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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Every day offers opportunities to be grateful for public safety


Above / Dedicated on Oct. 27, 2001, the Naperville Public Safety Memorial Plaza, featuring a sculpture on each side of a granite wall, stands in between the Police Department and Fire Department in the Naperville Public Safety Center along Aurora Avenue. The monument honors police officers on one side and firefighters on the other as a permanent expression that local citizens appreciate public safety.

The Naperville Public Safety Memorial Plaza, designed by Charles Vincent George Architects, features the names of honorably retired personnel of the Naperville Police Department on one side and the same for the Naperville Fire Department on the other. Space also is provided for members who died while serving as well as those who died in the line of duty.

Two weeks ago, we were reminded that January 9 had been chosen to recognize National Apricot Day, National Balloon Ascension Day, National Static Electricity Day and National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. The steadfast daily reminders (recognized by us more often on weekends than on weekdays) suggest sometimes silly and sometimes serious reasons to celebrate our culture, food, individuals, innovations, self-reliance, Nature and more; possibly a way to bring joy to friends and family by reminding others to recognize the good things in life every morning.

We had intended to post this story on the 8th Annual National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day soon after we were reminded of it, but that Sun., Jan. 9, got away from us. Still, we figure every and any day is a chance to express appreciation for the dedicated and honorable law enforcement professionals who follow the rule of law.

We flashed back to a column we remembered that Julie Smith, Crime Prevention Specialist for the Naperville Police Department, had written for her monthly contribution to “Focus on Safety.” “Two Words” was the title of her work originally published about seven years ago in print for the February 2015 edition of Positively Naperville. That year was the first time National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day on January 9 had been designated in the United States. 

The thoughts and words written in Smith’s column are reposted here:

‘Two Words’

There are two words that when put together mean many different things to many different people. Two words that can put smiles on people’s faces or anxiety in their hearts. Two words that might strike hatred in some and respect in others. Two words that are more than just words.

They are a title, an occupation, and a career.

Better yet, they are two words that describe a lifestyle. A lifestyle like no other for the men and women who chose to place a badge on their chest and promise to serve and protect. A lifestyle that may require that person to in a split second save someone’s life or take someone’s life while risking their own. A lifestyle that requires that person to face good and bad every single day that others don’t see. A lifestyle that asks that person to wake up every morning without the assurance they will come home at night.

Two words mean all that. Two words that should forever be remembered.

Those two small words are Police Officer.

—Author unknown

“The decision to become a Police Officer is typically born out of a desire to make a difference for the better,” Smith wrote. “No one applies for the profession because they have to; they do it because they want to.”

She went on to explain, “One of the most important things to remember about Police Officers, though, is that they are human. They face the same hurdles in their respective lives that the general public faces in theirs and they take the same pride in their profession that others take in theirs.”

Public awareness via Crime Stoppers

Add to Smith’s thoughts the Crime Stoppers message that “Keeping our community safe is everyone’s responsibility.”

In other words, if you see something suspicious, say something. Stay aware and vigilant. To help prevent crimes, call the non-emergency police number at (630) 420-6666 or use the Naperville Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (630) 420-6006 or, for an emergency, call 911.

For more info, visit www.napervillecrimestoppers.com.

Signs around town featuring Crime Stoppers and “Lock it or Lose It” also are reminders of the message that “Keeping our community safe is everyone’s responsibility.” If you see something suspicious, say something. To help prevent crimes, call the non-emergency police number at (630) 420-6666 or use the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (630) 420-6006 or, for an emergency, call 911. 

PN remembers and appreciates 

Closer to home, in the late 1990s, a local group of citizens began raising private funds for the Naperville Public Safety Memorial Plaza. The idea for the granite memorial, in partnership with funding from the City of Naperville, had come from NPD Capt. Jon Ripsky, now retired. (Click here for the history of NPD vehicles written by Ripsky and how they kept the community safe.)

Today, the granite walls are engraved with names to recognize past personnel. Space also is devoted to members who died while serving, such as Jon Ripsky’s father, Officer Michael F. C. Ripsky, as well as those who died in the line of duty. The group’s aim also was to recognize the difficult work of all first responders from the Naperville police and fire departments, showing appreciation for their risk and sacrifice during serious situations.

