Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Tragedies Felt In South Dakota

daugaardheader DaugaardTragedies Felt In South Dakota
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Flags across South Dakota have been at half-staff for most of the last two weeks. Following the violence perpetrated in Dallas, France and Baton Rouge, President Obama issued three consecutive proclamations calling for the lowering of the flag. Even though our state has not been directly affected by this recent senseless violence, we are not untouched. We too feel the losses, and we mourn with the rest of the nation.

The assassinations of police officers in Texas and Louisiana weigh particularly heavily on our hearts. The sad events in these cities have reminded me how critically important our state, local and tribal law enforcement officers are to our communities, and that they deserve our appreciation.

The vast majority of those who enforce our laws live selfless lives. They’re courageous, hardworking and dedicated individuals. They work long hours and willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. They don’t know what they’ll encounter when they approach a vehicle or knock on a door. Their spouses and children make sacrifices as well, adjusting to the hours of the job and assuming brave faces when their loved one responds to an emergency call.

Still, law enforcement officers are not perfect. Sometimes they make mistakes, and unfortunately, there will always be a few who do not represent their profession well. But just as it is unacceptable for police to stereotype or target individuals based on the color of one’s skin, individuals should not stereotype police officers based on a few bad actors. Stereotyping is wrong and individuals should rather be judged individually and slowly. When mistakes are made, deliberate processes must be followed to review the facts, and legal consequences must be assigned as justified by those facts. Vigilante justice has no place in a civilized society.

It is because of the men and women who enforce our laws that we live in a free and civil society. There are many places in the world today where people live in chaos and face daily uncertainty over whether they’ll be able to protect themselves and their families. Because of our law enforcement officers, South Dakota is not one of those places.

As we mourn the senseless loss of life, occurring in so many places this year, let us also resolve to express our support and appreciation to those who protect us from violence.  Let us show respect for the law and for each other, and convey our appreciation to those who put their lives on the line to protect us.