MENIFEE, Calif., Aug. 14, 2015 – It’s the “Thin Blue Line,” that has been known among officers across the United States as a significance for the ”Fallen But Not Forgotten.” Police officers have always had to face the daily possibility that they may not come home from their watch. These days, that possibility seems to have turned into probability.
Recent events have made the job for those who protect and serve much more difficult. Random strikes from our own citizens, the very ones who call upon the officers when they are in need of help, are endangering them.
The surge in violence on officers is not the answer or response to perceived injustice. While some officers have committed actions that are wrong, many others have not. Unfortunately, those innocent officers are often the victims of attacks. Citizens retaliating against officers who have committed injustices attack officers who have no connection to those incidents. There are bad apples in every bunch, but violence isn’t the answer.
This begs the question as to how officers now have to do their jobs. Officers have to be even more vigilant in protecting themselves because every contact now has the potential for a loss of their life, a major injury or a lawsuit.
A recent article surfaced about an officer in Birmingham, Ala., who was severely beaten while hecklers photographed the incident in amusement, later posting the photos on social media. The officer hesitated to defend himself because of his concern for accusations that self-defense would result in “needlessly killing an unarmed man” (told by him to CNN) even though it was the perpetrator who had taken the officer’s weapon and used it to beat him. The officer, who was left unconscious, also told CNN the incident was carried out on him in response to a national outcry related to police shootings.
It is unfortunate that anyone, let alone someone who is protecting and serving our citizens, would have to be more concerned with media than with living.
Dashcams and bodycams are becoming the real life-saver in the aftermath of trauma now faced by law enforcement from angry citizens who choose to address issues in a physical, non-productive manner. Is there no thought that injury to the ones who are there to protect us also allows for injury to others in the community?
Ratio for police to citizens in most communities leave the scales tipped in favor of citizens. One officer taken from patrolling the streets means a citizen who calls in for assistance may not get the help he needs.
Families on both sides of the dispute are hurt. The victim’s (officer) family and the aggressor’s (suspect) family who have to contend with the loss or injury of one or both of those involved. The court system, which has to use taxpayer money to come to a decision about the case, is overburdened rather then handling the stacks of current cases needing resolution.
A new campaign for officer safety and awareness is becoming more known: “Blue Lives Matter.” A kinship that tells us all that our officers are important too. A campaign that goes one step further is “His Life Matters” whereby two officers in uniform, one black and one white, from Trinity Police Department posted a photo on social media. The photo has one arm of each officer extending towards the camera, next to each other, with each of their palms faced out. On each palm reads in black marker “His Life Matters” with an arrow pointing to the other.
While their many out there who are angry about events that involve police officers, there are still citizens who understand the role of our heroes. This Facebook post by Raine Bivens, which garnered 46,215 likes and 343,241, shares seems profound:
Officer, you pulled me over today.
Not to be mean, or because of a “quota”
Not because my car is old,
Not because I’m young and female..
But because I was speeding.
I was pulled over today.
I pulled over before you turned your lights on.
I waited for you with my papers
In my hand, outside the window.
I called you sir, you called me ma’am.
We were respectful toward one another.
I did not lie, cry, or
cut you down for doing your job.
And you didn’t have to argue with me.
I didn’t run, thus you didn’t chase me.
I didn’t pull a gun on you,
So you didn’t shoot me.
I did not resist,
You didn’t have to put hands on me.
I did not pull out a camcorder
I don’t want you to feel scared to do your job
Or like you are walking on eggshells because
I need you to feel comfortable keeping us safe.
And I want you to come home to your family tonight.
I know you were sworn in..
You may have sworn your last breath
For me or those like me, and for those like you.
I will not tell you how to do your job.
I know I can’t do your job.
Not many can.
When you pulled me over today,
I saw your unit..
A Setina guard on the front
A camera behind the windshield
A gun, a taser, and handcuffs on your belt.
And I know these things are to protect you,
And to protect those like you,
And to protect those like me.
And I felt no need to complicate things
Like others have done.
Officer you pulled me over today.
You wrote me a ticket today
For something I know I did.
But there are bigger things beyond tickets
So I said “Thank You”
And I meant it.
Because on that ticket is a signature of a man
That would sacrifice his last breath to keep us safe,
And die for his brothers.
And that signature is on a citation..
But I’ll respect it when I see it.
I know Safety comes at a price.
I’d rather it be a few hundred bucks
Than someone’s life.
Once again, Thank you.
We should be taking every effort to unite, not to divide, our nation. We need to be accountable for our own actions, hold individuals accountable for their actions, and not take our frustrations out on random, innocent individuals.
We need to become involved in our local communities to take a stand on issues that will help us move our lives in a healthy direction, not as vigilantes, but as upstanding citizens. We need to take steps implemented through our justice system and if we don’t like the results, take the appropriate steps to change it.
What will we do then, when we call for help and no one comes?