A Heartfelt Walk on the Thin Blue Line

A Heartfelt Walk on the Thin Blue Line

Have you been reading about the several fatal attacks made on police officers by members of the public throughout our country? Have you been feeling sick and disgusted that not only are our officers being threatened and attacked, but how negatively the media and public respond to such cases?

I have.

From the heartbreaking attack on three RCMP officers in Moncton, to the horrific terrorist attack on a Canadian soldier guarding the War Memorial in Ottawa and another in a fatal hit-and-run outside Montreal, attacks are becoming more rampant, and not only that, the response from the public regarding police officers is simply appalling. Threatening posts strewn about social media professing hate and disgust for the police with titles such as “Putting wings on pigs today,” is shockingly supported and reinforced. This post in particular was posted just hours before the Instagram user shot two Brooklyn police officers in the head while they were sitting in their police cruiser, with zero opportunity to protect themselves.

My heart literally aches as this matter is so close to me. Police officers are the ones who we call first for help and the ones who risk their own lives to protect us every single day.

Contrary to popular belief, cops don’t enjoy shooting people. A police officer with no other choice but to do so is left to suffer severe mental and emotional consequences as a result. Whether it is a four foot distance between the officer and the knife wielding man, or ten or fifteen feet, the officer feels their life at danger and must take immediate action. How long should we expect police officers to assess the situation? When the knife is two feet in front of them? One foot in front of them? At their neck?

That’s too late.

Police officers don’t shoot to kill. They shoot to stay alive.

A video taken from so far away courtesy of a confused bystander shouldn’t be the sole piece of this complex puzzle. Imagine yourself teetering between life and death every single day. Imagine yourself looking at a man holding a knife charging towards you, uttering that he’s going to kill you.

There really isn’t any time. Did you know that someone can close the gap in 21 feet and deliver a stab before a police officer can draw their pistol and fire one round?

Horrified that an officer had the audacity to shoot a man square in the chest, so many bystanders and Facebook news sharers will protest and demand why police officers don’t just use pepper spray or shoot the foot.

The answer to all questions can be answered in just six words: It won’t inevitably stop the threat.

  1. The use of pepper spray may be rendered useless at times if the perpetrator happens to be high on narcotics. The infamous and extreme burning of the eyes can have zero effect on such an individual and in addition, their physical strength is intensified so much so that it can outweigh the strength of several officers. There is also the risk of officer contamination as well as accuracy inconsistencies.
  2. Shooting someone in the foot doesn’t necessarily do anything to slow the criminal down. The foot is one of the smallest targets on the human body. There is more opportunity for the bullet to miss the foot entirely, along with the opportunity for the perpetrator to continue to charge despite being shot square in the foot. Compare this with shooting someone in the chest. The target is much bigger and therefore the opportunity for the officer to both hit and stop the criminal happen immediately and successfully.
  3. Tasing a criminal has the opportunity to backfire. The officer would also have to choose between two holsters, one of which holds his taser, and one of which holds his gun. If the taser should fail, the officer has to then throw that aside, reach for the other holster, withdraw the gun, aim, and make the perfect shot . . . all with the pressure and stress of possibly being seconds away from death.

None of the use of force tactics mentioned above guarantee the safety of the police officer, and not all officers are equipped with a taser, so some tactics are not even an option.

With the explosiveness of social media today, police officers’ actions are constantly being scrutinized and judged due to someone recording the incident with their phone. There is no full context in such single layered and refute-hungry cases as these.

Please, show some respect for what police officers do for us on a daily basis: the horrors they see and the plethora of the sickest and most disturbed criminals they encounter and protect us from. I do not fully understand myself how police officers have become so disliked in the media, but there are people who just do not understand, nor care to understand, and are the first to make unfair judgments and accusations.

Despite police officers being disliked, they will always aim to be first on the scene, determined to help, regardless of whether they are respected or not. It takes a very special person to risk so much for people who care so little. It pains me to witness society quickly jump to the criminal’s defense over a police officer doing his or her best to keep us all safe.

If you witness a police officer arresting someone, and if there happens to be a struggle, I invite you to show some respect by keeping your phone in your pocket and let the officer do their job, and if they ask for help, help them. Did you know it is an offence to refuse?

Let the officer continue to protect the public from those who put others in harm’s way. Let the officers protect themselves so they are able to go home to their families at the end of the day.

Police officers are the ones who we call first for help and the ones who risk their own lives to protect us every single day. To live with that risk, to live with the innate desire to serve and protect the community, to live with the possibility they might not be coming home at the end of the day, is an act of the utmost heroism and bravery I know.

Half of my heart is in a cruiser.

Half of my heart walks the thin blue line.

Each time my fiancé comes home from his shift safe and sound, I am so grateful. When I hug him hello I think to myself,

“Take a deep breath, you are home now.”

Author

My passion for capturing memories through the lens of my camera, my love for food and the joy I find in reflecting on my travel memories using a pen and paper results in a series of blog entries filled with warmth, pure happiness and inspiration. I hope to share a little bit of myself and my adventure of life with you.

62 comments

  • They do a good job and risk their lives every day to protect the law. I can imagine you worry and are happy every day your fiancee walks back safely in the house after a shift. May he continuing doing so :)

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  • This was not a typical travel post. I can’t say that I agree with you. Tasers can be useful. But I can relate with your feelings when you are waiting for your fiancée. Must be scary.

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  • A niece is a member of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Thanks for making the case for her and other law enforcement officers.

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  • This is a really thoughtful post, so kudos to you for putting this out there. All too often police are treated disrespectfully when the reality is the ‘majority’ of officers are out there trying to keep the peace and ensure we can all enjoy our own lives safely. I will say that there are some out there that use their power a little too much but they are in the minority. It’s a sad state of affairs when you hear these stories of police officers being attacked but unfortunately its the harsh reality of the world we live in.

