Supporting Those Who Protect Us

It has been said that September 11th, 2001 was one of the most destructive and violent days in our nation’s history, but September 12th, 2001 was one of the most inspiring and uniting days. In a time when the United States was the victim of such an act so destructive to the innocent lives of civilians and first responders, there was no greater reason for our nation and its allies to bind together in unity against these malevolent forces.

The country mourned, but it also resolved to never again allow attacks like these to happen so easily. As a nation, we became more protective, more vigilant, and more resilient. 2,977 people died in the 9/11 attacks. Of those victims, 343 were firefighters, 70 were law enforcement officers, and 8 were EMTs or paramedics. In a time where most were running away from the danger, they were running into it to put the lives of others before theirs.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Guest host Brooke Taylor welcomed Cleveland police chaplain Fr. Doug Brown onto The Cale Clarke Show to discuss the importance of supporting those who protect us and our nation, especially law enforcement.

The difference of opinions on law enforcement has seen a drastic change since the autumn of 2001. After the death of George Floyd, the summer of 2020 was a season of riots and calls to defund the police across the nation. How did the views of our law enforcement change so drastically? They are our domestic defense. They are called “to protect and to serve”. What happened to the reputation of the good people who kept our streets safe?

Fr. Brown’s passion for serving the police is tied to his family tree: His great-grandfather, Patrolman William Brown, was a Cleveland policeman who died in the line of duty. In 1917, he was asked by a café owner to detain a man who had been harassing patrons and brandishing a firearm. When a chase ensued, Brown got into a gunfight and was wounded. Following an amputation procedure and several blood transfusions, he died. The suspect was charged with second-degree murder.

It’s no secret that many law enforcement officers see horrific and tragic things every day: domestic abuse, drug addiction, suicide, murder and assault victims, child victims, fellow officers who are wounded or killed. The list goes on. No matter how stoic you are, seeing things like that, or even hearing about things like that, changes you. Fr. Brown talked about how most of his ministry takes the form of one-on-one conversations with people struggling with the intensity of their profession.

“The longer I’ve been a chaplain, the more of my work has developed into one-on-one work with officers – reaching out to officers that I know are struggling, that I know are hurting. And most times, it’s just listening to them,” said Fr. Brown. “In the famous words of St. Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the gospel often, and use words when necessary.’”

Being exposed to the tragedy and violence of the world can leave somebody with a tremendous weight on their chest, unable to reconcile their beliefs with their work. And law enforcement officers have high-stress jobs in an industry that is almost universally understaffed. It’s routine for officers to regularly work 24-hour shifts. Law enforcement agencies spend $136 billion every year on fatigue-related medical conditions.

But how much is being done for their mental health? For their spiritual health? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a majority of police officers face a risk of alcohol abuse, depression, and PTSD, and one in four have contemplated suicide. Chicago, a city with historically high crime rates, has one of the highest rates of police officer suicide, with a rate 60% higher than the national average.

“With your role and the years you’ve walked alongside these officers, what do you want people to know about these men and women and what you observe about them every day?”

“That they truly all entered this profession to help people and to serve people, not to exercise power or authority, but to try to really help people and help their community. That’s why they became a part of a police department.”

Fr. Brown acknowledged that, as everyone knows, there are bad people in every profession. We are human, and some will succumb to the temptation to take advantage of their position. But without a doubt, the good outweighs the bad. Countless lives have been saved and preserved by the work of good officers across the nation. The lawless and immoral actions of bad officers should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater.

And to that very point, police officers are human just like everyone else. Just as we are all capable of doing bad things, we could all benefit from love, respect, dignity, support, and accountability. Police need to feel that it’s beneficial to perform their jobs at a high level of excellence because it matters. It matters to their families. It matters to us and our safety. And it matters to the innocent people out there who are put in harm’s way every day, regardless of whether they’re wearing a badge or not.

Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.