To The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,
I am the proud daughter of a police officer. As a little girl, I felt so much pride knowing my dad was out protecting our city from crime; I’m now 22 years old and that pride remains, but I can’t help but feel fear knowing he’s out there on patrol.
But why do I feel fear, you ask? Because I can’t get on the Internet without seeing someone bash on police officers. I can’t turn on the news without hearing about some new incident or some new reporting. I can’t walk around in my community without the fear in my heart for those wearing the badge.
People say some very scary things, even going as far as, “A dead cop is the best cop.” Do you know what it’s like to read that? It’s earth-shattering to know someone out there thinks my dad would be better off dead.
Growing up in the 21st Century, we are surrounded by numbers. The cold, hard facts are the only point-of-view nowadays; and you are either for it or you are wrong. In the year 2015, there were approximately 1,165,383 violent crimes reported; 63.6% aggravated assault, 28% robbery, 7.2% rape, 1.2% full on murder. Also in the year 2015, according to the “Cop Crisis” Police Brutality Statistics, 1,307 of these deaths reported were allegedly caused by police officers.
1,307- to many, this statistic is enough to take up arms and “make a difference.” Let’s take back our country and band together against the “cruel oppression” of authority, they say. The numbers are right in front of us; the statistics higher than ever before.
So, what do we see when we look at these numbers? A blood thirsty country, looking to get their way no matter the method? A misguided generation retaliating against authority? Authority retaliating against a misguided generation?
I see something different. You know what I see when I look at these numbers?
I see a 7:13AM bagel on the kitchen counter, toasted just how I like it. I’m in grade school with my bright pink backpack on, getting ready to face another day of long division and sight words. I see rough hands grabbing his wallet, gun, badge, and my hand as we walk out the door to leave for school. I see our drive in his car and a quick kiss on the cheek right before I hop out of his patrol car to walk up to my school. I see the sadness and the immediate walk upstairs after school with no hello when the news is blaring about a child who died or a father that didn’t quite make it. I see a grin the next day followed by a story of the miraculous childbirth or the K9 Cops’ biggest bust ever. I see the sadness in his eyes and within his heart when he loses his friends. I see the joy that comes across his face when he gets to help lead his men and solve the crimes of our community. I see the ups and the downs.
I have to listen everyday to the news talk about how police brutality is “affecting the lives” of Americans across the nation. I listen to the protesters and the talk shows and all of the people so up in arms about a “problem” catalyzed by social media and numbers.
And do you know what I hear when I listen to these numbers?
I hear a voice much deeper than my own singing off key to a new country song or an old 80’s song, driving up I-4 in the hear of Florida. I hear the anger in a spectator’s voice, telling the referee that he is “soft” and that the slide tackle “wasn’t really that bad” at my sister’s soccer game. I hear the “I’m-proud-of-yous” and the “I-love-you-baby” every time I leave to go back to college. I see his face when he sees his daughters succeed. I see his smile when he sees himself in his son. I see his sorrow when he sees the same news reports that I do. And I see the fear in his eyes for his brothers on the force.
And our generation feels so angry. “How could they do this to us? Shouldn’t they be protecting and serving? Who is protecting us against them?”
I sit here with my 7:13AM bagel, still toasted just how I like it. My pink backpack has now been upgraded to a college sized backpack, and I do not have to rush to get to school anymore. I still hear “I love you, sis” every time I leave to go back home, and there is not a country song or old 80’s lyric I do not get sent a text about when it is known that I am having a bad day. In those numbers, I see a devoted dad and community member who is in the third generation of a family to take the pledge to protect a community and to make the world a better place by enforcing the law. I see a police officer that I love.
I don’t feel angry; I just feel scared. Because there are two sides to every story, and we seem to have forgotten the cold, hard truth. We all feel as though we need to be protected. But who exactly is it that is protecting the police officers from you?
If 1,307 dogs claim to be a golden retriever, then every dog henceforth is of the same breed. If 1,307 athletes claim to play football, then every athlete henceforth will pad-up and run for the endzone. If 1,307 African-Americans identify themselves as “thugs,” then every African-American henceforth must take up the role as a thug. These statistics sound a little ridiculous, don’t they? But if every police officer is corrupt, in the eyes of our strikers and our protestors, due to the alleged actions of 1,307, should we not hold all groups, in their entirety, accountable for the actions of one?
So, go ahead; take up your signs in protest. Claim that you are oppressed and that you are scared to walk the streets at night. Tell the world that the color of your skin or the group you associate with or the clothes that you wear are putting you in great danger with the authority of the law. But don’t forget- it took you 45 seconds to condemn a man simply because of the uniform that he wears. You didn’t even take the time to consider who he is or what he has done before yoy judged him by the oath he took, the one where he dedicated his life to protect and serve. You didn’t even take a second to consider who he is when he isn’t in that uniform, and all the people who love him and wait for him at home, in fear that he might not ever come back.
So, it is unfair if it is done unto you, but you, as a non-authority figure, can do it unto others? You see the news and you see the numbers and you see a reason to get out of bed and yell about something. But remember that even when you have so much hate for the police, my dad continues to put his life on the line to protect yours. Funny, huh? He doesn’t even know you and every morning, he wakes up, puts on his uniform and sets out to do whatever he can to protect you. Someone he doesn’t know and has no obligation to go out and serve, yet he chooses to.
So, do you know what I see? I see my mother’s husband. I see my brother’s favorite role model and his number one person. I see the man who raised five kids, my first phone call when something amazing happens in my life, and the first person I ever truly loved.
You know what I see? I see my dad.
And if a father is the most important person in a lifespan to 1,307 daughters, then henceforth, shouldn’t the man with the badge that I call my father be the most important in mine?
Make your signs and yell your protests. Take it to the courthouses and shout it from the rooftops. Do what you feel you need to do in order to get your point across. But do not tell me that Blue Lives matter any less, and god forbid, don’t shoot. For you, I want to humanize the man behind the badge. People don’t understand what this life is like. I want you to remember that every time you threaten an officer, you’re threatening my dad, his family, and me.
Because in my world, a blue life matters more than anything else; and that is something that a number or a statistic or a report on the news will never be able to make you understand.
This one’s for you, Daddy, for being brave enough to do what others wouldn’t, for protecting even those who persecute you and for being the best dad any girl could ever ask for.
So, don’t bully my badge-wearer.
The Police Officer’s Daughter