To The General Public,
I owe you an apology. I'm not perfect. All humans make mistakes, and I've paid for every one of them. In my 11 years of law enforcement, I've also seen more than you'll ever know.
I've taken knives, clubs, guns, drugs and violent people out of cars. Teens and otherwise. I've seen drunk, drugged, and distracted drivers of all ages who've been dangerous to everyone on the road. I've been in more fights than I can count with those drivers and passengers. All the while risking my life because of passing traffic that almost never slows down...much less stops to offer help..
I've picked up bodies off the roadways. Drivers, passengers, pedestrians and otherwise. I've seen almost every kind of death you can think of. Because of my duties, I've almost died and I've lost friends and coworkers.
I've taken that long walk to the front door to tell the parent, spouse, child or relative that their loved one isn't ever coming home.
I've borne the verbal agony and even threats because these poor people can't stand their grief.
I've seen husbands beat wives and vice versa. Parents beat children and vice that versa as well. I've seen the results when people kill each other.
I've also had the "victims" jump on my back when I try to take the guilty or the batterer to jail.
I've seen and heard people sneer and snicker when I speed on the highway. They usually call my boss to complain or say something they think is humorous about "coffee shops and doughnuts.
"Yet these same people get in my face, remind me they pay my salary and scream at me when I'm not at their home thirty seconds after they call.
I've seen the sick. Those who are physically ill as well as mentally. I've listened to merchants who rightly complain about the homeless killing their business. And listened to the transient who has no options.
I've seen those whose addiction to drugs, alcohol or a homeless lifestyle doesn't allow any fast or easy solution.
I've heard the family and neighborhood problem that took years to develop. Now, I'm expected to solve it in minutes. And if I fail, I can be sued for my house, car, bank account and I'll lose my career. I may even lose my freedom, for a bad situation that may require a decision in mere seconds.
I've answered the calls of "shots fired; robbery in progress; rape in progress; homicide just occurred;" and every possible crime and inhumanity you can name. I've seen the eyes of a child when meth has taken Mommy and Daddy. I've seen the the haunted eyes of a parent who suddenly knows their life is no longer their own...but instead is possessed by their drug.
I've seen crimes you've never dreamed of and won't ever see on "Cops".
As a fellow officer once told me, "Cops live in the worst twenty minutes of other people's lives.
Yes. I may have talked brusquely to your dear child. Or gotten you out of the car. Asked you to take your hands out of your pockets or something similar. But you may want to consider that one of those "kids" I dealt with in our lovely area came the closest to killing me in all the years I worked. He had a loaded 357 magnum hidden under the shirt he asked me to let him put on.
Thank God, I refused. Gee. Looking back on that...I guess I was being rude.
I've seen my employer's bargaining agents come to salary negotiations and literally say "Yes. We have the money to give you raises..and ,no...you can't have them.
I've seen my wife scrimp and scratch trying to raise four children on a cop's salary. I've seen my kids "grin and bare it" when they found I couldn't come to their special events because "Daddy doesn't work regular hours." I've also seen my kids take up a burden they never should have had to, when one of your little darlings called my child a "piglet".
Or worse yet cursed or hit my child because I took their family member to jail.
I've seen my whole family wait for me. When I worked nights, weekends and holidays, while you were snug at home...and my whole family did without me way to much of the time.
I've also seen the faces of toddlers and children who were lost and whom my co-workers and I were privileged to place back in the arms of a crying mother.
I've seen the bleeding I was able to stop, the heart I was able to get a chance to re-start and the crime victims my comrades and I were able to protect.
I've got the faces in my mind of people whose lives my partners and I saved. Yes. I have my success stories...and my failures.
And I've seen the nights when I can't go to sleep or get back to because of the faces, faces and the "what if" factor in every case.
And if you never see one thousandth this much, then law enforcement has done its job...and after all...if cops had a rabid need to be liked, we'd have become firemen.
Trust me. If I was rude or insensitive to your child or anyone else, I'll pay for it. And I'll still put on my uniform, ballistic vest, gun belt and badges.
And I'll go out again.
Because that's what professionals do.
Any experienced peace officer in the nation could have written this, so please sign me;