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  • Writer's pictureCraig Richards

Stereotypes can blur reality

courtesy photo

A lesson in perception

Despite fairly recent calls across the nation to defund the police, a counterproductive notion more often leaving the vulnerable without protection, law enforcement officers persisted in their duty. Closer to home, instances arose where they exceeded expectations.

Operation RISE (Recovery Initiative Support & Engagement) stands out as a proactive recovery initiative spearheaded by the New Jersey State Police. At its core, the organization aims to create a support bridge for individuals and families affected by substance abuse. A compassionate approach is fundamental to the program’s operation.

To some it is easy to stereotype individuals; however, it is equally easy to stereotype those in law enforcement. Officers are sometimes unfairly generalized as rigid authoritarians lacking empathy for individuals grappling with drug addiction or engaging in criminal activities.

While the law itself may be pragmatic and devoid of situational or emotional considerations, individuals, including police officers, have the capacity for empathy. Initiatives like Operation RISE are actively debunking unfair stereotypes attached to those who serve and protect. The program is tangible evidence that officers can uphold the law while also demonstrating compassion.

On Feb. 28, the Egg Harbor City Police Department and the New Jersey State Police, along with non-profit organizations and local business, participated in an event showcasing their commitment to reducing recidivism rates associated with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) symptoms. By addressing the physical challenges faced by individuals and striving to meet those needs, law enforcement is blending compassion with practical solutions to combat crime and substance abuse.

While this program could serve as a powerful public relations tool for law enforcement, its essence lies in prioritizing the needs of others over self-promotion. Operation RISE is not about glorifying police officers; it’s about addressing the needs of the community.

As a media company, we did not receive a press release about the Feb. 28 event. The information surfaced only during a discussion at the city council meeting in Egg Harbor City, emphasizing the program’s commitment to helping residents of the city.

This preference for operating behind the scenes speaks volumes about the integrity and humility of those involved in the program. Delving into the details of Operation RISE required additional research, underscoring the commitment to substance over spectacle. During the council meeting, Police Chief Marcella Aylwin focused on the event’s practical aspects of support to those in need in the community, omitting any self-congratulatory statements about the police involvement.

In a world often fixated on the shortcomings of those in power, shedding light on selfless service becomes a privilege. It’s particularly rewarding when spotlighting a group too frequently stereotyped as oppressive. Addressing instances of abuse of power individually is crucial, but these situations shouldn’t lead to blanket stereotypes. The principle of innocent until proven guilty applies not only to the public but also to law enforcement.

Amidst these considerations, acknowledging exceptional acts of kindness becomes imperative. Operation RISE stands out as one such situation. To those working tirelessly behind the scenes, we applaud your dedication and sincerity. Thank you for your daily service to the community and for caring about those facing challenges seemingly insurmountable.


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