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  • I hate the way others treat all of our police forces. Here in the UK several forces are under pressure to cut costs in any way possible, which translates into personal cuts leaving others at risk. It is disgraceful that people get away with this disrespectful, and often deadly approach to other human beings.

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  • Sad what our world is coming to. And sad that social media is often not used for good to blow stories out of proportion. Thank you to your fiancee for his service; we all know it’s not an easy job!

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  • We don’t get a lot of Canadian news over here but I did hear about it through the internet. It saddens me to hear that police officers, who are doing their job because they are good persons and choose to do this job because of goodness, are portrayed this way.

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  • I am not sure how to react on this post. Violence from police officers is a reality in most countries. It certainly is in Italy. The truth is that more often than not police officers are underpaid and overworked and exasperated for having to deal with situations where they are highly outnumbered. It is normal that they eventually over-react. Then again, the abuse of people in custody (something we regularly hear about in Italy) is unacceptable.

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    • Hi Claudia, in Canada, police officers are paid very well and are pretty well provided with the best training in the world. Interesting to hear about Italy – there are such differences in police forces around the world!

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  • Thank you for this well written article. I think it’s impossible to truly judge a situation unless you can see both sides. I’m so horrified by what’s been going on in the US between cops and people that I haven’t taken time to look up cases in other countries. Not all cops are just and good but I would agree that many are and this increase in violence, and increase in over-exaggerated media coverage is driving me crazy!

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    • Hi Natasha, just like in every profession, there are people practicing what they shouldn’t be. Unfortunately this is true for some police officers, like you mentioned. Thank you for reading!

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  • I wish more people would spread the word about issues like this. I myself, while not a cop, have been part of the Emergency Response Services, serving as a medic. My uncle is a police officer. People are quick to judge and don’t give the respect that is due.

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  • What a heartfelt and passionate post you have written here. I think that anyone who voluntarily chooses to become a police officer and protect the people around them is a true act of selflessness and bravery. I have the utmost level of respect for the police who protect me.

    I do think that each country is different when it comes to how people think of the police and their experiences with them. Can we deny populations of people who feel they are treated badly by the police in their own countries? How many travelers have had to bribe a so called police officer at a border crossing somewhere in the world? To your point of not stereotyping police as a whole because of the actions of a few, I whole-heartedly agree but the opposite is also true. There are people in many developed and developing countries alike who don’t want to be stereotyped because of the actions of a few.

    It can be a complicated relationship, but by communicating and spotlighting it like you’ve done here, the lines of understanding and communication are strengthened.

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  • If we can’t trust the police, who can we trust? I have all the respect for this profession, although we all know sometimes bad things happen. Hope he stays safe.

    Cheers!

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  • I appreciate your point of view but telling people to put there phones away? If the police are doing their jobs and acting within the law then they have nothing to fear from being recorded.

    Unfortunately what the media often portrays is the few bad apples that give the whole dept a bad rap. Because the police legally carry deadly weapons they do need to be held to a higher standard and departments everywhere should make sure they are hiring the best and weed out those that think they are above the law.

    Unprovoked attacks on anyone, police or civilian, are tragic stories and should give anyone pause. The vast majority of cops, I am sure are fine human beings, it is sad that only the worst of them make the news.

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    • It is a display of sheer disrespect when citizens immediately pull out their phone and start recording a police officer doing their job. The sole intent of this action is to hopefully shame an officer, (no doubt over social media), and claim to know the entire situation at hand and instantly take to the criminal’s defense without knowing the whole context. In my opinion, that is not okay – to take proactive measures to criticize the police. Thank you for reading! I agree with everything else you have outlined.

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  • A thoughtful post as it shows things from a different perspective, that we rarely get. Indeed we cannot judge unless we are in their shoes. While we shall respect police officers for the great job they do every day by protecting us and risking their lives, we cannot tolerate abuse of people in prison, which is something that also happens, and not rarely.

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  • I never thought about this as I believe it is a situation and a thought more common in the US and not so much in Europe where attacks on/from the police are rare, at least in Spain. I live in Singapore, I never see police anywhere. I never reflected on this but I think we should respect anyone who risks their lives for others

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  • Perhaps it’s because of where I’m from. We don’t hear much about all the good things that police do on daily basis – which tends to make us take them for granted – but when something has gone wrong, or perceived as wrong, most people would go up in arms criticising them, especially on social media. Certainly not an easy job being their shoes.

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  • As is often the case the media skew things to gain more readers through hyperbolic headlines, this is being seen at the moment with terrorist attacks and all it does is fan the flames and great unrest. Sure there are police out there who abuse their positions just as there are maniacs out there of all religions wanting to cause harm. But when we only report on these bad things and not the good the impression is that it happens more than it actually does, it gets people hating the wrong people. The media really does have a lot to answer for.

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  • This is such a complex issue and you’ve done a wonderful job tackling it. I do think that there have been some questionable actions taken by a select few officers and it’s a shame that, as happens so often, the actions of a few have caused fear of an entire group of people. It must be so scary to have to worry like that every time your fiancee goes to work.

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  • Good for you for voicing your opinion and one that can often suffer negative feedback. It’s sad that in our home country of Canada, we can be so cruel towards the men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis for us. Like many of the comments mentioned, I agree each country is different. I happen to have been able to be surrounded and immersed in policing and policing issues in Canada during my university education (the police college, working with police departments, etc) and, while there are bad things that have happened, it is a shame that people don’t recognize the sacrifice and bravery of our officers 365 days of the year. It’s sad that a few instances, whether it be poor judgement, an unfortunate situation or even a bad call or a bad apple, have overshadowed that fact. A huge thanks to your fiancee.

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