ICYMI: Shut it Down

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January 08, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Today, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in Independent Journal, or IJ Review, which is a social first, mobile first news company serving millions of Americans with shareable, informative and mobile friendly content. The piece is a call to action from Rutledge, urging local, state and national leaders to join her in expressing appreciation for members of law enforcement and to help shutdown the negativity toward these dedicated public servants.

From comic strips, to books and television shows and movies, we encourage children to find a hero who inspires them.  Some choose Batman, Iron Man or Wonder Woman as their favorite super hero.

But what about these names: Chief Kirk Lane, Officer Michelle Hill or Officer Mark Willis? These three names could belong to anybody, but in my home State of Arkansas, they belong to local law enforcement officers. These three, along with countless others, get up every day with one mission: to protect and serve their communities and neighbors.

If they are not heroes, I do not know who is.

As Arkansas’s chief law enforcement officer, I am proud of the work of our officers and am honored to assist them in protecting our citizens by providing them with life-saving training and resources.  

I have personally seen officers sacrifice so much and expect so little in return. I have joined in the celebration of newly sworn officers, and, tragically, I have stood with families and communities as they mourn officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

I am deeply troubled by the extreme rhetoric circulating across the country about members of law enforcement. If you turn on your television or pick up a newspaper, almost every day you can find somebody making disparaging comments about law enforcement and unfairly judging officers based on emotions fueled by rumors and irresponsible media coverage.

This must stop.

As I have held roundtable meetings in all of Arkansas’s 75 counties this past year, I have reminded local leaders of this negativity and have challenged them to join me.  Whether these negative comments are driven from the national media or sadly from our nation’s Capital, it is time that we, as leaders, shut this down.

When families choose where to call home, they ask two questions: Are the schools good and what is the crime rate?

Without the commitment of local law enforcement to confront dangerous situations every minute of every hour of every day, the crime rates families use to determine where to live would climb. If families begin to look elsewhere to live, communities can count on the job market suffering and the economy struggling. People want to feel safe and deserve to be safe. We need to challenge Americans to consider what message detrimental comments toward our law enforcement send. I fear that this nation may lose an entire generation of men and women who want to wear the badge but will choose not to join the ranks because of the backlash they are witnessing against law enforcement.

A young boy once told me he wanted to be a superhero for Halloween. I told him there were dozens to choose from, but if he wanted to be a real hero he should wear a police officer’s uniform. I hope that more parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will encourage children to consider serving their communities as sworn officers. Being a police officer is a noble calling. I want to thank all members of law enforcement in Arkansas and across the country for answering that call to protect and serve.

Tomorrow, January 9, is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and I am calling on local, state and national leaders to join me in expressing our appreciation for our men and women in blue and the public service they perform.  I hope that as a nation we will not only thank our officers tomorrow but every day by shutting down the negativity toward those who protect and serve our communities.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on Nov. 4, 2014, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office.

Rutledge, a native of Batesville, Arkansas, is a graduate of Southside High School, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She began her legal career as Clerk for Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Josephine Hart, now Associate Justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court. She was appointed Deputy Counsel for Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and later served as Legal Counsel on the Mike Huckabee for President Campaign. She served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and in subsequent service as Attorney for the State of Arkansas’s Division of Children and Family Services. She also served as Deputy Counsel at the National Republican Congressional Committee before joining the Republican National Committee as Counsel. Prior to her election as Attorney General, she founded and practiced law at The Rutledge Firm, PLLC. Rutledge lives in Little Rock.