Saint Michael the Archangel, patron of law enforcement officers. (Illustration: “September” by Hans Thoma, 1839-1924)
Dallas Police Chief David Brown reported in a press statement this morning that “...we cornered one suspect and we tried to negotiate for several hours.”
This simple phrase struck me deeply in light of all the terrible things we are hearing about our nation’s police officers lately. Terrible things, and some of them might be true. We should always wait until all the facts are known before condemning our public servants. That’s what a civilized society does. Those who break the law should be punished, even if they are tasked with enforcing the law. But these tragic incidences should be judged in contrast to what Chief David Brown said his officers did.
While more of our nation’s police officers were killed and wounded in Dallas last night than on any day since 9/11, Dallas police officers negotiated for hours with the lone gunman. They negotiated with him for hours. As a large number of their fellow officers lay dead and severely wounded in the streets, they negotiated. As other officers risked their lives, working the scene to move citizens safely from danger, they negotiated. Even as this man could surely have still murdered other officers and civilians, they negotiated. They didn’t shoot. They negotiated with him for hours. The same happened in Orlando.
This is what police officers in every city of our nation are trained and commissioned to do.
It's police standard operating procedure to shoot only as a last resort. Even when faced with murderous suspects. The wrong actions of a few police officers don't erase the truth that our city’s cops are heroes who put themselves on the line for us every day, even when often abused by those very citizens. (How many of us have shown anger at getting a speeding ticket?)
Let's show our appreciation for these men and women.
- Thank every cop you see for their selfless service.
- Buy their lunch when you see them ordering at the counter on their break.
- Ask them to thank their families for their own significant sacrifice.
- Correct others when they speak negatively about the work our officers do.
Our officers stand between peace and chaos in every one of our own local communities. Let’s all do what we can do to make their jobs easier and safer.