If the internet has done anything, it has brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness’ the many serious problems in the world and particularly in our country. The problem with the internet is that it has become a money machine, so the things that are going to procure the most attention ($) is what is often at the forefront. Thanks to social media, a lot of miss information is spread, and depending on the incidents that are filmed and shared, often for shock value, it is doing more harm than good. People become outraged after only seeing one side of a story, which often is carefully taken out of context or edited to suit the posters agenda. This is dangerous, because it is so easy to incite mass hysteria, when clearly calmer heads need to reign, now more than ever.
Last night, SIX police officers were shot in this country, one fatally, one gravely, two “with a long way to recover” and two are said to be in stable condition. And yet – the internet is not broken with outrage – they were just doing their jobs. Like they always do. If you research the stories, you will see that the suspects in two of the incidents drew their weapons first, and then the police returned fire. In the saddest story, a young husband and father of 4, working in an area where even Fedex and the Post office are fearful to enter, approached several suspects on the street with his partner. He did not have his gun drawn or appear to be a threat in any way. He was shot at close range, as was his partner, before they could even reach for their weapons.
Thousands of police officers have to make choices like this a million times in their careers. It is a difficult and often thankless job. Ironically, as much as those who loathe law enforcement, if they were in danger, I am sure 911 would be their first call. Perhaps this story could have had a different ending, one that would have received much more press coverage. But it didn’t, and now Officer Baxter leaves a wife and fellow officer behind, as well as 4 small children. His partner is fighting for his life, and not expected to make it. His brothers and sisters in blue have to swallow their grief and continue to protect a dangerous community, while at the same time receiving death threats.
We can hate. It’s so easy to hate, to blame, to point fingers; release our rage and encourage violence. It is pretty clear that that will not change anything. We have grown away from being a solution oriented society to one that is so divided, we can’t even think straight. We have been faced with many disillusioning realities over the past two decades. But we need to seriously ask ourselves, are all priests pedophiles? After 911, are all Muslims terrorists? Are all Italians involved in illegal activities? Are all police officers bigotted bullies? (Honestly, most just want to go home to their families at the end of the day and live long enough to retire). In every group there is going to be a subgroup of bad apples. The question is, how do we deal with these situations effectively? The war on Law Enforcement is clearly SO counterproductive, even if you have a low opinion of them. Their job is so important to all of us, especially in these times, when they have to not only protect their municipalities, but in some large cities, the safety of the entire country can rest on their shoulders.
As humans, we do not always handle things in the most rational effective way, especially when we are personally hurt or grieving. If there is, in fact a problem in a particular police department, (and you can’t lump them all into the same category) then it has to be dealt with. There are experts who know this better than I, but sensitivity training, counseling, reprimands, whatever tools are successful should be implemented. In cases where a police officer makes a mistake or is blatantly wrong, it is up to the judicial system to hold them to task. The entire Law Enforcement community is not to blame, and to do so is a grave mistake, because like it or not, we NEED them.
Last night we lost “one of the good ones.” And I don’t just mean a cop. By all accounts he was an incredible man, in the prime of his life, who could have potentially offered so much to this world. He was just “doing his job.” It is not trending on twitter, it is not the “hot topic” of the day. Even the fact that SIX officers were shot last night, all of them acting appropriately in life threatening situations, is not causing the incredible stir that it should; raising a million red flags. Where are their rights?
I encourage everyone to take time to really think about what is happening in our society. This is the world we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren. Violence and hatred has never solved anything during any time of history. Let’s become a solution oriented society, a loving society. Let’s somehow put aside our differences and join together to find hope. It is honestly the only chance we have.
NOTE: From the time I started writing this – to the time my editor read it – the second Kissimme officer succumbed to his injuries – my prayers to both Familys and the entire Kissimme Police Department.
Reprinted by permission
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