Police officers deserve our empathy in this current culture of mistrust and quick judgement. True, there have been many horrible mistakes made in haste or misjudgments of character and intent made by police officers in the line of duty. There have been corrupt police that we hear about in news stories. However the majority of people who choose to become police officers willingly put themselves in positions of danger and ill-will daily as they work to keep the peace in our communities.
I was honored when Barbara Duncan, chief of the Salisbury, Maryland police force asked me if I would paint an image to inspire them during these difficult times. Barbara is an amazing person, even handed, competent and calm. She is respected by her police officers, and the greater community. We all feel fortunate to have her at the wheel of our diverse town in the center of the Delmarva Peninsula.
My art is colorful, even whimsical. How could I use it to engage the officers in a positive message they would relate with? I mulled this over for several months. Researching the web looking at police imagery and badges, I came upon the oath that police take when they are inducted. I noted the bald eagle and olive leaves of peace used on a police badge. Combining these with Barbara’s appreciation for my “Many Birds One Tree” image and our Eastern Shore landscape I came up with this image:
An eagle holding a gold star guards a nest of diversely colored birds in a nest. Olive branches cross and frame the image topped by the eagle’s wings. In the distance is a vista of our Chesapeake Bay. The background contains the Police officer’s oath over gold and deep blue stripes.
Barbara had wanted to include “keepers of the peace” in the painting. Which I believe sometimes people forget is what police officers work to do. The central gold star was just the place for that.
Police officers uphold our nation’s laws to maintain a level of civility that allows communities to function.
I am happy to say Barbara was very happy with the painting and it is hung where the police officers can see it and hopefully feel uplifted. Being in a position of authority automatically separates you from others. It places a layer of animosity/caution into interactions with people. It is hard laying down the law. Just ask any parent or school principal. Our police officers do this everyday with folks that dislike and appreciate them far less.