Higher Calling

Over the Holiday weekend the first of two New York police officers slain in the line of duty was laid to rest in a public funeral. Officer Rafael Ramos’s funeral was a large one and was attended by the Mayor of New York, the Vice President of the United States, a number of dignitaries, and of course police officers from across the US.

The shooting of Officer Ramos and his partner Wen Jian Lieu by lone gunman Isma’aiyl Brinsley amplified relations between the NYPD and protestors who have been out in force in the wake of a series of incidents in which African-American men were killed by police in questionable circumstances. The protests and the larger conversation they have caused about race and policing has left some police officers feeling alienated. And when the Lieu and Ramos was shot they let it be known they felt that it was because of the protests; they felt that they were being targeted and that an anti-police sentiment had been allowed to fester. In New York some police unions and individual officers let the Mayor Bill de Blasio know they put the deaths on his steps because of his statements about police treatment of minorities.

In the shooting’s aftermath a number of well known social media types tried to make it clear they condemned the shootings but also felt that protesting conditions were still justified. You know growing up one of my families closest friends has been an officer all of my life. My grandfather and father both have been volunteer police officers. I have nothing but the utmost respect for police officers.

I also grew up knowing that as a black boy and man I had to learn that you can’t act anyway with police. I know people are tired of hearing it but yes most Black people know you can’t act like the drunk white person you see on those Police video shows. I am profiled, most of us are. I mean when most of us look at young black man in sagging jeans, underwear showing and wearing a jersey it’s in the back of your mind that dude could be trouble. It doesn’t make profiling right but it is reality.

Now I support the police, the military, and the security services. But I also know that it is composed of people, and people are imperfect. One doesn’t just change because you put a uniform on or carry a gun. Being an officer be it police or military is a responsibility and we should respect it. But respect should not being given blindly. We should never see a uniform and just give them a past; that is a disservice to you and the one wearing it.

If the kid with the pants hanging should understand they are walking into certain perceptions so too should anyone wearing the dress blues. A badge comes with expectations, it is the symbol of a type of sacrifice. You can’t be a police officer and just do whatever. It is not an easy life because it’s one of those jobs where you get to see humanity at its ugliest. When things go bad people aren’t always their best. There are days when it takes almost herculean effort not to smack somebody being an ass. Thankfully the majority of officers on the street are worthy of the badge.

But there are people who make all the good police work of the many come to naught.

There is a reason Internal affairs units exist; cause bad cops DO exists.

Right now the voices of reason and restraint seem to have lost their strength and most times I think we have all just lost our minds to emotion. Maybe one day we will walk it back.


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