I’m the son of a cop. My dad was the son of a cop. And, yes, my dad’s dad was also the son of a cop. They all served the city of Evansville, Indiana.
In 2011, I eagerly became a police officer in Evansville myself.
My father is still on the job. He’s in his 29th year. My grandfather served for 39 years, and my great grandfather for 23. My family has been serving Evansville continuously since 1943.
I grew up knowing exactly what a cop was. I watched my father and listened to the stories—both good and bad. I also paid close attention to how the public viewed the police. Most looked to them with respect and gratitude. They saw the police for who they were: regular people and members of the community. Leaders.
I definitely have a unique perspective on the profession. I know that police officers are regular people with their own concerns, beliefs, fears, and values.
But I also understand how police officers are different than normal people.
Like everybody else, the insanity of 2020—starting with the coronavirus outbreak and now the sudden onslaught of hate directed at my profession—has left me with some time to be introspective. Last week, I wrote down a few of these thoughts.
It goes without saying that every single one of us needs hope. Hope is what carries us through the day. Sometimes we hope that the evening will be kinder than the daytime was.
Hope is what drives so many of us to work harder and to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. It’s what keeps life fresh and eventful. We’ve all had hope, continue to hold onto hope, and, at times, have lost hope.
But hope is what keeps us sane. It keeps us human. And when we encounter dark times, we need hope more than any other moment in our lives.
In many ways within this country, hope comes in the form of badge—a police badge.
The badge is a symbol of something bigger than any one person. It represents the fact that there are good people out there willing to stand against bad people. It’s a symbol which calls out that the person wearing it is here to serve and protect. It’s a sign that there will always be someone there to help—someone to give people hope.
The police do so much more than the way they are portrayed by primarily uninitiated media and some unsensible politicians.
For most people in this country, the police offer comfort and security 24/7. In most of our towns and cities, the police are not viewed as hired mercenaries, but as true members of the community.
They also offer hope that someone will be there when the devil comes knocking on the door. They’re help when that suspicious sound downstairs in the middle of the night is too loud to ignore. They’re solace when a loved one is in harm’s way. They’re a voice to a young mind which has never had much guidance, and a hand for a lost child in a crowd of strangers.
And when violence inevitably comes to your neighborhood, police officers are heroes. Their bravery in the face of dangerous or extraordinary events is incredible.
Behind that badge, there’s a human being who has been tasked with making sure that others do not have to see, hear, or do the things the police do every single day. There’s hope in that.
The concept of the “police” has always been around in one form or another—far before this country was founded. When America was born, we liked the idea of someone watching over others to maintain order and help keep each new settlement safe. Over many years, these “watchmen,” tasked with keeping watch over the area streets at night, evolved into paid police forces. And so began the story of the police officer and the badge. It’s not a story of one man, celebrity, politician, or athlete—just a badge.
And it’s something that was bigger than any one person could be.
It was the eye in the night and the detective on the case. It was the promise of safety and protector of the law. Most importantly, it became hope for help.
Soon, everyone knew there would be someone there for you if you needed help. If you have an angry customer, you can call the police. If your ex is threatening you, you can call the police. When someone needs a friend on the ledge of a lonely bridge, they call the police. When someone is breaching the peace—be it of the mind or public—the police are there to handle it.
We are all so fortunate to have this available to us and we should never take it for granted. The police as a concept is one of the greatest evolutions of security that “We the People” have afforded ourselves over the years.
The police badge. The sheriff. The state trooper. The constable. All symbols of good that will never not be there. They’re the reason we will always have hope to hold onto.
The badge is also empowered by the community. The officer was born in and raised by his or her community, lives and eats in the community, and as such is the community. We must protect ourselves within our communities by standing with our police, working with our police, standing up for our police, and serving with our police.
Because they are the same as us. We must continue to hold onto this mindset of unity: One symbol of community is one symbol of good. And that includes the police. After all, it’s not possible to have public prosperity without public safety! Safety is the foundation of a successful society. It allows us to thrive, build, love freely, and embrace the truths of the Constitution.
If we want a safe tomorrow, we must continue to stand with our police today—just like we did yesterday. It’s our only hope.
Just like we hope for them to answer our call in our time of need, the police are hoping for us—the community—to be right by their side when they need it most. We need the police. We need hope.