I write this on the very day our NYPD Brother Brian Moore will be laid to rest,and as we are about to enter the week that means the most to us in law enforcement –National Police Week, the solemn week when we gather at police memorials throughout the country and honor those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. Tens of thousands of us gather in Washington D.C. on May 13th and attend the candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in the shadows of where more than 20,000 names of our fallen are carved into the granite walls. This has been a tragic year for law enforcement in New Jersey, and a devastating year for our profession.
I don’t have to tell anybody that proudly pins a badge to his or her chest and holsters a weapon every day that we have not exactly had a banner year. We now have “journalists” that want to catch us when we make mistakes or try and make a sensational police scandal out of what would have been just another routine story. They are the same journalists that want to milk our funerals for every tear shed when we die.
We have “legislators” right here in our own great state that want us to have an extra opportunity to get indicted with special prosecutors and special grand juries based solely on their perception of how they feel a grand jury should have acted. We all watch with stunned amazement when six of our fellow officers in Baltimore get charged by an inexperienced “prosecutor” to quell a riot without any semblance of an investigation. Race baiting opportunists are waiting to pounce the moment they think they can advance their shameless agenda, regardless of who and what they leave in their wake.
Unfortunately, the list goes on and on and is growing by the day. Our job has gotten exponentially harder due to people that have no idea what we do and what we see every day, or why we even do some of the things we do. Someone can watch a few episodes of Cops and be a certified expert on police policy and procedure.
Our job isn’t always pretty. Nobody calls 9-1-1 when a child makes the honor roll or a spouse gets a big promotion. Cell block extractions don’t happen because some inmate is getting moved into a nicer cell with an ocean view. We aren’t always taking a picture with a kid who wants to grow up and be a law enforcer, and we don’t save a life every day. Sometimes, what we do is ugly and violent and doesn’t look good on the 6 o’clock news or YouTube. Justified? Thankfully, almost always. We aren’t infallible either, though, and those that hate and despise us solely because of what we do and what we represent certainly have been given enough to talk about it lately from a few among us.
These are the times when we should be reflecting about our profession, who we are and what we represent. Besides our brothers and sisters in the fire service, no other profession on the planet grieves like we do. There are no websites or national memorials dedicated to fallen office workers or accountants, and they don’t travel one hundred or two hundred miles when one of them that they never even met before dies. When we are off-duty, none of us pass a motor vehicle stop on the side of the road without making sure things look OK, and we still take a last glance in our rear view mirror after we pass. These are exactly the times we need each other more than ever. New Jersey traditionally had a law enforcement bond that was unequaled and envied throughout the country, and I’m watching it disintegrate before my eyes. We are losing the respect our profession deserves, and we can only look in the mirror and see why. Border wars and feuds belong on a high school sports field, not in a patrol car, jail or a police department locker room. We are all facing the same pressures from the public, politicians and, unfortunately, even some of your own administrations. And I’m not expecting the pendulum to swing anytime in the near future.
Our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, regardless of their union affiliation or the patch that they wear, bleed the same color blue when they die, and their families are facing the same difficult pressures your families are facing. There is nothing illegal about using good judgement and discretion the last time I checked. We don’t have many friends left. Let’s not shorten the list any further.