Law enforcement faces many hidden dangers

The FBI released its violent crime report for 2016 on Monday. It showed violent crime in 2016 rose for the second straight year, but still remains at historical low levels.

Violent crime such as shootings and robberies rose 4.1 percent in 2016 from the year before. Homicides increased 8.6 percent.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday challenged law enforcement to “confront and turn back the rising tide of violent crime.” This challenge comes at a time when law enforcement has been heavily criticized for questionable fatal shootings and other incidents captured on video shot by citizens.

Most of the rising violent crime and questionable incidents occur in metropolitan areas far away from southwest Minnesota. However, law enforcement officials here are not without their challenges.

A column on this page written by Minneota Police Chief Bill Bolt underscores how tough a job our law enforcement men and women face each day. He describes being assaulted by a suspect. He said the person “spit in his face causing phlegm and spittle to enter his mouth.”

During this incident, Bolt described his concentration in staying calm through the entire episode of arresting the person. And then later receiving medical attention that required blood being drawn for testing to monitor his health.

Bolt said some citizens angered by the incident suggested he use force against the person in response to the spitting. He cited his professionalism and training to control his emotions and not to overstep his boundaries. He said his role is not of a punisher.

“If I had unleashed punitive force against this person in response to him assaulting me, I would be no better than them,” he wrote.

It’s unimaginable the level of self-control one has to have in order to handle this “assault” in the professional manner that Bolt reportedly displayed. While violent crime and suspected “police brutality” grab the headlines, we learn that the men and women of law enforcement face a variety of dangers that rarely get reported in the national media.

Bolt’s incident puts the spotlight on the challenge that comes with dealing with mental illness and suspects who are under heavy influence of drugs and alcohol.

Bolt urges citizens to take a minute and consider changing currently held beliefs regarding police, courts and suspects. “We have a system of law that works when we work with it,” he said.

We applaud Bolt’s professionalism. We also applaud his faith in the justice system.