Many, but not most, of my Facebook friends are police officers, both here in St. Louis and from around the world.
This morning, for obvious reasons, most of their posts are melancholy and many include words to the effect of, “I have so much to say, but…”
Fuck that but.
I have much to say as well, and I’m going to go ahead and say some of it now.
Yesterday was an exhausting day for me, mentally. While I didn’t get involved in any online squabbling, I saw that many of my friends were engaged in such battles.
It was tough to read many of the posts, even from people I consider friends, about how the police are out of control in their our treatment of “people of color.”
I went to bed knowing that there was a “situation” in Dallas last night and woke up to find out that it had morphed into a massacre.
What happened in Dallas is the culmination of 48 hours or so of frustration and bickering, much of which was fueled by online banter.
When a police officer is killed, it’s a sad day for all of law enforcement.
It’s a sad day for the city where the officer worked as well.
When we see that multiple officers were killed around the country on the same day, it’s a tragedy, but we sort of shrug our shoulders, remind ourselves that it’s a risk we’ve assumed when we took this job, and vow to be extra vigilant as we continue to go about our duties.
We accept that violence is a part of this job, and that violence goes both ways.
Even so, to see five officers hunted down and killed in cold blood, and six more injured in the same incident, by multiple people even, is insanity.
We didn’t sign up for that.
Five officers lost from even a large department like Dallas is devastating. Morale in the Dallas PD was already low, and this will only push many officers who were on the fence about leaving, right out that door.
This is where the line must be drawn.
When the peacemakers are not at peace, there will be no peace for anybody.
How can there be?
When law enforcement officers are not safe, you can bet that you, wherever you are, are not safe as well.
The rules of engagement have changed.
There are no more “rules” out on the streets. Even the worst mobsters and thugs years ago had some tact and chivalry. They played by some rules.
Today, it is not uncommon to see women and children killed, sometimes purposely, and sometimes simply as collateral damage, in a war that values no life but one’s own.
I have quickly become tired to no end of seeing posts from people about what they perceive to be unjustified recent police shootings.
I’ll say this up front. Your postings and rush to judgement is partly to blame for the unrest and the bloodshed in Dallas.
It sure is.
When soccer moms and fast food workers and accountants can discern from a thirty second video that the shooting in Baton Rouge was unjustified, then what do we need a justice system for anymore?
You had a verdict in mind when you saw the video one time. Maybe you watched it twice, but you figured it out, the police officers were in the wrong.
To say that you don’t have to have ever been a police officer to recognize police brutality or “murder”, as many of you called it, is inaccurate.
It is insulting, and quite frankly, it is bullshit.
Police officers go through many months of training before they earn a badge, and even then, none of them graduates the police academy and goes straight to being a homicide detective.
Investigative skills take time to learn and to hone. Not everything, even what we see through the eye of a video recorder, is what is seems.
The “simplest” things we do in the eyes of the public are not so simple as they may seem.
To many people, writing a traffic ticket is a job we could give to any idiot or chimpanzee willing to do it. Many have no clue that the fifteen or twenty yard walk from the door of a patrol car to the window of a traffic violator are some of the scariest steps officers take, day or night.
I’ve walked that walk countless times, and it’s no less harrowing today than it was seventeen years ago. To see the driver’s eye’s following you in the rear view mirror, and then in the side mirror can be chilling.
Is it really just a traffic violation? Does the driver have warrants? Has the driver just robbed a bank or killed his family? Did I kiss my wife and kids before work today?
All thoughts police officers have on many “simple” car stops.
Only the driver knows what’s going on in his head.
There’s more to writing a “simple” ticket than stopping a car and tossing somebody a piece of paper.
Unfortunately, police officers have to be hyper-vigilant now about their safety and assume the worst from everybody.
As much that goes through the mind of a cop on a traffic stop, there is even more involved in answering radio assignments at 12:45 AM for a person alleged to have a gun. Exactly zero of the people on my feed I see voicing their opinions, many of whom have found the Baton Rouge cops guilty already, have ever answered that call, but they’re experts in police brutality.
In many of these posts, the person is bemoaning what they see as officers acting as judge, jury and executioner, while they are, ironically, doing the exact same thing to their defendant police officers.
You judged and did the work of a jury, and left the execution to somebody else.
The execution was taken care of for all of you in Dallas.
These murders, and, unlike the two videos being shared online in LA and MN, I’m comfortable calling these murders already, were committed in no small part based on your outrage and adamance that the police had wrongfully killed two black men in cities that these Dallas Officers have nothing to do with.
It doesn’t matter though. “The police” had it coming.
If you kill any cop, you’ve killed the correct one.
It didn’t have to be Dallas, it could have been Portland or New York or even me, here in St. Louis. Any officer would have made a good enough sacrifice in spite of our individual body of work.
All of the original posts I read yesterday were anti-police with respect to these shootings because those of us who recognize that there are two sides to every story, were busy waiting for more facts to surface.
People hate to hear those words. “Wait for the facts to come out,” sets them off as though we have all the proof we need in videos that catch only a portion of an overall incident.
Funny enough, President Obama said, “We don’t know all the facts,” when discussing the five police officers murdered last night. He’s right though, we do need to wait for all the facts to surface before we can know what really happened and why.
I still don’t have an opinion on either of the shootings that have set off this violence. I know that both incidents could have been handled differently, but it’s not my place to say what’s the most right way for each officer to handle a call and it’s nobody’s place to call a cop a murderer until you hear the other side.
Fuck, maybe they are murderers, but that’s not for us to decide via social media.
We’ve lost it as a society when social media opinion trumps Constitutionally guaranteed traditions.
It aggravates me that I’m off work today. While it’s great that I get to spend it with my kids, today is the sort of day that is a perfect teaching opportunity for the new recruits, many of whom I’m sure, are wondering what they’re getting themselves into.
They’ll hear outrage from both sides and have to sift through the bullshit to decide if this career is right for them after all. I wish I could be there to initiate that discussion.
Hell, it won’t be just the recruits either.
There are probably thousands of officers across the country, many at the urging of their spouse or family, considering a change of jobs as we speak.
I’ve already been texted by my wife and mom to remind me that I’m loved and that I need to wear my vest to work. They know it can happen here today, just as easily as it did last night in Dallas.
Were I not so close to a pension, I would be having the same thoughts, and that makes me sad.
The thought that I’ve given over 40% of my existence on earth to a job that has no doubt taken some years off of my life from stress and aggravation, for nothing, is upsetting.
Social media can be a great thing. Hell, it’s given me this platform to rant and rave and share stories with people from the comfort of my bed. At the same time though, it can be overwhelming and infuriating.
People are persuaded by what they read online, even if it’s from a soccer mom or fast food worker or accountant.
When enough of you call an uninvestigated killing a murder, then it will be a murder, instantly, in the eyes of many.
They don’t care about the justice system or the investigative process one bit.
Some of those many people will have rifles.
Your words in quantity were as good as any judge’s or jury’s, and since you ruled the officers were guilty, the executions they carried out on your behalf, in their minds at least, are justified.