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Matt Lyons at the Oceanside Harbor on the day of his retirement from OPD (courtesy photo)

Open Letter to Citizens of Oceanside, California from a Grateful Police Officer

By Matt Lyons

As of August 2015 I retired from police work in the City of Oceanside, California.

I want to personally thank each of you for your support over the years here in Oceanside to me personally or to my colleagues, in addition to your involvement in the safety of our city.

The police department is only as effective as the public they serve! In short we couldn’t do what we do without your participation and support.

I had worked for several law enforcement agencies prior to coming to our fair city and have been a student and practicing participant of community policing since 1980.

I have written on the topic in professional police journals, trained seasoned professionals on the subject, and taught young college students as well on the importance of a comprehensive and open relationship between police and the public we serve.

I don’t ask or expect everyone to always agree with my thoughts or opinions on the matter, but hope that through continued conversations and open dialogue communities will see value through their active involvement in their own safety and quality of life as it relates to their police department.

The good news for the citizens is that my observation of our police department here in Oceanside, California is we enjoy an excellent relationship with our community and stay current with training and development of our law enforcement officers. Oceanside Police Dept. through outreach efforts like “Coffee With A Cop!” and the Police Chief’s town hall meetings in the past have created the necessary bridge between the public and police. It is so awesome!

I also know that the brave men and women, who continue to serve and proudly wear the iconic white shoulder police patch on their uniforms that is so uniquely identified with the City of Oceanside, love serving you all and feel privileged to do so!

As I retire, I am confident that I leave Oceanside in good and competent hands of dedicated professionals who enjoy helping the community.

So I say goodbye and thank you Oceanside! I loved serving you all and working in our beautiful city! Keep Oceanside Great! In my opinion, there’s no better place to have worked!

Sincerely,

Matt “Chowda” Lyons

I leave you with some of my observation as taken from an article I wrote for an online magazine. “Law Enforcement Today” earlier this year. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks again!

Dated: Jan. 2015, my article is titled, “Food for Thought: Community Policing Culture Change!”

It seems like each time you turn on your television the national and local media is featuring stories of social unrest or public mistrust of the police in communities across the United States. The stories provide great viewership for these media outlets, but what is really happening across the country?

Where did the “Sheriff of Mayberry, Andy Griffith” image go? It seems like our social norms are changing, as well as the culture and public opinion of police in the Unites States. I won’t go so far to say we are in a 1960s “Cultural Revolution,” but there appears to be a shift in public perception of law enforcement.

As a young boy growing up during the 1970s and later serving in the Marine Corps, I couldn’t wait for my opportunity to go to the police academy and be a public servant. I saw it as a solid and proud profession that offered a fair wage.

Sadly, today departments are finding it hard to recruit people who are interested in a law enforcement career and are able to pass the rigorous standards required to be a police officer. When asked to consider a police career, I have heard many young people respond, “Why do a job that no one respects, when and I can make the same or better money without the hassle and personal risk?”

Many cities report a reduction in property crime, but violent crimes are increasing, as well as attacks on police officers. In her article titled “Rise in Attacks on Police Reflects Lingering Tensions” dated August 17, 2014, The Indianapolis Star, crime and public safety reporter Jill Disis details a 50% increase from 2013 of police officers killed in the line of duty by firearms. That’s scary!

Yet there is no media demand for answers or public outcry. Where is the outrage? Maybe it’s another sign of the times and shift in public opinion. In the same article Craig Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, explains that civil unrest and anti-authority attitudes helped push police fatalities to an all-time high of 280 (Police Officers) in 1974. Is this further evidence of a continued breakdown between police and community?

It might seem that is the case as the story unfolds in Ferguson, Missouri each day on the national news. Also, we are seeing an increase in anti-police sentiment through online social media sources such as “CopBlock.org” or groups like the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. These groups claiming police abuse further create a divide between police and the public.
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