SOMETHING hit a little too close to home for all of us in Luzerne County a week ago this Friday -- bullets from a gun fired by a man as police tried to serve a warrant in a murder investigation.
They struck Allentown Police Officer Andrew Beky, a Kingston native, who’s the new father of an infant son, as well as the son of Luzerne County Detective Dan Beky.
Andy Beky suffered potentially life-threatening wounds when a bullet caught him just shy of his body armor and then apparently ricocheted within it. At least one other bullet pierced his hand. Thankfully, the hundreds of prayers offered up by all of us since he was wounded have been answered.
I was relieved to hear earlier this week that despite his grave injuries, his doctors now say he will make a full recovery.
Unfortunately, it often takes a frightening tragedy like this one for us to pause and think about the great work that every member of our law enforcement community does every day. I’m sure that when Officer Beky said goodbye to his wife and young son that day, he went to work just like he had every day for the past seven years: with the intent to protect and serve the people of his community.
The reality is that no matter the positive outlook, in our increasingly violent world, when a police officer heads out for his or her shift, there is no guarantee that they’ll return safely to their loved ones when that shift is done.
That’s why I think it’s a priority that government at every level does all it can to make sure that those who serve on the front lines of public safety have every advantage and safety precaution on their side. I believe that our law enforcers should be outfitted with the best equipment possible, supported through the best possible working conditions, and should be afforded the latest and most extensive training to prepare them for the selfless job of protecting us.
In Luzerne County government, we’re proud of, as well as concerned for the safety of all the men and women we employ to protect the public: those who serve with Andy Beky’s father, Dan, as county detectives; Sheriff Barry Stankus and all the deputies within his department; the corrections officers who ensure public safety through their work at the county prison; as well as the security officers who protect our employees and visitors at county facilities.
While there are some governmental limits in terms of scope, I’ve also made it my priority to increase the ways in which Luzerne County government tries to bolster our local police departments. With support from my fellow Commissioner Todd Vonderheid, and invaluable input from municipal law enforcers across our county, we’ve developed the Luzerne County Crime Suppression Initiative.
Whether it’s through the development of grant proposals to better equip our municipal police officers, or ways in which we can help their communities give them the best possible training, through our Crime Suppression Initiative, Luzerne County is determined to help.
I’ve also been a strong advocate for Luzerne County’s Drug Treatment Court, which is finally becoming a reality. With passionate support from Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan, we’ve obtained funding from the U. S. Department of Justice to put the treatment court into place, and hopefully curb the source of the increased drug trafficking and related crimes which have mushroomed in Luzerne County.
By helping those struggling with substance abuse, as well as their families, to get the treatment they need to overcome addiction, we believe drug related crime will be reduced, easing the strain on financially strapped local departments, and allowing their officers to become more proactive in the fight against crime.
With a long way still to go in his recovery, I ask all of you to keep Officer Andrew Beky, his wife, child and family in your thoughts and prayers. Given the ordeal they’ve all been through, they deserve all the support we can muster.
But I hope you will join me, my family, and the Luzerne County Commissioners in taking those good wishes one step further. I’m offering our most sincere thanks and appreciation to all those individuals who have taken an oath to protect and serve.
While I can’t imagine the grief experienced by the families and friends of those who have lost a loved one in the line of duty, I’d like them to know that there are many citizens, including me, who are grateful for their sacrifice, and that I have vowed to do everything within my authority to enhance our law enforcement agents’ ability to fight crime and keep them as safe as possible.
Finally, the next time you see a member of the law enforcement community, please, say “thank you” for the important, often dangerous job they do on our behalf every day. As a community, we should constantly let them know that we are behind them 100 percent. Remember, they’re the ones who will selflessly step forward to shield us, whenever we’re in harm’s way.
Thank you, to our men and women in blue.