The law enforcement community has experienced some saddening and even deeply concerning events as of late. Outside of the usual dangers and issues we face on a daily basis, police officers are being outright disrespected and insulted in the news and on social media. Recent events, such as police officers having water thrown on them while trying to do their jobs, officers being verbally harassed by onlookers while trying to do their jobs, or even being asked to leave a business because someone is “intimidated” by them, cause us to shake our heads and ask, “why am I even doing this?”. When I see these videos or read the articles, I am relieved that I am no longer wearing the badge (retirement has its perks), but I am deeply concerned for those of you who are still out there fighting the righteous fight.
In my patrol days, I rarely considered that anything I did could, or would, be recorded. Cell phones with good cameras were more ubiquitous later in my career (during my admin days). It is quite easy now to see police incidents on the news or social media – often recorded by many bystanders. But we all know that the recordings posted are sometimes edited and typically only show the event the publisher wants to illustrate, not all of the details that led up to the actual event. This of course is where body worn cameras are becoming a necessary part of an officer’s equipment.
But, I am not writing this article to discuss how my patrol days were less encumbered by the constant phone being shoved in one’s face; rather, I am writing to make sure that all of you who still wear the uniform know that despite what the media may try to portray about you, and despite what social media is trying to portray about you, please know that all of you are noble guardians that do what so many would never attempt. You are the ones that run towards the gunshots, not away from them. You are the ones driving around when everyone else is sleeping, ensuring their safety. You are the ones that endure scrutiny, and even physical injuries, in order to ensure our communities are safe. And most importantly, you are the ones that may have to make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. You are the definition of honor.
Law enforcement has always stood as the gatekeeper of justice. But beyond a procedural definition, law enforcement is much more than a person with a badge. To many, law enforcement is the light in the darkness. It is the beacon of light that your community can look for when the darkness of evil is upon them. Law enforcement is the sheepdog that keeps the wolves away. You, my police officer brothers and sisters, are the safe harbor in the storm. Never forget that.
So, when you start to question your career choice as you watch officers being verbally harassed, when you see the disrespect, when you feel that the world is against you, remember that your calling is of a higher purpose and far more noble than you may think. Never forget why you became a police officer and pay attention to the good in your communities (the people, the culture, the pride). Pay attention to the good that you do each day. Just remember that the sheep sometimes do not like the sheepdog, but they would rather live with it than without it. Stand tall and know that there are many that love and respect you. You are all heroes; the light in the darkness – never forget that.
Thank you all,
Tim Jones, GSPCC