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We are in the Arena

March 1, 2022
Tracy McCray - SFPOA Acting President

“If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their own lives, but will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgement at those of us trying to dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fear-mongering. If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in your feedback – Brene Brown

People often send me inspirational quotes to help put things that are happening nowadays into perspective. This helps me navigate what some would call the challenging times that our chosen profession is currently facing. Challenging? Certainly. When has it not been? But it is still fulfilling and for every cop that is out there pushing that radio car and answering that call for service, I thank you as do the people and communities of San Francisco.

I didn’t get into this profession to be anything other than a cop. A cop who was going to go out and catch the bad guys so they couldn’t hurt or take advantage of the innocent people in the community. Along the way I did arrest people for a variety of crimes, domestic violence, robbery, murder, burglary etc. I believe and hope that I helped those that I contacted who I didn’t arrest also. Maybe that was the one break that they needed on that particular day to not go down a path in an action that could alter the course of their life. I can say that because I was and still am a part of the communities that I not only worked in but grew up in. I am a part of the city that I was born and raised in, played sports in fields and gyms across the city and went to school in. Being an SFPD officer was just a natural progression for me of existing in these communities across the city.

Now I find myself in a new role in my career, one that I did not see coming, but none the less, one that I am embracing at a time when a voice is sorely needed. The patrol officer who is the one you often see either patrolling in a police vehicle or walking a beat, is being labeled as demoralized or indifferent to what is happening in the communities that they work in. Indeed, officers may feel under the microscope for any action that they may take. Will the perception be that we overreacted or that we didn’t take enough action? So, what do people want from police today? That depends on who is answering that question. The homeowner who was just burglarized, the business owner who was just vandalized, the woman or man just shot or the child whose parent is being taken away. I believe they all want a police officer who is fair and impartial, an officer who can have empathy for their situation and the officer who will show up when they call for help. We have those officers, and they show up every day to work. We, and yes, I include myself in this, may at times falter but we will not fall, and we cannot fail because then we fail our communities and the city fails and we cannot let this happen.

Our officers show up to the arena —our city. We show up for the citizens that we swore an oath to protect and serve, an oath that I know means something to each and every one of us. We need to tune out the noise and the rhetoric of the uninformed and the loudmouth, those who sit in the cheap seats. Why? Because they hide behind a screen, an ideology, or hate and give out their brand of advice that isn’t worth the computer screen it is written on and has no bearing on who we are. Those who do not have the fortitude to deal with the unknown every time they show up to work and put on the uniform, not knowing what the day may bring, day in and day out. We know who we are.
Let’s continue to fight in the arena, if not for us and our community then who? Certainly not the people in the cheap seats.