Practically everyone knows the feeling – you’re running late and hurrying along, trying to accomplish one of the 1,001 errands you have on your to-do list when suddenly, it happens. You hear a siren and see blue lights flashing in your rear view mirror.
Let’s face it – no one enjoys seeing those lights, and as you sit in your car on the shoulder of the roadway, waiting for the officer to approach your window, the thoughts cross your mind. Does he have nothing better to do than this? Is there not any real crime going on? I’m sure he never goes a few over the speed limit when he’s in a hurry.
While the majority of us have shared this similar experience, for some, feelings of resentment towards law enforcement officers run much deeper. There are those who not only dislike being on the receiving end of a citation, but whose hatred of cops is so intense, they revel in any and all harm that comes to them.
Only last month, efforts by a number of individuals and organizations were successful in shutting down a Facebook page that paid homage to cop killers. That’s right – the sole purpose of this social media site was to glorify those individuals who have taken the lives of law enforcement officers. There was no consideration given to any additional crimes for which these individuals have been convicted. In the opinion of far too many, taking a cop’s life is the only necessary criteria for them to be deemed heroes.
In the not so distant past, cops were considered heroes, but for many, that no longer holds true. Granted, we’ve all heard news reports of law enforcement officers who have abused their power, but the number of officers who commit wrongful acts is minute compared to those who awaken every morning, put on their badge and go to work not knowing what they may face, or if they will even make it home at the end of their shift. These millions of men and women have sworn to uphold and enforce the law, and they do so with honor and dignity. However, any time a story of a “bad cop” hits newsstands, the good cops seem to be forgotten, and they find themselves once again wrongfully associated with those who aren’t worthy of their uniform.
Please don’t misunderstand me – I expect anyone who has such tremendous authority to walk a straight line, and if they fail to do so, I, as a journalist, will become their worst unrelenting nightmare until justice is served. However, I work under a crucial mandate, and I’ll implore the same of you – do not rush to judgment. Allow the system to run its course, and while awaiting the outcome of official investigations, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and assume it to be yet another example of how all, or even the majority, of cops are bad, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Law enforcement officers face danger every shift they work. It matters not if they work in a booming metropolis or a sleepy picturesque hamlet. The reality is that any traffic stop or call to which they respond may be their last. Major Dan Kilgore, of the Upson County Sheriff’s Office said it well – “There’s a universal risk in law enforcement.”
They offer comfort to those experiencing the worst day of their lives and they place their lives on the line each time they run into a situation when most others would flee, all to provide security so our families may live in peace. They then somehow must find it within themselves to leave it all behind when they go home to their own families, a daunting task, at the least.
The Whole Truth Project, which strives to protect innocent officers accused of criminal or civil rights violations, has organized a nationwide effort to show appreciation to those officers who serve their communities with valor, and September 15 has thus been declared National Tell a Police Officer Thank You Day. On this day, I strongly encourage you all to take a moment out of your busy schedules to say just that – thank you. Those two words are rarely heard by most law enforcement officers, especially as they approach a driver’s car with their citation book in hand, but consider for a moment how much gratitude would fill your heart if that same officer prevented another speeding driver from harming someone you love. It’s only two little words – thank you – but to those who serve on our nation’s front line – the thin blue line – it would be greatly appreciated.