Yes, I will proudly state that some of my friends are policemen. Some are military. Some are first responders. I admire their dedication to serving others. To promoting health and safety. For doing the jobs that so many people are so good at arm-chair quarterbacking.
Yes, I am writing to show my gratitude for all who put themselves before me. For those who make it possible for me to write publicly. For those who come to my assistance when I am sick. For those who protect my home from fires. For those who do things that most people can’t even comprehend.
One of my very good friends is a retired police sergeant. After 38 years on the police force, he retired and took a civilian position working to ensure the police department maintains the highest standards of policing as establish by an independent national agency (www.calea.org). He has dedicated his adult life to ensuring the safety of my community as well as those who entered public safety careers after he retired. Thirty-eight years. Not a single use of force complaint. Credited with solving many crimes of different types including robberies, homicides and abuse/neglect of children and adults. Commended for his ability to calm protesters throughout the decades, most recently the Occupy Protests in 2011. Not a single complaint from a citizen or co-worker.
And now, I hear people calling policemen pigs. Accusing the justice system of being biased in favor of the police. Attacking the very policemen that they expect to show up and help them in their time of need. Forcing their anger in the faces of people who have nothing to do with what they are angry about.
I live in a country where you are free to peacefully assemble. You are free to publicly express your thoughts. But, we are a nation of laws. Destroying other people’s property is a violation of the law. Destroying public property is a violation of the law. Theft, assault and inciting riots are violations of the law. These are all things you agree not to do when you accept your citizenship. You also accept the consequences of your actions.
For those who state that this destruction is a form of communication, I ask where did you learn to speak that language?
Back to my friends who selflessly place themselves in harm’s way so we can sleep at night and wake to enjoy the liberties they protect. I believe that the job of keeping us safe is difficult. About 2.5% of Americans are currently serving in the military. In my city, there is approximately 1 police officer for every 702 citizens. There is 1 firefighter for every 1082 citizens. Not exactly a huge number of people to hold the lines of our society together.
I encourage you to learn more about your community, the people who protect you and the issues that affect the community. Don’t judge your community until you know your community. Refrain from condemning those who have chosen to do the jobs that so few are capable of doing. By building stronger communities, we are increasing accountability. By joining our communities, we are effecting change. By becoming knowledgeable about our communities, we can improve everyone’s quality of life.