By Robert F. Sanchez, JMI Policy Director
New Year’s Day’s Rose Parade in Pasadena will include a float with two poignant “floragraphs” of special interest to Floridians. Depicted in the portraits made up entirely of flowers will be two Tampa Police Department officers, Dave Curtis and Jeff Kocab. They were gunned down during what had appeared to be a routine traffic stop in the wee hours of the morning on June 29, 2010.Officer Curtis, 31, left behind his widow, Kelly, and four sons, ages eight months to nine years. Officer Kocab was survived by his widow, Sara. At the time of his slaying, Mrs. Kocab was almost nine months pregnant with their first child. Unfortunately, the child, a daughter, was stillborn three weeks later. Police later arrested a drug-dealing high-school dropout named Dontae Morris, an ex-con who was also a suspect in two other slayings.The year just ending was a tragic one for many other police officers and their loved ones. A preliminary report cited in Wednesday’s Washington Post said that 154 men and six women working in law enforcement had died in the line of duty in 2010. That’s a discouraging 37 percent increase over the previous year.Of those who perished, 73 died in traffic crashes – some during high-speed pursuits, others while working crashes, writing traffic citations, or lending assistance alongside busy roads. It’s a sad but timely reminder that Florida’s “Move Over Law” requires drivers to give a wide berth to roadside emergency vehicles. Drivers who approach the scene are required to slow down and must also change lanes if it can be done safely.Even more discouraging than the needless traffic deaths was the death toll from criminal violence against law enforcement. Preliminary data for 2010 showed that in addition to Officers Curtis and Kocab, some 57 other law enforcement officers had been slain in the line of duty, an increase from the 49 slain in 2009.That there are evil doers who have little or no regard for human life – criminals who are heedless of the wide-ranging consequences of their actions — is an indictment not only of them, but also of the society that spawned them. That there are still good men and women who put their lives on the line enforcing the law and defending the rest of us from the lawless is a blessing for our society.Therefore, if you’re making New Year’s resolutions tomorrow while you’re settling down to recover from your New Year’s Eve festivities, to watch some football, and possibly to check out the Rose Parade, please take a moment to give a prayer of thanks for all those who work in law enforcement.With out their dedication to duty, the rule of law envisioned by our nation’s founders could not long endure – and without the rule of law, liberty cannot last.