Written by a fellow police wife
Consider hearing your doorbell at 11pm. You aren’t expecting company. A man is standing there, but in the dark of night, you can’t see who he is. Do you open your door to him? No, probably not. And if you do, you do so with caution, probably with your phone in your hand with 911 pre-dialed, so all you have to do is hit “call”. Why do you exercise such caution? Because you do not know this man. You don’t know if he is there to harm you. You do not hate men, or think that all men are out to hurt you. So why are you suspicious? Why are you prepared to protect yourself? Because you don’t know all the facts, you have to assume the worst in order to protect yourself.
We all understand this. We all “get” it. We all accept it. We don’t condemn it.
Now, when a police officer pulls a car over, he doesn’t know the person driving. He does not hate people; he doesn’t think all people are out to harm him. But he must assume the worst in order to protect himself. Consider the traffic stop in West Memphis, AR on May 20, 2010. An officer pulled over a father and son in a van. Routine, safe traffic stop, right? Wrong. That father and son were sovereign citizens who didn’t recognize any authority but their own. While the officer attempted to frisk the father, the son opened fire with an assault rifle. The officer, and the sergeant backing him up, were shot and killed.
There is no such thing as a routine traffic stop. Any driver, on any day, may prove a fatal threat to a police officer. Why can’t we understand that? Why can’t we “get” that. Why can’t we accept that? Why do we condemn them for being cautious?
A police officer can’t even respond to a house on fire without fearing for his or her life. Consider the house fire in Tallahassee, FL on November 22, 2014. A woman calls 911 to report a neighbor’s house on fire. Police and firemen are dispatched. Little do they know that the homeowner, who set fire to his own house, hates law enforcement. When police arrive, the man shoots and kills the deputy who responded to the call.
There is no such thing as a safe call. Officers do not know who will attack them in the heat of the moment. They do not know who lurks around the corner wishing them dead. Police officers are hated not because of who they are, but because of the uniform they wear. They are targeted not for personal wrong-doing, but simply because they showed up for work that day.
Consider for a moment that you have to face that threat, day in and day out. Consider for a moment that any person around you might hate you for no reason other than the uniform you wear. Consider for a moment that the next person you encounter might end your life when you try to help them. Do you think that living with that knowledge might change the way you interact with people? Do you think that living with that knowledge might cause you to be a little guarded? Do you think that living with that knowledge might cause you to be a little suspicious of others?
So, when the officer pulls you over and roughly insists that you keep your hands on the steering wheel, consider why he asks that. When the officer answering your 911 call asks you to keep your hands out of your pockets, consider why he asks that. Consider that he just wants to do the same thing you do at the end of your work day – to go home safely.