Shocking News! Police are people, too.

I love it when people take precious time to inform me that all police are assholes/thieves/power-mongers that only write tickets for a power jag; waste gas and taxpayer money by riding around aimlessly or sitting at the department; got into the job for the gun and badge; and so on. Usually, these are the same people that ask for a favor from my husband (no matter what jurisdiction they are/were in compared to his) once they find out he’s a cop. The same self-important assholes that rail against how unfair their ticket was, they were only going 68 in a 45, how dare that smug sonovabitch waste their time, don’t they know there are people out there shooting up gas stations?! The same self-righteous SOBs who explain that they were unfairly arrested a month or so ago when they only had a couple of drinks, that road sign had to have been new, and that trooper was hiding in the median – and wants to know if my husband might could get the charge reduced, even though my husband is a city officer and has no state jurisdiction, because all cops must know each other on an intimate personal basis.

Guess what, you self-satisfied jackwagon: if you didn’t break the law, my husband (and all his brothers and sisters in law enforcement) wouldn’t have jobs to do. So I guess I should thank you, my dear, for making sure my husband is employed. Although as a given, there are plenty of career criminals who will ensure his job security – you don’t have to help, but thanks anyway. He loves it when your kind go to court to dispute their ticket and get their ass handed to them by the judge. Like the time some self-satisfied yuppie came to court to argue his citation for speeding (72 mph in a 55 mph), and unsafe driving in bad conditions (heavy rain, strong winds, strong possibility for hydroplaning). His argument was that it wasn’t raining that night, so those tickets should be dismissed immediately! The judge took one look at the water-spattered ticket, and gave the guy 30 days community service, restricted his driving privileges for 90 days, and charged him $650 for his ticket fees plus court costs.

On the other hand, let me explain a few things. Police officers are people – yes, real live people – who have chosen to take the job of protecting your livelihoods with their own bodies and lives, regardless of a general lack of appreciation or thanks from the public they’re sworn to serve. Because they are people, and it is therefore allowable that it “takes all kinds” to make the world go ’round, there will be some who are born assholes and took the job to validate their existence through unnecessary tickets and prodigious use of generally unknown ordinances; and some who would otherwise have no power over anything because of their inherent weak-mindedness, so they get a gun and a badge to feel important. Please keep in mind that those officers are a) less than 10% of the law enforcement population as a whole, and b) are usually just as disliked in the department as they are on the road. (That doesn’t mean that you can ignore them because they’re jackasses. Still the bodily manifestation of the law.)

The remaining majority of law enforcement joined the force because of a multitude of reasons. The primary ones I’ve found have been a desire to help people, the same reasons that anyone who joins the fire department or becomes an EMT has; transitioning from military to civilian life; or a combination of both. There are other reasons, as mentioned, but they’re as individual as the officer. Whatever the reason, cops are on patrol (or working the jail, the court, or wherever they’ve been assigned) to protect and serve – and yes, that does mean something, whether you as a civilian think so or not.

A patrolman (unisex term, thanks) spends the entire shift hoping for a quiet day (or night). They will miss anniversaries, family events, children’s birthdays, and holidays so that your equivalent events can proceed safely. Did you know that the three deadliest days of the year for law enforcement are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve? Times when the rest of us are enjoying family, food and a sense of peace (hopefully), law enforcement are extra-sensitive to the possibility that, if they’re not extra careful, tonight could be the night that they don’t go home. And I don’t mean that they have to pick up an extra couple hours – I mean, End of Watch. Line of Duty Death. 10-7, 10-42. (Translation if you’re unfamiliar with Georgia 10-codes: End of Service, End of Shift.) Those end- and beginning-of-year holidays are the worst days of the 365 spins we make around the sun for police, thanks to domestic disputes; attempted (and sometimes succeeded) suicides; general greed-based robberies and burglaries; and the all-around Scrooge mentality of some people who can’t stand for others to be happy while they are “stuck getting the shit end of the stick”, usually of their own accord. While you’re at home eating supper on Christmas Eve with family, or gathered around the tree to open presents on Christmas morning, my husband and his shift partners are patrolling for the people who are waiting to steal somebody else’s hard-earned money, or investigating that drunk driver who killed a family on their way to Grandma’s.

In 2011, 164 officers were killed in the line of duty. Doing their jobs. Protecting you. Some of those officers were killed by reckless drivers who only “had a few drinks,” or went “just a little over” the speed limit, or made the decision to shoot and flee. People who didn’t care that these officers had wives and children at home waiting for them, mothers and fathers and siblings worried about them when the news report came over the TV about a hostage situation on the other side of town. The people that I can’t believe are the ones like that guy in Baltimore who decided assaulting a cop in the midst of an arrest was a good idea. With a few drinks under his belt and an already-lengthy criminal record, the guy could’ve just gone home and slept it off. He didn’t. 2012 already has seen 28 officers killed in the line of duty. When does it stop?

Point of all this ranting (yes, there is one), is that the law is there for a reason, whether you like every particular law or not. That includes speed limits – which, by the way, are not a tax. Either obey the law, or be prepared to accept the consequences for breaking it. Be polite to your local officers, deputies and troopers. They are there to protect and serve – not to harass and ignore.

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