I know you are probably on the receiving end of a lot of rage right now. What’s been bubbling for so long is now boiling over.
What I’m going to say may not be popular right now, but it’s on my heart, and I want you to hear my voice because our country needs you. We need you to courageously do what you do. We appreciate what you do. We need you to risk your lives every day so that we can rest under the blanket of safety that you went into your dangerous profession to provide. And yet, risking your lives daily is no longer enough. We need more of you and we need it today…
When I practiced law, I worked for a large metro county representing the police department. As I represented the department, I came to know the good hearts of the men and women who dedicated their lives to working there. I did not meet anyone for whom it was “just a job.” It was a deeply felt commitment to protect and serve.
I’ve worked closely with your brothers. I’ve helped you formulate policies that further your commitment to protect and serve. I’ve represented you in litigation and I’ve discussed the pros and cons of retirement with your Chief when he couldn’t bring himself to leave his post because he “didn’t know what else” he would do every day when he woke up.
I know the fear you feel every time you pull somebody over for a broken tail light – knowing that it could be the last thing you ever do. I know the anger and injustice you feel because you could die writing somebody a ticket for a broken tail light. You’re right, a broken tail light in exchange for your life isn’t a good trade.
I know that your heart weighs heavy with the knowledge that you know you can’t truly keep anyone safe.
Here’s the crux of it: the world is a scarier place now. Your daily existence has transformed from one of helping your community to one of protecting yourself from your community. You go out on the street with your top priority being to make it home alive. You understandably want to return home to your family. You work hard to convince your wife, your kids, and your mother that every time you go out on the streets, it means something; it’s worthwhile; and you will be safe. You work hard to convince them that you will return home, despite your own quiet reservations.
And here’s where we need your help. We need you to raise your voice and speak up to acknowledge that the heinous actions of a few officers have completely shifted the paradigm for everyone. And once that paradigm shifted, our communities became hotboxes of fear and danger for everyone.
Members of your community now feel that they need protection from you. This isn’t why you became a police officer.
Members of your community now go out feeling that they may lose their very lives at any moment for any reason – or for no reason. This isn’t why you became a police officer.
Members of the community that you have sworn to serve and protect believe their lives have little value to you, that they are trash to be systematically removed. This isn’t why you became a police officer.
You became a police officer because you loved your community and you dreamed of protecting and serving that community. I have two little boys. My younger son wants to be a SWAT team officer because he wants to protect everyone from “bad guys.” I’m sure your dreams were similar.
Members of your community work hard to convince their wives, kids, and mothers that each time they leave the house, it is important and it means something. Members of your community are fearful every time they let their children play outside or let their husbands go out for an evening with friends.
See what just happened there? Maybe there’s more common ground than you thought?
Your heart was pure when you wanted to become a police officer. You wanted to be a real-world hero. You wanted children to look up to you as a safe refuge. So we need to hear your voice. We need to hear from you when you know that things have fallen from the legitimate to the plausible, and now to the absurd. We need you to once again feel that desire to protect your community. Because in some cases, your police brothers are the threat that your community needs protection from.
We need you to once again feel that desire to protect your community. Because in some cases, your police brothers are the threat that your community needs protection from. We need you to stop them. We need you to report them. We need you to honestly provide details of the incidents.
We don’t hate you. But now, more than ever, we need you to raise your voices against the heinous acts that are forever staining your good name.
We need you to remember that hero that you grew up wanting to be. Real heroes are strong and speak out. Real heroes protect those whose voices are not heard. Real heroes love and serve their communities; they don’t strike fear in the hearts of community members who are merely trying to live their lives.
So, please. Be strong. Be that officer that I grew up learning would always be heroic and friendly and helpful. Be the hero that you always wanted to be. Raise your voice loud and strong against the murder of your community members. We need you now more than ever.