Jason E. Fort
That Thin Blue Line
I was lacing up my tennis shoes after changing out of my uniform and into my work-out clothes. This very nice older gentleman walks up to me in the locker room and taps me on the shoulder. He points to my shirt draped over the locker door, and says, "I noticed that shiny badge there, sir - and I just want to say thank you for what you do." I was taken aback. I have received a lot more of these random comments of appreciation ever since these awful occurrences in Ferguson and New York have happened, but this hit closer to home because it was outside of my work setting, and said with the sincerest of voices. It made me appreciate the field of work I am in, but more importantly, it made me appreciate all those 'in blue' who have way more risky jobs than mine. I am a training officer, and a good percentage of my work takes me out of 'the line of fire' so to speak. So although I still get to respond to calls every now and then (Maybe even arrest someone once in a blue moon), I am not in the thick of things. I am not out there on the road, wondering - what car am I going to have to pull over next? Who is sitting behind the wheel? What is waiting for me when I walk up to the driver's side or passenger side window? What is waiting inside that house that we just got a call about, and all our dispatchers could get out of the caller was that somebody had a gun? What is that psychiatric patient who we know is a combat veteran thinking about doing? How many people in this crowd of rowdy individuals is armed? What if one of them pulls a gun on me? What if I see a guy with a gun, and he holds it out but doesn't point it at anyone? What if I have to fight someone who tries to take my gun? How long can I last? What if that person I just took to jail decides to file a false complaint? How can I prove I did nothing wrong? Were there any cameras involved? Did I need to strike that guy who pulled a knife on me before I ended up arresting him? What do I do if some guy with an open chest knife wound wants to fight me? Do I tase him? Or how about some of the lesser decisions they have to make? Do I stay up all night, because my shift is about to swing back to night shift, or do I go ahead and sleep, and hope I can stay awake all through the next night after being up most of the day before? Do I try to get in some extra practice at the shooting range this weekend to keep myself sharp...or do I spend the weekend with my kid? Do I call in sick to work because I feel like crap, or do I help my platoon out because we've been stretched a little thin this week with other people having to miss work? Do I accept the half-off, or better yet free price the restaurant owner just offered for lunch on my way out the door, or do I go ahead and pay full price like everyone else? Do I pull that car over because I saw that 'California roll' at the stop sign, or do I let them drive for another day? Do I spend time following up on that case that I know will go nowhere because of lack of evidence, or do I just focus on patrolling my beat today? Do I rest these next couple of days off, or go train at the gym and maybe learn a thing or two about defending myself? These are just a small fraction of the things cops wrestle with every single day. These are things that, although I have had experience with, I don't have to do every single day. The police officers I have worked with, and the ones I still do....have to make decisions and answer these questions all the time. But here's the crazy part - they VOLUNTEER to do this - for YOU! If you are not in law enforcement, they do this for YOU. If you are in law enforcement but off duty, they do it for YOU. They live to protect and serve. There is something in their very nature that makes them have an innate urge to protect those around them and make them feel safe. Not only do they protect and serve, but they try to uphold the standard for what is right, and what is wrong. They do this because they want to. They do this because someone HAS TO. They face Monday Morning quarterbacks, cowardice politicians, killers, violent criminals, thieves, druggies, wife beaters, child molesters, drunks, drug dealers, child abusers, animal abusers, speeders, car accidents, fires, rabid dogs, snakes, and even terrorists. And they do it for YOU and ME. Matthew 5:9 in the Holy Bible states "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." In all of the things I mentioned above, those men and women of blue try to keep the peace through it all. If the peace is broken, they try to make peace out of the situation. If you have never served in law enforcement, please read these words with understanding. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you do their job? Is there maybe a reason you don't do their job? Again, somebody has to. A lot of times, there is a thin blue line between right and wrong. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about the people that walk that line. I just wanted to take a moment to thank those people - who protect that thin blue line. Thank you, brothers and sisters in Blue!