I opened the newspaper this morning to another article discussing the “Militarization of law enforcement. “ This issue has become a national topic, discussed on every venue after a black unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer. What followed was nothing less than chaos. Protestors marched; chanted demanding justice while unchecked looters and provocateurs destroyed a city. Policemen outfitted in riot gear, clashed with the mob of protestors and looters. It was an ugly scene.
It is not my intent in this post to discuss the merits of the case. Whether the shooting was or was not justified is not up for debate here. I was not present and do not have the facts, as the protestors, news media and provocateurs did not. The facts of the case and the outcome will be decided, by our justice system.
I want to discuss the issue that has made national attention and, in my opinion, demonizing our police force, “The Militarization of the Police,” as it has been dubbed. Let me first say, I agree there are bad apples in every bunch. I get that. I am not suggesting all cops are wonderful. They are human, which makes them fallible just like the rest of us. So you'll get no argument from me. If one breaks the law he or she deserves the same judgment and punishment as the rest of us.
Since the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 1997, the Defense Logistics Agency's 1033 Program has given more than $5.1 billion in military equipment to local law enforcement agencies across the United States. In my own county our sheriff’s department has obtained a remote-controlled bomb disposal robot, personal protective and physical security enhancement equipment, (helmets, vests and body armor) and armored vans through military surplus. Gross/SHJ.
Daniel Gross of the Spartanburg Herald Journal did an excellent job giving an overview of the purchase, use, and need for this equipment by our law enforcement divisions. I applaud him and it was evident that both the Police Chief and Sheriff rely heavily on the 1033 program to help keep our officers safe. I applaud them as well. And, I have to agree with Sheriff Wright. Our officers wouldn’t have to gear up if citizens didn’t create chaos.
There was a time when we all respected authority. Parents could parent, teachers could teach and discipline, and kids knew when to sit down and shut up. They were not the center of the universe. There was a time when we all understood, life wasn’t fair, and not everyone won. It took hard work, integrity, and ingenuity. You learned how to be a good loser and better winner. There was a time when family meant more than the individual. A time when we grew up playing in streets after dark, knew all our neighbors, church and family were our foundation, and time we taught our children policemen and firefighters were our friends.
How dare we now demonize the very men and women who serve to protect us every day?
I’m not canonizing policemen, but I do respect them. They serve every day to keep my family and me safe. Each morning they wake up pin on their badges, strap the gun on their hips, and walk into the line of fire for us. Sometimes they make it home and sometimes they don’t. They go into places we wouldn’t be caught dead in, because it’s their job. They face down the hostile drunk, belligerent druggie, deadly gangbanger, murder, or thief. They talk the would-be suicide off the bridge, or the hostage taker into freeing hostages. They keep our kids safe from predators. Moreover, when the call comes like it did on 9/11 they don’t hesitate. They don’t just go in, they RUN in to save as many as they can.
They don’t rest. They loose sleep. They do whatever they can to bring those responsible to justice when necessary. Yes, sometimes there is a bad apple. Just like you and I, they are human. But I don’t see you or I getting up each morning pinning a badge to our chest and walking the beat to protect yours and mine. And until we do, whatever they need to keep themselves safe in this chaotic world we now find ourselves, where there is no longer a respect for authority. I say, “Stay safe, officers. Stay safe and thank you.”