On March 22Wisconsin received another reminder of why it is so important to support our police. Detective Jason T. Weiland, of the Everest Metropolitan Police Department, was killed in the line of duty by a gunman. Weiland served for 18 years, 15 years of which were with the EMPD. Weiland was a 40-year-old husband and father of two. On April 11, Wisconsin lost another officer in a car crash.

Anthony J. Borostowski was killed when his squad car left the roadway and struck a tree. Trooper Borostowski was a recipient of the Wisconsin State Patrol’s lifesaving award for performing CPR on a man, saving his life. He also enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and served our country overseas. Borostowski received several awards during his military service including the Combat Action Badge, Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, Iraqi and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, the Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Drill Sergeant’s Badge, among many others.

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Devastating loss follows both of these tragedies. Wisconsin lost two diligent public servants, their communities lost their protectors, and their families lost their loved ones. These two will be deeply missed, and their lives will be remembered. This is another reminder of how much our men and women in blue sacrifice to serve their communities. They get up every day to go work a job where they are not always appreciated. Their everyday routine involves putting on bullet-proof vests and gun belts. When they are performing a “routine” traffic stop, that traffic stop could easily turn into an emergency situation.

Police officers see the absolute worst of society; they see the terrible crashes, crimes committed and disasters. When catastrophe hits, they don’t get to run away from the danger, they end up running right toward it to protect others. They don’t work a regular shift like much of working America; oftentimes their shift doesn’t end until crises cease. They get called into work at all hours, and they cannot ignore the call because the community cannot go without protection.

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Even when they aren’t on duty, police officers are always some of the first to respond to emergencies when they are simply going about their daily lives. While other Americans spend the holidays with their families, our men and women in uniform don’t always get to take the day off. They say goodbye to their families each day like everyone else, except they don’t know for sure if they will make it home. Some of these men and women end up giving their lives protecting their communities from harm, giving the ultimate sacrifice to the profession of law enforcement.

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These sacrifices often go ignored and under appreciated. Law enforcement and first responders are truly some of the most honorable members of society. Their dedication to serve their communities regardless of the cost is one of the most admirable actions that one could take. They bravely serve their communities day after day, often without receiving any form of a “thank-you.”

Next time you come across a police officer, a firefighter, an EMT, or any other public servant, I sincerely encourage you to thank them for their service and their sacrifice. Our first responders are of a different breed, constantly putting the needs of others above themselves. Because of them, lives have been saved, our communities are safer, and we always have someone to call in times of need.

I was blessed enough to be raised by two police officers. Growing up in a blue home made me a much stronger individual and helped me to understand the challenges that our communities face. My heroes were not some abstract people that I had never met; my heroes were the parents tucking me in every night. I spent much of my childhood witnessing the daily sacrifices that my parents made.

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There were times when my dad’s usual 12-hour shift would turn into a 17-hour shift. My dad remembers describing to a drunk driver in the backseat of his police car one Halloween that he had a “pissed off piglet” at home because he would not be able to go trick-or-treating with me due to this person driving drunk. I remember my dad walking through our front door one day covered in blood because he performed CPR on a woman who was in a particularly bad car crash.

He came in, quickly showered, and then headed back to work. My mom began in law enforcement when it was not easy to be a female police officer. My mother was the first female police officer in the city of Green Lake, and the second in the county overall. She was often told that she didn’t have much authority on account of her being female, but she didn’t let that stop her from doing her job. In her time as a law enforcement officer, she started a community service program, started a bible study program, and she worked to rehabilitate inmates through an electronic monitoring program.

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Today, both of my parents are retired from their duties as police officers. After 25 years in law enforcement, my mother moved to a position where she is no longer in uniform. After 30 years of service, my father recently retired from law enforcement as well. I am so thankful that both of my parents were able to leave their professions relatively unscathed. While my parents no longer wear the badge, my heart still goes out to those who are still serving their communities and putting on the badge every day. After witnessing what it was like to wear the badge firsthand, I have a deep appreciation for those who are serving our communities today.

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We now live in a world in which wearing the badge can get you killed, which is a very sad reality. For the past three years, around 150 police officers per year have been killed in the line of duty. If this trend continues, 150 officers will not make it home to their families this year. One hundred and fifty communities will mourn the death of a citizen who went beyond a normal call to serve. These statistics are not only sobering, but should be a constant reminder to thank and support our police officers and first responders. A great majority of our men and women in uniform truly want to serve their communities and make them safer for us all. This is often sadly forgotten.

Emelia Rohl is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communications. She is the communications director for the UW College Republicans.