Remember patriotism? To many Americans, cops are their only human point of contact with their country, a/k/a government. We have long stood for what these citizens want their country to exemplify - even if they sometimes complain about how we do our jobs. Any complaining they do can be forgiven. Enforcement or use of force isn't pretty to watch and we should not expect them to understand it like we do.
It is our patriotic duty to reclaim the honor of police work.
How? Take a moment and think about the cops in your immediate circle. Think about the small stuff. Burglarizing a bank was probably not the first crime of the cop I mentioned earlier, but other smaller problems were probably ignored.
How many times have you heard of a cop who has been repeatedly cut loose after being stopped for DUI? I have a friend in Michigan who was that cop. He nearly lost his career when he was involved in an accident, was over the legal limit, and he injured the driver of the other vehicle.
- I have a close friend. We work out occasionally. He means a great deal to me. But recently, he told me that has too often sought solace in a bottle.
- I have another chum who is a state trooper. His wife decided she did not want to be married to him any longer. He found out when he discovered that she had a hot romance going with another dude. There were times when he was so angry that he wanted to lash out emotionally and physically. Fortunately, cooler minds prevailed. Their divorce is imminent.
- Another one of my knuckle-dragging pals is married and has a few kids. He has taken up to having a wild fling with a girl that is half his age and lives next door to his own home.
I do not judge these cops for what they have done - or are doing. I judge myself for what I have failed to do.
Twenty years ago, each one of their partners would have slapped these guys up side the head and said sternly, "STOP THAT!"
But not today.
The current situation is unacceptable. This approach is not working. The evidence is all over the evening news.
Each of us needs to take personal responsibility for the cops in our lives. Just like when we quietly approach a home in the dark of night where there is allegedly domestic violence activity in progress - we must listen carefully. We need to use all of our senses and our instincts to reach out to a brother who may be reluctant to tell anyone that he has a problem.
You seem tense. Is anything bothering you?
You haven't been your normal cut-up self lately. I just want to know: is everything OK?
I noticed that you have been at the bar almost every night after work. I am concerned for you. Would you like to meet up for lunch today?
Yes, asking these questions creates the possibility that you will be told to mind your own business. That's a risk.
I believe the risk of doing nothing is far greater. Careers of good cops are being pissed away. Lives are being ruined. Marriages are going down the drain. Each one of those events puts a little bit of tarnish on the badge that we all carry.
This problem does not belong to the administration, the shift lieutenant or the crew sergeant. It also does not belong to someone else. It belongs to you and me, individually.
The focus must be clear. Our approach cannot be one of punishment or you chastising the cop who is having the problem. Rather, the approach is one that throws a life preserver to an individual who has gone overboard. It is demonstrating the kind of caring, concern, and even love for a fellow officer that we all profess when exclaiming that, "I would take a bullet..."
Now is the time for each of to turn up the volume on our perceptions. It is the time to be there for a brother while problems are still small and can be managed. It is the time to save a life and/or a career.
I am well aware that there are a few out there in cyber-space who seem to stalk whatever I write and attempt to discredit it for any number of inane reasons.
Well, before you start twitching your fingers at the keyboard about how YOU have decades of experience, and therefore know EVERYTHING about this topic, consider this:
Most of what I have written about today is based on principles that I learned by the time I was five years old. Yup, by the time I went to kindergarten I had already had a few years of Sunday School. It was there that I learned most of the really important stuff that I would need to know in this life.