A broad brush has been used to unfairly malign the reputation of the profession of policing in the United States. – Sheriff David Clarke
Lately liberal news media, uninformed celebrities and race baiters would have you believe that every police officer has an itchy trigger finger looking for any excuse to gun down unarmed people. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, just as in any profession, there are bad employees and I’ll admit a rogue cop with a gun is terrifying, but the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers are dedicated public servants who put their lives on the line every day in order to serve and protect.
This week two police officers were wounded in an ambush style shooting in racially charged Ferguson, Missouri. Such types of attacks are the leading circumstance in the surging number of shooting deaths of law enforcement officers, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. They also state that over 1,500 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty during the last ten years, an average of one death every 58 hours. There are over 58,000 assaults against law enforcement officers every year. Ambush attacks, such as the shooting of New York Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn, were the number one cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth year in a row. Ambush killings accounted for 23.2% of police officers killed in the line of duty 2002-2011.
Attorney General Eric Holder has stated, “These troubling statistics underscore the very real dangers that America’s brave law enforcement officers face every time they put on their uniforms. Each loss is unacceptable—a beloved father, mother, son or daughter who never came home to their loved ones.”
Holder’s words ring hollow to many who credit his recent anti-government, anti-police rhetoric with fanning the flames of violence toward police across the country. Likewise, President Obama’s initial response to the shooting in Ferguson was to tweet “Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together.” Only a week earlier he called for “collective mobilization” against police.
I am thankful for the dedicated men and women who protect me and the society I live in. While I was in Afghanistan I saw firsthand what living in a culture where there is no law enforcement to call upon is like. In areas that do have the Afghan National Police (ANP), many of the officers are the ones you need to fear. Once when I visited the Kapisa Province Agricultural Director at a research farm, three unkempt ANP wearing ill-fitting, grey uniforms and carrying rifles, followed us around the field all day. The Director, who was usually very friendly and smiling, seemed subdued and uncomfortable. I later learned that the ANP had forced him to put them on the payroll for the irrigation project the U.S. was funding at the farm. They followed us around to intimidate the Director to comply with their demands. Non-compliance in Afghanistan can mean death to you or your family.
I have always had positive interactions with police and when I have been stopped for an occasional traffic violation I have always been treated with courtesy, mainly because I, too, am courteous. If you don’t want to be hurt or killed by a police officer, then comply with what they say. If they tell you to “Stop” then stop. If you want to be treated with respect, then be respectful. Law enforcement officers work in very stressful situations and they must make life and death decisions in a split second. Acting stupid is going to increase the probability that the outcome won’t be good for anybody.
I want to close with a remembrance for the law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty in March 2015:
Special Agent William Sheldon, 9//11 related illness, March 2
Police Officer Terence Avery Green, ambush attack, gunfire, March 4 (His partner was shot, but survived.)
Police Officer Robert Wilson, III, gunfire, March 5
Lieutenant C. Scott Travis, heart attack, March 5
Police Officer Brennan Rabain, Auto accident, March 7
Deputy Marshall Josie Wells, gunfire, March 10
Deputy Sheriff Johnny Gatson, auto accident, March 10
Police Officer Burke Rhoads, auto accident, March 11
Patrolman George Nissen, assault, March 12
Trooper Donald Fredenburg, collapse on job, March13
Police Officer Darryl Wallace, auto accident, March 15
Lieutenant Richard Woods, heart attack, March 17
Police Officer Adrian Arellano, motorcycle accident,March 18
Police Officer Alex Yazzie, gunfire,March 19
Police Officer Michael Johnson, gunfire, March 24
Trooper Trevor Casper, gunfire, March 24
Rest in peace, good and faithful servants.