Good Cop Bad Cop
“My vest went over my head. It was the last essential piece of gear needed to begin my shift. I secured the velcro tightly, the pressure on my breasts telling me I was safe, the slight odor of sweat, from weeks of wear, reminding me to wash the outer vest carrier this weekend. I turned to the door, checking my gear one last time and walked out of the room. My clunky right boot hit the rut over the door jam and I stumbled. I would fix that stupid piece of carpet someday but for now, it reminded me I am not infallible. Even cops stumble.”
I just went back and reread this paragraph written weeks ago. I had no idea that it would be profound today.
At Small Town PD, we are facing a situation involving a fellow cop. My every instinct is to defend him. He’s one of ours, he sees the worst in humanity and must somehow live with it. He has a wife and children. He attends church each week. He’s been at my back with a gun and defended my life. He is my friend.
All these thoughts run through my mind. The biggest being, “Even cops stumble.”
I became a cop during midlife, but before I wore a badge, I placed police officers on a pedestal. They were the defenders of peace, and justice for the people. The reality of being a cop is more complicated. We are human and make mistakes.
So often, the media portray situations involving cops unjustly. Yes, some are deserved but others are not. They do not relay the entire story and I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. I cringed when I saw college students being pepper sprayed. I still cringe today over the Rodney King beating, though I’ve now seen the entire video, which was left off the nightly news bites. I have faith that the scales of justice will work and if the officers are wrong, they will pay the penalty. Yes, I am naïve, but I believe, in the end, truth will prevail. Cops are not above going to prison or facing any punishment their crimes dictate.
If I take the excuses out of my friend’s equation, I’m left with this… As a police officer, I am held to a higher standard. My badge is my shield. It reminds me of the difference between right and wrong. I uphold the law and that law applies to me first. When I take my uniform off, I am still a cop. The same rules apply. I am loyal to my friends, family and fellow officers. But, I never put that loyalty above what it truly takes to do this job. Honor.
It’s a hard choice for me but it is the only one. Sadness weighs heavily upon my shoulders, though giving voice to my thoughts, makes it easier to bear.
I do not hate or dislike you. I am disappointed and hurt. My heart breaks for what you have lost and the poor choices you’ve made. You did not wear your badge with honor.