Sam has a new scar.
It's kind of around the outside of his right eye. It isn't huge and it isn't horrible, but, if you look, you see a scar.
He got it a few months ago at work. He went out to a call and someone there was out of control and trying to hurt another person. Sam was arresting this out of control person, and the perp decided to fight and got lucky and managed to head butt Sam in the face.
(Remember that got lucky part. We'll come back to it.)
So, the situation was managed and after it settled down and Sam had been looked over, I got a call. I was driving home from the zip line at the time. I'm going to share a paraphrased and slightly edited version of our conversation for the sake of protecting the perp and to delete all the grown up words I said.
Me: Hey there handsome!
Sambo: Babe, I don't want you to freak out, but something happened at work.
Me: Is it bad?
Sambo: No. Could have been worse. I handled it.
Me: Are you hurt?
Sambo: Yes, but not bad. (He then tells me the story and I will admit, it is hilarious in some ways, but I really can't share it.)
Me: Are you sure you are okay?
Sambo: I'll be swollen and have a scar, but I handled myself.
Me: Good. Is the perp okay and can I beat the crap out of that person?
Sambo: The perp is fine and no, sorry. I had another deputy with me and we handled the situation.
Me: As long as you come home.
Then we talked more and more and then I got home, blah blah blah.
I need you to know something. It is my worst nightmare to get a call that something has happened. I do pretty good at not focusing, but it is there, in the back of my head at all times. When Sam told me what happened, I really wanted to beat that person down. I was furious. Sam was just doing his job and this person tried to hurt him and could have hurt him. I'm not okay with it. I will never be okay with it.
Now, that perp was lucky for a few reasons.
1. The fact that he managed to get that cheap shot in was pure luck. Sam's is a very good fighter.Remember, he has a black belt and he is also an arrest techniques and ground fighting instructor. It is hard to get much past him. Over the years, more than one idiot has decided to try to fight and I think this is the first time someone had a shot at getting the upper hand, thank goodness.
2. Sam is a good enough fighter and well trained enough to be able to rationally think past his pain and manage the situation while help was on it's way. He didn't have to jump from Plan A to Plan Z because he was prepared. This is not typical of all cops. Sam is not the norm. Something to remember when you see other cases where things get violent.
3. There was another person there to help. This makes a HUGE difference. That person could step in and help manage things. Mentally and physically, this is pretty important. I am quite certain this is why things went better than they could have.
4. I wasn't there. I kid you not, I would have found a skillet and beaten that perp until someone pulled me off.
In the end, it all worked out, right? Bad person went to jail, no harm, no foul.
But, there is that scar.
That scar is a reminder to me. It reminds me that it could have been worse. It reminds me that all it takes is a little luck, good or bad, to change everything. It reminds me that good people can end up in bad situations. It reminds me that cops are humans too and aren't made of steel.
I have been bothered by people who are so angry about law enforcement in the US right now. Some people make valid points, but most just don't get it. They don't live it. They don't see it. It doesn't mold their existence. Most importantly, they fail to see that they are part of the problem.
You see, we decided long ago that we needed guardians to protect us from those who may hurt us. We needed sheriffs, police officers, security guards, soldiers. We armed them and told them to uphold our laws and protect us from evil. We didn't really consider the cost. We didn't think of what it does to our guardians, both physically and mentally. We forgot that they have families too and that they want to go home to them at the end of a shift. We failed to remember that they are human and they won't get it right every single time (or, the way we see as right from our perspective). That is on us.
We screwed up.
I believe law enforcement needs a change, but it isn't what you think. It isn't about race, religion. That issue isn't exclusive to law enforcement, that is a people thing. It isn't about income. Again, people across the board issue there.
It is about treating the souls of our guardians. It is about remembering that they are fallible and forgiving when they screw up. The stakes are very high for them. If they mess up in a big, scary situation, someone could die, and that someone could be the perp, or it could be an innocent, or, it could be them. It is about being part of the solution by following laws and trying to see understanding when something goes wrong instead of pointing fingers and seeking vengeance. It is about creating peace so our guardians can be at peace too.
It is about seeing the scars and understanding the cost.
This isn't a black and white (no pun intended) thing and this conversation isn't over. I am not trying to put a blanket over every officer out there. Some of them are stupid heads (editing the grown up words, people), however, most of the ones I know are good, flawed humans trying to help their community.
I am sharing an experience I have had and what I see from my place in this world. I would hope you would take a moment and stand in my shoes, not so you will agree, but so you will have another viewpoint to take into consideration. I would hope you will remember when you post anti police statements that you are emotionally scarring me and my family.
It's just a scar. But, it hurts and it never goes away entirely.
I would hope you would take that into consideration and be a bit gentler, if only for the guardian you know and his family. Be a part of the change. Let's make this better together.