David Orr, CT
To me, being in law enforcement is about more than doing a job, it’s about being a part of the backbone of your community. I have been in law enforcement for 15 years, working as a patrolman at the New York City Police Department, as a narcotics officer, a detective, and also on SWAT.
I am currently a patrol supervisor with the Norwalk, Connecticut Police Department, where I supervise the squad of patrolmen on the midnight shift. These are the women and men who do whatever it takes to keep our community safe, who we rely on in our darkest moments.
When one of our nation’s darkest moments happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, I was one of the many officers who assisted that community. And in the months following that tragedy I worked with my union to help assist the officers who responded in a moment of crisis and were struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
With the help of my union, I’ve been able to raise awareness about the importance of including PTSD in worker’s compensation policies to make sure that the dangers officers face – both physically and mentally – are covered. And in February 2015, that work resulted in an opportunity to testify on worker’s comp in front of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Four out of every five police officers sustain injuries on the job at some point during their career. A strong voice at work is necessary for those who put themselves in harm’s way. That voice gives officers the peace of mind that someone is speaking up for them and their families when they get hurt on the job.
Unions give law enforcement the backup necessary to do our jobs. Our ability to organize and join together to focus on promoting a safe working environment is crucial for our profession. Emergency responders are the first line of defense in this country, and we need protection too.
That’s why I’ve been following the Friedrichs v. CTA case as it heads to the Supreme Court. Big money corporations are trying to prevent police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other working people from having the ability to join together and create positive working conditions. When police officers aren’t safe on the job, they can’t keep their communities safe.
Emergency responders play a critical role in society. We deserve a voice on the job to make sure we have the conditions to keep our communities and ourselves safe, and benefits and wages that can sustain our families.