By Ali Schultz
You are 7 years old. You have the world at your fingertips. You have your whole life ahead of you. The sky’s the limit.
Will you choose to float in the labyrinth of space, visiting other planets and naming new stars? Will you choose to be an actor or actress and bring raw emotion into the living rooms of families worldwide? Or will you choose to wear blue armor, protect our streets, enforce our laws and be proud to call yourself a member of the police force?
Even when the world around us is filled with unfortunate situations, we must remind ourselves whom we owe respect and honor to for protecting us. These days, police officers do not receive the gratitude and praise they undoubtedly deserve.
When confronted by a peer on whether my decision to write this piece was “timely enough” or whether I feared offending anyone, I knew it was my duty more than ever to highlight a major downfall in society.
I am not here to share my personal opinions on the unfortunate death of Trayvon Martin or the riots that ensued. I will definitely not be one to say police officers should not be careful about being trigger-happy or being held accountable for their actions that take place in the line of duty. They signed up for their positions knowing the accountability they would be held to.
But recently, violence against police officers and the lack of respect our generation appears to have for the police force is nothing short of pathetic. The public has a right to be upset about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri with Michael Brown if they would like, just as they have a right to be upset with Trayvon Martin. As Americans, we are fortunate enough to voice those opinions and petition against injustices we believe have been committed.
However, Americans are losing sight of the sacrifice and vulnerability officers face every single day when waking up in the morning and suiting up to dedicate their lives to preserve safety on the streets of America. I am not saying every police officer in America is a martyr; trust me, everyone has their faults and every group of people will have its bad seeds. But what I am saying is that the police faces injustices every single day and they do not gain the same recognition or praise that they should because “they signed up for the job” or “they should be punished for the mistakes they make.”
Sergeant Scott Lunger, a 15-year veteran, pulled a man over on July 22 for what appeared to be reckless driving through a residential neighborhood. Unfortunately, a routine traffic stop went very wrong, and one of the finest officers from Hayward, Calif., was taken too soon, leaving behind two beautiful daughters.
A devout softball coach and celebrated member of the community lost his life by just showing up and doing his job. All who knew Lunger described him as a great father and respected man; the community could all agree they lost a great man that day. Daughter Ashton Lunger in her memorial service speech said, “[Dad], you made whatever sacrifice, including the ultimate sacrifice, to make this world and mine a better and safer place.” Lunger remembers her dad as a “badass.” We should all recognize officers as badasses.
Fast forward to Friday, Aug. 7. A detective in Birmingham, Ala. was beaten senselessly unconscious with a pistol with no retaliation. Found lying bloody on the floor, the detective
was rushed to the hospital, and when he was asked why he did not fight back, he responded, “I hesitated because I didn’t want to be in the media like I am right now,” according to a source at CNN. Pictures of the beaten detective surfaced all over social media with tweets that made me sick to my stomach. Tweets read, “Pistol whipped his ass to sleep. [emojis] #FckDaPolice.” Another equally ignorant tweet read, “Pistol pimped his face n um chillen now.”
Excuse me, but are you fucking kidding me? Where are the riots for justice for these men? Where is the nonstop, in-your-face media coverage for Ashton and her family highlighting how good of a man her father was and that he lost his life way too soon? Where is the justice and the people speaking out for the detective who was afraid to stick up for himself against a serial criminal, so instead he lay limp on the ground to spare himself the media scrutiny?
Another instance that hits especially close to home is Carl Howell, the 35-year-old Carson City sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call. Howell leaves behind four children ages 7 through 12 and a wife.
Now I bet if you surveyed 10 random people at the national level, the majority would be unable to share any of the details about theses cases following the brutalities against police officers. However, when asked about what occurred in Ferguson, many people could share details of this event. Where is the justice in this? The equality?
Police lives should matter just as much as any other. We should mourn the same and have the same sense of passion and anger we have seeing a man or woman lose their lives fighting for our safety as we do when others lose their lives.
Our generation is losing sight of the risk officers face every day when putting on their uniform and heading to work. It seems we are forgetting that they too are wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. They are someone’s children. They put on their uniforms every day with a sense of uncertainty, but they do it to protect the lives of utter strangers. That to me is unwavering heroism.
We must not forget the steadfast courage it takes every day to wake up and perform their job to the best of their ability. Their lives are at risk at all times and we must acknowledge this.
We should take the time to teach our youth how heroic police officers are and also take the time to extend gratitude to them for their unceasing service. We must recognize their lives in a respectful light and acknowledge all they put on the line every single day.
The police force does wonders for us at a national level, and in this time of chaos it is going unnoticed. We must restore respect for the police.
So next time you see a police officer on the streets, take the time to remember at one point they were just kids that had aspirations to one day grow up to protect our families, streets and well- beings.
I take my hat off to the police force. Thank you for all that you do in a time where your job doesn’t receive the gratitude it deserves. Thank you for being heroes.
Alexandra Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached on twitter at @Alischultzzz or firstname.lastname@example.org