Sheriff commends efforts of local law enforcement

MANISTEE — Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan recognized the daily efforts of local law enforcement at the Manistee County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday evening, in observance of National Corrections Officers Week (May 6-12) and this week’s designation as National Police Week.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude for their hard work and dedication displayed in their role as police officers, not only safeguarding our community, but enhancing our citizens’ quality of life,” he said. “Without hesitation they continue to show professionalism, acts of kindness, and in many cases heroic efforts, all while maintaining law and order, doing the brave and quiet work that sometime gets overlooked.”

“This week — during National Police Week — I want to recognize and remember those officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice … (and give) a heartfelt thank you to all the police officers who go above and beyond the call of duty,” he added. “They’re often tasked with defusing hostile situations, making split-second life or death decisions, dealing with tragedy or elevated emotions from families or victims, and yet, they continue to discharge their duties faithfully in a manner that can only be described as astonishing.”

In recognizing these extraordinary efforts, past and present, O’Hagan asked for a moment of silence during Tuesday’s meeting to honor of a pair of local law enforcement officers who lost their life in the line of duty.

“We too have some fallen heroes that I want to remember,” he said. “Robin Arnold (of the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office) was killed on Feb. 4, 1994, in a traffic crash while returning home from training. Robin was not only my partner … she was my mentor and she was my dear friend.

“We also remember (Michigan State Police trooper) Paul Butterfield, who we all know was gunned down during a traffic stop on Sept. 9, 2013, just for doing his job. A senseless loss of a human loss.”

O’Hagan also highlighted the efforts of local corrections officers.

“Every officer that works in the correctional environment wears a variety of hats, that include officer, coordinator, counselor and teacher,” he said. “This is done while they are responsible for the care, custody and welfare of the inmates.

“The true value of corrections officers that provide this type of public service is unknown to the average citizen, primarily because they can’t begin to fathom what takes place inside this secure facility,” O’Hagan added. “Police officers get their fair share of recognition, however many times a corrections officer is often forgotten when, in fact, they too are unsung heroes. …

“To be frank, (the job) can be thankless, at times aggravating, and in many instances downright dangerous. Every day they come to work surrounded by those held against their will. … Yet, they do their job courageously to satisfy the needs of the inmates.”

O’Hagan pointed out that the job itself is getting tougher.

“This environment is experiencing some dramatic changes,” he said. “It’s no longer just inmates who have committed petty crimes. … Within our modern day society we have witnessed more hardened criminals, with serious offenses that lead to prison terms: drug cases, where individuals experience higher withdrawal effects, negative attitudes that have flourished in recent years, at a time when mental illness has saturated our county jail.

“Outnumbered by 10, 20 and sometimes 30 inmates to one … they place themselves in harm’s way every time they do a cell check or have to go hands-on with an inmate who is in uncooperative, intoxicated or under the influence of drugs,” he said. “Add the mental health component to the mix, and a corrections officer day at the office can be extremely challenging, unpredictable and very uncertain.

“For those reasons alone, it is of essence that we honor our corrections professionals for the phenomenal job that they do. … As the sheriff, I have the distinct privilege of witnessing their high level of professionalism each and every day. And I want to thank them publicly for a job well done.”

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.

Jeff Dontz, chair of the Manistee County Board of Commissioners, thanked O’Hagan for his commitment to community as well.

“I’d like to compliment the sheriff and staff, and all the organizations of law enforcement in the county,” he said. “The coordination and camaraderie (among departments) has really been elevated from years past.

“It’s recognized and definitely appreciated, so thank you for your efforts.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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