Protest away, but you never know when you’re going to need a cop

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By now most people have heard about the Subway employee and her comments about the two police officers who were killed while on duty in Mississippi.

I was disgusted by this, but not surprised that someone would say something like that. It’s just the way it is in the world we live in.

Her comments were not just about two murdered police officers. They were about all of us and what she thinks of law enforcement in general. That’s fine. She can believe whatever she wants, but who is she going to call when she needs help? Who is she going to call if she’s ever raped? Who is she going to call if one of her children ever got hit by a car?

She’s going to call a police officer.

Three years ago our city experienced civil unrest after a couple of officer involved shootings. There was one particular neighborhood that was a boiling point and officers had to stand by while the district attorney investigators conducted their investigation. The crowd become more violent and additional officers had to be called.  This all occurred before I started my shift.

Eventually more officers were needed at the scene and I was sent. When I arrived, I stood in a line alongside other officers while the crowd was acting crazy. I stood there disgusted with the way some of these people were acting.

There was one particular woman who decided I was going to be her civil unrest project. She was upset about something, but I had no idea because I wasn’t even at work when the mess started.

She stood there and yelled at me. She spit on the ground toward my direction. She went on and on as I seemed to be the only one who drew her rage.

I stood there while she raged her personal little war against me, but her protest, anger and free speech fell on deaf ears because I had no idea what she was saying.  All I could think of was, “Whatever lady.”

I never forgot what that woman looked like because we spent so much quality time together. I even saw her complaining on the news about the police that night.

Fast forward six months and guess who I got to meet again? You got it. My long lost Spanish speaking spitting protester. She called the police because she needed help. How ironic is that?

What a small world. I was the follow up officer and stood by while he handled the call. I listened as a translator told us why the woman needed the police. Of course, it was for something trivial, but that didn’t stop her from calling 911 when she needed a cop.

I put on a professional face and just stood there. There was nothing for me to say. Her protest that day was more about being mad at the uniform than me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to have an opinion about her. Let’s just say, “#@##$!,” might be close to what I wanted to say.

I wondered if she recognized me. She gave me a few looks like she did, but it didn’t matter. I just wanted to get done with the call so I could move on to the next one. When it was time to leave, I silently walked  and bit my tongue.

In the end I have a message for people who want to protest.

Protest all you want. On my days off I have better things to do with my time than stand on the sidewalk yelling at people I don’t know. If that’s what you want to do knock yourself out. It’s America.

Just remember this. Who are you going to call the next time you need help? Not the Ghostbusters. You’re going to call a police officer. You have no choice so let’s work together. It’s easier that way.

Thank you to the officers in Baltimore

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I sat in front of my TV and watched the Baltimore riots and felt pissed. I felt anger for what they were doing and I felt sorry for the cops standing in the skirmish line.

How can anyone set fires like that and think it’s OK? How can someone go into the street and destroy property like that? How can someone cut a fire hose or throw rocks at a fire truck?

As the rioters threw rocks and bottles it reminded me of a scene from the Middle East in the 1980s.

But it wasn’t the Middle East.  It was about 40 miles from the White House in the United States of America. That’s not supposed to happen here.

As I watched, I also felt anger for what the cops were going through. I watched them in the skirmish line with their helmets, shields and batons and I sympathized with them. That easily could’ve been me and my friends working the line.

They didn’t ask to be there. They didn’t have anything to do with what the protest was about. They were just stuck there doing a job that anyone of us could’ve been stuck doing.

I watched as rocks and other objects were thrown at them and I was pissed. I was even more pissed when a guy walked up to the skirmish line with a trash can that was on fire and threw it at them.

It made me more frustrated to watch as the skirmish line stood there and didn’t advance to take the rock throwers into custody.

From the news reports, it appeared the officers had their hands tied behind their backs by the higher ups. Shame on the command staff for letting that happen.

Tonight was my first day back to work since my days off. Thankfully everything was normal in my city. Citizens waved and said hi. People said thank you when I was finished with my calls. One guy on a bicycle even told me he was sorry  I had to come out after he was hit by a car. That was far different from what was going on 3,000 miles away.

Tonight’s shift made me feel grateful for where I worked. It also made me think of the men and women in Baltimore that weren’t so lucky the last few nights. My helmet was in the truck of my patrol car while other cops had all of their gear on in a hostile environment.

The last few night most people watched TV and only saw officers in helmets. I bet most never thought of the face, behind the plastic shield.

Under each helmet was a person. A real human being with feelings and emotions. They were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who just happened to be cops.

Try to imagine what it was like to be in their shoes during the last few days. Hopefully you can sympathize with what they went through. It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

Thank you to all the officers in Baltimore.

A lot of us prayed for you while you were working in hell. Stay safe out there and keep those shields up.