Imagine The Life of Law Enforcement In Today’s Climate

by Diane Dimond on July 25, 2016

The Blue Line of Potential Death

The Blue Line Faces Potential Death Every Day

Among America’s massive workforce are some 900,000 citizens who head out the door every day knowing they could wind up dead. Can you imagine having a job like that?

These 900,000 are state and local law enforcement officers, the front line we Americans have to keep us safe. Fewer than 1 million people tasked with keeping the remaining 323 million of us out of harm’s way.

In this day and age, when anyone wearing a uniform and a badge is in the potential line of fire, these brave folks continue to show up for work knowing they may not make it home. Their loved ones know it too. Those bent on only focusing on the relatively few questionable police–on–civilian shootings may dismiss that as a trite sentiment but I dare them to put themselves in a police officer’s place.

In an era when it seems there’s never enough cops around imagine what it would be like without them. Imagine what it would be like to be one of them.

They are the men and women who fearlessly run toward gunfire. They are the ones who respond to potentially deadly domestic disputes, eruptions of gang violence or reports of horrifying crimes against children. In the aftermath of grisley traffic accidents, it is the law enforcement officer who races to the scene to see if they can help save a life. A jumper on a bridge, a citizen caught up in a violent psychotic moment, a frantic call to 911 about an unknown situation — all in a day’s work. Responding to a call about a simple bar fight could result in serious injury or death. Imagine seeing all that on your job and then going home and acting as if life is really normal.

Dallas Officer Runs Toward Gunfire That Claimed 5 Colleagues Lives

Dallas Officer Runs Toward Gunfire That Claimed 5 Colleagues Lives

Imagine being an officer protecting the perimeter around a group protesting police brutality. The protesters, of course, have every right to express their opinion. And, of course, it is the officer’s job to make sure they remain safe while they do that. But then, imagine what it is like when protesters begin an in-your-face chant about killing cops. As protesters in Minnesota chanted last summer, “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ‘em like bacon!” a reference to police in body bags after they were “fried” by gunshots.

Those who wear the badge, be they White, Black, Asian or Hispanic must feel like they are trapped in a Kafkaesque moment at these constitutionally protected demonstrations. Officers are assigned to provide protection yet they must also fight their gut instinct to protect themselves. How are they able to put aside their momentary fear of a crowd that could turn on them in an instant and remain stone faced and ever vigilant?

Deaths of Police Officers Are on the Rise This Year

Deaths of Police Officers Are on the Rise This Year

At this writing, 31 officers have died from gunshot wounds so far this year, compared with 18 at the same time last year. That’s a 72% increase. Eight of those deaths happened just this month in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

According to several published reports many members of law enforcement say they aren’t just threatened in the street, they have also been threatened on social media. As Dallas police chief David Brown put it, “We are all on edge… And we’re being very careful.”

Dallas Police Chief Brown Says Cops Can't Cure All Social Ills

Dallas Police Chief Brown Says Cops Can’t Cure All Social Ills

Can you blame them? Police forces across the nation are raw with emotion and the primal urge to keep themselves and their fellow officers safe. This is now the mindset of the warriors who we depend upon to keep us away from danger. Is this really what we want in America?

Absolutely no one in their right mind condones the spate of seemingly senseless police shootings of civilians we’ve seen. If investigators find officers at fault they must be prosecuted. But can we honestly say that the reaction to those civilian deaths has not influenced vindictive minds to pick up arms against our protectors?

Imagine, with the randomness of the ambush-style shootings of officers we see today, how they feel as they head out on their daily patrols.

Sheriff Sid. Gautreaux, Kneels at Hearse Carrying One of His Slain Officers

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Kneels at Hearse Carrying One of His Slain Officers

Solutions to the problem of violence in America are way more complex than the repetitive calls for more gun control laws. We clearly have long simmering racial, class and societal demons to confront. As Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III of East Baton Rouge Parish said, “To me, this is not so much about gun control as it is about what is in men’s hearts.”

Government can pass no law to guarantee civility or to erase the rage and anxiety felt across the country. It’s up to us, people of good heart, to look each other in the eye, truly listen to each other’s concerns and decide together that we have had enough.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

David Marks July 25, 2016 at 10:03 am

Diane, beyond gripping and well beyond the point you are trying to examine. Literally, your piece transformed a concept into an emotional response, and as much as is possible, I am living this.
Just savagely poignant and brilliant. Frankly, and proud to be so cliche about it: heart stopping and as vivid as an artist’s stroke of vibrant color.

