Sometimes it seems that my comments on social media are too often focused on loss of law enforcement lives in the line of duty. Counting of losses is necessary. But it is also necessary that we consider the context in which losses take place.
I know that other outcomes, better outcomes, are far more common. On a daily basis, my colleagues accomplish tremendous things and those accomplishments can have a profound positive impact. Most often, they are somehow able to turn chaos into calm. They peacefully resolve situations which, one expects, should spiral totally out of control.
There is an art form that they practice in the midst of tense situations where anger and abuse, pain, fear and resentment and the abandonment of basic boundaries and values all mingle together.
People who carry badges and successfully resolve such situations are masters of their craft. They combine respect and admonishment, compassion and control and sympathy in just the right proportions. It is far more difficult than most people imagine.
But it doesn’t always work. Sometimes that’s because we go about it the wrong way applying the wrong approach to a situation. We can make mistakes. Or we can misunderstand things. Or sometimes, infrequently, we can step over the line and ignore our own values. All of which can cause things go very wrong.
But, sometimes, no matter how hard we may try, how honorably we may act, no matter what skills and heart and good intentions we bring to a situation. . . . things can still go terribly wrong. We don’t work in a nice, neat landscape where happy outcomes are guaranteed.
I remind people of our losses because I need people outside of the profession to be aware and remember that there can be a tremendous cost to doing what we do. And that cost can occur even when we are doing our very best to do it right.
Over the last month in the United States, fourteen law enforcement officers have lost their lives while working to get it right. Fourteen.
Men and women. White and African-American and Latino and Asian. Veterans and rookies. Half of them were murdered. The other half died in accidents. All were taking risks on behalf of the public. All were in the process of protecting lives and property and trying to do the right thing.
Fourteen real people. With families and accomplishments and lives to live. Fourteen people. Fourteen names:
- Edgar Flores, End of Watch 12/13
- Jason Quick, End of Watch 12/15
- Eduarto Marmolejo, End of Watch 12/17
- Conrad Gary, End of Watch 12/17
- Deidre Mengedoht, End of Watch 12/24
- Ronil Singh, End of Watch 12/26
- Michael Smith, End of Watch 12/28
- Joseph Shinners, End of Watch 1/5
- Dale Woods, End of Watch 1/7
- Chateri Payne, End of Watch 1/8
- Clayton Townsend, End of Watch 1/8
- Natalie Corona, End of Watch 1/10
- Christopher Lambert, End of Watch 1/12
- Wytasha Carter, End of Watch 1/13
There is a significant cost associated with the work our people do. I want us to remember those who have borne that cost. I want us to remember those who continue in this work today. To remember those who, today, stand ready to bear the very same cost.