It is with a heavy heart I write this article. The past two weeks have been emotional for peace officers across our Nation. Eight police officers from Dallas and Baton Rouge, collectively, have been assassinated out of hate for the jobs they do for our society and even more sadly, because of the color of their skin. The questions I hear most is why and when will this stop? As a Nation, we struggle to make sense of the senseless.
The morning after the assassinations of the five police officers in Dallas, I was contacted by various media groups wanting a comment. I struggled to make myself play the role of the “talking head” concerning this issue because I truly believe “talking heads” are part of the “why?” people are asking. The words they use do nothing more than inflame and sensationalize an issue that, in and of itself, has been politicalized. Words are very powerful - as powerful, if not more powerful, than any weapon made by man; for it is how we use our words that drives us to use those weapons.
I made it very clear that morning I was not going to be a “talking head” about this issue and pointed out what I have been saying for the past two years: the words and politics of fear, anger, and hate had led to the assassinations of police officers across our Nation. It is imperative our leaders start weighing their words more carefully and perhaps live by the Constitutional principles they all claim to uphold by giving police officers the same Due Process they demand for others. How, as a people who are governed by Constitutional principles, can we rush to judgment concerning the actions of our peace officers when we do not know any, let alone, all of the facts? Even more, how can we use these events, based on ignorance of those facts, to justify killing anyone let alone a police officer and more specifically a white police officer?
To the men and women of our Nation who put a badge on every day and go out and do one of the most difficult jobs there is, “Thank you”. To your families, “Thank you”. The toll your job has on you and your families is immense. I’ll never forget the night my then five-year old son ran up to me, grabbing me around the leg, as I walked out the door for my next shift. I’ll never forget his eyes as he looked up at me and said, “Daddy don’t let the bad guy get you tonight”. Why did he do this, you ask? He had heard on the evening news a police officer had been killed by a bad guy. Words can never thank you and your families enough for what you do for us - your willingness to lay your lives down for ours. We saw that willingness when those Dallas police officers came under fire.
They were there to protect people protesting them. During the protest they stood there and listened as the crowd spoke against them and their profession, and then the shots rang out. Those same police officers were there to protect the protester's 1st Amendment rights and listened to their harsh words against them. Those officers then began running toward the danger and became human shields for the same protesters who spoke out against them. They threw themselves down on those protesters to protect them from the bullets fired by a man who wanted to kill “white cops”. The men and women of the Dallas Police Department distinguished themselves that night and exemplified to the World and their Nation the true nature of those who wear the badge across our great Nation.
Since that time, the “talking heads” have continued to use words that only divide our Nation; but yet, something else has happened. There has been an awakening of the silent majority who are coming to the aid of their peace officers across this Nation. I would like to thank all of the everyday people who have stopped by the Sheriff’s Office at the Public Safety Building and the City of Spokane Valley Police Department’s precinct with cookies, pies, letters, and cards. Thank you for your outpouring of support. I ask for your continued help and support in healing our Country.
I have three people in history who I look towards as examples of how I want to live my life: George Washington, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. They stand out because they were willing to lay down their lives for others, and they knew standing for what they believed in could cost them their lives. Washington could have been king, he was offered the title, and he said no. He had all the power and gave it back to us, to the people, in hopes we would build a free and just society. Reverend King knew his stand for true freedom, equality and justice may cost him his life and ultimately it did. He gave his life in hopes that we would not let his sacrifice be in vain, that we would become the great, just, honorable, and united Nation we have the potential to be. What are we doing with their sacrifices, other than tearing ourselves apart?
I hear from all sides of this issue we need to engage in dialogue and talk about the disparities within law enforcement. I say the time for dialogue is over, it is time for true leadership to step in and pull both sides together; instead of talking about the issues, we need to find the root causes of these disparities which are dividing our Nation and solve them. We can do this if we hold onto the Dream that is America, where all men and women are created equally, one where little black boys and girls and little white boys and girls will one day join hands as sisters and brothers- MLK. Reverend King gave us a Dream, maybe we should be holding onto it and making it a reality. #HoldontotheDream.