Run to the sound of the guns. We all know what it means. If you’ve been a law enforcement officer more than a couple days you’ve experienced it yourself. Nowhere is it more evident than today when we experience an active shooter situation.

Sunday night in Las Vegas while a sniper was killing people enjoying a concert, members of the Las Vegas first responders raced to stop him. I know in their heads the only thought was “I have to stop him.” So, they raced in. While every other sane person raced for cover to escape this murderer.

They weren’t thinking “What race is the shooter?” No, they were thinking “How do I stop him?” They were thinking “What’s his location, how do I get there?” When it hits the fan like it did Sunday night, these officers didn’t have time to wax philosophically. They thought cover concealment and speed.

This same thing happened in Dallas last year when the five Dallas officers were murdered. The brave Dallas officers raced to the sound of the guns and many paid the ultimate price for their bravery. Their families continue to pay for it today.

Sunday night’s sniper recognized that the police officers would risk their lives to stop him. He didn’t want that to happen so he had a video surveillance setup that allowed him to see them approach his hotel room. Rather than be captured alive or killed in a shootout he took his own life. We may never know his reason for his actions. I’m sure there are more killers like him out there waiting for the opportunity or courage to kill people. I’m also sure there are police officers who will respond with the one thought of stopping him.

What keeps young men and women of all races and creeds running to the sound of the guns? Any sane person would go the other way. How do departments continue to find people who are willing to take these chances?

In my time as a police officer, I have had the good fortune to work with officers from almost every walk of life. Rich, poor, black, Hispanic, Asian, white, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and whatever. It never mattered to me if they wanted to be the police. We’ve ridden in squads together, hauled away DOAs, stood shoulder to shoulder facing crowds of drunks or angry protesters. Later I was privileged to be their supervisor.

I was always proud to see their devotion to duty and their desire to help people. The police officers were the first to respond and the last to evacuate during the recent hurricanes. Damn, I’m proud of them. They were on duty and slogging it through every blizzard and storm in my lifetime. Sure, firefighters are right there behind the police and that is why they are first responders too.

Still, what keeps those police officers moving forward? They have families at home, children, and spouses who rely on them. Parents who would be devastated to receive a folded flag at their funeral.

In America today, there are daily protests accusing police officers of prejudice and violence. Departments and city governments are willing to sacrifice an officer to the altar of public opinion. Celebrities and newscasters accuse officers of profiling, bigotry, and hatred. Million-dollar athletes take a knee and insult the thin blue line during the national anthem to protest police use of excessive force. Still, police officers run to the sound of the guns.

The AP has a photo of five officers running towards the shooting Sunday night. They were comprised of different races. Yet, they are all “blue.” Notice they haven’t taken a knee. Notice there are no NFL players running with them. They would only get in the way of the true heroes.

So, what keeps these brave officers running to the sound of the guns? Honor, courage, integrity, a devotion to duty, and the oath they took the day they became police officers.

So pro athletes, rather than taking a knee this next weekend, stand tall, put your hand over your heart, and face the flag. Honor the officers who each day leave their loved ones to go protect your loved ones. Show them you have some respect for these men and women who make a fraction of your bloated salaries and pay honor to real heroes. The officers running toward the gunfire is a defensive line to be proud of.

Robert Weisskopf is a retired Chicago police lieutenant. In thirty years, he rose from police officer to sergeant, to lieutenant, serving every role in patrol with 18 months detailed to the Department of Housing and Urban Development leading a team for narcotics enforcement. He became a member of the Lieutenants Union, serving as its’ president for six years negotiating two contracts. Robert also served as vice president of the Illinois Police Benevolent Protective Association. He’s a divorced father with three sons.