By now, you’ve probably heard that several officers of the law have tragically fallen in the line of duty recently. First, there was the shooting in Dallas, where five police officers lost their lives, and then the shooting in Baton Rouge, where another three officers fell to gunfire. Since the attacks, the internet has once again begun to point the fingers of imaginary justice, trying to make sense of these senseless killings.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been targeted, with people who were posting All Lives Matter quickly changing their colors to Blue Lives Matter. It was originally thought, that because there have been a number of deaths of black men at the hands of police, that these were retaliation killings. An unprecedented amount of young black men have been killed by police in recent years, and it was originally what sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Even though the group is consistently making headlines, both shooters had little or no affiliation with the movement.
The numbers are staggering. Over 500 people have died in the United States at the hands of police officers this year alone. In contrast, only 63 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Looking at the statistics, the average person should be a lot more afraid of the police than the police being scared of civilians. Since 9/11, and the subsequent Iraq war, the police have been given access to a high volume of military equipment.
Being a police officer is obviously dangerous job, but how dangerous is it exactly? If we go back to look at the numbers, being a cop is dangerous, yes, but it’s certainly not the most dangerous job out there. I looked at list after list after list, and the hard truth is, being a police officer doesn’t even break the top ten. The most dangerous job in the world isn’t policing, it’s logging. Hell, even the people who pick up garbage are statistically more likely to die on the job than an officer of the law.
I’m not trying to downplay the role the police have in our society, but social media is currently flooded with police stories talking of heroics and holding dead colleagues. You don’t see posts saying ‘Everyday, I put my life on the line so that people like you can buy affordable lumber to construct your birdhouses out of’. Loved ones aren’t lining up at the door in tears every morning that a sanitation worker puts on their overalls and goes to pick up garbage cans. But if you look at how dangerous these jobs are, compared to policing, then they should be lining up at the door in tears. If we’re going to base our respect on how dangerous a job is, there should be parades for lumberjacks. There should be little kids running around, saying ‘When I grow up, I’m going to pick up trash for a living’ and we should be ecstatic at their choice.
Being a police officer isn’t hard because they’re constantly in fire fights (they’re not). It’s hard because you are having to deal with people at their worst. It’s a hard job because they have answer a call for domestic violence, and it’s the third call from this house in a month. It’s a hard job because you’re often the first on the scene to a car accident, and you see an entire family dead at the hands of a drunk driver. It’s a hard job because you’re dealing with drunks, drug users and mentally ill people, and you’re expected to maintain a calm, professional demeanor. I refer to the police as ‘having the world worst customer service gig in the world’. That’s what makes being a police officer hard.
At the same time, there’s always good in the world. In Wichita, instead of holding a protest, the Wichita Police department and Black Lives Matter had a bar-b-que. The police brought the burgers, with members of both sides bringing a mess of side dishes. I’m not going to state that everything is fine and the problems are all solved, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
People are going to have to recognize that there is a problem with the status quo with race relations in the United States, because unless there’s change, you’re going to keep seeing more of the same. I think more meetings between the Black Lives Activists and the Policing community should involve cookouts. People are a lot friendlier when they’re full.
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton
p.s. Burgers, not Bullets.