White, Black, Muslim, Christian.
It doesn’t matter what you’re race, ethnicity, or beliefs are. If you are a human being living on this planet, then your life matters. Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, and Brett Thompson. The first two names you probably recognize; they’re in the news everywhere. The last five names are the officers who have lost their lives because of the circumstances surrounding the loss of life for the first two.
Martin Luther King Jr. showed the world that when you want to make a change, you don’t fight violence with violence. Instead, you use non-violence to prove your point; use non-violence to allow your opposition to make themselves look bad or foolish. When Philando Castile and Alton Sterling both lost their life within the same week at the hands of police officers, a nation rallied behind them and non-violent protests began popping up across the country; from New York, to California, to Texas.
Ah, Texas. The Lone Star State.
The state that is really stuck in the headlines, after an extreme act of terrorism was taken against the Texas police officers who were maintaining a peaceful protest in Dallas. Because of some extreme measures taken against these officers, five families are forever torn apart. Sons and daughters will now grow up without a father; mothers will raise those children as single mothers. One of the officers was married two weeks ago; his newly-wed’s wife will never be the same.
Why? This is your form of justice?
You think sniping officers in the line of duty, who were doing nothing wrong at the time, is the best way to gain “justice” for what was done earlier in the week? Photos were released from the daytime rally in Dallas, showing police officers taking friendly pictures with the protesters; the people who were protesting their line of work. Yet, these kind men still smiled and shook hands because they understood that these people were only trying to bring about a change, to seek some type of justice for other innocent people.
This didn’t deter the Dallas officers from being respectful, polite, and smiling on as thousands of protesters continued marching by. It’s important to point out the Dallas shooting suspect was not a member of the protests earlier in the day, but rather planned this far before the event took place.
Think of any profession you know of, and you are bound to think of someone you know of in that line of work who isn’t very good at his/her job. I know of teachers who go into teaching to coach a sport; or coaches who don’t know how to write-up the X’s and O’s to get their football team down the field. I know of doctors who don’t do a great job providing the best care, and I know of whether reporters who can’t see to get the weather correct.
But you know what?
They all make up a minority of people in their profession. So, we look at police officers; I’m sure many people are either related to someone in the criminal justice field, or know someone in the field. The vast majority of people who go into the line of police work do so because they genuinely care about protecting the people around them and making a difference in their local community.
Are there officers who may be racist, or always looking to incriminate someone, regardless of the circumstances?
Sure, they do exist, and there is no denying that. To assume that every single cop is composed of that nature is naïve. The officers who do a poor job in the line of duty are the minority, yet they get to make up the picture of all cops in the United States of America right now?
I have lived through some of the most recent violent attacks in the United States, but nothing has hit me as emotionally as the recent cop killings have. I was too young to truly understand the impact of 9/11. Sandy Hook shook me, but felt too surreal and distant. The movie theater attack in Aurora, Colorado made seeing a movie uneasy for a brief time, but nothing hit quite like this. In all of those circumstances I knew that the police or the military would come in and do what was best. Now, those are the people who are under attack.
What kind of country do we create for ourselves when we are attacking the people who are meant to protect and serve us?
In the nation I want the United States to be, we respect our officers. We want them to be polite and kind to us when we come across them casually, and enact appropriate justice when someone commits a crime. We need to treat everyone as innocent proven guilty, whether you are being pulled over for speeding, or upset about a decision an officer made.
If we continue to treat our police officers as the enemy, then there won’t be any left. With the current climate for police officers right now, I don’t think you could pay me enough to do their work. There isn’t any respect, the people committing crimes seem to have the larger weapons, and people continue to be more critical than supportive of officers. When all of the officers are gone, what kind of free-for-all are we creating for ourselves? We talk about wanting justice, then we force out the people best prepared to bring about that justice we so desperately desire.
I think we need to be careful what we wish for. As fewer and fewer young men and women see this profession as desirable, and it becomes a matter of having to sort out our own issues as a society, what kind of living conditions will we have created for ourselves then? Let’s hope we look at each situation on a case-by-case scenario, and quit assuming that just because there are some bad cops in the world, they are all that way. Instead, the next time you see an officer maintaining traffic, or see one driving down your block, try showing them your support before they are all gone.