Last week, a troubled veteran committed suicide in my childhood neighbourhood by dialing 911 and subsequently pointing a gun at responding officers. Tactical training teaches the individual to neutralize the immediate threat and stories like this, while tragic, are used by some as a platform to highlight police brutality. Law enforcement has a very difficult position in society with a very fine line. For every bad cop featured on the nightly news, there are ten more where the police are someone’s hero.
The perception of cops has changed and the media has done nothing to stop it. In fact, I feel the push to make the police look militant is perpetuated by the very media that feeds us. From music to cartoons, it’s exponential as well as generational. Even my beloved transformers has been affected. In the 80’s, Prowl (Autobot) was a police cruiser and second in command. Fast forward to Michael Bay Transformers and Prowl is nowhere to be found, meanwhile Barricade (Decepticon) is the featured police cruiser and has “To punish and enslave” emblazoned on his cruiser. Shows like “Chips” and “Dragnet” have been replaced with “Law & Order” and “NCIS”. Police characters are supportive background or in league with the criminal element with very little middle ground; much less lauded as heroes.
Until you know a law enforcement member personally and hear about their experiences, it’s very difficult to empathise with their career. The situations they encounter on a near daily occurrence are enough to make people squeamish. However as I pen this write up, I also come across stories about how an impromptu lunch with a police officer quietly sitting alone turns into a new friendship is extremely heartwarming and welcome. I wish more heroic tales from law enforcement were shared by news media. Their work is difficult and with events like Ferguson pushing the cultural envelope, tales of good policing should be promoted.
The police aren’t the bad guys, but reading the news and watching TV, I’d think otherwise.