My Turn, Brenda and Gerry Wood: We’re safer because of law enforcement officers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 10, 2022

By Brenda and Gerry Wood

Law enforcement is often criticized but seldom are they praised. What makes their jobs challenging and dangerous, seldom makes headlines.

“It’s all in the line of duty’.” And we believe we need to highlight and give recognition for their day-to-day acts that protect us. These are the unreported, unpublicized events that keep us safe, sometimes involving the coordination of law enforcement agencies working together — as they describe it “working together for the public’s safety.”

Here is one recent example.

Approximately 12:40 a.m. Thursday morning, State Highway Patrol communications received a call about a wrong way driver traveling north in the southbound lanes of I-85 near the 63 mile marker. First Sergeant J.S. Nash quickly left the district office on Webb Road and jumped onto I-85 to intercept.

He observed traffic backing up near the 68 mile marker and his first thought was that the wrong way driver had collided with another vehicle. He then merged to the right shoulder and began passing traffic and soon discovered that multiple Rowan Sheriff’s deputies traveling approximately 20 mph were blocking southbound traffic from passing them and were putting a barrier between these motorists and the wrong way driver. He also learned that several other deputies had traveled past these blocking units to locate and remove the threat of the wrong way driver.

As the only unit on duty in Rowan County on Wednesday night for the Patrol, he recognized that he alone could not have provided this level of service to the public.

Nash reported, “I learned that this response was due to the quick thinking of Lt. Burleyson of the Rowan Sheriff’s Office.”

Lt. Burleyson recognized the threat to the public and put thought into action. Ultimately, they were unable to locate the wrong way driver but their priority was public safety. And what they did was prevent numerous head-on collisions and protect innocent motorists from tragedy.

Nash reports, “Responses like what I saw reminded me that it’s not the color of our uniforms or the stripes on our cars, but instead it’s about the oaths we all swore.

“Quite simply, we all ‘protect and serve’ and that’s exactly what the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office did to help me protect a road that was my responsibility. Thank you again Lt. Burleyson.”

Nash continued, “Those motorists will never know that you and your deputies put yourselves between them and what we believed was oncoming death. I do, Sir.”

This is but one example of how all three of Rowan County’s law enforcement teams work continuously to protect us. We must recognize that our community’s safety is, in part, due to the dedication and cooperation of those men and women — from all forces — working together to prevent, and rescue us, from disasters daily. Just think, often when we’re all sleeping comfortably in our beds, much goes on that we’ll never be made aware of. And for that we’re incredibly grateful.

We would like to express our admiration and appreciation to all who serve and protect us, our families and everyone in our community. We know we’re safer because….

Well done officers!

Brenda and Gerry Wood live in Salisbury.