You’re not just a liability. You’re a bad example and you steal the spotlight away from those who deserve it. You’re dangerous and lazy. You’re careless and you increase the target on the backs of those I love by your behavior. I do not feel like I could rightly “humanize the badge” without talking specifically to you. I feel a deep responsibility to acknowledge that you exist and that your behaviors are inexcusable. What’s more infuriating than that? You’re made out to be the rule instead of the exception.
I just recently sat down and read a Uniform Story by Mike the Cop, a police officer and founder of Cop Life. It’s called “We are the 99%.” His article was focused on acknowledging there are bad police officers out there while bringing to life actual statistics about incidents of police misconduct. The heading of his article is pretty powerful when you think about the 99% of the police force that is honorable and in this line of work for the right reasons. But, people aren’t talking about them. They are talking about you.
You know who you are. You’re the guy who parks in a handicap spot to run inside a convenience store to grab a soda. Of course they are going to film you. You’re the guy who is caught on camera accepting money to get out of a traffic ticket. You’re the couple that was breaking into homes and stealing pharmaceutical drugs to curve your own addictions. You guys are under a microscope and you still choose to make decisions that affect all of you. You chose an occupation that requires honor and dignity. You chose a career that requires you to not only sustain the law while setting an example through your actions. Integrity isn’t an option in this field. It’s a prerequisite.
Every day, I rifle through every single piece of media I can possibly find concerning law enforcement. I watch every video that is available. And, before I watch a police officer involved shooting, I challenge myself to watch it objectively. I’m not an officer. I will likely never know what it’s like to have a split second to make a decision concerning my life or the lives of those around me. I pray that I don’t. In fact, I pray that the majority of our officers do not have to see that day either. I do not envy the job and I do not envy the circumstances. It’s gut wrenching to know the aftermath that comes with this kind of event. They are quickly thrown into a spotlight of media crucifixion and the platform is created for social keyboard warriors to destroy the integrity of their entire careers.
What’s my point? It’s hard enough being an officer without having to listen to people complain about cops who decided to double park at McDonalds. Don’t be the guy. It’s really that simple. Whether you have on a uniform or not, you’re a reflection of every single other officer out there. When you make a bad decision, every other law enforcement family suffers the consequences. My heart cringes when I see a video of a deputy who is caught on camera saying “I can park in handicap parking because I deserve a break.” She’s part of the problem and, quite frankly, we can’t have any more problems.
Being a police officer is so much more than just being brave. Granted, that is a big chunk of the required criteria but, it doesn’t end there. Being a police officer is about being morally sound and good. It’s about being just a morally strong as you are physically strong. It’s about knowing that you no longer just represent yourself. You represent an entire group of people. This morning I woke up to two articles about an officer being indicted on child abuse charges and another officer who was involved in a DUI accident. We cannot have people like this representing our family. Now, more than ever, we need to morally check ourselves and ask the hard questions. “Do I represent the badge the same way I want my brothers and sisters to represent me?” If that answer isn’t a 100% yes, it’s time to reevaluate. Please, for the love of all things honorable, make each decision you make with the family of every other officer in the forefront of your mind.
To the officers that are reading this: please know that I am 1000% in your corner. Everything I do is dedicated to helping you be acknowledged for who you are and what you do on a daily basis. I’m sorry the behavior of the few has been put on your shoulders. I’m sorry that you have to work extra hard to regain the respect of your communities because someone abused their power. I believe it to be vital to challenge your peers to always be aware of the badge that they represent. You guys are the 99.99 percent and you have earned my love and respect. We’re all in this together. I feel so convicted about this subject because my heart beats blue. We have to be more united now than ever.