When I was born in 1964, my family had been involved with law enforcement for twelve years. My maternal grandfather had joined the Elwood Police Department in 1952.
I grew up riding in police cars, hearing Grandpa Leroy’s radio chatter when he was home for lunch or dinner, and I was raised on his hilarious stories.
The best was when Grandpa drove the police car to the Washington Elementary School’s playground and would allow all my classmates a turn to sit in the passenger seat.
I knew the police officers, and their families, and they were like additional cousins, uncles, and aunts.
My sophomore year of high school, my journey with the EPD continued as Mother began her 31 year tenure. I became even closer to the officers who were very much like additional uncles. There was not a fund raiser in which they did not support me, and as drum-major at football games, the on-duty officers would be by the gate, smiling and cheering me on like their own nephew.
My entire life, I’ve been blessed by the folks in blue, and have personally observed tremendous acts of kindness never shared with the public. These “unseen service to others” is how I’ve trained my own sons.
I grew up with police officer children, and to this day, I think of them as cousins, and am Facebook friends with many of them.
I inwardly smile when my sons, or others, refer to them as “police officers” rather than “cops.” Yes, I’ve heard officers refer to themselves as “cops,” but for me, I prefer to acknowledge them as “officers.”
While I’ve seen an abundance of the good, I’ve also known the not-so-good. I’ve seen those bad apples, first hand. There is no profession immune from having bad apples.
For the past several years, there have been numerous shooting incidents involving police. There have been a plethora of scenarios: some accurately portraying officers to not be at fault, and some accurately portraying officers to be at fault.
It’s become an ugly era on many fronts of society. This particular front makes me terribly uncomfortable. Yes, some scenes are obvious that an officer has made an unsound judgement. However, as I have instructed my sons: wait until an investigation is complete so the facts and sequence of events are clear.
I am not blindly supporting police officers. I’ve acknowledge both sides of the coin in the recent scenarios. However, I’ve also been privy to know some areas of police life others do not consider.
The following passage, posted on Facebook, spoke to me. I’m inserting my comments within the text.
It’s not the police who need to be retrained, it’s the public. We have grown into a mouthy, cell phone wielding, vulgar, uncivil society with no personal responsibility and the attitude of ‘it’s the other person’s fault’, ‘you owe me’. [DLJH: Yes. Responsibility is lacking.] A society where children grow up with no boundaries or knowledge or concern for civil society and personal responsibility.
When an officer says “Put your hands up,” then put your hands up! Don’t reach for something in your pocket, your lap, your seat. There’s plenty of reason for a police officer to feel threatened, there have been multiple assaults and ambushes on police officers lately. Comply with requests from the officer, have your day in court. Don’t mouth off, or fight, or refuse to comply… that escalates the situation. [DLJH: Just do what you are told.]
Police officers are our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters [DLJH: and uncles and aunts, and cousins]. They’re black, white, brown, all colors, all ethnicities, all faiths, male and female, they are us. They see the worst side of humanity… the raped children, the bloody mangled bodies of traffic victims, the bruised and battered victims of domestic violence, homicide victims, body parts… day after day.
[DLJH: I’ve personally seen the fury in my mother’s eyes when a released child molester rode his bike past her house, mocking her with laughter; as a young boy, I would sneak into the lower left drawer of my grandfather’s dark, wooden desk to look at crime photos of dead or dismembered bodies; I saw the tears and agony in an officer’s eyes as he described the screams of an individual trapped inside a burning truck before it exploded.]
They work holidays while we have festive meals with our families. [DLJH: It was not a family celebration without on-duty police officers joining our family for meals or cake; I was always grateful my family reached out to remember officers on duty during holiday meals, but I was even more touched that the on-duty officers considered us “family,” too.]. They miss school events with their kids, birthdays, anniversaries, all those special occasions that we take for granted. They work in all types of weather, under dangerous conditions, for relatively low pay. [DLJH: Yes… Oh, yes! Mother would take her Friday dinner breaks late so she could hurry out to see me conduct at half-time.]
They have extensive training, but they are human. [DLJH: Yes, we are all human.]. When there are numerous attacks on them, they become hyper vigilant for a reason, they have become targets. When a police officer encounters any person… any person, whether at a traffic stop, a street confrontation, an arrest, whatever… that situation has the potential to become life threatening. You, Mr & Mrs/Miss Civilian, also have the responsibility of keeping the situation from getting out of control. [DLJH: I’ve heard folks get pissed for getting pulled over for speeding, behaving as though the officer was targeting them; oh, come on! We know if we are guilty of speeding! Take responsibility and own up to the fact you were breaking the law! Only one time was I not aware I was speeding: my cruise control was set at 55mph, and later, when I was in an area zoned at 40mph, I returned to cruise control thinking it was already set at the current speed; HOWEVER, I was still guilty for not being aware of my own speed! My. Fault. My. Responsibility.]
Many law enforcement officers are Veterans. They’ve been in service to this nation most of their lives, whether on the battlefield or protecting us here at home. They are the only thing that stands between us and anarchy in the streets.
If you want to protect your child, teach them respect. [DLJH: Teach your children to respect everyone. Teach your children to make good, honest choices, and to take responsibility for their choices and actions.]
Source: Ashley Young public FB post
[DLJH: Thank you to all the officers who were fantastic additional “uncles” throughout my life, and for being so kind to Mother, and watching out for her!]