Twice, I’ve ridden with local law enforcement officers.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew McVey kept a magnet on his patrol car dashboard, a little replica of the sign at Notre Dame’s football stadium: “Play like a champion today.” He tapped it each time he got out to handle a case. When McVey drove by a Catholic church, he crossed himself.

In decades on the job, he rescued boaters, negotiated the freedom of hostages, helped teens with rough lives, served court papers. He wouldn’t tell me this himself, but colleagues called McVey the kind of guy who buys cups of steaming coffee for homeless people on cold days.

I also rode with Officer Tommy Stoffel of the Portland Police Bureau. A former Dominican friar, Stoffel patrolled North Portland as a rookie, busting drug houses and investigating thefts. He saw people at their worst who did not seem to want to get better. He was tempted to anger and despair.

But Stoffel tapped into his theological studies and drew out compassion. He told himself over and over: “Sin will not have the last word.” He carried a sidearm, baton and taser. But he employed philosophy, wit and charm far more often than weapons.

I think and pray for McVey and Stoffel, wherever they are now. I let them stand for all police. Every day, Portland officers deal with the usual load of crime, plus possible COVID-19 exposure. At night, our police make it possible for peaceful protests to continue, which must be exhausting on its own. But then, as the nights wear on, violence erupts. Police are pelted with bottles and rocks; so-called activists scream obscenities in their faces and threaten their families. Officers usually just take it.

Yes, a few cops go rogue and do awful things. Reform is needed. But we Catholics, who have dealt with clergy sex abuse, should know better than anyone that a few miscreants are not grounds to disparage every member of a profession.