We use those words in a variety of settings. We use them with kids, with loved ones, with best friends, with our beloved LEOs. These two words can mean many different things, but usually those who utter them are well-meaning.
Except for my ever virtuous, anti-law enforcement mother.
For an entire year now, my BLM-crazed mother has constantly warned me against dating my boyfriend, who is a police officer. When I called her out for this fact, she informed me:
“Well, my friend who works in the courts and has experience with law enforcement said to tell you to be careful when I told her that you’re dating a cop.”
I was appalled. It is downright disgusting to me that a person’s first reaction to hearing what someone’s significant other does for work is to tell them to be careful.
My friend, who is also dating a cop, gets that reaction all the time:
“My boyfriend is a cop.” “Oh… be careful.”
How is this an appropriate reaction, and why is it so common? How close-minded and prejudiced must people be to consistently produce the same response when they hear that someone is dating a police officer?
Imagine if you were dating an incredible, talented musician who treated you like gold, and when you said, “My boyfriend/girlfriend is a musician,” everybody winced and said, “Ooh, be careful,” without even knowing their name, their face, or having met them.
My parents, and so many others nowadays, hear ‘cop’ and react as though whichever poor victim has fallen for the charms of a clearly racist, heartless, manipulative police officer is in some sort of imminent danger by virtue of a badge.
Here’s the thing. We live in a world inhabited by murderers, rapists, criminals, bullies, and abusers.
These offenders are teachers, business people, religious leaders, camp counselors, and so on, and come from every background, profession, and walk of life.
Yet for some reason, I am supposed to be so much more frightened in a relationship with a cop than with someone in any other profession.
A job is just that—a job. The problem is, people tend to conflate a police officer’s work with their inherent character and how they act in relationships. We all act differently around different people, both across and within environments, as it is.
How LEOs deal with people on the job is naturally going to be extremely different from how they deal with people who aren’t suspected of breaking the law. But anti-law enforcement proponents seem to think that if an officer uses more force than necessary in a confrontation with a criminal, he probably also goes home and beats his wife, even though plenty of people who may be aggressive and outspoken at work or in public can be timid and passive in their private relationships.
Making that assumption is like if someone heard me speak sharply to an unruly child while at my job as a preschool teacher, concluded that I’m going to be a verbally abusive mother, and warned all other parents against hiring me for babysitting because they witnessed five seconds of me disciplining a misbehaving toddler.
Prejudging anyone by their occupation or actions at work is unfair no matter the job in question. It’s absurd to equate a police officer’s behavior on duty (which is being completely fabricated in my case, considering nobody I speak to has a single clue what my boyfriend is like at work anyway) with how they are in a relationship.
It’s almost like profiling someone without knowing anything about them… but only law enforcement is guilty of that, right?
Sadder still is that there are countless men in what my parents would consider a far more respectable profession than police work who have actually lied, manipulated, taken advantage of, and harmed multiple people.
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If I said, “I’m dating a CEO,” I doubt anyone would immediately caution me to be careful, especially if they had yet to meet the person and knew nothing except their occupation. They might even be impressed. But who’s to say that the CEO I’m dating wouldn’t be just as prone to abuse or violence as the next person, regardless of their job position?
People complain about police having ‘so much power’ and forget that highly successful, respected, and admired businessmen do as well. In fact, these men have more sway over their employees’ day-to-day livelihoods than a random cop who has no affiliation with or professional leverage over an individual ever would.
I can say with certainty that my parents would rather me date an abusive drug-dealing teenage boy than an honorable and wonderful police officer.
Why? Because at least the drug dealer wouldn’t have the so-called power they are so convinced my boyfriend is going to ‘exploit’ against me.
I live 50 minutes and several towns away from him when I’m at home, and 200+ miles when I’m at school, so I’m not sure how he would pull me over or attempt an arrest if that’s what they’re worried about.
Within his 60-hour work week I find it highly doubtful he would even have time to stalk me. And if there is any more of my personal information for him to discover after two years, I would be just as surprised as he.
Moreover, the internet would be positively apoplectic if a parent said “be careful” upon learning the race, religion, or gender identity of their child’s significant other, especially before knowing anything else about that person.
I’m sure people would even be disgruntled if someone said “my parents hate artists and told me to be careful because my boyfriend is an artist, even though they don’t know him at all.” But somehow, it’s perfectly acceptable—justified, even—to blatantly stereotype, profile, and villainize your child’s significant other if they are a police officer.
I swell with pride when I mention that I’m dating a cop. Sadly, all I ever receive when I talk about my boyfriend to others is negative judgment of someone they have never met.
There is a visceral hurt, pain, and anger that comes from adoring someone and having people degrade them on the basis of their occupation—particularly when you love the occupation and are so proud of your significant other’s performance in it.
This needs to stop. It seems ridiculous that anti-LE groups are accusing police supporters of marginalization, oppression, prejudice, and stereotyping, when they do the exact same to us.
But it’s their voices that are heard and broadcast across the news, and ours that are silenced and ignored.
I date my boyfriend unapologetically, though I struggle every day with anger at those who view him as nothing more than a fascist predator.
Much as it hurts to admit, I know I can’t really do anything to alter anti-police sentiment. All I can do is hope and pray for the day that people assume positive, rather than negative, things about law enforcement officers. I know firsthand how truly wonderful they can be.