Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fourth of July

This week the United States celebrates its 238th birthday, and our city marks the occasion with we justifiably describe as "America's Biggest Birthday Party", Fair Saint Louis.

 The three-day festival is a truly massive civic project requiring an incredible amount of planning and hard work. The result is a model of public-private collaboration, as representatives of many different backgrounds and interests come together to do something great.

As law enforcement, our job is to preserve public safety, and there are two sides to the coin. We must make the event as safe as possible in practical terms, but we must also help people feel safe while they take part in the fun. We cannot succeed by doing one or the other. We must do both, and be judged by how well we do them.

 At the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, we have many sources of guidance. We have our laws, our policies, our core values, our training and our experience. But today we look back a bit further for our inspiration – all the way back to the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776 – because that's what this celebration is really about. We remember the words many of us memorized when we were kids:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
 That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that…it is the Right of the People…to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

I can't think of another passage that captures so perfectly the relationship between the police department and the people. We exist by your consent. We are founded on your principles, and organized in forms of your choosing, to serve the purpose of protecting you and helping you feel protected. Thank you to the officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, law enforcement officers across the country and to the men and women serving in our military. Thank you for your daily sacrifices that allow the people of this country to live in safety and happiness.

That's something we can all celebrate together. So let the spirit of the Declaration guide you this week, as it guides us, and let's help each other have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend.

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