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jeff liddell July 25, 2016 at 10:19 am

As the father of a police officer, there is no greater sadness for me than to see questionable shooting by a policeman or retaliation by an outraged public. Neither incident is a positive for any of us. A true
fact is that high crime areas are normally slum or low income areas and the unfortunate truth is these are usually predominantly black and/or latino inhabitants. I have been on a number of ride alongs with my son and seen some of the situations they must respond to, from the crazy and insane and violent to non violent. When I hear complaints from people that obviously sit around in their easy chairs and recliners it is an insult to those wearing the badges. Join a police officer on a ride along or two and then make your remarks.

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John J Gould July 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Ms. Dimond,

Your article that appeared in the Rockland County Times (7/28 – 8/3) was outstanding. Thank you.

John J. Gould

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 11:59 am

Ms. Dimond – I was reading your column in the Saturday (7/23) Albuquerque Journal (about the senseless shootings of police).

I ran across the phrase “in the aftermath of the grizzly traffic accidents” in said column.

Umm – last time I checked (a few seconds ago) the definition for grizzly can be either: a very large and powerful bear of western North America or: Grey or grey-haired.

Neither of which applies to traffic accidents – unless you’re driving through the wilds of Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, etc. where the possibility of colliding with a large bear could actually happen, causing folks to develop grey hair.

I think you meant to say “grisly”: causing horror or fear : very shocking.

Keep up the good work.

Vanessa Whittemore

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Dear Vanessa,

Yikes! My bad and I’ve corrected it here. Very surprised by editor(s) didn’t catch that. As you’ll see you aren’t the only one who caught that mistake!
Thanks for calling it to my attention.

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Matt writes:

“I just wanted to thank you for writing your article on the 23rd, from someone who puts on the uniform it’s refreshing to see some positive in the media, thank you again. ”

Matt

Sent from my iPhone=

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Reader Lclinchscales@aol.com writes:

“Yes the killing of Police Officers need to stop but the killing of our Black Men,Women an Children also need to stop and until they stop killing us their will always be some one that wants to kill them. Have the officers ever thought how they would feel if soneone would kill their Wife,Husband or children’s. They wouldn’t like it an we dont like it either. May God touch everyone that has killing in there hearts.Amen.”

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Reader Tom Karas writes:

“I couldn’t agree more with your July 23 column that shooting police officers is despicable.

Still, since you pose the question:

“Among America’s massive workforce are some 900,000 citizens who head out the door every day knowing they could wind up dead. Can you imagine having a job like that?”,

it turns out that several other occupations are riskier.

Here are some statistics for you:
http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-dangerous-jobs/

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Noozhawk Reader Ken Lane writes:

“Ms. Dimond talked more about the deaths of the Police Officers than the ones that have been killed by the Police.

News Flash, Ms. Dimond: There have been 602 people killed by the Police (as I type this) this year. Last year, 2015, there were 1146 people killed by Police, 229 were unarmed, and 79 of those unarmed were African American. 79 divided through 229 is about 34%.

Whatever your race, those 229 did not deserve to die, from Freddie Gray to Samuel DuBose, from James Bush (who died in a collision with a St Clair Shores, MI police car,) to Zachary Hammond and Walter Scott (killed by cop Michael Slager, who was actually being charged with Murder, and got fired from his South Carolina job.)

If I can look that up without any effort, could you please talk about both sides of the issue. The police officers are still alive. Most people that have meetings with the Police like the ones mentioned above, end up dead. Will you mention them in your articles, and let people know who they were, what they wanted to do in life, and how all of that got snuffed permanently?”

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Dear Mr. Lane,

I – and many many others — have written about suspect police shootings many many times in the past.

This column was dedicated to the other side of the coin. As I state in this column if there are officers who have, in effect, committed murder they should be punished to the fullest extent.
in short, I’ve “talk(ed) about both sides of the issue” now that I’ve written this column discussing what its like to be a police officer in today’s climate. Both sides deserve a column.

Thanks for writing. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:07 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Gary L. Hoe writes:

” I fully agree what you’ve been writing the last couple of weeks about the senseless violence against and by the police – so much so, that I haven’t had a word to add.

But Saturday’s column needs a bit of correction, in paragraph 8.

The police and EMTs will not usually respond to grizzly traffic accidents. The National Park Service will, however, along with a veterinarian. But police and EMTs most assuredly will respond to traffic accidents that are grisly, try to keep their lunches down, and mop up the gore.

Love your writing — ;-)”
Gary

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Facebook Friend Kurt G. Kaner writes:

“I’d actually like to imagine it, but I live it. Nice piece and very accurate.

The first police funeral I went to I was five years old. It was my fathers. I’ve been to dozens since.

As a person who loves history there is one thing I know, societies ills are always paid for by the police.

On May 4, 1886 eight Chicago Police Officers were killed during the Haymarket riots. It was about labor disputes. A legit issue.

