In my opinion, it’s too early to make a blanket judgment in favor or against Deputy Ben Fields actions and I wasn’t planning to comment. Many of you will stop reading because you think I should have formed an opinion by now and are outraged that a wife of a cop needs time to assess the entire situation. It’s often a losing battle. After waking up to radio and television saturation of the incident, I checked online and sure enough, plenty of publications are offering their version of “fast facts” about the incident.
I’ve decided to give you my version of the 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know whether we are talking about Deputy Fields or Officer Randolph Holder, regardless of the opinion you may have already formed.
1. Deputy Fields is merely one officer among nearly a million others. Incidents like those involving Deputy Fields will receive more national media coverage overall than the murders, injuries, suicides and good deeds of all other officers combined.
2. While we were hearing about this incident, Officer Sheryl Rotondi saved a life and helped give birth to another, Officer Matt Rush saved 5 pit bulls trapped in a sewer drain, an officer in Pennsylvania escaped death after being shot in the chest because he was wearing his bulletproof vest, Officers Kim Wade and Joel Fleming saved a college student’s life after a suicide attempt and the wake for Officer Randolph Holder was held.
3. Phones continued to ring across the world at organizations that help officers cope with stress, PTSD and other issues that are a direct result of their beloved profession.
4. Disabled police officers around the world are still fighting for benefits that are rightfully theirs.
5. Someone will comment that I am a cop lover, that I am blind or that I am glossing over the situation. Even more fun, will be the person who posts comment after comment with links to instances of police brutality.
I’m not blind, yes, I love a cop, and the last thing I am doing is whitewashing. I have not made up my mind yet, I know cops make mistakes, I know some cops are jerks and I know we can’t win them all. I also know that most cops are good, try their best not to make mistakes and damn well want to win them all just to prove the naysayers wrong. I reserve my right to wait until I hear and see more information, I refuse to add fuel to the fire by making a split second decision when I have the luxury of becoming better informed.
What troubles me most is that I know that we need to give equal time to the other issues that surround law enforcement, the issues that, if reformed, would give rise to a better kind of environment for police officers. If those issues received more air time, a more resilient officer would be given the benefit of the doubt and the support of the community when s/he arrives on the scene of every 9-1-1 call and an officer could proudly state his/her occupation without fear for their safety or a need to defend themselves for actions they have not committed. We spend too damn much time on these inflammatory issues and not enough on the things that we really need to address to bridge the widening gap between police and the community. Best intentions aside, the more we write about it, the more traction we give it and provide a forum for more people to argue and become more divisive. Yet, here I am.
I could flesh out the above with statistics and examples of real people with real names that this has affected, but I am tired of doing the legwork for people who have bigger audiences and should be more responsible about what they are doing. I am tired of seeing the deeper issues being swept under the rug while the tabloid effect is being applied to interactions. Where were the cameras when Officer Santos Cortez was getting the news that he would never walk again? When Deputy Bill Myers wife woke up next to an empty pillow? When “Maggie” cried herself to sleep after cradling yet another dead child? When the phones ring with a distraught officer on the end of the line not knowing if he can go back for another shift of madness in a city that cannibalizes itself night after night? I’ll tell you where the cameras are, they are looking for the next great ratings boost and these real-life, every day struggles aren’t it.