There is no doubt that in the last year or so, law enforcement officers have had a dark cloud hanging over their profession. From riots to shootings and lack of trust from some members in the communities in which they serve, it is enough to make anyone wonder why they would choose a career where they wear a badge. However, there are plenty of citizens who appreciate and support what they do every day for their community; which was the main point Geogia State Patrol Sergeant First Class Maurice Raines wanted to convey when he spoke at the annual Valor Awards held by the LaGrange-Troup Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast meeting last month.
Raines, who formerly served as Chairman of the Upson County Board of Commissioners, and is Associate Pastor at Salem Baptist Church in Salem, is currently the Post Commander for Georgia State Patrol Post 2 in LaGrange, and is a 25-year veteran of the GSP. He was asked to be the keynote speaker for the chamber event, which recognizes local law enforcement officers and what they do to serve and protect.
“It was not only an honor to be asked to speak at the Valor Awards,” said Raines, “but, I also consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to the law enforcement community. I was proud to be able to present awards to those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in a time when law enforcement seems to have a dark cloud hanging over its head.”
Raines stated that so far in 2015, there have been 91 officer deaths throughout the nation, with Texas leading with 10 deaths and Georgia close behind in third place with seven. He added that he knows numbers like that can be discouraging to officers as they go out on the job each day, however it is important to stand strong in the face of adversity.
“It can be a tremendous challenge to know that you can go to a call at a house one day and basically get cussed out and berated for being there and then have to turn around and go back out there the next day to help with a situation,” said Raines. “However, I told them they have to keep their heads up and stand tall, because people in the community do support them and people across this country do as well. More often than not, people are for you, not against you.”
When asked what he feels is the biggest problem law enforcement officers have to deal with today, Raines stated there is a disconnect between the officers and the community.
“When patrolling neighborhoods, officers used to ride through town with their windows down in their patrol cars and would talk with people. That doesn’t seem to happen as much now. Officers keep their windows rolled up and no one talks to each other. That is something that needs to change.”
Although it has been trying times lately for his brothers and sisters in law enforcement, Raines feels events like the Valor Awards and similar ones held locally, do a world of good for morale.
“To me, the best part of the breakfast was seeing the community come and show support for those who serve and protect,” said Raines. “Seeing businesses, community leaders and citizens come together to give back to those who put themselves in harm’s way, is very moving.”
Bridging the gap between societal groups and bringing people together is something that Raines is very passionate about. In fact, he is currently serving on an 18-month long panel that deals with race relations in Troup County and focuses on moving the community forward. When asked, he also noted that he is still very involved in the Upson County community and would never say never when it comes to running for a local political office again in the future.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1