Due to recent events across our country along with the instantaneous nature of the internet and social media there is a growing trend of anger and distrust of law enforcement. As a self-confessed badge bunny I find some of the conversation and talking points truly disturbing in regards to how we view our law enforcement personnel. While I understand like most people that they aren’t all great or even supermen, I felt the need to speak on this as I have a special connection to it from a perspective some don’t see. There is no doubt that there are disturbing trends in regards to laws and the enforcement of such in certain situations, but I believe that there has been a fundamental shift in how we as a society view our law enforcement officers as a whole and in my humble opinion it is not a good shift.
People have forgotten the job that our officers do day in and day out. I understand that police officers are the enforcement face of government so historically they are the ones to bear the brunt of disdain, distrust, and intense hours of scrutiny of their decisions made over seconds in an environment ever changing. Never mind media and special interest groups of all agendas that only add fuel to an already uncontrollable bonfire of badly written laws or policies. Have we forgotten about the intense hours of a man hunt for the cop killer or the child trafficker? Have we forgotten about the officers that were badly hurt or killed just for stopping to help a stranded motorist? Have we forgotten about the inherent danger of simply putting on a badge for the day? Is today just a routine day of paperwork and report writing or will some sick psychotic delinquent decide to make his mark on history? Too many people today expect police officers to protect the community in its entirety, at all times, and through all situations but deride heavy body armor and AR-15s as too military looking, then crucify an officer for missing a shot, or not being trained to move like a ninja.
People talk about the cop versus police officer, them versus us, and a myriad of divisions that is just that…divisions. We as a society have forgotten to stand with our police officers united as a whole. We have forgotten to work with our local law enforcement in policing our communities instead of laying the entire burden on their shoulders. That weight cannot be borne forever. Our police officers aren’t always in it for the rush; it’s the knowledge that they are the dunes that break the waves of crime and violence from sweeping away the appearance of civilized society. The vast majority of them across the country know that their families and friends are a part of that society and that society is slowly if not already turning its back on what keeps them safe whether they appreciate it or not. Yet our “boys in blue” continue to suit up and do an awesome job with a crappy situation.
Many friends and close people in my life are or were police officers, these friends include several of my fellow instructors here at Shootlogic. My most significant connection to the blue line is my wife. She is a SVU detective at one of the largest and most violent agencies in the state and I get to see the weight of her and her co-workers chosen careers that they carry on a daily basis. I know what it’s like to help her get her gear on at 1am because she is on call and got the call to respond to another child rape. I know what it’s like to have her be constantly armed, not because of “sheepdog” status, but because we have come across several people that she arrested the hard way in our day to day life. I know what it’s like to have my wife come home with a black eye because she caught a wanted serial rapist that decided he didn’t want to go to jail. I know what it’s like to invest time and money into her training and equipment to ensure she comes home to me. This is a personal fear of mine that I live with every day. I bear witness to the high cost that they pay on an almost daily basis. You see, the Police are not some nebulous, faceless, armed force that wanders the streets. They weren’t spawned in a lab, produced on an assembly line, or are a part of sky-net. They are your neighbors, your customers, they go to the same grocery store, and send their kids to the same school that you do. It feels like people forget this as they thoughtlessly comment on about “the pigs” or “stupid cops”. Things people don’t think or forget about in regards to what they ignorantly comment on about “the pigs” or some variation of violent drivel spewed from a smart phone is that LEOs have families too. These families live with the fear of the likelihood of injury or death of their loved ones as they walk out the door. This is why it matters when the ignorant make comments on a random article. This is part of the reason it is simply hard to ignore anymore. I fear this is an unintended consequence of social media and the internet. Not only do I find this type of vitriol incomprehensible, but it seems that it’s OK to second guess, or judge the actions of people no matter your color or political affiliation. There would be national protests if people said the same things about groups of people as they do cops. It seems socially acceptable today which is why I feel that we have forgotten as a society what our police officers really do. It speaks to the mindset of our communities that only drives the wedge further between people.
As you have noticed my very close friends also happen to be law enforcement…hence the self -depreciating joke about being a badge bunny. I have realized that there are jokes that people will never get, as they haven’t shared the LEO experience, and honestly, neither have I. However, I have come to understand that when it comes to dealing with violent situations 2+2=5. It is almost never clean, there isn’t always a clear “good guy/bad guy” paradigm, and sometimes the good guy doesn’t just walk away to do it all the next day.
An experienced officer will tell you that use of force properly applied is to stop violence. Yet people are experts on dealing with violence based on a part of one dash-cam video. People tend to forget LEOs miss birthdays, holidays, work weird and insane hours along with a job that will almost guarantee a bad back, knees, feet, and a stress level that only accelerates the aging process. People forget that our law enforcement isn’t just working in a dangerous and violent place but they see the very worst of humanity on a normal day. Heaven forbid we get a glimpse of their bad days. People forget that the thin blue line isn’t for them…it’s for us. I think it’s time we remembered that.
Paul Harvey sums it up nicely with this 3 minute commentary.