By McKenna Martin
We’ve all seen the news. All there seems to be is one version of how everything is told: Negatively. We see things about the government, stock prices, poverty rates, and, of course, the problems going on with law enforcement. One can’t go two thumb swipes on Facebook without seeing a post about how someone somewhere has been verbally or physically abused by a law enforcement officer some way or somehow. People see these posts and don’t think about the other side of the story- the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, and wives who are the target of that post. I am a daughter of a retired police officer.Let me tell you, many of those articles are inaccurate.
Being the daughter of a police officer came with benefits and downfalls. First of all, dating? Please. I can’t look at a guy without my father calling in reinforcements. Then again, I will never have a man protect me and care for my safety as much as him. Take your daughter to work day had a different meaning when I got to sit in the police car and turn on the lights. It’s no boring office job! But with the good comes the bad.
When I was younger, my father worked nights and I was always too young to understand why my mother would get so worried whenever my dad would put on his uniform for the night. To me, it was just my dad putting on his business attire, but to my mother it was much more. I saw him putting on the bullet-proof vest under his uniform shirt, duty belt with a variety of tools, and the shiny badge to top it all off and thought nothing of it. My mother saw him putting on the vest that could save his life, the belt that had his life line on it, and the thing that could identify him if something were to ever happen to him.
As I got older, I began to understand my mother’s concerns. Most kids my age had dads that would go to work in the morning and be home by dinner time. When they would talk about their day it would be things that happened at the office that didn’t go right or a business proposal that got turned down. I realized it wasn’t normal to not have your father at dinner or on the rare occasion you did, the talk wouldn’t be about a drug bust or a weird call that they went to. Normal kids didn’t have to worry whether their fathers were going to come home in the morning, but I did.
My father was an officer for the Rochester Police department, located in upstate New York. Rochester is, unfortunately, a crime-heavy city filled with some people that have bad intentions and his job was to stop those intentions. Sounds simple right? Wrong. Add in people shooting, yelling, spitting, and doing anything they can to stop you from catching them. I bet you’re thinking ‘well if they would just talk to these people, the situation wouldn’t escalate to those extremes. Wrong again. Some people know what will happen if they get caught and will do anything to make sure it doesn’t happen. Imagine you’re that officer that just came across something on a traffic stop. You go up to the car and talk to the person about what happened. This person begins yelling at you and telling you that they weren’t doing anything wrong so you tell them to step out of the car. but instead of reaching for the door they reach below or next to them. Do you know what they are doing? What are they going to pull out? If you can’t answer these questions neither can the officers. To the public, it’s “Police Officer Shoots Innocent Citizen” but what the public doesn’t see is the other side of the story. The family that gets that officer home, the emotional scars and pain that comes with taking that life, the uncertainty if the right thing was done, the possible job loss, and the public hate that comes with that split second decision. I can’t imagine my life without my father and I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to either.
While there are a few bad police officers out there, the good highly outweigh the bad. There are always going to be those bad apples in every profession from doctors to retail workers but that doesn’t mean every doctor or retail worker you meet is going to be bad. It’s the same way with this. Don’t let the things you see on social media and the news effect the way you see law enforcement. If you’re ever wondering the justification for some decisions that are made, put yourself in their position. Would you think twice when your life could be in danger? How long would you try just talking? Is it really worth making your kids grow up without you? I’m lucky that my father is still here and has retired from police work, but there are a lot of people who still have to worry if they will hear the car pull in the driveway at night. Think before jumping to conclusions. That’s my father you’re talking about.