Dear friends and fellow citizens of Carlisle,
My name is CJ Nissen and I have the privilege of serving as the chaplain for the Carlisle Police Department and Carlisle Fire and Rescue. I’m also firefighter and EMT for the City of Carlisle.
That’s relevant because I want to tell you about the quality of the men and women that serve Carlisle as Police Officers from the vantage point of someone who’s seen them in action up close. While your only interaction with our police force may be during a traffic stop or at a community function, I’ve seen and heard from them at some of the hardest times of their job.
You may not know this, but our officers are on scene for nearly every tragic circumstance in our town. They are there first for every major medical call, every car wreck, and every tragedy. Our cops don’t just enforce the legal code, their primary responsibility is to put themselves between us, the citizens of Carlisle, and danger from both within and without.
Several times I have entered a scene to see one of our officers drenched in sweat because he’s been furiously performing CPR on a victim alone. I’ve witnessed one of our officers embrace an older gentleman who just lost his wife, then watched the same officer take out the man’s garbage just to be helpful. We responded to a rollover accident and found the officer had climbed under the car and was holding the hand of the victim reassuring her until FD arrived. I once observed the arrest of a completely inebriated female driver who launched desperate and baseless accusations at the arresting officer, but he treated her with dignity, discretion, and compassion. I listened as one of our cops mercifully and non-judgementally convinced a man to voluntarily get treatment for his addictions.
I share these anecdotes because it’s important for you to know that our officers care for the citizens of our town on the worst day of their lives. The efforts of their concern do not come without a tremendous amount of personal vulnerability, empathy, and frankly, at times, awkwardness. But our cops are still willing to intercede in this way.
Like you, I woke up Wednesday to the news that Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Police Sgt. Anthony Beminio had been assassinated while on duty in early hours of the morning.
We’ve seen other incidents like this recently in places like Dallas, San Diego, and Baton Rouge, but never here. If I may be so bold to speak for all of us in Des Moines area, while we watched in horror at those events on the news, they still seemed far away. Now, we’re going to mourn for two brave men that we may have known, or had some connection with socially, or at very least we shared the common bond of being a Central Iowan with.
Given the climate of anti-police sentiment and the recent targeting of police members by murderers, I can say with certainty that the cops of our nation and even our small town are hurting, they’re discouraged, and they’re concerned about the future of their professions. Their wives and husbands fear every morning that they watch their spouse strap on their body armor and leave for work. They wonder if today is the day that a simple traffic stop goes bad. On top of normal dangers of getting struck by a car on a roadside or dealing with aggressive people who are chemically impaired, they must now worry that there are people who are actively targeting them for assassination. 2016 has been a hard year for law enforcement.
The point of this essay is simply to encourage all of us to rally behind our law enforcement. We have firm and fair peace officers who deserve our support. I encourage you to pray for them by name. You can find them listed here and your fire and rescue personnel are here. Consider the simple gesture of displaying a blue light in the front of your home to remind our officers that we’re praying and grateful for them. Though our current culture en masse is discouraging for law enforcement, let’s make sure our cops are encouraged and empowered to be the best that they can be by a community that supports them.
Finally, be honorable, respectful, and forthcoming in your interactions with our officers. Romans 13:4 says “The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good.” We should all be grateful that we live in an orderly society, but with that means that we all have an obligation to work with our authorities. They should find us supportive and humble, not combative and defensive. It’s in all our best interests to maintain a civil society, and that begins with our own good conduct.
As a member of public safety in Carlisle, please let me thank you for your constant support and encouragement. As a fellow citizen with a family, thank you for joining with me to encourage efforts to make ours the safest town to live and raise our kids.
In the precious love of Jesus,