There has been much talk recently about the Merrillville Fraternal Order of Police attending the January 25th Town Council meeting to express their displeasure with a couple members of the Town Council for making remarks during the January 11th meeting.
I wanted to set the record straight on a couple things because today it is easy to get placed in a group just because you are part of the council, or force, or organization. We ALL know that there are a few BAD police officers, but sometimes we allow those ‘few’ bad ones to set our feelings about ALL police officers. That is neither fair nor accurate. Certainly not ALL police officers are bad, or mean, or racist, or on and on… most ALL of them are great responsible professionals who risk their lives to keep US all safe.
We shouldn’t stereotype entire groups of people just because a few are bad. There are bad people in many groups. There are bad roofers, bad chefs, bad teachers, bad nurses, etc. but should we say that ALL (for example) roofers are crooks because of a few bad experiences?
Some elected officials at times have a moment. I moment in which they might question something or say something that they know is not correct or proper. We’ve all done it at some point in our lives. Said something that we wish we could simply take back. After all, we’re all human.
But, as was mentioned at the Town Council meeting on Tuesday night toward the Town Council, ‘some of you are doing a good job’. And just like it would be unfair to group all police officers as bad professionals, it would be unfair to group elected officials in the same category. Most elected leaders are there to do good. We are not there to make money as most positions just don’t offer that type of pay. Stipends are usually paid to assist in covering expenses that elected leaders incur while serving their constituents. Most are there to serve… like a Police Officer, a Nurse or a School Teacher. I have a good friend who reminds everyone all the time that if your goal is to make a lot of money, then don’t work for a municipality. A city or town usually can’t compete with the private sector.
How do I stand with the Blue you might ask… I began long ago when serving as the Merrillville Fraternal Order of Police Associate Members member and president. NO, we were not police officers, but we were an associate group of police supporters to help out when possible with equipment purchasing, support for FOP fund raisers, and to volunteer our time toward police causes. During this time in my late twenties and early thirties, we saw that the town could not afford to purchase bullet proof vests for the police force. We were a little shocked that as vests were becoming more and more popular, this not a standard issue piece of equipment for each officer.
We set out to raise funds and formed the “Body Armour Campaign” educating area businesses and residents about the need for vests and pointing out that the town with its limited budget could not provide vests for all officers. Calculating the cost of vests, we set out to raise enough funds to purchase each and every police officer a bullet proof vest.
The campaign was a huge success with over $20,000 raised allowing enough funding to purchase each police officer a new vest.
After serving my first 3 terms on the Town Council (from 1999 through 2003) the Town Council appointed me to serve on the Police Commission. Again, I proudly served not for the money ($100 per month), but to give back to the officers and my community. I served for 10 years on the Police Commission and learned a great deal about the operations, and struggles of running a department.
I support our officers in blue, or any other color they wear! Always have, always will!
-Rick Bella, Merrillville Town Councilman