To the editor:
I recently moved to DeKalb County and overall have been very happy with the area. However, as the daughter of a Chicago police officer, I was concerned to hear of the rules and regulations the DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputies must abide by.
My first eye-opener was hearing that they work 12-hour shifts. Even over-the-road truck drivers are not allowed to work more than 11 hours without an immediate 10-hour break afterward. The reason being is the safety of not only the truck driver but other drivers on the road, as well. Not to diminish the importance of truck drivers, but I would prefer my law enforcement officers to be at their sharpest, considering their job is to put themselves on the line to protect the community. The quick reaction time they need to respond to situations can be a matter of life or death. I recently read a study through policefoundation.org that stated officers working 12-hour shifts reported being less alert and sleepier on the job than those working eight- or 10-hour shifts.
The other issue I noticed was their uniforms seem quite dated. Now, this might seem like nit-picking to some people, but if you think of what an officer must carry on their person at all times, there’s only so much a belt can take. Most departments I’ve been around, whether it’s relatives who are in law enforcement or my own observances at fairs and such, the officers/deputies have cargo pants and polo shirts. This makes it not only more comfortable, but also more efficient for them to carry weapons, first aid kits, flashlights, handcuffs, notepads, evidence, etc.
We unfortunately live in a time when police officers aren’t getting the respect they deserve. There will always be bad apples in any job, but let’s not let that be the focus of the majority of them. These men and women sign up for a job that takes courage and sacrifice … two characteristics most of us don’t need for our jobs on a daily basis. So if the goal of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office is to protect our community, wouldn’t it make sense to maximize the safety and productivity of the deputies first, which in turn creates a safer environment for us all?