September 24, 2020

By JUSTIN FORD

Our police officers attempt to protect and serve every time they put their uniforms on and literally step into the line of fire. But now, with reports of the average Toronto cop making $100,000 a year, society seems to be saying that kind of salary doesn’t match the service and protection they provide.

Brad Pitt reportedly made $14 million for acting in World War Z in 2013, and we’re up in arms over the faceless police officers who took to the streets to fight crime – in real life – for $100,000?

Police officers deserve salaries in the upper echelons. It’s a job that requires them to risk their lives almost every day, and while they’re out on the streets protecting society, the public is constantly scrutinizing them for simply trying to doing their job. If you have an office job, does someone start filming you when it’s crunch time and your report is due in an hour? Do you have to sit in front of your superiors and explain yourself every time you use the stapler or the fax machine?

Police officers also often face death in the line of duty. And they see the absolute worst human behaviour imaginable. While officers do not top salary lists, they are prime candidates for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide.

According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the highest rate of on-the-job suicides occurred amongst people in “protective service occupations,” excluding military personnel. In 2014, an Ottawa police officer killed himself on duty using his firearm, two Toronto police officers hanged themselves, a retired RCMP corporal took his life after a battle with PTSD and a 25-year veteran of the Hamilton Police Service shot himself in his station’s locker room. Those are just some of the higher profile police suicides that occurred last year.

Those who vow to serve and protect put their life on the line every day, and even if they make it through each day safely, their sanity is still at risk long after they bow out of the line of duty. Mental illness is the main contributing factor to suicide, so if an officer is diagnosed with PTSD, their life becomes at risk all over again.

Police officers seem to always be literally and metaphorically under fire, be it with bullets or constant public scrutiny. They have taken an oath to uphold the law and to protect the taxpayers who pay their salaries, and the least we can do is also pay them our respect and compensate them fairly. They’re doing a job that takes a tremendous amount of valour, and ultimately, they more than deserve the salaries they are currently making.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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