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A Calling, the Ultimate Sacrifice and...

A Calling, the Ultimate Sacrifice and the Responsibility of a Grateful Society

By: Mike Hurst - January 9, 2023

A reflection upon and recommitment to appreciating law enforcement.

A little over a week before Christmas, two men were murdered in Mississippi. One was the loss of a husband, father and grandfather, and the other was the loss of a son, future spouse, and beloved friend. 

Contrary to most murders, these killings occurred when these two men responded to a call for help and rushed towards a potentially dangerous – and ultimately fatal – situation in order to assist, protect and serve someone they had never met.

Mike Hurst

Bay St. Louis Police Sgt. Steven Robin and Officer Branden Estorffe died heroes, with Estorffe ultimately killing the woman who had shot and inflicted fatal injuries on him and his partner. This last great sacrificial act by Estorffe most likely saved the lives of many others, including the woman’s nearby 8-year-old child.

What makes these men, and many other men and women in law enforcement around the country, unique and exceptional is that they proactively sought out and chose to serve, sacrifice for and love others as their profession. 

In my previous service as a federal prosecutor for almost 15 years, including my role as Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer for over half our state, I worked with many law enforcement officers, and almost every single one of them explained their service to me as not a profession but “a calling” – to do something bigger than themselves, to serve and sacrifice for those in their communities, and if necessary, to even lay down their life for someone else.

One of the most admirable characteristics of cops – and other first responders and our military servicemen and women, for that matter – is that they have voluntarily stepped forward and agreed to serve and sacrifice, even if it means death, not just for their family and friends, but even strangers whom they have never met, individuals who might disagree with them, and those who can never do anything to benefit or repay them.  This is true, sacrificial love.  

Despite this honorable calling and its accompanying noble sacrifice, shootings of law enforcement officers have skyrocketed over the last few years.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation notes that in 2021, 73 officers were feloniously killed, that is, with criminal intent, an almost 60% increase in one year from the 46 killed in 2020.  While thankfully the 2022 figures appear to be falling from the peak in 2021 (58 killings in 2022, through December 19, 2022), this year’s number will still be much higher than 2020. Whatever the cause, whether the “Defund the Police” movement, progressive prosecutors, spillover effects from the protests and unrest of 2020, or other reasons, the resulting and escalating number of officer deaths is totally and wholly unacceptable in a civilized society.

While cops are not perfect, the simple fact of the matter is that we cannot have a peaceful, functioning and civilized society without empowering a chosen few to enforce the law which our duly elected representatives have enacted on our behalf in order to keep us safe.  Without law, there is no order. Without the enforcement of law, there is no justice – only chaos.  Empowerment not only means giving individuals the necessary authority and tools to do the job, but also the backing and support from those who have empowered them.  

Over the years, I have attended beautiful annual memorials that honor and exalt the sacrifices of brave men and women in law enforcement.  We must know and remember their names and stories and be ready to give an account of their courage, their valor, and their sacrifice, for the benefit of future generations.  These acts of remembrance not only honor our fallen, their families and their ultimate sacrifice, but also importantly perpetuate a sense of duty, obligation and selflessness to others which hopefully will inspire the best and brightest among our youth to pursue this worthy calling.

Finally, as a Christian, I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  Jesus loved us so much that he died for us.  That is how he has commanded us to love.  And that is the type of love already on display through the sacrificial service of our law enforcement officers, with their acts of heroism constituting an example here on Earth of how Jesus taught us to love.  

So, for 2023, let us recommit to serving, sacrificing for and loving others, while individually and as a society honoring those who have answered the call and have chosen to first love us.  This is the least we can do to honor their service and to forever remember the lives of Sgt. Robin and Officer Estorffe and so many others who have sacrificed their all for our safety and security.

About the Author(s)
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Mike Hurst

Mike Hurst is a partner at Phelps Dunbar, LLP, in Jackson, MS. He most recently served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi from 2017-2021 and has served in various legal and policy roles throughout his career in the government, non-profit and private sectors. Originally from Newton County, he and his family now reside in Sandhill, Mississippi.