On Wednesday of this week the City of Ferguson, Mo., acted on a decision. Who made that decision, I’m not sure, but I do wonder how other cops are going to feel about it: A plaque and metallic likeness of Michael Brown was installed by a city crew near the spot where the 18-year-old was shot and killed last summer by a Ferguson police officer. Wednesday would have been Brown’s 19th birthday.
Your opinion of this decision and subsequent action by the city will probably be based on your perception of what happened last August between Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson, and maybe more importantly why it happened.
The facts are that Michael Brown committed a strong-arm robbery at a convenience-type store and a short time later attacked Wilson, pushing him into his squad and punching him in the face. Seconds later, outside the car, Wilson shot and killed the 6’4” 300-lb. Brown.
The wide speculation is that Wilson is a white racist cop who only approached Brown because of the color of his skin. If the stop never happened, Michael Brown would still be alive.
Either way, citizens started building a makeshift memorial for Brown, so the city decided to make it permanent by installing both the aforementioned plaque and a bronze dove 100 feet away.
The people have spoken and the politicians have acted on their wishes.
Those that care about remembering Michael Brown have something to satisfy that need. Those who don’t care, well, they aren’t going to be bothered by this small memorial.
No harm. This is a win-win.
Or is it?
Do We Matter?
Here’s a question: Does it matter what police officers think?
Cops are used to being demonized. They don’t like it but they’re used to it by now. But is this demonization, this blanket indictment of all cops and the uncontested accusations, beginning to take a toll on the profession?
Does it matter?
Here’s a fact: Police officers are human beings with feelings that can be hurt, emotions that can be wrenched, and perspectives that are worthy of serious consideration.
No, we’re not perfect. But most of the time we make the news, it’s when we either screw up or there’s a belief and hope that we have screwed up. At the very least, our detractors are always given a platform to muddy the water.
We don’t make the news when we save lives.
We don’t make it when we risk our own.
We don’t make it when we do everything right.
Nope. We make the headlines when there’s even the slightest hint of impropriety. And if we’re eventually proven to be in the right, one of two things happen:
- The story just goes away with no apology; or
- The facts and reality are simply ignored and the false narrative continues.
And it sucks. It bothers us.
According to the investigation, the prosecutors, the DOJ and the Grand Jury Darren Wilson acted within the limits of the law and was in fear of his life when he fired his weapon. His professional life is over and his personal life will never be the same. But virtually no one cares.
Michael Brown on the other hand is dead. It’s tragic, sad and life-altering for his family and friends. Because of his decisions that day, stores have burned, neighborhoods were ravaged, a couple of cops got shot and a narrative was established. There continues to be a saturation of news condemning an entire profession along the lines of this narrative.
And now a permanent memorial has been erected in his name.
On that very same day 425 miles to the northwest of Ferguson in Omaha, Neb., a young woman was murdered: shot in the throat by a violent felon, she died instantly.
This 29-year-old woman coached at the local Boys and Girls Club. She was a Girl Scout leader and volunteered for the Special Olympics. She even participated in a program designed to redirect gang members to sports activities in an effort to turn their lives around.
She was also a new mom delivering a daughter named Olivia Ruth into this world three months premature. Olivia was set to leave the hospital within hours of when her mother was mercilessly gunned down.
The woman’s name is Kerrie Orozco and she was a cop.
Orozco was literally hours away from picking her baby up from the hospital and going on maternity leave.
Imagine that. Living through the nightmare of almost losing your baby. Battling through the ups and downs. Going back to work when little Olivia was finally in the clear. And the day Orozco was going to bring her baby home to a life of love with her, her husband and two step-children, she is brutally murdered by someone who spent his days victimizing the weak.
Orozco could have rode her last day out at a desk, but that’s not who she was. She was a cop and she had a duty. There was a bad guy out there, the type everyone else prayed to avoid. He needed to be arrested and it was her job to be on the team that did just that.
And now she is dead.
Where are the protests? The vitriol? The outrage by media?
Where is the conversation and denunciation of criminals dependent on drugs, who spend their lives victimizing the weak and innocent? Where is the screaming for tougher sentences? Where are the crowds yelling that “Blue Lives Matter”? Where are the politicians and pundits shouting that they’ve had enough?
How are we, as a profession, as human beings, supposed to feel about that? So we do what we do when we lose one of our own: mourn with respect and cry alone.
Question: Will Kerrie Orozco get a public memorial?