This week is National Police Memorial Week. 126 Officers died in the line in '09.
I'm sure a lot of people read that statistic and think something to the effect of 'that's too bad' and continue on with their day.
I think, "there but for the grace of God, go I".
If you don't know, both of my parents were police officers. Mom the first chick cop in our city. Yup. I come from trailblazin' blue blood, baby. Dad came on the job after serving in Korea in the Marines.
...All of the sudden my expecting something odd to happen, nod givin', do-right, watchin' everybody, rule followin', no sitting with my back to the door, stand up for someone else when it's needed-ness is a little clearer, isn't it?!?!?
Too many folks like to rip into law enforcement. Boo fuckin' hoo, I got a ticket. Waaaaaaa, I was doin' wrong. I knew (or should have known) I was doin' wrong and the po-po caught me doin' it and I'm pissed off, and s/he was mean to me, kinda shit. Which is always irksome to me. I mean, when you're doin' wrong, just fuckin' acknowledge it. Even if it's only to you, that you were wrong. It's really not the Officers fault that you were speeding in a school zone or breaking into someone's home, now is it? I don't understand how you can be about hating all people in that particular uniform because they caught you doing something illegal. That you already knew, or should have known was i-l-l-e-g-a-l. And what if at your job everyone you came in contact with posed an opportunity to be a threat to your life. Exactly how chipper and bubbly would you be every day? Might you have a few moments where maybe you were more terse or more impatient than needed with people? Hummm?
Plus, ya have the unmitigated gall to talk bad about the absofuckinlootly first people your ass is going to call if, God forbid, you're the victim of some crime, scared shitless because someone's rattling your door, or mad as hell because somebody keyed your ride, to come help your ass. Really? When you need the calvary to roll up you want them there in nanoseconds, but until that very moment in time you'll bitch, moan, mock and degrade them every chance you get?
Needless to say, if you're one of those assholes, this is not the entry for you. Oh, should I have warned you earlier? Oppsies.
It's riles me up a bit as you can see. I'm not one to say every Police Officer is roses and unicorns. Every basket? Barrel? Bushel? ...Whatthefuckever, has a bad apple or two. Name a job, and there's some dick or scoundrel in their ranks. C'est la vie (such is life). It just is. But for the vast majority, you'll find people like my parents who got up each day, put their game face on, strapped a firearm to their side and left to go serve their community, hoping that, at least that day they'd come home to their, at the time Lil' Brown Girl.
Every day trying to keep some body from beating or killing someone else. Trying to keep some bad driver from mowing down some family sixteen minutes from now, or 2 miles down the road. Or doing a wellness check on some elderly person. Or taking some wackadoo into custody so they can be taken for a 72 hour so that they're no longer a danger to themselves and those around them. And because very few communities have budgets that allow for one Officer per homestead, responding to some lady who just got home to find she's been burgled. Comforting the kid who's just been abused by someone. Or taking some drugs or guns off the street. ...All while trying to return home safe to their family at the end of their shift.
Now most of you will fall one of two categories. Uno: Police are hero's or B: You consider them the devil. They're neither. Honestly, they find themselves in situations, due to their job, training and character, as it takes a specific character trait to have a calling to serve in this capacity, where their actions can be heroic. Sometimes big flashy shows of heroism, sometimes they are private heroic moments known only to the person they interacted with. But the reality of Officers is that they are regular folks who's jobs can be mundane. Well, as mundane as work can be when some situation may pop off that can be shocking in nature, to the downright dangerous split seconds that can take your life. Hopefully those situations never cross an Officer's path.
However the reality is that they too often do. I know, because I can still recall what it's like to wonder if tonight was the night a parent wasn't coming home. Ever. And I can still remember, like it was yesterday, in fact-- and you know I can't fuckin' remember anything-- the day as I was coming home from school as an 11 year old, the bus driving by my house and seeing my Mom's car and my Nana & Papa's in my driveway. I remember sprinting home from my bus stop because as soon as I saw those cars in my drive when they all should have been at work, I knew that meant my Dad had been killed at work. When it crosses my mind, I can still feel how hard my heart beat that afternoon. And not from running, but from fear of the words I expected to hear. To say I was scared shitless would be an understatement. There had been a shooting. Thankfully, that day my Dad did come home. But only because he had to take actions that meant that someone else didn't.
Some Officers will never have to fight for their life over a whole career. But every Officer knows that they may have a life ending situation pop up in 20 years. Or in 20 minutes. Or the next 20 seconds. Or maybe something will pop off before they can finish blinking their eye. And they still gun up each day and hit their detail.
I am eternally grateful that I don't know what it's like to lose a parent in the line. But that uneasy normality of the wondering if someone you love who works for your community is ok while they're at work, and the sheer panic of thinking you are about to get the worst news, is something I know. So when I think about this Memorial week and the sacrifices made by guys and gals just doing their job and their families left behind, my heart goes out to them all. Because there but for the grace of God...
Take a moment to think about what these cats with badges and guns do. What they give up. What a job like that takes from their souls. Consider how you'd interact with people if anyone and everyone, at any time could possibly be a threat to your life. Think about the Officers who won't come home tonight, or tomorrow morning at the end of their tour. Think about the families left behind. And maybe next time you have an interaction with an Officer you'll cut them a lil' slack, or give 'em a thank you. They deserve it.
So far this year, another 61 Officers have lost their lives serving their communities.
This morning a local Officer responded to an early morning disturbance call and was jumped as he walked to up to the door by an individual who stabbed the Officer in his back and neck. The Officer was forced to shoot the individual in defense of his life. He's going home today. Today he was lucky. His family was lucky. Today was just like every day for an Officer-- you just never know how it will end.
And I think about his kids...
May St. Michael watch over 'em.