I used to think the nightly news couldn’t get any more depressing. I was wrong. Forget all the politics, border crisis (real or imagined,) Hollywood stars doing unstarlike things, another person accused of sexual harassment or worse, etc. All of that is bad enough, but yet another group of Christians have been murdered, when they were doing nothing but going about their own business, worshipping God. What has happened to us?
If that’s not enough to make your heart hurt, very seldom does a week go by that we don’t hear about another police officer getting killed. When I was a child growing up, I used to get the lecture from my mother about strangers touching you. And the standard lecture was always accompanied with “run to a policeman if I’m not around.” Not that there was much chance of her not being around, because she kept a very sharp eye on us. Mostly because she wanted to make sure we weren’t doing something to embarrass her, but she was also very protective. Back then, if you heard about a policeman getting killed, it was in a shootout with a Bonnie and Clyde type character. The cop wasn’t just sitting in their car when someone walked up and shot them. Just because they were there.
Before I go any further with this rant, I probably should mention I’m not an idiot. Yes, I’ve been known to do rather idiotic things, which I’m sure you’re aware of if you’re a regular reader of my blog, but as a general rule of thumb, I am smart. Smart enough to know there are bad cops. And there are bad teachers, bad preachers, bad actors, bad accountants, bad lawyers, bad nurses, bad waiters, etc. etc. etc. Someone who has a bad teacher doesn’t normally decide to shoot any teacher who crosses their path. Not so with the police. In today’s world, they might as well have a big bullseye painted on their chest. It’s gotten that bad.
If there is one “bad” cop in the news, all cops are bad and must be eliminated. That is one huge leap, defying all logic. Why are some people so willing to paint every policeman with the same broad brush, when they differentiate between other occupations? They’re perfectly willing to think one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole batch, until it comes to our policemen.
What I find amazing about all the animosity towards our police is one thing. You will never convince me that if a person who is angrily protesting the police has a home invasion, they won’t immediately pick up a phone and dial 911. If they get in a car accident…911. Child missing…911. Domestic violence…yep…911.
Who exactly do they think is going to respond? The Ghostbusters? I seriously doubt they will tell the operator they need help, but they don’t want it from a policeman. No, they’ll expect the same person they’ve been picketing to rush to their rescue. And you know what? They will. The cops will rush headlong into the fray, more than willing to sacrifice their life for someone else, even if that someone else hates them. Ironic, no?
If you doubt the veracity of that previous paragraph, you don’t have to look any further than the July 7, 2016 incident in Dallas. Towards the end of a protest against the police, someone opened fire, killing five officers and wounding nine others, along with two civilians. 800 protestors, 100 cops, and five policemen died protecting the very people who had been protesting against them. If that doesn’t give you pause, not much will. And why? Why did someone feel the need to shoot policemen? Supposedly he was angry at police shootings of black men, so he decided to retaliate. Because people have died, we’ll kill some more people. Makes perfect sense. Or not.
I have a very high opinion of our police. There’s been a time or two when I needed them, and they were there. There’s also been a time or two when I wished they weren’t there, like when I “accidentally” exceeded the speed limit, but I don’t blame them for issuing a ticket. I blame the signage people. They should be clearer that the posted speed limit is a firm number and not just a suggestion.
Many years ago, I had a problem at my house. My mother lived two doors away from me, and I had gotten an obscene phone call. Although it wasn’t necessarily obscene, it was down right scary. The caller told me they had killed my mother. I slammed down the phone and tried to call my mom. Several times. No answer, just a busy signal. I went into the cul-de-sac to go over to her house and investigate, when my common sense kicked in. I dialed 911 instead. The police came in record time, went to my mom’s house, and she was fine. Come to find out, she had been getting calls, too, and the telephone operator told her to take the phone off the hook. Good solution, but in hindsight we both agreed she should have called and let me know. She didn’t because it was in the middle of the night and she didn’t want to wake me. Bad decision.
The policemen were great. Seriously great! They came over to my house afterwards to take a full report, probably because they could tell I was rather unnerved. I’ve never forgotten part of that conversation. One cop told me that as a homeowner, I could shoot someone who was on my property, but remember one thing. I said, “Yes, make sure they’re inside the house when I do.” He said, “No, if you shoot them in the street, call and we’ll come over and drag them inside for you.” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t serious, but it had the desired effect. I laughed. And oddly enough, I didn’t worry about it ever again. Well, after we changed the phone listings so someone couldn’t “guess” my mom lived so close to me, I didn’t worry. Why? Because I knew the police had my back.
In my novels, I try to show the good, caring side of the police. In one book, Carla recounts the time she went to the door, and two cops were standing there. Since most writers get their material from real life, yes, that happened to me, exactly like I explain in the book. I had a new phone and was programming in 911. After I got it programmed, I tested it. I had my finger on the off switch, and as soon as I heard it go through, I hung up. Here’s a fun fact. If you do what I did, even though it might have rung for only a bazillionth of a ring, the police will arrive at your doorstep to make sure you’re okay. How comforting! If you’re ever in that same situation, just do what the cops told me to do. Let it ring through and explain what you’re doing. Don’t hang up or they’ll assume someone hung up for you and your life is in mortal danger. And one word of advice. Don’t answer the door holding a long chef’s knife. To this day, I’m not positive they believed me when I said I was cutting up a chicken and not my husband. I do know they stayed in the cul-de-sac for a while after the call. I’m not sure if they were filling out a report or waiting to see if blood curdling screams started coming from my house.
Hating cops isn’t the world I grew up in. We were taught policemen were our friends. And they are. So, what’s happened? How have we gotten where we are? Yes, there have been incidents that shouldn’t have happened, but those officers are no longer on the force. Yes, there are bad cops. And when they’re discovered, they’re gone. Yes, the police force is full of human beings, so there will be mistakes. But I honestly don’t know of a single policeman whose mission in life is to shoot people. Because they have families to go back home to, they don’t want to take someone else’s family away from them.
The Bible doesn’t specifically address the issue of policemen. Our God is a God of justice, and He does exhort us to abide by governmental rules and regulations, but it doesn’t specifically mention police, not as we know them today anyway. I don’t imagine in biblical times there were mounted officers chasing down the speeding camel rider, so it’s understandable. But if it did specifically mention them, I think we would be told to hold them in high esteem, because they’re doing God’s work by protecting us.
What we need to do is stop badmouthing and/or shooting cops and start appreciating them. For all the times they put our interests above their own. For the million little things they do daily to make our world safe. For the times they come when called. For being willing to sacrifice their life if it saves ours. I’ve said before that we need to pray for the soul of America. We also need to pray for the safety of our police officers. The overwhelming majority of the men and women who make up America’s police force are decent, kind, caring people. The least we can do is appreciate them and pray for them. I really don’t think that’s asking too much, is it?