As a police officer I have been asked a lot lately about the political climate towards police in our nation. I would like to sit down at a table with an activist against police.
I would start by asking them about their personal experiences so I could better understand where they are coming from. Once they were done telling their story I would apologize and recognize yes, racism still sadly exists and yes, there are some officers that abuse their power. I, as well as my fellow officers, despise officers that abuse their power. Not just because what they are doing is a complete contradiction to what we swore an oath to protect against but also because one bad officer paints all of us in a negative light. I would then ask if I could share my story and it would go something like this:
I became a police officer because I did not like people being treated unjustly. In my 12-year career I have been blessed to be part of helping a lot of people. I have never shot anyone although I have pointed my gun at many people. I have never had a complaint filed against me by the public or been accused of using excessive force. I look at each call as an opportunity to treat someone as I would want an officer to treat my loved ones.
My attitude and my file may not reflect an officer with a dramatic career of accomplishments, but I know I have made a difference. From making a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding of a suicidal woman, providing CPR to a teen who overdosed, to carrying a woman who had been shot up the street to paramedics. I’ve had a man thank me at court for arresting him and explaining to him the jail process. I’ve had the opportunity to pray with those who just lost a loved one. I’ve had countless opportunities to encourage the victims of domestic violence that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and are to be treated as such. I have responded to help where a fellow officer had been shot and had to wait to hear the news that he died. I have traveled to New Jersey for another officer’s funeral to show support to that community. I have been spit in the mouth by a man with Hepatitis C. I have had opportunities to encourage my fellow officers so they do not lose hope that their good works, that don’t make the news, are for naught.
This career does not come without its costs. When an officer is shot while I’m on shift, my wife has turned on the porch light fully expecting a command officer to come with the bad news. After seeing innocent children murdered, I have experienced symptoms of PTSD. When the protests started and the anti-police sentiment was in every headline the paranoia seeped in, ensuring I took a different route home each day and watch that no one was following me. I feel judged by the uniform I wear but I am not given a chance to be judged by my character.
Even with these negative consequences of the career I would still choose it all over again.
You may say I’m one of the good ones like I’m rare, but if you came on a ride along with me or any of my fellow officers you would see I am actually the norm. For all the events I listed above- I was not alone. Alongside me was another officer equally prepared to help and make a difference for good.
I would choose this career again because I know I am still making a difference. I can hold my head up high knowing I am one of the majorities of good officers that impact people’s lives for good every day. There will always be a cost to those who stand against evil. After our conversation we still may not see eye to eye but even if that is the case, I will keep my oath and show up for you every time that you call. I will be ready to help you on your very worst day.