Police Officers have always accepted the fact that their job is a hazardous one. They are called upon to go into the places the rest of us wisely avoid. They take risks that most would find unacceptable, astutely aware that the next call they roll on has the potential to be a life or death situation. That’s been the lot of law enforcement officers since the first night watch was organized. It’s been true in the United States since Albany County, New York Constable Darius Quimby was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a suspect on the third of January, 1791, becoming the first US law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty.
For most of the intervening 224 years, cops have accepted the risks their work entails, cognizant of the fact that their work is vital to a functional society, and secure in the knowledge that the vast majority of the people they serve view them with respect and admiration. While that hasn’t changed, an increasingly hostile and violent segment of the population attacks, disparages, and publicly disrespects police officers at every turn. We can't help but believe this is encouraged perhaps by a president who chooses to send representatives to the funeral of a criminal shot while attacking a police officer, yet sheds not a tear for the 99 law enforcement officers who’ve died in the line of duty thus far in 2015, including five from illnesses related to 9-11.
From the infamous “Beer Summit” in the early days of Obama’s Presidency, to his remarks during the recent rioting in Baltimore, Obama has unfailingly offered sanctuary and support to those opposed to the rule of law and the men and women who enforce it. All rule of law except his that is. And as the number of attacks on law officers seems to climb on a weekly basis, the White House remains mute. Woe betide anyone foolish enough to get between Obama and his teleprompter the next time there’s a “Black Lives Matter” moment, and an African-American youth is shot by police, no matter how justifiably. Yet let that same youth kill or wound a police officer, and Obama’s silence speaks volumes.
Not only is his tacit contempt for those whose job it is to uphold the law offensive, it engenders similar disrespect on the part of those who already feel animosity towards the police. It’s become a more frequent occurrence for officers to be refused service at restaurants, even being told that they, “… don’t serve your kind.” Most recently, an employee of the Independence, Missouri Olive Garden told a uniformed, on-duty KCPD officer that he would have to leave the restaurant, or leave his gun outside. The officer, Michael Holsworth, informed the employee that he was on duty, taking his meal break to celebrate his birthday with his family. The employee was adamant; the Olive Garden is a gun-free zone. The officer left, stunned by the blatant contempt he was shown.
Of course, as soon as the incident hit social media, the Olive Garden corporate management shifted into damage control mode. Profuse apologies were made … to the officer, to his department, to the Fraternal Order of Police. “Of course law enforcement officers are welcome at Olive Garden … Olive Garden loves serving law enforcement … It was all a huge misunderstanding.” Needless to say that the situation wouldn’t have arisen in the first place if not for the ridiculous anti-gun stance the restaurant has taken. That, however, is a topic for another column. And as rude and disgraceful as this hopefully former Olive Garden employee’s behavior was, it pales in comparison to the calls on the part of some in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement for open warfare against the police. Calls that, unfortunately, some are taking far too seriously.
Is this the level to which our culture has descended? Are we at the point where it is socially acceptable, not only to spew hatred at the men and women who protect and serve our society, but to lie in wait to ambush them? I pray to God such is not the case, but if it is, then it’s one more facet of the American culture that Barack Obama, the man who promised to be a “transformational President,” will have succeeded in transforming.
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