In addition to the memorial plaza, supporters designated that Naperville Police Department personnel would be honored in the spring with Citizens Appreciate Public Safety (CAPS) Awards while Naperville Fire Department personnel would be recognized with the CAPS Awards in the fall in conjunction with Fire Prevention Month.

Ever since, the community has been asked annually to nominate public safety personnel for the CAPS Awards, recognizing individuals who have displayed an interest in Naperville’s residents “above and beyond the call of duty and exhibited a genuine concern for the welfare and well-being of all Naperville citizens.”

The west side of the Naperville Public Safety Memorial Plaza recognizes Naperville Fire Fighters who served this community. Both sculptures provide “teaching moments,” showing first responders helping young children. 

When was Naperville Public Safety Memorial dedicated?

With all this on our mind, and thanks to choices of what to celebrate nationally every day (Jan. 22 claims to be National Fruitcake Toss Day, National Blonde Brownie Day and National Celebration of Life Day.), we began flipping through old hard copies of this publication, bound in a big book, dating back before everything was saved digitally. We recalled attending the dedication of the Naperville Public Safety Memorial Plaza about 20 years ago with several hundred supporters.

We found a brief story with photos in the November 2001 issue of PN that featured the dedication on Oct. 27, 2001. We snapped a photo from that newspaper that accompanies this story—one that pictures Conductor Ron Keller leading the Naperville Municipal Band in front of the Naperville Police Station. We wonder if anyone knows the young Cub Scout who proudly held the American flag. He might be about 27 now.

According to the caption that goes with this photo in the November 2001 issue of PN, the Naperville Municipal Band honored local public service with “God Bless America.” The dedication ceremony was held on October 27, 2001. (PN Photo 2022 of Jo Lundeen Photo 2001)

Moving right along in the wind chill…

The Naperville Public Safety Center is a brisk walk from our home. We often take time to pause and reflect there during 2-mile jaunts circling our neighborhood. Two weeks ago the memorial plaza seemed like a decent destination, even in the frigid 19-degree cold with glistening sidewalks—and warnings of spotty black ice.

We bundled up and headed out under clear skies with the wind slightly blowing, knowing our camera would likely capture flying flags between the Naperville Police Station and Fire Station No. 7 for a good representative photo. We walked in the street, facing traffic. Very few cars and no neighbors approached in the midday sun.

After slipping and sliding on the ice-covered blankets of snow, we secured our footing and waited for the wind to unfurl the three flags. (PN Photo, 2PM Jan. 9, 2022)

While at the memorial, we ventured along the frosty path where dozens of engraved commemorative bricks are placed to show appreciation every day to CAPS supporters, first responders, special units, NPD families, NFD families, etc. The snow all around the memorial plaza was covered with a hard glaze of ice. We won’t brag about how careful we were or the slip falls we survived.

Today, tonight and every day, many citizens in this community are grateful for this city’s dedication to public safety. Our home’s proximity to the Public Safety Center comes with the added sound of sirens from emergency vehicles when they’re called into duty. The shrill sounds stop us in our tracks. We never take for granted professional teams prepared to help.

Since PN was launched, its printed pages and website have promoted public safety; engaged in support for those police and fire professionals who serve, follow the rule of law, and protect. To help educate, Julie Smith focuses on safety on behalf of the Naperville Police Department. Soraya McLaughlin writes about fire prevention for the Naperville Fire Department.

This past week has been a tough one for first responders in our community, including our Special Response Team (SRT) and crisis negotiators. Events on Jan. 18 remind us, we’re not immune to tragedy caused by domestic violence.

Early Thursday morning, Jan. 20, a passerby called 911 when flames were visible at a residence along Chicago Avenue at Columbia Street. Thankfully, within 30 minutes firefighters had extinguished the blaze that made the unoccupied house uninhabitable.

Stay safe and vigilant. Celebrate safely. Thanks to everybody who strives for peacekeeping throughout the world to protect freedom.

And whenever you’re out and about, extend gratitude to men and women in uniform. Perhaps acknowledge patrol officers with a friendly wave when they drive toward you on the street where you live.

Thanks for reading. —PN

Protect The First Amendment and America’s Five Basic Freedoms

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.





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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.

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