I was raised by a police officer. My best friend’s (a woman I’ve known since she was only three years old), father was a cop (he’s retired now), her brother is a cop, and much of the socializing my parents did while I was growing up was with other cops. During one summer break I had from college, I worked in the court house for a judge, and one of my dad’s very best friends was the county prosecutor. Now that I think about it, I can’t believe I’m not a lawyer (a prosecutor, of course).
I’ve been around law enforcement my whole life. I was taught to respect the men and women who put on a uniform each day and take their lives in their own hands as they work to ensure my safety and the safety of those I love. I grew up thinking that criminals were bad, drugs would kill me, and that if you break the law, you will be punished.
I don’t know what happened that terrible night in Missouri when a young man was shot and killed by a police officer. I wasn’t there, and I don’t know either of the men involved. There is one thing I do know, both families have been torn apart by the tragedy and will never be the same.
I am sad the young man was killed, and my heart goes out to his family. No one should have to die, no matter who they are. He didn’t deserve to die, even if he had robbed a store earlier in the day. If he committed a crime, then he deserved to be arrested, but I don’t think he deserved to die.
But again, I’m going to say, I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened, and neither does anyone else but the officer who pulled the trigger. I don’t really know what I’d do if I was in a similar situation. The officer said that he felt his life was in danger. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I felt like someone might hurt me very badly, or worse, kill me, but I can’t completely rule out that I wouldn’t shoot them if I had the chance. I truly do not know what I would do, and I hope I never have to find out.
My dad never came home with “war stories”. He never told me what happened when he was out late at night, many times all night, fighting crime and keeping me safe. I would hear things from time to time, as a little girl listening in on conversations, about dangerous situations, but my dad would never tell me anything. I would find files every so often, cases my dad was working on, and sometimes there were pictures. I remember a case of a baby who was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend. It happened near our home, which was very rare, and my dad had to work the case. I can remember him coming home at night after dealing with that situation and I could see the despair written all over his face. I remember when the baby finally died and my father cried. He cried, but he never talked to me about it, even when I asked questions. He just would not tell me anything.
I look back now and I know why my dad never talked about his job. He never told me how dangerous it was or how many times he almost got hurt or killed because he didn’t want me to worry. He didn’t want me to know all the awful things he saw almost every single day. I’m sure there were times he had to make some terrible choices. I wonder if he ever had to think about pulling his weapon or pulling the trigger. I bet he did, but he never told me.
I don’t like it when a cop shoots someone. It makes me sad, it makes me worry, and it makes me think about my dad. But I’m willing to bet that as much as I don’t like it when a cop kills someone, that cop dislikes it even more. I’m sure there are bad cops out there, but there are good ones, too, more good ones than bad, and the good ones don’t want to shoot. They don’t want to pull that trigger, but sometimes, when they are in danger, they must.
Protesting is fine, as long as it’s peaceful. Looting is for idiots and criminals, and killing two police officers who had nothing to do with either of the recent incidents all over the news is reprehensible. My heart breaks for those officers and their families, and I am worried for all the officers out there, all over the country, who are risking their lives every single day by simply doing their jobs.
I am hoping that in the next few months we can all take a few steps back, take several deep breaths, and think about what our next steps will be before someone out there makes another choice that ends a life, any life. All life is precious regardless of race, religion, occupation or gender. During this holiday season, I am wishing for no more death, no more tragedy, and peace on earth.