After two weeks of protests, violence, and calls to abolish law enforcement in America, life for the men and women of the police force has taken a very dark turn. One Oklahoma police major poured his heart out in a opinion column for Law Officer, a website operated by members of law enforcement, stating simply, "America, we are leaving."
"This is the hardest thing I have written," Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates wrote. He detailed growing up with his police captain father and looking forward to interacting with the police force who he revered as "heroes." But now, Yates wrote, things are completely different.
Now, he said, supervisors no longer back up cops in tumultuous situations. Criminals who attack police officers are now regarded as martyrs.
"Parents used to get mad at their kids for getting arrested and now they get mad at us," Yates said. Now, in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, all police have been branded as racists, Yates says. But that isn't what he's seen in his years of experience.
"With all this talk about racism and racist cops, I’ve never seen people treated differently because of their race," Yates wrote. "And while I know that cowards that have never done this job will call me racist for saying it, all I’ve ever seen was criminal behavior and cops trying to stop it and they didn’t give a rip what their skin color was."
Major Yates said that even while he had not experienced racism from other police officers he worked with, racism certainly came from civilians toward law enforcement. Black police officers were no exception, he said.
"I’ve been called every name you can think of and many of them with racial overtones and it’s never come from cops," Yates said. "I’ve watched African American cops take the brunt of this and even talked one rookie out of quitting after he was berated by a lot of cowards that had the same skin color as him." But even with the name calling and the adversity that comes to every officer of the law, no matter their ethnicity, Yates said he had still hoped one of his children would have followed in his footsteps and become a police officer.
"But today, all of that is over," Yates said. "I wouldn’t wish this job on my worst enemy. I would never send anyone I cared about into the hell that this profession has become. It’s the only job you can do everything right and lose everything. It’s the only job where the same citizens you risk your life for hate you for it."
The attacks on police have evolved from verbal to physical, Yates said, as rioters throw rocks, bottles, and even gunfire. More than 300 police officers have been injured across the country while attempting to quell rioters and looters in the wake of Floyd's murder on Memorial Day.
"This job is a walking a time bomb and you could get cancelled or prosecuted on the very next call, even if you do everything right," Yates said. "Now, the little we have, we are told they are going to defund us or even abolish us. Citizens with a political agenda will reign over us and all you have to do is wake up and put on a uniform to be a racist."
"I used to talk cops out of leaving the job. Now I’m encouraging them," Yates said in conclusion. "You aren’t going to have to abolish the police, we won’t be around for it."