Today my 7- year-old daughter told me she wants to be a police officer. Her announcement came just 20 minutes after viewing the latest shooting of an unarmed man by a police officer, this time in Oklahoma.
Her statement highlighted for me how complicated my own emotions are about the job performed by those who keep us safe. Fear for their safety, fear for my own safety, fear that a second of human misjudgment can haunt someone for the rest of their lives and fear that unreasonable stereotypes can lead to an unnecessary blood bath.
I’ve written before about the false choice presented by some who suggest that it this i is and issue that can be solved simply by picking the right side: “Blue lives” versus “black lives” gets us nowhere.
But when it comes to perspective, often much of what we hear and read gets lost in outrage. So, today we have two columns about policing. One from the perspective of those asked to do this difficult job and one from someone who carries the fear that comes with loving someone who does such a dangerous job.
Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, makes the argument that we’ve placed too much on the shoulders of our police force, expecting them to keep our streets safe while being “dogcatcher, counselors and child minders.”
We have the most educated and well-trained police force in the history of the country, and they are more than qualified to be a part of the solutions to the problems that we face. They are equipped with the knowledge and training to step in and assist and work to make the city safer from the front lines.
But our officers, no matter how well-trained and qualified cannot do all the things of which they have been asked. They want to serve our community, and they want to do it by working alongside city leaders who unfortunately seem unwilling to make the tough decisions necessary to find real solutions to solve our social problems. So the men and women who proudly wear the badge are tasked with the repercussions.
Tiffany Whoolery is the 26-year-old daughter of a 27-year veteran of the Travis County Sheriff’s office, who has been a sergeant on the SWAT Team for 15 years. She writes about growing up with the reality that accompanies being in a household where a parent is called to some of the most volatile incidents in the county.
I wish the world could see police officers the way I do and not just how much of the media portrays them. Police brutality is a very serious matter and I hold those officers accountable, but there are way more good officers than bad. We have to understand they are here to protect us. Trust me, a police officer didn’t pick this career path for the crap pay, long hours, countless missed birthdays and volleyball games, or the constant lack of respect. No. They chose this career path because they value human life and our safety.
I want my daughter to be that kind of person — the thought is both terrifying and humbling. Here’s hoping by the time she’s old enough to make that choice that our society has made more progress of the knotty questions around police, public safety, use of force and race. Law enforcement is an incredibly difficult job, and we need those who answer the call to be willing and able to do it.