Our police officers are our heroes. They guard us against crime, they enforce the law when criminals strike, and they perform these essential duties at great risk to their own lives. They do one of the few jobs in the nation in which, simply for going to work in the morning, they roll the dice on never seeing their families again. They are there for us always, protecting us and even protecting our rights – when free Americans take to the streets and exercise their First Amendment right to protest, the police are there, guarding the assembly and ensuring that violence threatens no one.
That’s what they were doing on July 7, 2016, when they were murdered for it. The brave police officers of Dallas, Texas were protecting what had been a peaceful protest down before a cowardly sniper (who, fortunately, has been eliminated) killed 5 of them in cold blood and injured at least seven others. One civilian was also hurt. The culprit was a member of – and a disgrace to – another heroic organization: the US Army, having served and seen combat in Afghanistan. He was well-armed and armored, and before he was terminated, he confessed that his planned purpose that night was to kill “white police officers”.
This is what our heroic law enforcement has to deal with; this is the kind of threat under which they operate. Thankfully, a national tragedy on the level of Dallas doesn’t happen every day. But the danger to the lives of the people who wear that badge is daily and unending. And yet, as solidly as the police have our backs and would give their lives to protect us, it seems that we are less ready to support them. All over the country, strict budgetary limits on law enforcement harshly caps the number of police we can hire and train, and the quality of the equipment we can give them for their safety. All too often, we hear stories of cops being outgunned by gangsters and other criminals, fighting at a severe disadvantage when their job is already dangerous enough. We will spend obscene amounts of money on superfluous programs and government agencies, but when it comes to the men and women who keep us safe in our homes, suddenly our wallet goes tight.
And then there is the entirely separate matter of the public’s perception of the police. These heroes are out there night and day protecting us and our rights, yet in many communities they are scorned and shunned. People regard them with passive wariness or active distrust. In some American sub-cultures, there is even a taboo against talking to the police; helping them investigate a crime or catch a criminal is regarded as “snitching” and therefore dishonorable.
Why do we suffer in this climate of frequently hated, ill equipped, constantly threatened law enforcement? There is no single reason, but unfortunately, it goes all the way to the very top of our government. Our President, it turns out, is no friend of the police. He frequently speaks unkindly about them, criticizing them over individual incidents (usually one or two out of the thousands of interactions they have with civilians every day) about which he does not even have all the facts. He and the people near him accuse the police of stupidity or even racism. When the President of the United States is talking like this, can we really wonder why certain evil people become angry enough to lash out and attack cops?
And then, when attacks like the Dallas tragedy do happen, our President typically responds by coming out to blame “gun violence” and scolding congress for “failing” to pass legislation stripping us of our Second Amendment rights. Yes, everything is the fault of guns. It has nothing to do with the atmosphere of animosity against police that is allowed to fester unchallenged around the country, especially among minorities. It has nothing to do with the millions of illegal immigrants who enter and have entered our country with impunity, free of any scrutiny of their possible criminal backgrounds or intentions. And of course, it can’t possibly be related to the fact that an evil, perverse theocratic cult in the Middle East is out for our blood and well staffed with fanatics willing and eager to give up their lives to hurt us.
No, it’s guns.
The way we treat our heroes says a lot about us as a society. Police officers may have the only other job as essential to our safety and as dangerous to do as that of the men and women serving in the Armed Forces; yet, while most people rightly celebrate the military and thank them for their service to our nation, far too many regard the police with loathing and suspicion. Our President does nothing to ameliorate that problem; in fact, he exacerbates it. We need to get straight on this, and treat our law enforcement professionals with the respect and gratitude they deserve. Otherwise, we risk the emergence of what some in Texas have termed the emergence of a “new normal”: a world in which it is commonplace for the people protected by the police to attack and murder them.