Another Police Officer is gunned down in Memphis. The killers of a Hattiesburg Police Officer only a few weeks ago is granted bail, as the Mother of that Officer looks on helplessly. A cop orders some food at a drive-through and the man that prepares it writes “PIG” on the wrapper. A County prosecutor decries police making car stops for minor violations as “Chicken-crap” when a car stop leads to the death of a black man. All of this takes place in the same few days and all of us involved in law enforcement and those who support us wonder, “How is this possible?’
The job of a Police Officer has never been easy. Trying to enforce laws, respond to calls for service, temper the needs of the community with the laws of the city, state and local government and be part Priest, Social Worker, Soldier and Teacher is pretty much an impossible task, yet one that is all part of being a cop. It is a job that places you in danger physically, emotionally, ethically and legally. It can tear your heart out one moment and lift your soul the next. You bear witness to the worst that humanity has to offer and you stand on the front lines with the best and bravest and bleed alongside them. It is the best of jobs and the worst of jobs and everyone who has taken up the badge will never be the same.
As difficult and challenging as “The Job” has been historically, I have never witnessed the all out assault on law enforcement that is taking place now. Every day there is a headline and a video that accuses cops of everything from murder to racism. There is no way for the police to defend themselves because accusations are just that, inflammatory hyperbole designed to create headlines, further political agendas and manipulate thought. Propaganda comes in many flavors and the media has become the “Good Humor Man” of the delivery system. The cop on the street has no voice because should they say something in their own defense, the department that they work for will destroy their careers as surely as day will turn to night. They turn within themselves and harbor resentment against their bosses and even more importantly THEIR bosses in local government because they know that the Mayor or Governor or City Council are more concerned with their own reelection than the lives of those who serve on the front lines.
This is the “Perfect Storm” of mistrust in all things that matter to the American people. It is belief in the system of justice that was created by the framers of the Constitution of the United States that is the glue that holds this country together. When that melts away, you have anarchy and the end of everything that this United States stands for.
Truth, Justice, Fairness and The Rule of Law is why cops become cops.
It is why they are willing to put up with bad hours, a sometimes arbitrary court system, often ineffective and selfish leadership and poor pay. When you add to that a public that is willing and eager to discard them because of a few seconds of edited video, you are asking for something that can never be replaced and that is the dedication and willingness of men and women who believe in something greater than themselves, the concepts of justice, law and the American way of life.
It is time again to believe. To trust in those who are willing to lay their lives on the line. They won’t be perfect. They will screw up, just as humans have done since a certain apple looked awfully good to certain man. But I’m willing to say this. That in more than thirty years of wearing a badge, I know that the vast majority of those who serve are willing to die for their love of this country and that’s good enough for me.
”TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE”
Lieutenant Randy Sutton