Blue Lives Matter… More.
There I said it. And I mean it.
While it is unconditionally true that all lives matter, I am curious when we stopped thinking of our Police, Fire and EMS civil servants as people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to making ours safe and instead consider them staff?
Twenty years ago I became an EMT and entered into what we call “public service”. And I was committed to serving the public. Then I became a FireFighther, a paramedic and then an instructor. My job was to run in when everyone else ran out. No matter how many times you bled on me, puked on me, insulted me, spit on me, hit me, threatened me (and yes, I’d say every other call at least one of those things happened) I was there, selflessly, for you. And no, it was not for the money. A new cashier at In-n-Out Burger makes more than a new EMT-B
And for the most part, outside of a few “we pay your salary” comments, you as the public treated us with respect. And most of you still do. You recognized the trade, that I was very willing to lay down my life so that yours might be saved. I was very willing to make my kids orphans in the hopes that yours would not be so.
And yes, we were called public “servants”. Which described our commitment, and our function.
Now, I’ve moved on from full time service but I keep my fingers wet as an instructor and consultant. So, I can say the things that the folks wearing the badge today can’t.
I remember once years ago when I was traveling with my parents, we were at a very nice hotel. And, if memory serves, the maid was making up our room while I was finishing getting ready to go out. And I took my towel and dropped it at her feet. And my mom jumped on me… “pick that up and hand it to her”. I did. In the hall I said “but mom… she’s the maid… it’s her job!”. And my mom said “she may be the maid, but you don’t have to treat her like one”. Powerful words for an 8 year old.
I am curious when we went from looking at our police as the last line defense between us and the scum in this world to indentured servants who are an uncomfortable burden to bear?
I know all the arguments… police are racist. They’re fascist. They use too much force… blah, blah, blah.
Let me tell you that in all of the thousands of cops I have interacted with I have met 2, and only 2, that were racists. Truthfully I have met more racists standing in line at the supermarket. And I don’t just mean white racists.
Years ago, right after Sept 11, my dad painted a painting called Blessed are the Peacemakers. It shows a police officer superimposed over a knight. I can tell you from first hand interaction that every police officer’s (in many places “peace” officers) greatest hope for their shift is not to do battle with criminals but patrol a town that is at peace; where there is no crime to fight. It might be dull, but just like doctors truly want their patients to be healthy, cops truly want the streets to be quiet and tranquil.
The vast majority of officers are dedicated, honorable, selfless men and women who put on a badge and a gun each shift in the hopes that they get the privilege of serving a public who is becoming increasingly hostile.
And a quick word on that… ever met a grumpy cop? I know several. And I have watched the nicest guys (and gals) in the world go from starry-eyed idealists to grumps over their years in uniform. And do you know why? Because they have had to deal with us, the public.
I had a cop tell me a few years ago that no ones waves or smiles at him as they drive past. I saw a cop standing on the corner in sweltering heat a few months ago and offered him a water, I could see the suspicion and distrust in his eyes. And no wonder when you read of people spitting in or contaminating food before serving it to “the pigs”.
And for all of that, the majority of us, the public, are still decent people who respect law enforcement and would be proud for our kids to join their ranks. And the majority of cops are still decent, honorable people whose biggest goal is to make it back home safe to their families after shift.
Now, let me nip a quick counter argument in the bud before it blossoms. Years ago I had a family member (who is white) get stopped by the police. They took his car, impounded it, searched it and detained him. He was livid. I asked him a question… I said, think for a second about what you think a drug dealer looks like… he said, “titled hat, baggy saggy jeans, gold chain, loud music, flashy wheels on the car. Why do you ask?”. I dragged him in front of the mirror and I told him that what how he was dressed. His retort was “but I am not a drug dealer.” To which I said… “but you just admitted to dressing like one! What do we tell our daughters… if you don’t want be caught, don’t dress like bait. If you don’t want the cops to treat you like a thug… don’t dress like one… don’t talk like one… don’t act like one!”
The police do not stereotype by race… folks I teach this stuff… we don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, purple or Martian… but we absolutely do catalogue people by appearance and actions. If you act like someone who is stoned, we will treat you like someone who is stoned. If you act like someone who is a threat you will be treated like a threat. If you’re not a thug, don’t dress like one. And if you are a thug, don’t cry foul when the police arrest you… it’s their job!!! Folks, 65% of our communication is non-verbal – from clothing to body language to mannerisms. When 65% of someone’s communication says “I’m like all the other thugs”, they are going to be treated like a thug! It’s common sense.
Do Black lives matter? Sure they do. But not more than White lives… or Brown lives or Yellow or Red lives. Do White lives matter? Yep. But not more then Black ones. But how about Police? Do Blue Lives Matter?
And I will go so far as to say this… Blue lives absolutely matter more than they criminals they are arresting. Do cops arrest innocent people? Sure they do. But most of the time if they are rolling around on the ground with someone, that someone did something to threaten your life or the life of an officer. Think of it… how many of you reading this post have ever been arrested? Have ever been in a fight with the police? Very, very, very few. Why? Because you are the law abiding public that the police are sworn to protect. And the fact that they are willing to die so you may live means that while they may consider your life more precious than theirs you surely don’t have the right to do the same.
So do Blue Lives Matter? You bet – Now it’s time for us to start acting like it.
(And yes, for you guys in Green… your lives are precious too… that’s an upcoming post)