One More Officer Down — A Lack of Respect for Law Enforcement and Each Other
As I read the news this morning, two more officers had been killed in the line of duty; every day it seems another officer is gunned down for just serving their community in law enforcement. This country is becoming unrecognizable to me, and things are just backward when citizens no longer respect police officers. Since Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Michael Brown in 2014, it seems an open season has been declared on police officers. Statistics from 2017 to 2018 show a 15% increase from 129 deaths in 2017 to 148 in 2018. Through the first eleven days of 2019, a 33% increase in police officer deaths with five officers already killed in the line of duty. Why has such a transformation occurred in the United States and why are police officers being murdered at such a rate?
Could it be the lack of respect we show to each other because we can hide behind keyboards and attack others anonymously on social media? Or, even more pervasive, is the public hatred that has arisen between people of differing political ideals, socio-economic levels, or racial makeup given rise to the mentality that killing police officers is justified because of what they represent? Or, is the answer that we just don’t respect anyone anymore? What happened to law and order and respect for our elders, first responders, and our fellow man?
I have so many questions about why the people in the United States hate one another. From President Trump to Nancy Pelosi and Colin Kaepernick to Lebron James, everyone talks down to everyone else without allowing that people have differing opinions and we are all entitled to come to our own conclusions. In several of my columns, I have written about learning to listen and argue logically so that we can all come to a better understanding with each other. Coming to an agreement does not mean you have to accept my position nor do I have to accept your opinion, but we must show respect to each other. That is not happening on Facebook, Twitter, or at the highest levels of the United States government, which is very tragic. This great country is being flushed down the tubes because we are no longer kind to one another or respect that we are a nation of laws. It is logical that since police officers represent those laws; they are the first to be attacked.
As I listen to different people talk about law enforcement officers, you hear them called everything from cops to pigs; the last being the most derogatory name to represent a group of people whose only mission in life is to serve their fellow man. Even the Grammarly application, which I use to make sure that my grammar is clean, listed ‘pigs’ under synonyms for ‘Officers appointed to enforce the law.’ That tells me that this pejorative is widely used to represent men and women who deserve our utmost respect for their willingness to serve and protect our communities. No wonder, police officers are being killed at a record clip, the men and women in the law enforcement profession are treated as lepers or other outcasts that should be removed from society instead of admired.
Or, could it be that United States society no longer welcomes law and order? Our prisons have become Club Med because groups like the ACLU and NAACP make waves over the treatment of prisoners and how it is cruel and unusual to treat a criminal; well, like a criminal. Prisons can no longer give a prisoner only bread and water when they commit an infraction or put them into complete solitary confinement because it violates their civil rights. Crime seems to be more tolerated today, and district attorneys must work within specific guidelines and requirements. Convictions are often overturned on technicalities because the DA did not meet some stringent evidentiary or judiciary requirement. Sentencing guidelines for some crimes are so lenient that criminals are usually back on the street just a few days after committing them. Violent criminals and sex offenders are those most guilty of attacking police officers and other first responders because of the threat they pose to their freedom. If these criminals were locked away for life or better yet, for those found guilty of capital crimes, executed for their heinous act; maybe respect for the laws of the nation would return.
When William Boyd closed the ‘Double Trouble’ episode of his television show, “Hopalong Cassidy,” he talked directly to the kids who watched his show and said, “keep one thing in mind, don’t call him a cop; he’s a respected man, and we should call him by a respected name, a police officer.”
The killing of police officers is just a symptom of a larger epidemic that afflicts the United States, and that is we no longer love and respect our fellow man. We no longer adhere to the golden rule of being kind to our fellow man; we hate first because it’s a more natural emotion than loving kindness. Loving-kindness takes work and work is something Americans cannot seem to do anymore when it comes to building bonds and relationships with each other. We are quick to flame instead of just passing that post, comment, tweet, etc. off as that person’s opinion which does not affect you. The anger throughout society is what fans the flames of an already volatile situation within communities, and it’s these flames that burn in random directions with police officers and others caught in the crossfire. It is that anger and a general lack of respect for each other that has given rise to the rash of police officer and first responder murders.
What can we do to stem the rising tide of anger and hatred pervading America? We can learn to listen and empathize with one another instead of talking down and flaming them on social media or in public. We can cajole our politicians on both sides of the aisle to take the time to find common ground and learn diplomacy with each other. Finally, let’s all stop disrespecting our fellow man due to their race, gender, politics, sexual orientation, or whatever being divergently different from our own. It’s these differences that make America great because these differences have seen us through a bloody Civil War, two World Wars, and countless other issues, and the flag of freedom still waves from sea to shining sea.
We must somehow come together so that we can stop the killing fields that are our local and state police officer beats, and the only way to do that is to find common ground. Can the country do that? I believe it can with the right leadership and a grassroots effort to foster understanding between divergent ethnic and social groups at the local level.
What will you do to foster an understanding with your fellow man?
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