment to keeping our communities safe.

It goes without saying it's never been an easy job. Needless to say, it's a very dangerous job.

Law enforcement officers deserve our respect for going out, each and every day, to protect and serve.

But in today's climate, they really have our admiration -- because their job is tougher than it's ever been before.

It's important to recognize the role police play in our communities. There will always be a criminal element that has no respect for individual property rights -- our houses, our valuables, our very lives and bodies. There is no utopia; evildoers will never go away.

The police are what stand between them and us. They are the deterrent. They are the ones tasked with going out and catching the wrongdoers, with righting the wrongs. Without them, bad things happen.

We've seen this nationally. Amid calls to "defund the police," some communities have done just that -- and seen swift statistical increases in crime. The correlation is obvious.

Of course, those calls to "defund" exist because some police do bad things themselves. It does happen. It's important to hold them accountable, but it's just as important to lift up and celebrate the cops who do it the right way -- who do their job the way it's supposed to be done. That's what we do with National Police Week. We're honoring the true police officers -- those who live up to the high expectations and solemn duty of the badge they wear.

In Pulaski County, we're lucky to have a lot of fine police officers, sheriff's deputies, and all manner of law enforcement personnel who do things the right way. Somerset Police Chief William Hunt has been recognized in particular as an exemplary example of this, with a statewide Police Chief of the Year award and invitations to share his perspective on high-profile panels. Clearly, here in this community, somebody's doing something right.

We can acknowledge the realities without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Scrutiny for those who do wrong is appropriate, but some in this day and age go so far as to vilify the police, and that's unnecessary. For those who serve and protect with honor and integrity, just as you're called to do, we salute you. You deserve our support and admiration.

THE COMMONWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD consists of Mark Walker, Publisher; Jeff Neal, Editor; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; Shirley Randall, Production; and Christopher Harris, Staff Writer.

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