I have been sitting on this story for awhile. Mostly because I feel any amount of discussion on the matter is likely to fuel the fire, and this really isn’t my battle to fight. However, I am overwhelmed with disappointment. I am disappointed in my fellow civilians, and my fellow media buffs that we have continued to let stories circulate regarding police officer conduct. I am so tired of people selling one another out. Police officers protect us. It’s in the job description: “To protect and to serve.”
I have grown up with a special place in my heart for police officers. My step-dad is a retired narcotics investigator, my fiance is a police officer, and my ex-roommate is also a police officer. Although I cannot fully relate to the experiences that these people have had, I am no stranger to the lifestyle.
It requires a special person to become an officer. I think you have to be smart, cautious, honorable, and have some sort of faith or belief system. I also think you have to be able to compartmentalize your experiences. Meaning, I don’t think you can fully care for every single person you arrest, pull over, watch die, rescue, etc. The amount of mental strain this job requires is far beyond anything we can imagine.
Normal people, civilians, are able to react and have time before ever experiencing what an officer experiences on a day to day basis. They never know if the next encounter will be a pleasant one, or one that requires tackling someone with a gun.
Tough Times in The Media
Michael Brown was a black, unarmed, teenager that committed a theft at a local convenience store. Darren Wilson was a white police officer that spotted the teenager and attempted to make an arrest, which ended in the shooting and death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Since the incident there have been numerous riots, including the shooting of 2 Ferguson Police officers.
On March 12, after the police chief resigned in Ferguson, Missouri, the riot appeared to be subsiding, as shots were fired hitting one police officer in the cheek, and another in the shoulder. The two officers appeared to be doing fine after being taken to the hospital. The officers that witnessed the attacks did draw their guns, but no additional shots were fired.
Sunday, March 15, a 20-year-old man was taken into custody and charged with first-degree assault in the shooting of the two officers. Jeffrey Williams is a demonstrator, and has been involved in previous demonstrations surrounding the Michael Brown case. In addition, he is on probation for receiving stolen materials.
And now, more recently, riots began after a 25-year-old Baltimore man was injured during an arrest. One week later, he died. His death sparked an angry debate and protests all over the nation. The riots have injured 100 officers, and over 200 people have been arrested. Will it ever stop?
Do You Wear a Bulletproof Vest to Work?
My fiance goes to bed between 11 am and 12. He works nights, so I meet him for a work out in the morning, and then he will go to bed. When I am winding down, and just about to go to sleep, he’s waking up. I like to lay in bed chatting with him as he gets ready. Once he is almost fully clothed he strings a microphone up through his shirt, and then places a bullet proof vest over the top.
I remember the first time I watched him do this. I remember thinking how odd it must feel to wear a bulletproof vest and gun to work. As I watched, and admired how carefully he did this a lump formed in the back of my throat. I could lose him tonight. He could get shot, and I would never see him again.
In our mid-size city of 113,000 the likelihood of something bad may not appear high, however there is always a possibility as a police officer. Each night he leaves I remember to kiss him, tell him I love him, and tell him to be safe.
To Protect and to Serve
With all the stories circulating through the media, it is difficult to remember that these men and women in blue deal with things that most people don’t have to deal with on a regular basis. We aren’t privy to suicide attempts, domestic abuse calls, or murders. They go through these experiences, all the while they are expected to protect us, protect themselves, and keep their heads on straight.
We chastise them for making a mistake because the stakes are higher, and after all they’re cops so “they should know better”. We hate them because they use force in times of need, and criticize each and everyone of them because they are all in it for power. One man’s mistake was the fall of them all, but all I see is honor, compassion, and bravery.
I only wish others were able to look past the uniform.