Open Letter to the NFL Players, Owners, Management and Union:
I’ve been a football fan all of my life, but I’ve also been a cop for over 30 years. I love football and I’m extremely proud of the positive difference I’ve made in so many lives because of my career. In fact, I don’t think I would have become a cop if it hadn’t been for the lessons I learned on the football field; teamwork, personal accountability, goal setting and the drive to fight through adversity. In fact, that’s why I’m writing this letter. Even though friends will tell me my effort is futile, I’ve learned on the football field that you fight for every inch until the final whistle.
“In my 30 years and five police departments on both sides of the USA, I’ve never heard a cop ask the race or ethnicity of a person needing help before going to help, they just go.”
Every time I see a player protest the police during a game it makes me angry and frustrated. Not angry and frustrated that they’ve exercised their right to protest, but angry and frustrated that in their protests they’ve callously disregarded the sacrifices made every day, every minute by police officers all over this country.
In my 30 years and five police departments on both sides of the USA, I’ve never heard a cop ask the race or ethnicity of a person needing help before going to help, they just go. We’ve all put our bodies between strangers and violence and never have I seen a cop ask in those moments, is this person’s life worth the sacrifice I’m willing to make? They just do it.
I’ve also watched hundreds of cops over the years spend their off-duty time and own money to help kids and families in their beats and never ask for credit. So, knowing all the good selfless things cops do first hand, that’s why I get frustrated and angry when I see our profession protested.
However, I’m not blind to the actions of people who have violated their oath and spit on their badge, those people break my heart. There is no one a good cop hates more than a bad cop. They make the job of the good cops an even more of an uphill battle than it is.
“Just like NFL football games can’t be played without referees, civilized society can’t function without the police.”
Together, how do we turn this around? How do we work through the anger and the frustration that surrounds this issue and find solutions?
Instead of player protests, engage with cops and be part of a solution. Be the bridge to improve relationships between the community and the police. Just like NFL football games can’t be played without referees, civilized society can’t function without the police.
Help us develop a plan to ensure the game of life is played fairly, everyone knows the rules and everyone plays by the same rules. Just like referees enforce the rules to ensure player safety, the cops enforce society’s rules to keep the citizens safe. Help us rid communities of the “no snitching” rule, it’s not snitching when you point out a dangerous rule violation to the referee on the playing field, it should be no different in communities. Help us make it a good thing for young kids to want to be police officers, instead of protesting and vilifying the profession. When you do this you make it impossible to recruit new cops from the very communities that you want represented fuller. Be the bridge that helps us be part of the community, not the mechanism that further alienates us.
If you’re willing to sit down to discuss issues & misinformation on both sides, with the goal of making the country a better safer place, I’m here. If you’re willing to work on long term solutions and programs and not just photo-ops for everyone, I’m here. If you’re willing to personally work on your days off and into the darkest hours of the night, I’m here. If you’re not willing to do these things, then your “protest” is about drawing attention to you, not to any larger issue, because pointing to a problem without offering any solutions and a willingness to work on a solution, is just complaining.
Every cop I’ve worked with has willingly risked their lives for strangers. I’m asking you to meet us halfway, help us not be strangers.
Help us put the community into community policing.
James L. Hill M.S., president, Maricopa Community Colleges Police Officers Association, V.P., Arizona Law Enforcement Outreach & Support, retired gang detective, Arizona State Gang Task Force. [email protected]