Wednesday, May 18, 2016

National Police Week

As many of you may know, this is National Police Week.  Law Enforcement officers are very near and dear to my heart and, as such, I wanted to share a few thoughts:

Some know a lot about the Law Enforcement community, some know very little, and a lot believe they know more than they actually do…

“There are too many cops!”
The population of the United States is currently ~320 million.  The number of sworn police officers in the USA is about 900,000.  Or .0028 of the population. 

“Cops are dumb!  And overpaid too!”
An estimated ½ of the departments in the USA require a degree to be a Police Officer while the other half don’t.  Neither half has a starting pay commiserate with the job responsibilities.  In the state of Tennessee the average starting salary for a sworn police officer is $37,000, and that includes the “higher” paid major metropolitan areas.  For most places in Tennessee that looks more like $29,000-$31,000.

“Police Officer deaths are just a right wing media myth!”
On average, 165 police officers die in the line of duty every year in the United States.  

To give some small bit of perspective, since 2001 there have been ~2,250 Americans killed in Afghanistan.  During that same time period ~2,375 law enforcement officers have been killed in the US.

The average age of a slain officer is 39.

There are 20,789 names carved into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial walls.

That’s not to mention that fact that Law Enforcement Officers have over double the rate of “depressive symptoms” and that’s only counting what’s reported.  One of the great threats to the Law Enforcement community is the fact that things like depression and stress are seen as ‘weakness’ and/or ‘part of the job’ and so _Very_ few actually report, which makes that percentage even more staggering.

Then you also have that officers have a higher risk of coronary events than other professions, almost 60% of officers have higher than recommended cholesterol levels, and nearly all, on average, have higher pulse rates and higher diastolic blood pressure.

“But they signed up for it!”
Now, there’s something we can agree on.  They did.  They chose it.  You know what, some go in ignorant and cavalier, but most know about those above statistics.  They know they have a much higher risk of death, they know that, statistically speaking, their marriage has a much lower chance of survival.  They even know (or come to understand quickly) that they will be vilified, blamed, feared, and hated.  
But they signed up anyway.  
They report back to the line anyway.  
They choose it, everyday. 

Are their corrupt police officers? 
Officers who hide behind a badge and a gun so they can live out their fantasies of grandeur? You bet.  Just like there are teachers, firefighters, bank tellers, and preachers who do the same.  
But the overwhelming majority do it for you.  
For the ones who don’t thank them, for the ones who hide behind keyboards so they can live out their fantasies of grandeur, for the ones who hate them and teach others to hate them.  

Law Enforcement shows up for work everyday to get spit on and ridiculed, and put under a microscope, and investigated, and shot at because they don’t do it for the thanks; if they did, they wouldn’t show back up!

Law Enforcement officers put on their hot, cheaply made, ill fitting uniforms, drape on their cheapest available body armor, buckle up their 35 pound work belts, and lace up their 10 pound dress shoes that they have to wear to stand, run, crouch, crawl, and fight in because they view it (rightfully so) as a calling.  

Just as a teacher or a preacher, police officers are choosing an often times thankless ministry.

You’re dang right:  They signed up for it.  
And I, for one, want to say Thank you.