Fuck The Police

While driving home today from the gym, I noticed a few city workers doing some road improvements. Two of them happened to be officers at my fire department. I gave them a wave as I drove by and proceeded around the corner. While going around the last bend out of town, I saw one of our paramedics working on his lawn. Again, a wave and a “good morning” was given and I continued my commute.

When I was little I read a few lines in a book that have always resonated with me: “A common man with an uncommon desire to succeed. Always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves… who doesn’t advertise the nature of his work, nor seek recognition for his actions.”

Although my goal is to become a full-time career firefighter, I truly do feel extremely lucky to be with the volunteer department I currently am at. We have excellent leadership and men and women who perform their duties without fail whenever need be. Often times, people ask me why I do it… not aware that my goal is to someday get hired on at another department full-time. My response is simple, “I want to help people.”

With the recent atrocities in Ferguson, Missouri, many have gone public and viral airing their disdain with our law enforcement officers. “Fucking pigs” who are “cowards” that have nothing better to do than “profile” and “destroy inner city communities”. Cops wearing riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets flying… pictures and video make the scene look like something out of Grand Theft Auto the video game.

I’m about to say something many might find shocking, but something I always thought should be common sense… there’s always gonna be a few bad apples on the tree.

I am fortunate enough to work out every single day at my Crossfit gym with multiple police officers, firefighters and EMTs… and they are some of the best, most down to Earth people I know. They love their jobs and, more importantly, they love their communities. Some of them work in the suburbs and some work in the most crime-ridden neighborhoods of Chicago. Being a firefighter always seemed cool to me, but it wasn’t until the day I officially joined the department and filled out my death benefits paperwork, deciding what percentage of my LODD (line of duty death) payment my select relatives would receive that it really sank in that this job can be fucking dangerous at times.

Every day my friends who are police officers wake up, they kiss their family members goodbye, go to the station, put on their uniforms and then climb in their squad cars… and every time they buckle in, they realize that it could be their last day on Earth. At any point, a routine traffic stop could turn ugly… but that’s a chance they are willing to take. It’s not because they’re adrenaline junkies, it’s not because of the millions of dollars they make every year, and it’s not because they think guns are cool. Although we all have our difference reasons for becoming first responders, I’d venture to say they wake up and go to work every morning because they want to make a positive difference in their communities.

There will be more questionable deaths like the Michael Brown case… there will continue to be possible “racial profiling”… there will be more videos of cops beating people up on the Internet… THERE WILL ALWAYS BE BAD APPLES. But, although I’m no mathematician, I’d venture to say 99.9% of law enforcement officers are excellent at their job… respectful, upright citizens who just want to make a positive impact and help people, while protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

Call me crazy, but when my pager goes off and I race to the station, gear up and climb in our rigs… I don’t wonder what color of skin the person I’m going to help is. I don’t care how nice their home is, if they’re gay, straight, Catholic or Islamic. All I care about is helping them, even if it means giving up my own life in the process. And you know what? Police officers are the same way. First responders aren’t heroes… they’re simply citizens who have chosen a job in public service. The heroes are those responders who were killed doing what they loved… protecting any and everyone, because that’s what they raised their right hands to do.

A few weeks ago I went downtown for a few drinks and, while heading to my car, heard dozens of 20-somethings start chanting “FUCK THE POLICE!” An individual was pulled over and being hand-cuffed, what I can only presume was for drunk driving. “FUCKING PIGS”… “AIN’T YOU GOT NOTHING BETTER TO DO?” As I looked at the officers not making the arrest, a look of utter confusion covered their faces… one in which I completely understood. “FUCK THE POLICE?”… you mean those men and women who would immediately run to your aid if something were to happen to you? Who would give you life saving aid and, if need be, run in front of you and take a bullet just to keep your ungrateful ass alive another day? What did they do to deserve such harassment? Join a brotherhood that has, at times, contained individuals who acted against the established moral code? HOW DARE THEY!

There are men and women who stand guard both on the home-front and abroad ready and willing to lay down their lives for you at a moment’s notice so that you can continue enjoying your freedoms as an American citizen. Read that last line again and then really let it sink in your fucking head. Are they special because of that? Some would say no… it’s a job they’ve voluntarily chosen, and I completely agree. But just remember when you’re in trouble and just want to be helped that someone is coming… they might not know you and they may never see you again, but they’ll gladly switch places with you and expect nothing in return.

Think about that the next time you stereotype an entire group of people. Think about that the next time you are that first responders or overpaid or lazy. Think about that the next time you read about a firefighter or police officer being killed in the line of duty. Think about that the next time you see a military member coming home in a flag draped coffin.

There will always be outliers… there will always be bad men out there. And unfortunately, there may be times where they perpetrate from within our own ranks. It is sad and inexcusable, and the powers that be will do whatever they can to do away with them justly. But in the end, we are all only human. When the dust settles in Missouri, I hope justice will be had. And if an officer’s actions were unjust, may he be dealt with correctly. And in the mean time, I’ll be thankful for the officers I know and the rest around the country… because I know the vast majority of them are good men and women, men and women I have the utmost respect for.

Originally published at downslew.blogspot.com on April 29, 2015.

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