One of the Officers killed, George F. Miller, came from Oswego, New York where he was, at one time, a teamster. How’s that for irony?

There are issues with policing, but less than 1% of police encounters turn violent. We do not have an epidemic. We do have poor training. And we do have some bad ones. Just like every other profession.

Food for thought: Dozens of times in my 22 yr career I have used physical force. The only training in defensive tactics was 22 years ago in the academy. And mind you it lasted two weeks. This is common.

Like the Dallas Chief stated. There is a lot asked of police.

My fear. When recruiting takes a hit who will they hire. Lower standards? We seen this in Florida during the crack cocaine wars. Mass hiring. The only problem. They hired criminals.

I have a 6 year old son. He tells me he wants to be a cop. I tell him, “fuhgeddaboudt.”

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Facebook Friend Don Diego replies:

“Thank you for your dangerous service Sir. If I were you I would get the Hell out when it’s time. You will Never be compensated or appreciated for what you do.. NOBODY in Authority has your back any more. Good Luck Sir !

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Facebook Friend Robert B. Reno writes:

“I’m a paramedic and I respond to a lot of calls with the police. Last night we went into an apartment complex notorious here in Tulsa for gang activity and which was the site of a gruesome quadruple homicide in January 2013 (I was working that night as well) Gang members there have openly called for police and those of us who work alongside them to be shot.
I have seen a lot in my years on the street but nothing like the police response last night. We all had on vests and multiple police units were deployed to form a perimeter with shotguns and AR15s just so we could treat a simple assault. And the entire time we were being watched by known gang members from every direction. Nothing happened. There were no protests or altercations but it was one of the tensest scenes I’ve been on in a long time. “

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Facebook Friend Alan Fountain writes:

“I live in Atlanta and have befriended a NYPD young cop of 13 years on the force who my neighbor in high rise and his buddy of similar age was visiting and did not know my friends history and I made a comment as we were watching news in the lobby on Cop issues in media and made a comment based on a personal assault by cops in retaliation for my passing predator law and spoke that if cops would turn in their buddies they see doing crimes and not enabling bad behavior it would help.
This is when I respectfully learned my buddy was ex cop in NYPD and his buddy kicking it with me was internal affairs active and they told me their story of how hard NYPD works to double check and investigate bad seed rumors by cops of cops and from citizens alike.
I was genuinely convinced of that there are far more good than bad and never suspected my buddy was early retired due to trauma injuries as he is a gentle giant who makes me laugh every morning over lobby coffee who is now a budding foodie.
I heard the stories of their jobs and my faith was restored in cops at large beyond my assault to silence me to scare me from naming predators from youth community likely hired by special interest.
Then I watched a movie the Infiltrator about the Miami 80s cartel and money laundering bust of 100 bankers and dealers and then watched on Chelsea Handler netflix show her interview Former Mexican President Vicente Fox who I would vote for USA president in a second. He spoke of how our Federal Reserve is Dependant upon cartel money to keep our Government from financial collapse…. both the movie and his validation inferred this…
Our cops have become militarized to manage fall out of our own enabling of drug trade ….no wonder they are a hair trigger waiting to crack…. we citizens by voting need to verify these facts and confront these enabling actions of sex trafficking and drug business on our streets…. can’t believe I’m saying but if Trump can return normal commerce to America maybe we can do without the 2 trillion our federal reserve requires from cartel to stay afloat. There is always an not so obvious story behind the problem.
Pray for our Blue, Black and all Americans. The world is in Peril and I don’t trust establishment politics anymore sadly as I have felt their dark retsliation for fighting for child predator victims rights. We need everything Trump preached if only he could make it Happen. …I wish Bernie and,Trump could unite.”

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

“Not THEIR FAULT…..
If all those street turds would start OBEYING THE LAW, and stop taking potshots at anything in a squad car & start treating the cops with a little RESPECT, you might be surprised at how much that climate would change…”

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Facebook Friend Anthony Flacco writes:

“The BLM mindset is attempting to normalize being openly hostile and confrontational to any cop in any situation. It is a guarantee of tragedy, and I wish the black community would see it for what it is and begin teaching their young men to protect themselves instead of perpetuating the needless deaths.”

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Diane Dimond July 25, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Facebook Friend Dawn Dix writes:

“I wonder if the irony is lost on these protesters that the constitution protects their right to scream in the faces of those assigned to protect all citizens …the hesitation the police have already been feeling on how to react to a situation, with the advent of social media, phone cams, etc., has been exponentially increased with all of this anger in the country. They need to be respected about as much as our soldiers, as THEY are the ones on the front lines as well…24/7…imagine if you needed help and they weren’t there anymore? I shudder to think.”

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