I didn’t choose to be a member of the Thin Blue Line, but as people say about so many other families, I married into it. I chose to share my life with a man who is good and honest and kind and an upstanding citizen, and he also happens to be a police officer. So I have been indoctrinated into a culture of men and women who perform a job that very few would choose to do, a thankless job, a job that could take their lives at any time. Being a police officer has always been a dangerous one, but today, it is more treacherously perilous than ever, for I am writing this letter one day after the brutal murder of two New York City police officers. In the wake of the turmoil in Ferguson, a movement sprang up and is spreading like a plague across this country, seeping into every facet of our society and infecting those minds which feel perpetually oppressed. This movement declares that the police are evil, that they are out to get us, that they will wield their power to take down anyone who offends them, criminally or not. Those feelings have always existed, but now, fueled by “peaceful activists,” they tingle in the air like electricity, branching out and stirring the emotions of vast numbers of people. But are those emotions warranted? Is this movement justified? The answer is very simple, very basic. The answer is no.
Police officers are human beings, just like every other person in this country, and the most agreed upon truth about human beings all over the world is that they are not perfect, that they make mistakes. It’s not intentional. People don’t generally plot to make errors. They just happen. My son dropped and broke a Christmas ornament today. My pastor forgot to bring his sermon notes to the pulpit this morning. My grocery store overcharged me for a purchase yesterday. It happens. People mess up. But for some reason, select groups of them are watched closely for their mistakes. People wait in anxious hope that someone like a police officer will mess up, so that suddenly, they have a reason to cry foul. Are there bad police officers? Absolutely. Just like there are bad doctors and bad postal workers and bad burger flippers and bad accountants and bad priests and bad teachers. Are the bad ones the majority? No, not by a long shot. As in any other scenario, the bad ones, minority or not, are the ones who get all the attention. In no way is this an admission that any actions, recent or historic, by police officers were mistakes. That is not for me to decide, but neither is it an excuse for protesters to seek vigilante justice.
Another truth about human nature is that there are those who have no moral code, people who would take every advantage possible regardless of the repercussions. Since the beginning of time, humans have acted in ways that hurt each other. James Madison said, “if men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Obviously, human beings are not angels; therefore, we need government, an outside force that keeps us in check and prevents us from harming each other because too often, our moral compasses are ignored or perhaps are non-existent. Furthermore, government is an institution that not only makes the laws but also must enforce them; otherwise, they were created in vain. Those who despise and protest the police, in truth, are decrying the laws themselves. Police officers don’t write the laws. That isn’t their job; their job is to enforce them. So why this hatred toward the police? The answer here is also simple and goes back to a basic childhood concern – the fear of being caught doing something we shouldn’t do. Recently, I saw a police dash-cam video of a man punching an officer until she lost consciousness, and he said, “I can’t go to jail.” It wasn’t the officer’s fault the man had a warrant. The fault was his alone. Police officers aren’t the ones who make people rob stores or break into cars or resist arrest or murder. They are only there to hold people accountable for their actions just as a parent must hold a child accountable. The child doesn’t hate the parent for it, and hopefully, he will learn not to commit the infraction again. That is the hope of the police officer as well. If they can hold a person accountable for his crimes, perhaps he won’t commit them again. Our society as a whole needs to recognize that this is the intent and purpose of law enforcement. Slanted media coverage and flooding social media with outcries and anger toward police only gives those with no ethical mores justification, even a mandate, to carry out acts of violence against police like what we saw in New York yesterday.
And let’s not forget the role of the law makers in this explosive climate we are all now enduring. By executing the laws created by our government, law enforcement officers of this nation are an extension of the executive branch. So, where is the executive branch now? Why does the government not stand up and defend the very forces it relies upon to carry out its decrees? Another very simple answer: America’s government is full of cowards. Instead of thanking officers for putting their lives on the line daily – something that would cause most elected officials to soil themselves – they paint them as bullies and sympathize with an element of our society that, if left unchecked, will destroy America. No wonder the rest of the world laughs at our country. As a whole, we give the impression that we’ve forgotten the difference between right and wrong. The criminal is hailed while law enforcement is villainized. “Peaceful” rallies are held in which people scream for the death of police officers, and our government does nothing to stop it which, in turn, leads the deluded to believe that violent actions against law enforcement will be acceptable. No wonder the rest of the world laughs.
In America today where many people cry out against the police, deface their cemetery headstones, or murder them in cold blood, the members of the Thin Blue Line cannot help but interpret this as war being waged against us. Yes, us. I don’t carry a gun or a badge, but I’m a part of the police force just the same. Those who threaten the police threaten my loved one, threaten the livelihood of my family, threaten half of my children’s parents. Therefore, I cannot stand by and do nothing. How easily and quickly America forgets its heroes. Two decades have not even passed since first responders, police officers included, stormed the Twin Towers to rescue the unrescuable, many sacrificing their lives in the process. Officers held the perimeter line, preventing people from getting too close to the danger and devastation, all the while dying inside knowing their own family members were in those buildings. And in the years since, countless officers have suffered ill-health, even succumbed to it, as a result of the dust and toxins they inhaled that day. Thirteen years ago, America hailed them as heroes, offering praise and thanks, wearing their emblems on hats and t-shirts. Today, America cries “pig!” and hurls insults and assails them with bullets.
Entering the field of law enforcement is a choice. No one is forced into being a cop. They do it because they want to make a difference, to help people, to make their communities better places. It’s a lifetime commitment. One that they choose to return to day after day, enduring the criticism and insults, the scorn and thanklessness, the threats and danger. I didn’t choose to be part of the Thin Blue Line, but they are my family now, and I stand with them. I will not sit by and allow my silence to equate to a condoning of what is happening in this country today. I choose to stand up for what is right. While others cry hate and racism and injustice, I cry ethics, morality, and love. I ask you to stand and cry out with me.
A Proud Police Wife