Scary times on the streets. In the past 24 hours (as I type this), 10 officers have been shot in the United States. Last year our count for officers killed in the line of duty went UP from 2009 numbers. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to be vigilant; alert; careful - almost to the limit of paranoia.
Last week when Congresswoman Giffords was shot a cry went out from certain politicians to create new gun control laws. Of course, they debate the term "gun control" since what they want to control is the magazines that hold the ammunition for the guns. I don't do "legalese" very well so I have a hard time debating such fine points of difference. I'm sure those self-same politicians will use the injuries and deaths of the ten officers shot in the past 24 hours to support their desires for greater gun control even more. So be it. Let them chant their chant.
I don't argue in favor of gun control, nor against it. I argue that we should hold individuals responsible for their actions no matter what tools they use in the process of committing their crimes. I argue that we should treat every victim equally, without regard for title or status. It is the utmost in arrogance to charge a criminal with an extra crime when the victim is a politician or a police officer (in my opinion). A criminal should not be charged with TWO crimes for shooting a congressman but only ONE for murdering a child. Murdering the child is, in my opinion, the more heinous crime because that child has had so little chance to live life. I'm not in any way suggesting that the congressman's life is worth less; I merely point out that many people with titles have lived longed and enjoyable lives and that their title, position or rank should not make their death of any greater loss than any other human being's death. We are all equal, after all, are we not?
What concerns me most is that our country is evolving toward a point where such personal violent crime may be on the increase, based on historical data. In the past as our economy has floundered, crime rates have gone up. In this case - across the span of the past couple years - our economy has floundered worse than it has in decades. Police agencies are cutting manpower by large fractions (1/3, 1/4, 1/2!) while correctional systems have to release more and more criminals before their sentence is served. After all, we don't have the funding to keep those criminals in prison in the manner they've become accustomed to. What are we thinking? How have we gotten into this mess?
We have - our elected officials and appointed judges - adjudicated ourselves into this corner. We've put ourselves, as a society, into a position where we spend huge sums of taxpayer money to keep convicted criminals healthy, comfortable, well fed, educated and warm. In the meantime, the tax burden on the honest citizen continues to grow. Now, thanks to budget mismanagement at so many levels of government, the tax burden is bound to grow again while the services that are government provided are cut. The honest, hard-working Americans are soon going to find themselves in the unenviable position of HAVING to depend only on themselves and their neighbors / friends to resolve whatever problems come along. Unfortunately, the "problem" might well be the career criminal who was let out of jail early because our "system" can no longer afford to feed him good meals, provide him complete health care, tend to his education and insure he exercise time.
To my brothers and sisters on the street: I encourage you to stay alert; stay suspicious; stay ALIVE. Be courteous to everyone you meet, but trust only those you know, and then only to the extent of your knowledge of them. NEVER ASSUME. Remember the Ten Deadly Errors. Talk to each other; watch each other's back. Work effectively together. Honor the law and strive to serve justice. DO NOT be judge and jury. Remember that the job is only that: a job. A profession. Don't let it become personal. Stay fit. Eat healthy. The career criminals in our prison systems are eating well and exercising regularly. They are training in how to successfully attack and kill you. You must be equally diligent in your fitness and training - albeit only to the extent of the lawful arrest or appropriate force delivery.
We cannot afford to maintain this loss rate. ONE dead officer is too many. TEN shot in 24 hours is outrageous. We can do better than this even if we have to maintain that high level of paranoia. Remember, you're only paranoid if there ISN'T someone out to get you. In this case, recent history has shown there ARE people out to get us. Honor the memory of the fallen by doing the job better every day you put on the badge.
Just my two cents worth... and quite possibly not worth that.