Opinion: Please, Son, Don’t Grow Up to Become a Cop
This was originally posted in August of 2018. The tragic mass shooting in Jersey City that took the life of an 18 year police veteran brings back the sorrow I felt when writing this and thinking how officers now live their lives. Detective Joseph Sears was only 40 years old and leaves behind a wife and five children. I want you to picture their Christmas morning. Hold that image with you the next time you’re rushing to harsh judgment and second guessing a police offer’s actions.
You're still young. Young enough to decide what you want to do with your life with all options on the table. Your life will be your own. Your choices your own. I'm only here to offer my advice, my guidance.
As such, I beg you, please never become a police officer. Allow me to explain.
When I was a young boy, I held police officers in such high regard that, as corny as it was, I would actually stop and stand at attention and salute them whenever they rolled by in their patrol cars in Rahway. When they didn't notice, I didn't feel bad. They were busy with very important work to do. When they occasionally would smile and salute back, I was thrilled. Because these were the heroes. These were the people who put themselves at risk every single day not for a paycheck, they could make more money doing something else as my father always made sure I knew, but because they had a higher calling. They cared about us.
Please don't become one of them, son.
I still feel the same way. In fact as I grew up and had a family of my own, my respect for them and understanding of their sacrifice only grew stronger. The problem is, more and more people don't feel this way, son. More and more people in the United States have turned our police into the enemy. People have decided the problem isn't thugs and crime and disrespect and non-compliance. They've decided the problem is the police.
I want you to have a career in which you have a fair chance of winning. Today, if you choose a career in law enforcement, you can't ever win. Today, police departments play into the hands of professional race baiters. Today, police are asked to show even more restraint, often far beyond the point it is warranted. Today, buzzwords like de-escalation become policy and protocol. Then when you do show incredible restraint, patience, and de-escalate a situation, you get suspended anyway.
Yes, this just happened in Newark. The case of a man climbing on top of a police car occupied by officers resulted in suspension of the officers for showing too much restraint. They waited for back up. They talked to the man. The suspect was eventually taken into custody without a single person being injured in any way. Yet the Newark brass suspended two officers for not cuffing him sooner. You...have...got...to...be...kidding...me.
Then Tuesday night, two plain clothes detectives were in an unmarked car at a red light in Camden. They were ambushed. A man, in an attack so random one has to assume he knew they were law enforcement, suddenly opened fire on them through their windshield. 25 rounds were fired. Miraculously the detectives' wounds were not considered life-threatening. One of the injured officers was able to return fire but as I write this it's not known if the shooter was hit. They're looking for him now.
This was no robbery attempt. No carjacking attempt. This seems to be someone who knew they were law enforcement and outright tried to assassinate them. An ambush. Plain and deadly simple.
I use the word assassinate because there has been so much pushback against police that this attempted killing seems almost political. Black Lives Matter has become a powerful force to be reckoned with. A climate has grown that assumes the worst in police officers, not the best. An ideology seems present that thinks in terms of a few good apples rather than a few bad ones. I cannot imagine how any police department today is acquiring new recruits.
Son, please don't become a police officer. You won't be respected the way you should. You won't be paid the way you should. You won't be safe the way you should. You won't be backed up by your department the way you should. You won't be appreciated the way you should.
The choice is yours. If you choose not to follow my advice and become a law enforcement officer, you'll be in for a long, tough road. You will be unfairly questioned. Unfairly characterized. You will be expected to make decisions in the blink of an eye that can change the entire course of your life. You will have stress. Seclusion. Self-doubt.
You'll have a few other things, too. You will have my undying respect, admiration and pride.