Mutual trust and respect are key to a strong relationship between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

However, these days, being a law enforcement officer has never been more complex. It’s difficult, dangerous and sometimes, thankless – but, at the end of the day, it can also be most rewarding.

When I swear in deputies, they take an oath to uphold the law, and to protect and serve our community. As first responders, officers are aware of the dangers they might face when walking into an unknown situation – that each step can mean life or death for themselves or someone else – but they also understand that it is the job they signed up to do.

Along with the risks of the job comes the power to enact positive change in the community. Each shift brings new opportunities for law enforcement to make a positive impact, whether it’s taking five minutes to play basketball with neighborhood children, or just being present near a school as children start their day.

I believe it’s important for citizens in every community to set good examples for each other. Create a ‘safety culture’ within your neighborhood. Set up a neighborhood watch, remind your neighbors to drive safely – in short, watch out for each other and obey the law.

Officers will say part of wearing the badge is accepting the responsibility that comes with it. So, next time you see a law enforcement officer, take time to reflect on and recognize the difficult career they have chosen, and the dedication and passion it takes to excel at it. Whether the goal is to be an active part of the community, to make a positive change in someone’s life, or to keep families safe, all law enforcement officers have reasons why they serve.