As long as things are quiet and we suffer no personal threat or danger, there may be a tendency for many of us simply "to take for granted" the necessary and efficient protection that our faithful police officers provide for us, our loved ones, and our homes, businesses and other property, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But then there sometimes come horrifying moments when a criminal enemy (or enemies) of us all challenges human life, and thus our very civilization.
Our Chattanooga police officers faced such a terrible event about 10:20 Saturday morning.
It was reported that a burglary was in progress at U.S. Money Shops at 5952 Brainerd Road. Back-up officers were called. As at least half a dozen Chattanooga police officers quickly rushed to the scene, a gunman opened fire on the officers!
Tragically, Chattanooga Police Sgt. James Timothy Chapin was shot to death!
Officer Lorin Johnston was wounded in the gunfire, but, thankfully, his injuries were reported to be not life-threatening.
The man arrested for firing on the officers reportedly was wounded himself and was hospitalized in intensive care. He was said to have been on parole from incarceration in Colorado.
Sgt. Chapin, who was 51, was a 27-year veteran of the Police Department. Sgt. Chapin reportedly is survived by his wife and two children.
"He's just a good family man - a fine, fine officer," said Sgt. Toby Hewitt, president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Wounded Officer Johnston in 2007 had donated a kidney to fellow Chattanooga Police Officer Daniel Jackson. Officer Johnston had been awarded the Police Department's Medal of Valor.
Each day when our police officers go on duty, they face unpredictable situations and challenges of many kinds.
It is impossible for those of us who are not personally engaged in their kind of service to imagine the stress that they inevitably face for us all.
It also is impossible for us to thank them adequately - especially Officer Chapin, along with Officer Johnston, and all of the other faithful officers who answered the call in this case, and others.
We appreciate all of our fine police officers for protecting us and our society - at potential great danger to themselves in unpredictable situations at any moment.