Let’s get off the backs of law enforcement, shall we? Most of us couldn’t do their job or wouldn’t do it if we had the chance.
The truth is that police officers are no worse than the rest of society and probably better than most of it. It continues to amaze me that we can find people willing to put up with the verbal and physical abuse, the second-guessing, the criticism, pandering politicians and the very real possibility somebody may kill them before they can ever collect their pension.
Are there bad police officers? Certainly. Are there police officers that have abused their authority? Absolutely. There are also bad teachers and preachers and doctors and lawyers and CEOs as well as bad publicity-seeking opportunists masquerading as community activists, using a compliant media in hopes of getting their 15 minutes of fame.
For every controversial situation such as Ferguson, Missouri, or New York City, there are thousands upon thousands of cases of police officers quietly doing their job and doing it well.
One example: This past summer, a police officer in Smyrna saved the life of an 11-month-old child who was reported as not breathing and unresponsive. Arriving to a scene of chaos, he snatched the baby from a panicked family, put her on the trunk of his car and administered rescue breathing and brought her back to life. That alone would make him a hero, except it turns out that this was the ninth time in his 16-year career that he has been credited with saving someone’s life, including three infants, while on duty. I found that extraordinary. He found it just a part of the job. “I guess I’ve just been in the right place at the right time,” he told me.
I don’t recall having seen any overpaid, preening professional athletes who have all the relevance in our society of crabgrass, parading around before a game with a “Save My Child Who Isn’t Breathing” T-shirt.
I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose to live in a society without professional athletes or police officers, I would choose the former. That is unless you happen to know some self-centered jock who can administer CPR to you if you call them at 2 a.m.
We don’t care about the police until we need them. If we find ourselves threatened we want them to protect us, no matter what the risks.
Other than that, leave us alone. We resent being told what to do. It impinges on our personal liberty.
Let us speed, run red lights, tailgate while we text away on our cellphone or jaywalk across a busy street. Besides, shouldn’t the police be out chasing the bad guys and not bothering respectable citizens like us?
I remember a story a judge in East Point told me many years ago. He had received a call from an irate citizen who had been cited for running a stop sign and wanted to complain about the officer’s curt manner.
“Do you know where that officer had been before he stopped you?” the judge asked. “He had just told a family that their child had been killed after running a stop sign. Maybe this officer saved your life.”
I also remember a comment from a Cobb County police officer when I had the opportunity to ride with him one evening and see policing from the inside-out.
As we were driving around, he told me that one of the things that makes his job different from most is that when he tells his wife good-bye as he leaves for work, they both know she may not see him again. An ordinary traffic stop may end up getting him shot and killed.
What brought on this tirade? I saw a picture in the paper recently of a so-called community activist marching arm-in-arm with a bunch of the usual suspects on MLK Day, wearing a “Don’t Shoot” T-shirt. I can only assume that was a gibe meant for law enforcement and not directed at any potential killers that might shoot him in an attempted robbery or just for the hell of it.
You can bet that if that were to happen, this guy would call the police in a flash and you can bet the police officers would put their own lives on the line for the ingrate. That is what they do. I, for one, remain amazed that there are people still willing to do it.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/dickyarb