I hate cops. Normally, when I hear this phrase I brush it off as ignorance and forget about it. However, this week, especially today, this phrase struck a nerve. Particularly, it hurt as I mourned and cried over the tragedy of the Boston Bombing, knowing full well that cops were the first responders running towards flames, shrapnel, and wounded, innocent people.
When I was young, yes I admit I said, “I hate cops!” Honestly, I did not really mean it; more or less they made me nervous. Why? Because usually I was getting into mischief and in my naive, youthful ways it was of course the cops trying to ruin my fun. Did I really hate cops? No. I was feeding into the nonsense that my peers puked up daily about cops. As I matured, and later as I became a cop, I realized that what I really hated, or “disliked” was the laws, not those that upheld the laws. Or I disliked getting caught for breaking a law. For years, I prided myself for the fact that I had never gotten caught speeding. Well it wasn’t long after that I got three speeding tickets in about a year’s time. There was the briefest of moments with each of those cops that I wanted to be mad at them. I blatantly, knowingly, and almost pridefully sped, and yet I had the inclination to be mad at the officer. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? And yet this occurs daily time after time.
If you’ve ever said the phrase, “I hate cops!” I want you take a moment to consider why. Granted, there are “dirty” cops out there. They are cops for all the wrong reasons and have wronged people tremendously. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say most cops are in it to do good, protect and serve their peers, and because they have a strong moral and ethical desire to uphold the law. Most cops work horrible hours, get paid very little, have poor benefits and contribute extra hours outside of work for training, staying fit, and going over case law. On average, I probably contribute two extra days a month for training outside of work, not to mention going to trainings where I have to travel and spend numerous days away from home.
They continually put themselves in dangerous situations and not just while on the clock but also while they are off duty. Off duty cops, especially the good ones, are never “off-duty” and are ready to react however need be in any given situation. Most cops are compassionate, genuinely love people, and want the best for the human race. They continue to serve knowing full well their spouses pray for safety every time they exit the front door for work. Not only am I a cop but I am a wife to a cop and every day he leaves there’s a part of me that knows that may be the last time I see him.
Words have power. And I believe that every time a cop hear’s that phrase a piece of him/her breaks just a little. Some officer’s may question why they are making such sacrifices for an unappreciative public. Other’s ask, “Am I doing any good at all?” These kinds of phrases lead to destructive thoughts and in this line of work cops need all the positive encouragement they can get. Being a cop is mentally exhausting in more ways than one and a positive atmosphere or voicing appreciation can be just enough to press on the good fight.
The next time you may want to bash a cop take a moment and consider the repercussions. Take some accountability for your actions and your mistakes with some humility. You will actually be thought of better for it and in time everyone will forget what you did and move on. If you truly feel like you have been wronged take your complaint through the proper channels. Get to know the laws so that you know your rights, your privileges (know the difference), and be aware of what you can and can’t do. If you have a problem with a law then it is within your power to do something about it. The next time you get pulled over for a traffic violation put away your pride and thank the officer for doing his job. He/she may have just saved your life. If you have a problem with the stop and believe it was unlawful then court is a perfect and responsible place to voice your concerns. The next time you encounter a cop, I want you to thank him/her for their service, you may need them someday and I can guarantee they will be running towards the danger while you are trying to get away. If you have a few extra bucks pay for their coffee, it might be just the edge they need to get through a long shift or you may just set a good tone for the shift.
Cops are fallible and do not pretend otherwise. We make mistakes just like anyone else. Have some grace when it comes to those who’ve messed up, especially to those who’ve apologetically taken accountability for their mistakes. Just like you and me, officers too have to suffer the consequences of their mistakes. If you didn’t already know, cops are under a lot of stress, bound by many legalities, and are constantly in the thick of thorns. Think of the most stressful times of your life. Did you make mistakes during that time that you normally wouldn’t do? Think of times when you were sleep deprived. Did you make more mistakes than usual? And during those times were you irritable? Joyful? Confused easily? Smiley? Stress, sleep deprivation, and intense situations are daily occurrences in the life of a cop. Be mindful of that with your encounter. Even in a sleepy little town there are stressors, intense situations, violent vagrants, and crimes you may not even be aware of.
Cops generally are viewed with dislike and we know it. But remember we are also here when you need someone to search your house for an invader, perform CPR on your loved one with cardiac arrest, rescue you from danger, from fire, from a car accident, and perhaps deliver a baby to a mother who didn’t make it to the hospital. They run towards danger, towards the enemy, and may even kill another in order to protect you and other innocent people.
As for myself, I am thankful to the cops who have given me tickets and warnings for traffic violations. Because of you I learned to change burned up bulbs on my car, consciously update registration and demonstrate it so on my license plate. Because of you I drive slower, use blinkers and drive safer. I am thankful to the cop who cleared my house when someone was in my basement. Thank you for directing traffic safely through scenes of car accidents or unruly road conditions. Thank you for putting my horses or mom’s chickens back in their pens when they got out of their corrals and onto road ways. Thank you fellow co-workers for being amazing friends and awesome people to work with.
Remember, officer’s don’t just carry guns. We carry first aid kits, oxygen, resuscitation masks, and many other tools to help citizens in whatever situations they may find themselves in.