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Officer and Citizen

For many of you this post heading, “When They Shoot at the Police, They Are Shooting At You,” will resonate immediately as something you can easily, and without objection, appreciate.  But in this day an age of immediate and incomplete or unconfirmed news reporting, there are certainly many who will disagree.  For many, there might be a level of disagreement or objection, for reasons that span a wide range thinking and issues.  Many in the American nations black communities, the objection will say that there is a disproportionate number of black people, mostly men, that are being killed at the hands of police.  On the other hand of that arguments issue is the disproportionate number of blacks and attacking other blacks, and that is the greater issue.  Pick your side if you will.


Perhaps some who take the “Black Lives Matter” stance will take a less understanding or sympathetic view of this post.  And that is fine.  I would like to think that we can take an objective and intellectual look at the major issues, as I will explain.  We can then work together to gain an understanding.  I don’t want to make an argument as much as I want to introduce a civil and polite conversation leading to a better place.  A place that is better than what we are experiencing in societies dialogue today.  There is a lot of anger and hate out there today.  And a lot of misunderstanding.


Be clear about this, black lives DO matter.  And at the same time, ALL lives also matter.  It is wrong when any life is taken by another human.  The reasons and rationales are always just that, reasons and rationale.  Sometimes understandable, and sometimes hard to understand.  A person killed while in the commission of a crime, and that person intends to do harm or cause the death of another person will almost certainly face the most extreme counter actions by police.   That notwithstanding, and fully considered, Black AND Blue Lives’ Also Matter!


Two Ohio Police Officers Shot

LAPD Officer Shot in the face.

CBS News Report of a man shooting at police who were seated in their car.

Is this a matter for debate?  I say no.  But this is my point.  It is ok if you say yes!


The circumstances of a shooting do not change the fact that humans are injured or killed, and that is a bad thing.  This is what I mean, and this is perhaps an example that I an unfairly easy comparison.


What if Aldoph Hitler had been killed before his history-making run as leader of the German Nazi nation and their effort to rule the world.  In the process, he was responsible for killing far too many people to count.  Perhaps if Hitler had been killed by a speeding car, or a fellow prisoner inmate (during his pre-election incarceration) by a police officer, or one of the Jewish citizens he ended up later killing, or maybe a military person or spy with an understanding of what was to come, etc., wouldn’t the world be a different place!


Then there was Richard Ramirez.  Ramiriz was a California man who was a serial killer, who killed and ate, yes, ate, several men before finally being caught.  After his arrest and while in prison, he was killed by another fellow inmate.  Or perhaps the person and persons responsible for the killing of Martin Luther King, John Lennon, President John Kennedy, and the list can go on, to include many child killers we have seen in recent years.

There are so many others that I am certain that you know of, in your own community, who were living a valuable life and were senselessly take from this world.  They no doubt had family and friends.  They might have made a great impact on the world and in this life, we know.  What if the person that would have been the one that discovers the cure for one of the many serious diseases we face today.  Consequences and meaning!


And the person identified as a criminal that is killed by the police, they too matter.  Given another day, perhaps change could have come to their life.  And the person that was killed in a wrongful death or a death that has murky or disputed circumstances involving the police, that person might have offered the world something better.  It is perhaps wishful and dreamy thinking, but anything is possible in God’s universe, at least in my eyes.


Every death has an impact on the human race.  The killing of a person who is committing a life and death crime is tragic.  But it doesn’t compare to the impact of the loss of that victim.  All lives do matter, innocent lives seem to rate a greater consideration.


What the news stories I have listed show is that there is a disturbing pattern going on.  Each of these, and there are many more, seem to demonstrate that police are being specifically targeted.  And this is done separate from the daily, and normal if police work can have a “normal,” response to crimes in progress.  Some have been identified as “ambushes.”  An ambush is a planned attack in which someone lays in wait for another unsuspecting person to come into a zone of attack.  The ambush is the surprise attack that perhaps could not be anticipated and thus avoided.  It is planned.  It is premeditated.  It is evil.  And it is happening today.


Making my way back to the title of the post, “When They Shoot at the Police, They Are Shooting At You,” those officers facing ambush, are there to serve you.  They are those persons sworn to do the job and face the challenges that you do not face.  When problems happen, they come to the problem.   Like Firemen and Rescuers, they are called “first responders.”  They come to your aide in a time of need.  They stop the crime when all goes well.  They discourage the threat when in the right place at the right time.


But today, more and more, police are under attack.  Be clear, when the police are under attack, you are under attack!  They are there for you.  When they are put in a position of threat because the call for service is an ambush, or they find that they cannot trust the persons in the car pulling up alongside them, your police can become less effective for you, less available to you, more in tune with their own lives and that of their families, than in yours.


Now, this should not be heard as a threat.  You can be certain, those first responders remain at the ready.  Your police still “Protect and Serve,” as the LAPD moto states.  And they still come when you call.  They still seek the person that intends harm.  They still seek to capture the person that has committed the crimes.  Because that is the oath and promise they took to begin the job of being a law enforcement officer.


Are mistakes made along the way?  Yes!  There can be no denying this.  Are the mistakes, malicious and with intent to do harm?  By far I would say they are not.  But we are talking about humans.  Humans do make mistakes.  And we are talking about a job, law enforcement, that is an imperfect science.  There is nothing about it that follows form and formula.  Each day, each event, each activity is fraught with uncertainty and can change in a dynamic with the ticking of a clock.  One moment all is nominal, and the next, all hell is breaking loose.  One moment everyone is on level ground and things are under control, and the next moment everything is turning upside down.  Reasonable has become unreasonable.  Understanding becomes confusion and disagreement.  Calm becomes chaos.  You cannot prepare for everything in the unknown.  And you cannot train for everything in that same reality.


What adds to the difficulty is the fact that the job of being a police officer is changing every day.  It is not simply to be there to stop a crime.  Far too often Officers are tasked with being therapists, analysts, babysitters, negotiators, social scientists and a caring and patient listener.


So while training is valuable, understanding is as well.  Police working to understand you as you work to understand them.  Both sides are of value,  Both matter.


They are your police, they are your neighbors, they are family members, sons, daughters, husbands, and wives.  Just as you are!