"The law? Whose law? The law runs a man down out here, just like them cattle." Ezra (Joe Seneca) Silverado (1984).
Open a news web site, an email from a heartbroken child or check Facebook and you'll see what kind of week we've had. An officer in a beach town in Oregon, a Colorado sheriff's deputy. Two deputies in Maryland, a Fargo cop. A major in Georgia. All murdered in the line of duty in one week.
In the midst of it, a column from a well-known writer - something about cops not being "the good guys." It is the usual litany of scandals, none of them news. Pointless, to a true believer, to observe that these resulted in arrests and convictions. We are, in this writer's eyes, an indication of the failure of a political party...or, some such.
A friend sends a text - "What happens when all the cops walk away?"
It is an interesting question. Truly, in the event officers stayed home (why should we serve a community when one of their opinion-leaders calls us names, while we are being slaughtered) there would be no one to call when...
This is the audio of an active shooter incident in Omaha. Yesterday. Someone fired shots at a business and then fired on responding officers. They were able to safely negotiate his surrender. But, what if they refused to respond, because it was too dangerous. Since no one cares if the officers who responded lived or died, maybe cops should shy away from these situations and let them resolve themselves.
A superficial look at the city of Baltimore gives a glimpse into that hypothetical. Officers feeling abandoned by their community leaders (whether this is objectively reasonable or not is another essay) do not pursue criminal conduct with the same energy as they have previously. In effect, they voluntarily withdraw from the "chalk on the cleats" philosophy that says we will use all of the lawful playing field against our opponents. They play it safe, physically and tactically. They are, in a sense, mere spectators to lawlessness.
But... I may have the privilege of riding with a Baltimore cop in a week's time. I'll bet I know what I'm going to hear, pro to pro.
Bullshit. We would never abandon the citizens of our community to the barbarians. The hell with the politicians and the brass. We serve a higher purpose. Okay, maybe we're looking out more for each other. Maybe we're making doubly sure that what we are doing is rock solid. But, we answer calls, we look for criminal activity and we serve with honor.
Law enforcement officers aren't going anywhere. If a citizen picks up the phone and calls for help, cops (whether they are called police officers, sheriff's deputies or troopers) will respond. This has been an expensive week. We mourn, we struggle and we shed tears.
No one will have to know what it is like if cops refused to show up. We feel a sense of duty. To you. And to each other. Maybe the average person doesn't understand that level of commitment. That's perfectly okay.