OPINION: These officers prove why our police are still so vital

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Our police force has come in for a fair amount of scrutiny and questioning of late.

From the handling of shocking child abuse scandals to the Hillsborough tragedy, South Yorkshire Constabulary has been both in the spotlight and the firing line.

It’s easy to fall back into the well-worn stereotypes about our girls and boys in blue - the overweight cop parked in his patrol car and working his way through another bacon butty or doughnut.

And I’ve lost count of the number of times people have complained about why coppers aren’t out catching ‘real criminals’ when a speeding ticket lands on their doormat.

But every now and then we are reminded just what incredible people our bobbies on the beat really are.

Our front page today tells the story of Sheffield officers Christopher Beevers and Chelsea Rudge, and how they fought to save a man battered and left for dead in a burning flat – before risking their own lives to enter the inferno and look for suspects.

It is a stark reminder that officers potentially put their lives at risk every day they pull on that uniform.

Most people run away from burning buildings - especially ones that might also contain a killer.

The fact that our brave cops put aside their fears and do the unthinkable in the line of duty is truly humbling.

It seems only right that officers like these have been commended for their actions and received bravery awards for their heroism.

But it is obvious they don’t risk their lives for the praise and the commendations.

They do it because they are dedicated professionals who care deeply about the communities they serve - and protecting the people who live in them. You and me, in other words.

The courage and commitment of these brave bobbies is even more remarkable when you think about the pressure the South Yorkshire force is under.

With huge cuts to the policing budget, top cops have been forced to slash jobs -losing hundreds of police officers and support staff in order to plug the multi-million-pound funding black hole.

It can’t be easy for officers, seeing the thin blue line being stretched further every day.

To keep doing what they do in such difficult times is genuinely inspiring.

We should all be very grateful we have outstanding officers like Christopher Beevers and Chelsea Rudge - and the hundreds of others like them - patrolling the streets of South Yorkshire and keeping us safe every single day.