It’s a job few people want.
It’s a job that is being doused in negativity.
It’s an incredible rewarding job to thousands.
It’s a job that has a daily opportunity to end lives and careers.
I’ve chosen to pursue this job and it scares me and excites me at the same time. I’m dealing with the fact that I could be Officer Shelby, that there could come a day that I make the wrong decision because I don’t know what the right decision is in a split second. I keep telling myself that of course I would choose my taser over my Glock, I would not assume there was a weapon but rather wait to confirm it’s existence, and there’s no way I would jump to conclusions based on the color of skin I see.
I tell myself all those things.
But, I’m human. I admit that sometimes, I look at people and immediately suspect that something is up. The Hispanic walking around Wal-Mart with a backpack. The Caucasian wearing a baseball hat, pulled up hoodie, and aviators driving a beat up Toyota with a picture of a grenade on the window. The African-American that keeps hitting on me after I’ve told him I’m married.
I see men and women on a daily basis and I instinctively assume they probably are not the upstanding, law abiding citizens I want to see. It’s profiling, and I’m damn good at it. I believe that with any job that interacts with the general public, the successful people will be excellent at profiling.
I know. Profiling is wrong right? Never judge a book by its cover? Officer Shelby judged a book by its cover and she’s now facing manslaughter charges. You should never judge.
But we do. And honestly, we have to. Gut instinct is a valuable tool and one that has saved millions of lives.
Here are the things that have been running through my head this week.
Officer Shelby was wrong. Terrance Crutcher was wrong.
Did he deserve to die? No. That’s what makes Officer Shelby wrong.
Did Officer Shelby make a decision that in a split second, she thought was right? Yes.
He was intoxicated, obviously. Was he a potential threat? Absolutely. Like I said earlier though, I have a strong suspicion that deadly force was not necessary. A Taser could have easily brought the situation under control, and Crutcher would be waiting to see a judge instead of Shelby.
Wanna know who else is wrong?
The media and YOU.
As far down as I can scroll on my Facebook feed, I see two types of people.
Team Shelby, who can justify her actions and defend her.
Team Crutcher, who can justify his actions and defend him.
And I see the media handing you both sides. Liberal websites litter my feed with what a good man Crutcher was and conservative websites litter my feed with how Shelby was justified because he had a rap sheet.
What. The. Literal. Fuck.
In a case like this, there doesn’t have to be a right person and a wrong person. There CAN be two wrong people, and there is! Let me throw some more gasoline on this fire while I’m at it.
Every time a black man is shot by a cop, the media feeds you the same freaking story. The black man had his hands up, no weapon visible, family man that worked hard. The cop is obviously racist. A few days later, the inevitable rap sheet comes out, maybe a video is disclosed with a weapon being brandished by the victim, and suddenly the right wing is showing hatred for the victim and the cop is a hero. The left wing goes into meltdown mode, ‘protests’ break out complete with destruction of businesses, looting, and more murder because a cop doesn’t have the right to kill a black man.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you to pull every officers gun and force them to use a Taser. That would be ridiculous. It’s a known fact at this point that the Charlotte, NC shooting was absolutely justified and I’m positive it isn’t the only one.
People will blame the training of the officer.We need more training! If they had been trained properly, this wouldn’t have happened!
Come on. I’m kicking my own ass preparing for the police academy. After 26 weeks of academy, I’ll continue visiting the range on a monthly basis, and my department will require an additional 40 hours of training every year.
Please tell me more about training.
People will blame the black man. He should have obeyed the officers commands. Really? Do you have children? When they don’t listen to you and continue hitting their little brother or sister (an imminent threat!) are you going to resort to executioner because they weren’t listening?
Two ridiculous perspectives. And a society that is demanding both of them.
This scares the hell out of me. Because I’m a white female seeking employment with a police department in a highly diverse city. But I chose this.
Why would I choose this?
Because I believe that good will always overcome evil. I’m incredibly thankful to every officer I’ve come in contact with. The ones that mentored me, molded me. The ones that have protected me. The ones that have fought for me. I’m called to be that person. A mentor, a protector, a defender.
I’m praying that I’m never faced with taking another life but I have to be prepared for it. So I’m also praying for discernment to make the right decision at that time. I’m also praying for an extension of grace. If I have to make the unthinkable choice, are you going to destroy me? Call me racist? Tell me that I had another choice to make that could lead to me not coming home?
This is not an easy subject to discuss. But we have to discuss it. We have to acknowledge that sometimes, there are two wrong people. And sometimes, there is one wrong person and another that will be spending some time with a therapist.
Being a police officer is no small task. Every day somebody may not be going home and that’s a tragedy. It’s also a reality. Stop blaming. Stop letting the media control you.
As I tell my youngest daughter, you have a brain in that head of yours and YOU ARE SMART. Show me how smart you are.