Every time I read that a cop’s been killed or listen to people celebrating that death or promoting it as justified, I don’t think about the officer, his comrades, or the detractors. I think about kids. In 33 years on the job, I almost lost my dad a few times. Shootings, car accidents, fights with suspects…there were more times than I like to think about where that mourning band could’ve been for him. It screws with a kid. To know your parent is out there, risking his life to help others, being forced to miss out because of the job. To hear him cry at night when the house is quiet. To hear the angry, hate filled epithets of people wishing him and his family ill because he’s trying to make the city safer for others. It’s a living hell that never leaves.
This isn’t about bad cops, racism, or rights. This is about the fact that there are men and women willing to die for you , going places you’d never dream of visiting, witnessing nightmares that would shatter your soul, because they’re called to serve. Tomorrow morning while you’re complaining about traffic, how there’s “never a cop when you need one” there’ll be some kid watching their mom or dad put on a ballistic vest and a gun and begging them not to leave. I did it for 28 years and I was the lucky one. My dad always came home. Some didn’t. Realize as you rage against the system, as you hurl insults or justify cop killers that there’s kid out there who’s going to see it, some kid who is going to spend the day sick with worry when his afternoon cartoons are interrupted by “breaking news” of another dead cop and who is going to lay awake staring at the ceiling ’til he hears the the front door open as the person he loves finally comes home.
Tonight in Maryville, TN they’re mourning another officer’s sacrifice. I’ve refused to read the articles because I know I’ll spend all day hearing about it tomorrow at work. I’ll come home, see another slew of articles posted by friends online about how cops are the real enemy, how enforcing the law makes you a villain and how killing a cop makes you a hero. Hell, I’ve spent my whole life hearing people glorify the murder and carnage created by Bonnie and Clyde or John Dillinger. We worship killers, thieves, and vandals so long as the only people they directly hurt are authority figures. No one cares about the survivors. It’s collateral damage to them. We bring the pain and loss on ourselves because we love a family member or friend who wears a badge.
By six I’d received my first death threat from a man my dad arrested. Walking into a store, holding my dad’s hand a guy threatened to kill me and do a few other things I won’t mention here. People saw his patrol car and recognized it,came to our home to threaten the whole family. The best were the letters after his shooting, the ones where they told my dad that they hoped his son would be gunned down by a cop. Life isn’t just a dangerous, emotionally traumatizing experience for a cop, but for the whole family.
Stand in the streets, march, and call for the death of cops all day long. They’re going to block the streets and protect you while you march. Curse them, beat them, try your best to bring them to their knees and, when you need them, they’ll still be there to save you. Just remember that when you attack them, there’s often times a child attached to them, unequipped to handle your assault. It’s not that cop you’re really hurting but the child.