Being corrupt or illegal and then hiding behind a badge is never acceptable. The people who fit that characterization need to be removed from our departments and agencies. They are few and far between. The good lawmen and women - nearly every single one of us – agree.
Yet, it is possible to detest brutality, to be intolerant of unwarranted violence and still support our police. I know this because that is how I feel.
I have investigated suspects in some of America’s worst ghettos and I have pursued criminals whose lives have unimaginable affluence. Evil doesn’t care what neighborhood he resides and he comes in all colors. Living with his drugs, guns, bombs, home invasions and murder-for-hire schemes are where I thrived, and survived, unseen and unknown to most. As a lawman I broke bread with Evil. I was on the streets as the AK-47 became the new kilo and our border with Mexico became the new South Florida.
I have both protected, and targeted whites, blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ, women and children; whoever needed it, whenever needed, on both sides of the defend/investigate equation. I never looked at color or lifestyle. I did look at good vs. wicked, innocent vs. predator. Your color, ethnicity or lifestyle preference never mattered to me. If you had designs on hurting someone you had my attention. If you were a victim, I had your back.
After four days on the job I was shot through the chest by a white man. I nearly died in the dirt and garbage of a white-trash trailer park, blood spewing from my chest as I looked up at a rusted out swing set and wheel-less cars on cinder blocks. Most of the people who lived there were good.
I was proposed a large cash reward and a full retirement. I declined it. My goal was not money. I only wanted to get as close to the violence as I could on behalf of people I did not know so the weak and blameless wouldn’t have to themselves be victims to it.
A year later and now in “the ‘hood” I was shot at and run over by a vehicle driven by two juvenile African Americans. I shot the driver as he intentionally plowed his vehicle into me, his partner wildly firing a pistol out of the passenger side window. I lay on the ground incapacitated with no one coming to help because I was white and blue. Most of the people who lived there were good too.
The politically correct, internal affairs answer was that I was attempting to “halt the threat.” The truth is that they were trying to kill me and I was trying to kill them. Life, death and survival on the streets. I was neither a hero, an enemy nor a crusader. No job causes a person to extend great compassion and sometimes bring great violence like that of a cop. This is simply life in policing.
Both the white suspect and the black suspects wanted me dead for the same reasons: I was the police and I was trying to place them under arrest. I don’t believe either of them saw the color of my skin. As someone who’s life was at risk, I assure you I did not take notice of theirs.
Once the bodies are removed, whether they be a slain suspect or cop, when all that is left is the blood, no one can tell the color of the body it came from. I saw officers make mistakes. I saw suspects make mistakes. I made mistakes. I saw very little corruption or racism. I extended respect to people who did not deserve it. I treated all people fairly. Police work is always dangerous and often violent. Regardless of how a situation might appear on a cell phone video, some criminals are a legitimate threat to life and must be subdued.
No matter where I worked, no matter how bad the conditions of a neighborhood or the influence of crime, there were always honest, God-fearing, hard-working people living there who followed the law. There were kids trying move upward with the odds stacked against them. When hope is gone we only have faith. When faith is gone we have nothing.
A single and stand-alone common denominator was universal. It bound us together. We wanted their kids to have a chance, to have peace and be safe. We shared hope and faith we could change things.
These are the people who know all lives matter and don’t feel the need to define themselves as white, black or blue. These are the people, the common man, I worked for. Police officers are the “common man” as well. Most are underpaid, over-worked with no thought of fame or fortune.
But, the law does not treat the common man equally.
From my earliest days on the job I admired what Lady Justice symbolized. Blindfolded, she was unable to see who stood before her. Her sword in one hand was accountability. Her scales of balance in the other represented fairness. I have found that youthful idealism to be more myth that truth.
A deeper look at the Black Lives Matter movement is ironically similar to the Blue Lives Matter argument; an unfair application of justice. Both sides share the complaint that Lady Justice is allowed to peak beneath her blindfold to see who she is judging. Trust in her is gone. Why?
Today, politicians escape their crimes with impunity and laugh at us when they get away with it. Wealthy executives, like some Wall Street Bankers, steal our money and crash our economy… and get bailed out. Law Enforcement Executives break the rules but receive free passes and promotions, then mock us like they are deserving. Beside a very select few in this category, name one who you knew to be guilty and was not provided a soft landing by their peers or the courts? They protect and insulate each other. They scratch each other’s backs. Cheating and favors preside, not judges and the law.
The lowly common man gets body slammed because Justice cares more about who your friends are, what your politics are, who you can help or who can help you down the road, how much money you have or where you live. Those are not elements of the law. They are elements of influence. Those who hold it win. If you don’t (re. the common man) you will be crushed. Its rigged.
Our nation will soon vote. Our leaders and their philosophies will be elected. My personal politics are very unimportant. What is of extreme importance is that we each look at what affects us, what we want for our country, our kids, our world, and who can get us there. The choice is ours and we will live, sometimes die, with who we place in office. I choose law and order because that is important to me.
People often ask me, “After the shootings, all the violence, the death threats, would you do it again?” My answer is both simple and quick, “Yes!” I absolutely loved being a warrior for the people.
If not for me, for those of us in copland, then who? Who is going to do this job? Your dentist? Your children’s school principle? They guy who fixes your car? Your neighbor? Your elected official?
White, Black, Latino, Asian, American Indian, gay, lesbian, Christian and Muslim law officers from every local, state and federal department in every corner of America have an alarm clock that goes off each day. They put their feet on the ground and head to work. They voluntarily go to places far from their own homes and encounter people that many of us try to avoid. They are confronted by situations that would buckle the knees of most. They go knowing they may never see their loved ones again, yet, they still go. They serve Justice, whether she is black or white, perfect or flawed. They don’t ask or even look to see. They just go.
Mark 12:31: “'Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than this."
Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”