Let me tell you why police lives matter.
There are few career fields that routinely deal with death like law enforcement. And there are fewer vocations that realistically have the grim reaper showing up at their doorstep like a cop.
Tragedy Is Constant
While many professions deal with tragedy and the demise of other human beings, no other group of professionals sustain serious injury and death like police officers due to their profession, outside of the military. Indeed, law enforcement professionals stand next to our military family in this morbid category.
Service Is Maligned
Moreover, peace officers serve selflessly their communities to protect every classification of person, even as their own categorization is maligned by a growing percentage of humanity. Although it seems like everyone hates police, we are grateful the majority of our citizens still appreciate our work, and express their opinions publicly. We simply wish it occurred more often.
Tools of the Trade Represents Conflict
When cops Velcro body armor in place and attach the duty belt or load-bearing vest, it’s a sobering process. The tools of the trade—firearm, ammunition, Taser, handcuffs, pepper spray, asp, etc.—are carried because the work gets violent. Controlling a combative person is difficult in a controlled environment. It’s another story altogether on the streets when officers have “rules of engagement” and the crooks do not.
Reflecting on Family Is Lifesaving
As a result of this reality, most police officers kiss their family good-bye each day with these thoughts in the back of their mind—Will I be involved in a violent or deadly encounter today?
Every 53 Hours
Statistically, a peace officer suffers a line of duty death every 53 hours. Therefore, the number of officers that DO NOT make it to a service retirement are off the charts. Even putting fatalities aside, a majority of our heroes leave police work prematurely due to physical and mental injuries, burnout, or other factors that are not present in most career fields.
Most law enforcement officers can tell you the meaning of, every 53 hours. The reality is that a father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter is taken from their loved ones for a variety of reasons. Rationale that is primarily absent in safer lines of work.
Since 1944, there has not been a year in which less than 100 law enforcement officers have lost their life in the line of duty, according to National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. And even then, 96 perished while protecting their communities.
Soberingly, as of April 12, 2017, there have been 21,183 police officers that have suffered a line of duty death according to NLEOM. Add to that number another 45 job related deaths as reported by the Officer Down Memorial Page, and the tally stands at 21,228. Moreover, another was added while writing this article.
We Remember Police Lives Matter
In 2016, 145 officers and 34 K9 partners suffered a line of duty death, reported ODMP. Sadly, this year is on track to meet or exceed those numbers.
The longest period of time between line of duty deaths in 2017 has been 11 days. While the timeframe seems short, for those of us that report every death, that amount of time seems like an eternity. What a heartbreaking reality!
Causes of Death
The reasons for death among LEOs this year has included gunfire, fatal collisions, violent assaults, vehicular assault, helicopter crash, medical emergencies generated by exhaustive use of force, etc. Furthermore, there have been four more “official” line of duty deaths related to 9/11. But I can tell you there have been many more “unofficial” line of duty deaths related to strange cancers presumably developed by officers working Ground Zero during 9/11.
Regardless of the reason for death, someone had to break the news to the family. This might be the most difficult responsibility a peace officer faces.
Unable to Function in Civil Society
So many reasons attributed to a line of duty death have to do with people that cannot function within civil society. Imagine what kind of world it would be without brave men and women willing to engage in violence on behalf of the public?
Make no doubt there is evil among us. As a result, malevolence is what officers are trying to shield from their communities. Yet tragedy strikes them too often and takes them from us. If for no other reason, that is why police lives matter.
I believe LIFE MATTERS. And since life matters, we need peacekeepers available to protect the innocent, vulnerable, and the unaware from harm. That is what cops do in America. Naturally there are variations, but as an industry, police officers do their best to shield people so they can live in peace.
Indeed life matters, and POLICE LIVES matter just as much as the next.
Peace Officers Are More than Cops
So the next time you hear someone vilifying an entire profession, remember the vilified are more than cops. They are family members, little league coaches, and church and community volunteers among other things.
Finally, police officers are equal opportunity protectors. As a result, they should be applauded. So many of those protected by their presence during these volatile protests deserve to be taken to the wood shed. Yet we professionally deal with their destructive tactics and keep the peace.
Indeed, police lives matter!
– Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today
(Photo courtesy Baltimore Police Department)