They don’t have to be here. They don’t have to keep working, keep serving, keep saving. But they do it anyway.
Four Casper Police Department Officers were recognized by the CPD on Wednesday for not only their 20 years of service, but for continuing to serve, even when they no longer need to.
“The Casper Police Department would like to recognize the outstanding contribution of four sworn officers that have dedicated 20 years of service and protection to the Casper community,” the CPD wrote in a Facebook post. “Lieutenant Jeffrey Bullard, Sergeant Zachary Winter, Officer Darren Douglas, and Officer Terry Jackson have each been a part of the Casper Police Department family for 20 years.”
20 years is a long time for any profession, let alone one with so many variables; one of which being, ya know, death.
Still, these officers serve to the best of their ability and now, when faced with the opportunity to “get out,” they are choosing to “stay in.”
“After 20 years of service with the Casper Police Department, an officer can opt for retirement,” the CPD wrote. “These officers, while meeting the timeline set forth for retirement, have made the decision to continue their service with the Casper Police Department. Deciding to stay with the Department after these 20 years takes a true measure of passion and commitment to the duties of the position. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize their services and hope that you will join us in thanking them for their dedication in protecting our community.”
For Lieutenant Jeff Bullard, it was an easy decision.
“As a born and raised native of Casper, it is an honor to continue to serve and protect my community,” Lt. Ballard told K2 Radio News. “I love Wyoming, I love my hometown, and I love the men and women I work with in my department like brothers and sisters. I am so honored to have been able to make it through this last 20 years, and am beyond blessed for the many amazing opportunities my career has brought me.”
One of those opportunities, maybe one of the biggest, was the chance to work with other officers who are just as dedicated to serving the community as Lt. Bullard is.
“I am also very honored to have served alongside Sergeant Winter, and Officers Jackson and Douglas these last 20 years as well,” Bullard said. “Each of those officers has brought so much knowledge, training, and unique experience to our department, and our community. I look forward to continuing my service with my department and for my community!”
Being a police officer is not an easy job. Officers, even in Casper, constantly put their lives on the line. Even more often, they’re putting their own mental health on the line. Doing what they do, every day, takes a toll.
A study from 2019 reveals that police officers are at a higher risk of suicide than any other profession.
“In fact, suicide is so prevalent in the profession that the number of police officers who died by suicide is more than triple that of officers who were fatally injured in the line of duty,” a report from Addiction Center revealed. “13 out of every 100,000 people die by suicide in the general population – that number increases to 17 out of 100,000 for police officers. During the 2018 calendar year, 167 law enforcement officers tragically took their own lives.”
So, why do they do it? The answer varies from officer to officer. Each officer has their own reason for doing what they do (some of them are good reasons, some of them are bad; let’s not forget about the officers who don’t deserve the honor of the badge…and there are a lot of those). But these officers, these four men, do it because they love it. They do it because they consider it to be an honor and a privilege. They do it, simply, because they love to serve. And protect. And they will do it for as long as they are able.