On Feb. 5, Sheriff ’s Deputy Micah Flick was killed in southern Colorado Springs, Colo., while a part of a multi-agency task force investigating a car theft. His death marks the third Colorado police death in five weeks. In those five weeks, five other officers were wounded
Two days later, on Feb. 7, Officer David Sherrard of the Richardson Police Department was killed in a standoff in DFW. Then on Feb. 10, two more police officers were killed in Ohio
while responding to a 911 call. In response to Flick’s death, El Paso County sheriff Bill El-
der delivered an impassioned plea, expressing his frustration with the current public opinion of law enforcement officers.
“Unfortunately, in the past few years there has been a lack of respect for the men and women that are there to protect our communities, and frankly it just shocks me, it shocks
my staff, it shocks the leadership of public safety throughout the country,” Elder said.
“It’s got to end.”
The current social and political climate makes general distrust of police socially acceptable and almost mainstream, even at a place like the University of Dallas, where the addition of a police department or Mall camera has yielded suspicion. During the recent Groundhog festivities, some students complained of their parties being broken up by police officers, even though they were violating underage drinking laws.
In last week’s edition of The University News, an anonymous student spoke with the
newspaper about how she was at risk for being “arrested” for hosting a loud party with public drinking. In terms of trust or suspicion, she certainly erred on the side of suspicion, remarking that she was not given identification by the officers or told if they were responding to a complaint.
President Trump and the current republican leadership have inflamed similar suspicion by their attacks on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice. Despite all
these societal pressures, one statistic stands out that ought to inspire empathy for all police officers and alarm those concerned about the moral state of our culture.
The total number of on-duty police deaths after 9/11 inside the U.S., 2397, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, is almost the same as the number of military deaths in Afghanistan after 9/11; 2466, according to the Department of Defense. The same number of men and women in blue have died driving down the streets of Chicago, Detroit and Dallas as in places where Americans wear camouflage, like the Sangin district in Helmand province in Afghanistan.
Some people complain of the militarization of police forces across the country, but
when the same number of officers are dying in the United States as troops in Afghanistan, can you blame them? With the current state of gun laws, police should be on the same tier of firepower as criminals, and they need the kind of equipment to give them an advantage.
If you support the Black Lives Matter movement, like I do, you ought to support the Blue Lives Matter movement, because no organization does more to defend black lives in America’s inner cities than law enforcement. The crisis of young black men being murdered by police officers ultimately creates a legacy of betrayal.
However, getting to the root of why those tragedies occur, not partisan squabbling, is the only fruitful venture. Police officers shoot because they fear for their lives, which is common sense. Many assume that this must mean in a specific scenario. With the current hostile climate, it is a reasonable fear for law enforcement to fear for their lives at all times, making them more likely to shoot in any scenario, as has been the statistical trend, according to The Washington Post.
The Black Lives Matter movement and Blue Lives Matter movement are two sides of the same societal coin, but the conversation is hijacked by partisan politicians and pundits. No one has more to say about the issues and less to do with them than these types of commentators. Police officers are fast becoming the new Vietnam veterans, who
had to accept Mother Teresa’s mantra:
“We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”
As a society, we cannot afford to alienate the officers who both protect human life and also serve and support the rule of law. UD students seeking to live virtuously must respect that vocation and the rule of law, especially in a climate when officers don’t know if they’re entering a situation that could result in their death, given the statistical possibility. Officers no longer worry only about public safety, but also their own personal safety. At the very least, if you contribute to the general distrust of police, on Groundhog day or any other day, don’t claim to back the blue.