“Black lives matter.”
“Cops’ lives matter, too.”
That is what Harris County, Texas Sheriff Hickman said in a press conference after the vicious, cowardly murder of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth, 47.
Then Hickman added: “So why don’t we drop the qualifier(s) (black, white, cops, whatever) and say lives matter?”
After widely publicized incidents of police officers shooting young blacks in various cities, it’s understandable blacks are raising the cry: “Black lives matter.” Those incidents must be examined, police policies in many cities must be changed, communications must be nurtured between police and residents everywhere. It will all take time.
But meanwhile, all of us have to speak up loudly and clearly in support of police officers. They not only sometimes get a bad rap, they get killed all too often in the line of duty, like Goforth did while fueling his squad car at a gas station. A few days later, a Chicago cop was killed during a traffic stop. In the slaying of Goforth, a hideous excuse for a human being strode up to him from behind and shot him in the back, apparently just because he was a deputy. Once the poor guy was hit and down, the assailant kept shooting him. So far this year, 24 officers nationwide were shot to death by deranged fiends who just “felt” like killing them.
Goforth, married, is the father of two children.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said this: “It’s time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement. There are a few bad apples in every profession. That does not mean there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement.”
Obviously not. But Anderson’s message is one we should all absorb. So often, people bad-mouth cops. That kind of bad-mouthing leads to disrespect, and enough disrespect can quickly lead to distrust, dislike and even outright hatred – the same kind of raging hatred that must have led the gunman to so cold-bloodedly murder Goforth.
Cops are surrounded by stupid stereotypes, many of them derived from TV shows and movies – cops as rampant, out-of-control trigger-happy blue meanies, or corrupt on-the-take types or blatant racists. Most of us know better. We overlook such distortions and stereotypes as the stuff of movie scripts.
However, there are some people who seem to thrive on such distorted views, the kinds of people who dumbly lump all law enforcement officials together as a bad bunch. These nasty attitudes toward cops can be internalized by anti-social, anti-authority, mentally disturbed individuals who then use their warped attitudes to go out and kill a cop or some other authority figure.
We know all too well police officers – public servants, lest we forget – are in danger daily even in small, sleepy towns. Several have been shot to death in cold blood right here in central Minnesota, most recently Thomas Decker in Cold Spring. This anti-cop rage can and does happen anywhere, and it’s incumbent upon all of use to counter it every chance we get.
One way to do that is to disagree verbally in no uncertain terms next time you hear somebody bad-mouth cops. Tell them to stop their harmful stereotyping. Remind them of the countless things cops do day and night to make our cities and rural areas safer. Emphasize how dangerous police work is. Tell them bad-mouthing reinforces negative attitudes that can lead, in the case of disturbed individuals, to murder.
Some of the recent demonstrations in New York City and in Ferguson, Mo. added fuel to the flames and may have led directly to recent killings of police officers. Peaceful demonstrations, fine. Incitement against law officers? It’s a criminal shame, and it’s got to stop.