Many men and women in law enforcement who serve and protect our communities 24/7 365 days a year are asking this question “Am I next? Are we now targets for factions of our community who need us the most?”
These questions haunt police as they go about doing the job that most people would never consider doing. This question cannot be surprising to anyone after the brutal ambush assassination of five Dallas police officers on July 7, 2016, along with the seven other officers and civilians being wounded that day. The equally horrifying massacre of three Baton Rouge police officers and the wounding of three more officers just ten days later also raised this same question. The calculated deadly assaults on police officers are now happening in our own backyard with the unprovoked attempted murder of an Oakland police sergeant on July 23rd who was shot at several times immediately after she was injured in a traffic collision. We now have the shooting of two San Diego police officers on July 29th. One officer died from the multiple gunshots, and his partner is recovering in the hospital after emergency surgery.
These senseless cowardly acts have shaken law enforcement to the core and have sent shock waves through all of those who believe in law and order and the sanctity of life. The war of words against law enforcement has escalated. Snipers have perpetrated cold-blooded, calculated ambushes on public servants – good people who were just doing their jobs and were targeted simply because of the uniform that they wear or because of their race.
Many have hypothesized as to why we are once again experiencing the carnage in our profession similar to the random murderous attacks on police officers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I believe that much of vilification of law enforcement today is based on a false narrative and nonfactual information that is spread not only through social media, but also through mainstream media. This message is easily accepted by some because it is sensationalized with eight seconds of captured video and nothing else. No facts and no conclusions from any government organizations authorized and empowered to investigate are even spoken of. No factual data from studies done by the Washington Post or Harvard Professor Roland Fryer Jr. are even considered or reported. Both of those reports and many similar reports are readily available on line.
When ill-informed individuals buy into this false narrative they tend to lash out at the easiest government target-- the local police. Comparisons can be made that during the Vietnam era when organized groups lashed out at the government over that long ugly war. Their wrath was targeted at the closest government entity-- the local police. One of the main differences between the Vietnam era and today is that most elected officials on a municipal, state, and national level openly supported law enforcement and the armed forces who were serving in that era. Today our deserving military personnel rightfully receive the proper respect from government officials but the police? Not so much, whether it be on a local level or a national level.
Through all of this recent turmoil, sadness, and heartache in our profession cops long for strong leaders that can send a clear and concise message not only to the first responders but more importantly to the public that we have taken an oath to serve. Thankfully a new voice of wisdom and common sense has emerged from the tragedies of Dallas. That person is Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
Chief Brown may have the most unique perspective on public safety and the personal feelings of loss and sorrow. Unfortunately, Chief Brown’s younger brother was killed in 1991 by a drug dealer in Phoenix. Tragically Chief Brown’s son, who suffered from mental health issues, killed an officer in the line of duty in 2010. His son was then killed by officers during an exchange of gunfire. With the cold blooded murder of five of his officers, Chief Brown has faced the most challenging and difficult times of his career. He has handled it with dignity, class, and has remained poised in the face of unimaginable heartache. Part of his message during the eulogy of his fallen comrades was this: “Become a part of the solution. Serve your community. Don't be a part of the problem. We're hiring," This message has been delivered before, by others, but now coming from Chief Brown, knowing what he has suffered, it should resonate with everyone who believes in service to their fellow man.
The recent acts of cowardly cold blooded murder of police officers have the potential to drive a wedge between law enforcement officers and the communities that we serve. But we will not let this happen. We refuse to. Instead, we will continue to work hand in hand to forge ahead, to promote peace within our community and unity in our cities.
We are sent into the worst areas and neighborhoods and are asked to deal with the misery, the poverty, the crime, the human condition and are expected to resolve all of nation’s problems without incident, without confrontation, and without harming anyone. We are judged by ten-second videos, anti-police groups, and a media that often could care less about the facts as long as they are the lead on the nightly news. We chose this profession because we care. To most, it is a calling to those of us who want to make a positive difference in our community. Sadly, it appears that we are now being hunted down and executed by some in our own communities simply because of the uniform that we wear.
Despite this, we will persevere. We will do what we always do, which is go out there every day and every night and put our life on the line for people we do not even know. We took an oath to protect and serve our fellow man. We will not shirk from our responsibilities as America’s first line of defense. We owe that to ourselves and our families. We owe that to our fellow officers, and to the public that we swore to protect. Today and every day, we rededicate ourselves to that mission.