I was in a retailer the other day when I noticed a uniformed police officer enter, magnetizing many shoppers’ attention. It’s natural. Some may wonder, Is everything all right? Others may be happy to see an officer of the law —a bona fide protector— on the populated premises where plenty of goods and currency are exchanged.
But it was the different people of various ages comprising a multi-cultural mix of shoppers making the effort to walk up to and extend gratitude to the policeman. His expression lit the place.
Speaking of lit expressions, a just came across a freshly posted depiction of a youngster’s intrigue after some engagement with several Boston cops who perched the young boy in the saddle of one of their police motorcycles…
(Photo courtesy of Boston Patrolmen.)
The caption written by Boston law enforcement officers and, inclusively, on behalf of all America’s police officials succinctly underscored our topic today:
“This picture represents all that is good with law enforcement today. It’s community policing in a snapshot and at its best. A young boy sitting on a police motorcycle surrounded by bighearted police officers eager to build trust and send a message that says: ‘We’re here to keep you safe and, if you need us, we’re approachable, available, and always just a phone call away.’ This is who we are.”
Although children may not have the absolute depth of knowledge of how paramount cops are in our society, they surely know the reference “Officer Friendly.” Confirmation is across their expressions. As is often the case like the one in the image above, parents make sure police officers know how they made their kid’s day. The really fascinating part is that law enforcement officers witness and handle grotesque life circumstances and still manage to file that away deeply, suppressing ample experiences involving depravity and destruction.
As Bob Seeger sang, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” That is one of the most classic lines mirroring the mindset of a law enforcement officer. Incidentally, Mr. Seeger wrote the lyrics for his “Against the Wind” material. Isn’t it interesting that cops nowadays seem to be running against the political winds, still dashing into dangerous situations on your behalf?
With that, the grueling nature of the job, and all the unseeable things reflected in eyes of police officers after rushing into environs where depravity went dirt-low…it is gratifying to know that folks are in the corner of cops and remain as pillars of guardians who have been subjected to unprecedented condemnation for doing a job the critics wouldn’t dare do.
A church pastor in North Carolina recently referred to cops and firefighters as “the brave walking to us,” coming into our lives to handle matters we fear and feel vulnerable from.
Although I am no longer an active-duty LEO, the skin in the game I maintain is that of speaking on behalf of my brothers and sisters who continue fighting the good fight, despite the minefield planted by politics. No in-depth coverage is needed regarding the echo of how much misdirected guff and hatred and maiming and murdering cops have been subjected to in recency.
Thus, the support for cops from incredible upstanding citizens who know the malice being flung from many corners where darkness breeds…is a definitive ray of light for those who symbolize justice on their chest and dutifully puff it up with confidence and courage to continue the treacherous roads, coupling their hands with those of innocents.
(Photo courtesy of the NYC Police Foundation.)
I am reminded of the few times throughout my police career when newly elected city council members would abruptly tackle cutting the city budget. What politician doesn’t want to serve their constituents by reducing costs and taming taxes? Yet some politicos in smaller jurisdictions sometimes go grand by uber reaching, by devising plans to essentially sell off its localized first responders to the larger county-level governments, in the name of cost-effectiveness. I get it. Who doesn’t?
The basic premise is that county sheriff’s offices have more resources (equipment) and personnel, often selling the idea by undercutting costs ordinarily expended by the municipality. Respectfully, though, the city forfeits its identity and sovereignty seems diluted.
That type of thing was plunked down on our police table, what we referred to as “cops on the butcher block,” and materialized in rumor and conjecture, starkly and ominously telegraphing that our police department was facing erasure.
With that gloom and doom hanging over the heads of every LEO on our police force and among civilian support staff, a prickly catchphrase started circulating chats and instilling uncertainty among all of us…
“You serve at the pleasure of the sheriff” was a known factor for law enforcement deputies. With that, if the county sheriff’s office were to take over police services, our municipal force of cops would not be guaranteed a job when all was said and done, when our department was defunct.
Then a curious thing happened…
The city’s constitution called for a public hearing so that residents and merchants could voice their opinions, whether favorable or otherwise, about their tax dollars affording their police force, and what it would look like if the sheriff’s office taking over public safety responsibilities came to fruition.
Emphatically, the majority of homeowners and business proprietors not only spoke against such a drastic change but also rebuked the city council for even conjuring the notion and formally proposing the upheaval and “betrayal of these officers who have served us well, with their lives at stake at every turn.”
A common denominator from this floated idea, and the ordeal surrounding it, was that the consensus of citizens and merchants echoed how they always knew their city cops were stellar at swift response times to address whatever complaints were called into police dispatch, implying that the sheriff’s office may not meet that expectation (given vast geographical jurisdiction versus the city’s modest limits).
The citizens made clear that they loved and respected their police organization and its unwavering provisions, so much so that any hypothesized increase in taxes was embraced to maintain the status quo. How often do citizens hug the idea of increased taxes Anywhere, USA?
That was a huge gesture, and it occurred while I was in police-blue serving a population that made abundantly clear their police department was safe (irony).
As the police chief said after the public hearings on the matter, “The people love their police!”
It is no wonder how, nowadays, more law enforcement agencies are hashtagging much of their social media posts with #yourpolicedepartment…deferring to the rightful ownership made possible by earnest voters via tax dollars.
It surely is the people for whom public safety professionals are positioned. Despite a certain political party foolishly pushing to defund and neuter law enforcement, polls have indicated strong support for either the same amount of policing or more, not less (or abolition).
Our form of representative government seems twisted when elected officials nosedive down rabbit holes and double-up on ridiculous notions such as weakening public safety to the detriment of all citizens (voters or not)…then downplay tragedies, feign ignorance, and pretend to care about cops. Not confounding at all. Disgusting.
Who the heck glamorizes a policeless society?
Americans know the true score. They can distinguish between zeros and heroes.
As a retired policeman living a citizen’s lifestyle, I am grateful to all first responders withstanding the pressures and perils, continuously showing up every day when each has had ample discouragement flung at them.
Cheers to people who support our nation’s cops! To all others: Get right with God’s peacekeepers.