Due to the recent happenings in Missouri and the extreme response that via public opinion convicted the officer of Michael Browns "murder" I felt inclined to write a bit about reality. I am going to use something called logic while doing so. I know using common sense and holding ones tongue until an educated opinion can be given, is not popular or commonplace these days, but I digress.
I'll get the most obvious out of the way first. All Officers/Deputies are not of the same caliber. Not tactically, physically, mentally, or morally. I would equate it to any other profession. There are absolutely bad apples. What we do different than other professions is police our own. From my personal experience there are times we could have chosen to simply terminate someone's employment. Save ourselves from the media and social media barrage of bad cops rhetoric that we know will ensue. Instead we face it. We arrest our own. There is no greater disgrace in our profession than to give us a black eye publicly. When people talk about bad police officers it tends to be "the cops". We are all lumped into one. One does bad and every one of us across the country suffers. It is along the same lines as racism/sexism in the way the tide swells and it sometimes seems the majority has a bad opinion of you in general. I'll explain later the individual effects of this.
My next point is that contrary to popular belief, most of us care. Most of us live to prevent those who victimize from doing so. And when they do we make it life’s mission to hunt them down. We are the sheepdogs. We guard the flock. The greatest job we have is to protect those that cannot protect themselves..ie children, elderly, infirm.. Sometimes we may not wave or speak. We have administrators that remind us daily to do so. Fact is most of us fight a war within ourselves. We have a skewed sense of reality. Most people live oblivious of the evil and tragedy that is around us. Only what directly affects the common person or makes the news is acknowledged. The everyday walk ins regarding the 5 year old child who has been molested by her uncle for the last year may or may not make the news. The child pornography arrest that reveals videos of an infant being penetrated by a grown male, might make the news. The young man who decided to have too much to drink and rear-ends someone 1 minute before the Deputy can catch him after someone calls only to arrive at the scene and watch him burn in a fully engulfed car. Walking in and finding 2 sisters stabbed uncountable times. The 100 mile car chase of a man who decided to shoot his wife that ends with him shooting himself on camera. The two children murdered by their father who decided to commit suicide between them. The child’s body that was found after being murdered by a 2 time convicted sex offender. The frantic search for a kidnapped mother who we do everything in our power and find only to have her murdered in front of us. And most recently an out of control robber who led our Deputies on a lengthy chase only to turn on them with a gun and force a Deputy to shoot him. Nothing to spin and cause mass panic so no national news stories here.
All of the previous mentioned happenings did not happen in California, New York, or Atlanta. I'm sure this is not the tip of the iceberg in those areas. These things happened in a Parish of less than 30,000. Deputies/Officers are exposed to very extreme situations. Some make it. The majority do not. Less than 20% that begin this career will finish it. Being a "cop" is not something you do, it is something you are. We normally don't take these things home to our family, we keep them inside. We develop a twisted sense of humor that allows us to distance ourselves from what we may see in front of us. A coping mechanism if you will. Maybe this will shed some light on the personality or lack of when you meet an officer. This officer is most likely willing to die putting himself in harm’s way. He is willing to not go home to his family so that someone he doesn't know might. We see it as our job. No special pat on the back. We do become a brotherhood. We are willing to die for each other no matter what color/sex/religious background they may be from. We trust each other with our lives without question. We bleed together in training. We give each other a hard time when we fall short. We give each other nick names after a screw up that could quite possibly follow you the rest of your career. We spend more time with each other than we do our own families. All of our personal problems are usually discussed with our partner with whom we spend night after night backing up. Strange conversations can take place at 3 in the morning.
As much as is sacrificed we live knowing that we are one incident from total destruction of everything you have worked for. In the day of social media and Media looking for the next story to beat in the ground for a month, we can be publicly tried before they even know who we are. At this point in history everyone rides the bandwagon. The "no justice, no peace" slogan is a contradiction within itself. Justice is a process. If the officer did something wrong he has the same process as anyone else to be convicted. The truer slogan would have been "no vengece, no peace". Justice requires an examination of facts. I hope everyone understands that a Jury of your and my peers are who decides our fate. Not this omnificent "they" that you hear so much about. Media spins things and masses eat the pourage. In one instant you can defend yourself or someone else and because reporting "officer shoots man who gave him no choice" would make for a boring news day, it gets hyped. I have only the reports that I have read regarding the Michael Brown shooting. It seems that as the light has slowly been shed on what actually may have taken place that maybe the officer may not be just a cold blooded killer. He had a facial bone broken from what doctors say is a strike to the face. Brown was not shot in the back. The fact that Brown was unarmed is untrue if he attempted to disarm the officer. Just because you did not bring a bat to the ball field would not keep you from using one that’s there to hit the ball. 16% of all officers killed period are killed by their own weapons after being disarmed.
) Again I don't know what happened, nor is that what this is about. It's the fact that we are so fast to throw an officer away. He has to be wrong. I see the videos being posted online of officers doing ignorant things. I will argue with no one that there are videos that make me madder than most any average person. They are hurting my profession. We see about 1 of those videos a week. The good news which you won't read about is that we possess over 80,000 videos of our Deputies in our little corner of the world where that didn't happen. I have plenty of us changing tires for a family broken down. Quite a few comforting a family member after a loved one passed away. Even more talking to a juvenile about why they should listen to their parents. Even a couple helping someone get a snake out of their house. You won't see those on tv or the internet. What that stands to reason is that we made contact with people 80,000 times with less than 500 requiring any more than vocal compliance. Thats sure not what you would believe by social media or the news. Nobody talks about the good calls. Nobody talks about the good cops.
As much as some try to put cops in a category outside of the general public it just doesn't make sense. Our kids go to the same schools everyone else’s go to. We pay the same taxes. The majority of our families have nothing to do with law enforcement. We go to church and to ball games and just want to be normal(if that’s possible). We love our community and the majority of us are involved in some way. I spend every day wondering what we can do to gain more favor in the community. I am personally responsible for 40+/- Deputies who put their selves out there every day. I feel obligated to fight on their behalf when they are right and to be equally as passionate when they do wrong. I would imagine this is the overwhelming supervisor attitude in the majority of law enforcement. I can say for myself and those that I work with that we have a common goal, allow those that do good and live in peace to continue to do so, and those that wish to disturb that we are not your friends. Why anyone would chose this career in today's world is beyond me. Your guaranteed to be sued at least once or twice in your career. Probably going to be injured a few times. All on behalf of the flock. Why? Because we were born a sheepdogs.
Capt. Jayson Richardson
DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office
For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.