It has almost become routine to hear that another officer has been shot in the line of duty. Sometimes the shot causes an injury. Too often, the shot results in a funeral. It is a sad and sobering realization.
There have been far too many officers injured and/or killed at the hands of criminals already this year. The number keeps growing does not appear to be slowing down.
When this happens, where is the public outrage? Where are the protests calling for it to stop? I have yet to hear the bi-partisan political statements flooding the airwaves calling for it to end.
Instead, we get the age-old comments, “It’s what they signed up for!” or “They knew what they were getting themselves into.”
Okay, I’ll concede on a few points, yes, anyone who puts themselves intentionally in harm’s way knows there is a chance they may be injured or killed. But that isn’t what they signed up for!
Lately, it’s a common narrative to degrade police and military members for their actions. Too often they are condemned for upholding the laws of their state, local and federal jurisdictions.
Let’s change that narrative!
There are countless incidents across the world of officers doing extraordinary things and the public they serve thanking them for that service. Why can’t events be the focus of the national news and social media outlets?
So, my question is, WHAT DID WE SIGN UP FOR?
I will start with what we did NOT sign up for; this is my list:
- First, we didn’t sign up to be called pigs, murderers or whatever other colorful adjective people invent as the soundbite of the day.
- We didn’t sign up to violate people’s rights or to kill them.
- We didn’t sign up to be ridiculed by political pundits who have no knowledge of police tactics and procedures.
- We certainly didn’t sign up to be micro-dissected for every move we make, comment uttered or decision made.
- We most certainly did not sign up to intentionally be assaulted or killed.
Yes, those things are dangerous risks that “may” happen, but it certainly isn’t something we signed-up for.
ANYONE who chooses a public safety career whether it is law enforcement, corrections, firefighter, EMS or the military knows what they are “signing up for.”
- We sign up to serve
- We sign up to better our communities
- We sign up to protect and serve others.
People who devote their lives in service to others are a rare breed. They often spend nights, weekends, holidays and birthdays away from their loved ones. They sacrifice their personal time, their family time, often their wellbeing and, sadly sometimes they sacrifice their lives.
Yes, we know what we signed up for.
We signed up to help others in their times of need — to be the Thin Blue Line between good and evil. We understand and accept that there are inherent dangers associated with our profession.
We chose it after much consideration and even more hard work. Many chose it with God’s guidance; none of us walked in blind.
WHAT CopBlue READERS SAY:
Written by police officers for police officers and on point.
Honestly, all articles have grabbed my attention.
The headlines speak to the reality of the work.
WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE NEGATIVE IDEOLOGY?
These days, everyone with a keyboard and an opinion are police experts. Anyone with access to the public platform gets on their soapbox. They spew the first thing that comes to their minds about current police events. Rarely do they show law enforcement in a positive light.
Many of them (not all) want to get their views out to the public as fast as possible – whether they are factual or not. They often do this without understanding the entire situation.
Having only part of the information does not bother them. It does not stop them. They will express their opinion as if it is solid-steel fact based on a complete set of facts, whether it is or not.
Even when they are proven wrong, they rarely retract or apologize for what they have put out in the public forum.
WHY DOESN’T THE TRUTH MAKE THINGS RIGHT?
The use of force ain’t pretty. Period. It matters not whether the officer involved is using pain compliance, taking someone to the ground or in the ultimate act – using deadly force. The average citizen has not – and will not – ever see it in person. To them, it’s a horror.
They have no clue about the Use of Force Continuum. They have never heard of Graham vs Conner, Tennessee vs. Garner or Terry vs. Ohio. Often their past experience with force has been in the movies where the bad guys are hurting the good guys. They translate it and when they see a cop use force, they automatically pity the object of their actions – no matter how wrong it may be.
Conversely we cops feel fully justified, even believing that our force could have rightfully been more severe. We only held back as a show of mercy for the individual we are endeavoring to control.
There is a clear dichotomy between the civilians, the cops and their respective points of view. Each side has a hard time understanding the other’s stance or how they reach the conclusions they do.
They weaponize the information in an attempt to destroy what they oppose or don’t understand. It’s harmful, hurtful and just plain wrong.
To use an old saying, “They can’t see the forest for the trees.” Some civilians are so consumed with small, trivial details that they never see the larger picture.
As an example, in an OIS, an officer may have fired fifteen rounds. Many civilians will be focused on the fact that fifteen rounds hit the subject. For the cop involved, he will be totally focused on whether or not it was a good shoot because we are trained only to neutralize the threat. A cop has very little concern with how many rounds it took to get the job done.
I will share the analogy I use when I teach report writing, “Every incident is like a puzzle. Everyone involved in the incident has piece to contribute, but no puzzle is ever complete without all those pieces being put in their proper place.”
So, to wrap this up, unless you have all the pieces of information please don’t assume you understand the whole picture.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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