“The police officer who puts their life on the line with no superpowers, no x-ray vision, no super-strength, no ability to fly, and above all no invulnerability to bullets, reveals far greater virtue than Superman—who is only a mere superhero.” ― Eliezer Yudkowsky
I am the very proud and honorable daughter, the granddaughter (times two), and the great-granddaughter of four amazing police officers. Each and every one of them has served the state of Michigan for years, and has done many wonderful things for my community as well as the lives of the people they know and the lives of complete strangers. I am so proud to be from a police officer family, and to honor these men every chance that I get.
I am also the best friend of a police recruit in a local Michigan police academy. My best friend is one of the strongest, most courageous people I have ever met, and her heart is filled with overflowing passion for the job that her life entails for her. My best friend is current on the news, she understands what is happening in the world today with officer brutality and the war on officers, and has still chosen to dedicate her life to serve and protect our community. She is brave, she is willing, and she has the desire to help others that the world cannot take from her.
Law enforcement is the first line of defense against crime, terrorism, and threat. When seconds count between living and dying, the police officers are the first ones there. When somebody breaks into your house, the police officers arrive on the scene to help. When a parent is arrested, the police officers will stay with that child. When a child goes missing, the police enact a search-and-rescue mission. If a person is in danger because of another person, the police officers will help to provide safety. When your tire goes flat on the side of the busiest highway in the state, a police officer will pull up to assist you. If you need safety and protection from anything, the police are there.
On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 60 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 20,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice. They are being shot while sitting at traffic lights, on duty, responding to traffic stops, minding their own business. Law enforcement officers are being executed in coffee shops while on their lunch breaks. Law enforcement officers are being lured into ambushes where they are injured beyond repair. Law enforcement officers are being run over on the side of the highway while removing debris from the road. Law enforcement officers are being killed while responding to an alarm call that ended up just being a setup. They are being killed in their own driveways while playing with their children or spending time with their friends and family, while off duty. They are being shot inside their own precincts.
Lately, with the ever-called “War on Police”, the police brutality that has spurred up since the Ferguson, Mo. incident, and many officer shootings, deaths, and casualties, it is not common to hear about the extreme hate and disgust that the public and the media have for our police officers. From the spinning of media rhetoric to make a situation sound more dramatic than it is, to officers being blamed for not having probable cause, and even to mass killings among police officers, it’s time to stand up and start supporting our police officers and make a change.
Many people are very familiar with the two New York Police Department police officers who were gunned down while sitting in their patrol cars this past winter. But many do not know about a Durham, N.C. officer who narrowly avoided a similar fate when two men tried to attack him in his car. In Florida, two officers in separate cars came under fire and narrowly avoided injury. In Los Angeles, two men opened fire on a police officer, who was luckily not hit. Or even worse…if you are not from the Lansing community, did you even hear about the Ingham County police officer who was killed during a high-speed chase last December? That officer was a friend of my dad’s, a death that hit very close to home in my family, our community, and in our police family with the Sheriff’s Office. When a police officer is killed, it’s not just an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire family and community.
An article by Times News lists 72 different instances where the police used force and their conduct came under question since the death of Michael Brown. Out of the 72 uses of force, 61 of them were justified beyond doubt, as each suspect in each case was eitherthreatening to shoot the police, brandishing a weapon, resisting arrest, attacking officers in an attempt to take their weapon, or using a vehicle as a weapon to strike or evade officers. Police officers go through rigorous training to make life-dependent and split-second decisions on behalf of themselves and others in the community that they are employed to protect. In these high-stakes situations, a BB gun, a toy gun, or any plastic weapon can look a lot like a real gun or a real weapon when being held up and pointed at an officer. When a suspect continues to reach into their pocket or tug at their waist band after being told over and over again to show their hands, drop the object, and step away, it can appear to the officer that the suspect might be trying to pull a weapon and use deadly force on the officer. It is easy for the public, especially the media, to look at situations such as these that have become so famous on popular reporting sites, and try to claim that the police officer was unjustified in using force. But, in that moment, in that split-second decision, the officers made the call they felt was necessary to make sure that they would get to see their families again.
A police officer can make holding your hand seem like the most important thing in the world. They can make your child breathe again when they stop, working to catch the last gasp of air. The police officers in your town, county, state, and nation get out of bed every single early morning, leaving their families behind to risk their lives to save people they have never even met. Police officers miss important birthdays, family holidays, nights with their loved ones, anniversaries, and special events to protect you. They go to work every day for the safety of your family, a duty that they could die for.
When my dad comes home at night, he takes off the uniform at the door. He is our hero in uniform, but at home, he is my dad. He is raising five children, he has a wonderful wife who is also my mother, he has many family members and friends alike. He enjoys watching the Detroit Tigers baseball games, his favorite beer is Oberon, he likes to cook dinner and play with his kids, he mentors our family, and he does normal things that normal people do. He coaches his children in sports, he goes to concerts, he watches movies, and he mows the lawn. Every police officer is the same way. Underneath the uniform and outside of the walls of the police department or out from behind of the wheel of the police car, they are normal people, just like you and I.
Police officers do not do this job for the honor, the spotlight, or the glory, and definitely not for the money. No, police officers go to work every day and do their job because they are passionate about their community, they want to help others, and they want to make a difference. Law enforcement officers are a special breed. They don’t work for money or fame. They do their job because they love it and because they feel called to serve the community.
So what exactly does a police officer have to do for you to say that their life has worth? What will it take for you to see the family waiting at home for that police officer, waiting for them to come home after their long shift, constantly praying theirs isn’t the next officer down? What will it take for the citizens of this country to say that without them, who will make these sacrifices? The next time that you get a speeding ticket, or call for help in a dangerous situation, or just pass an officer on the sidewalk, try shaking their hand and thanking them for their service. Because the police officers, like the ones that I know and love, and the ones that help you out, and the ones that serve your community every single day, are real people too, and they have a family to come home to just like you do.
Police are the thin blue line between chaos and order. For some, it might just be a line. For others, including myself, that thin blue line is a family crest.
In honor of every life lost in the line of duty, please join me in paying constant respect and support to all of our law enforcement officers and first responders in our communities and in the world.