To our police brothers and sisters fighting the good fight: ‘Please don’t let the noise get to you’

By Stephen Owsinski

The day dawned with news circulating around Seattle City Council’s intent to absolutely abolish its entire police force and supplant it with a “civilian-led Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention” initiative. Succinctly put after sufficient critical analysis, this maneuver will assuredly backfire before long. Minneapolis City Council may discover that hard truth sooner than Seattle; time will tell, and we shall see if it bears any fruit. What we are already seeing across the United States is a sample of anarchy and the looming stench of rottenness.

Although law enforcement officers do not necessarily have any control over what their respective governing bodies decide to do, the noise wafting the national air is significant enough to creep in and cause deleterious outcomes. Pointedly, distractions do occur…and perils have no patience when timing is everything pertaining to officer safety and survivability when confronting evil in myriad forms.

This morning’s coffee was semi-enjoyed while reading some unenjoyable local news about a patrol officer in a fully-marked police cruiser almost losing his life after a lunatic armed with a firearm took pot shots while fleeing justice. The policeman took a bullet to the forearm and survived; the shooting suspect was subsequently apprehended. Reading the police reports left me with one solitary conclusion: The gunman’s sole motivation was to wreak havoc on a community (multiple shootings reported to the police) with zero regard for human existence. Sound like similar situations of which you are aware nowadays? Anywhere, USA is sadly sporting a black eye lately, and cops are being pelted with ice while trying to stave off further chaos among freedom-loving citizens.

The scenario mentioned above commenced with accounts of gunfire and came to a head when a rookie cop on patrol spotted the pot-shot gunman and attempted to conduct a traffic stop of his vehicle. Unsurprisingly, the armed suspect refused to stop and, instead, fled while taking shots at the new law enforcement officer. He ducked, but one bullet managed to lodge in his arm. Hordes of motorists and pedestrians were in the gunman’s line of fire, some injured and treated at local hospitals.

Surely, this one episode will permanently imprint upon the police officer who is still in his probationary phase as a new cop. How could it not register? Kudos to him for stepping up, despite the ravage of anti-police sentiments hurled at his chosen profession.

Given the above-mentioned reality-based scenario (one of many more just like it hatching all across the nation), it makes for a compelling argument against the knee-jerk trumpeters seeking to dissolve law enforcement altogether.

Before a second cup of coffee, I analyzed a report out of Alabama, where a push is on to either supplant police with a civilian contingent. Birmingham is retooling its police force, considering police budget reductions, and is using the phrase “violence interruption programs” to launch citizen cadres to walk the streets to quash crimes before they transpire. The Trace reported that these “Street teams, many of them staffed by formerly incarcerated persons, help mediate conflicts between individuals, cliques, and gangs before they turn violent.”

The basic principle comprising these “street teams” will be funded by monies previously allocated to the city police department, essentially affording civilians to do traditional police work. Moreover, at the root of this civilian patrol premise are allegations of rampant racism by the municipal police force. Per The Trace, “Birmingham, the state’s largest city, has a well-documented history of racism in policing as well as perpetually sky-high gun violence that rarely receives national attention.” Well-documented by whom? Extraordinary instances of gun violence ordinarily responded to and investigated by cops will now be addressed by “street teams” comprised of convicted felons? Is “national attention” necessarily helpful? One might suspect the Birmingham tourism bureau may beg to differ.

Albeit just a mere few tidbits of what LEOs are confronting on a daily basis (nothing new at all), this is enough to drive any cop’s mind stark. It would seem the current climate is rife with anti-cop vitriol to the extent police personnel frankly expect to be accosted and ambushed (also not new, only markedly burgeoning lately). What does this do for the police psyche?

With more sips from the coffee mug, I came across a policeman who wrote a telling message after encountering an ostensibly foreboding instance while he was on duty, in his marked patrol vehicle, and parallel to another car loaded with onlookers offering copious amounts of seeming stink eye. Ambush? Another one?

As this cop tells it: “I pull up at the Stop light and a blue minivan pulls next to me. I could feel eyes all over the side of my face. I look to my right and in the driver seat was a brother with short platted braids tattooed from the neck down, who was just staring at me. I looked in the back of the van and saw another brother and two sisters (in the black sense). All looking at me. They weren’t smiling.

“The driver rolled the window down slowly. Still peering at me. I was thinking based on the way he was peering at me, that I was about to get cursed out, or worse. I looked closely at his tats and it appeared to be art, so I felt the odds were higher that I was about to get called everything but a child of God instead of harmed. The way he was looking was as if I did him dirty. But I’m no coward. I stared back readying myself for a barrage of racial slurs and attacks on my manhood.

“I asked him if I could help him. He said… ‘I need you to be safe, officer. It’s really [messed] up how they are doing y’all. The people hatin’ on y’all are gonna find out soon enough how much we need you guys.’” Eureka, good medicine that needs to spread instead of COVID—social distancing be damned!

This particular cop’s impromptu Stop light neighbor continued: “’Please be safe, officer. Praying for you.’ The people in the back seem to be in agreement. I thanked him. And he chimes in again. ‘I’m serious, officer. Please be safe. We need you guys. Don’t let the noise get to you. Praying for all of you.’

“As he drove off I had to pull over. The past few weeks have been a living hell for us as cops. Our morale has hit lows I haven’t seen since the [LAPD] Rampart scandal. If you watch the news, social media and listen to our civic leaders you would believe the world has turned their backs on us.

“But his words caused me to stop and reflect on the support I received. I started to tear up. […] In spite of how ugly things have been, I believe God is sending community members my way to keep my head up in these dark times.” Who among us, cop or not, can relate to those last few words and the Almighty message, especially for the warriors maintaining the frontlines, the Blessed peacekeepers…?

The basis for me writing this piece ideally matches the role, experience, philosophy, and conclusion made by our storyteller who shared this revelation derived from circumstances while on duty: “To my fellow officers: it feels like we are alone right now. But you aren’t. There are people from all walks of life who understand your worth. […] Keep your heads up. I love and respect each and every one of you who gets up and shows up for work each day in this environment.

“As the young man said, they will know soon enough how valuable you are.” To that I say, Amen!

Keep fighting the good fight! The follies of others are no deterrent to outstanding police work, the fabric of which is showing up for duty, donning brave faces while the eyes witness vile personas and the ears hear the battle drum beats of those who have forsaken you and offer an upturned nose at your oath. Like American Idol’s worst performance, the unrehearsed “defund the police” band will soon get off the stage and disband itself…

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