Disparage Those who Protect? Be Ashamed. Be Forewarned.

By Jim Glennon  |   May 26, 2021

“Why do you watch war movies?”

My wife regularly asks me that question. We do have some similar interests when it comes to TV and movies, but not much. So, we regularly find ourselves in separate rooms indulging our own particular proclivities. From where she sits, I can hear whiney housewives from various large cities complaining about what a burden their riches are for them and their spoiled, privileged offspring.

From mine, well, she hears a lot of gunfire.

Willing Sacrifice

“Why do you watch war movies?”

My wife noticed that over the past few weeks I’ve been watching a whole bunch of WWII films. I finally watched the miniseries “The Pacific.”  A few days before that I watched the 2019 movie “Midway” for about the fifth time. This weekend, while editing videos and PowerPoint programs, I had “Band of Brothers” on for background distraction.

It did distract me…a lot…even though I own several DVD sets of the miniseries and I’ve seen each episode at least two dozen times.

“Why do you watch war movies?”

Normally my wife doesn’t expect an answer. If I say anything at all it’s usually something about the excitement, the history and generally being a guy. But this time I was in a particular mood, so I responded from the gut: “Sacrifice. That’s why.”

I tried to expound on that sentiment, but I failed. Miserably. Plus, she was distracted because some “wife” on TV was suffering a crisis. Apparently, another “wife” said something mean about her dress or something which made her cry and caused her mascara run.

Better anyway, as I just couldn’t articulate what I felt. Unable to express how completely awed I am by the sacrifice of these men. I couldn’t explain why I feel shame for my triviality and pettiness when I complain about the most mundane of my privileged conveniences suddenly being inconvenient. Conveniences that their sacrifice allows me to enjoy. Conveniences that I, for some reason, believe I am entitled to. In reality, I am not.

Sacrifice.

The incredible sacrifices these men and women made is indescribable, valiant, beyond heroic, and mostly forgotten, if not disparaged, by the privileged masses today.

These people laid their lives on the line for their country, for strangers and especially for the men and women around them.

Watch “Midway.” Consider the reality. These pilots, knowing the majority of them weren’t coming back from their missions, fought to get into those planes, take off and attack their enemy. Marvel at the fact that several of them jumped back into questionable aircraft after experiencing the terror of hundreds of guns firing at them while they tried to hit a moving target that was almost invisible because of the smoke, flak and explosions enveloping their planes. Ponder the sheer horror of watching dozens of their friends being blown out of the sky by anti-aircraft fire.

Band of Brothers. I’ve read almost all the books about those men. A fact only alluded to in the series is how many of those paratroopers, wounded, went AWOL from the hospital, not to flee the military and avoid the fighting but, incredibly, to return back to the front and join their company in battle!

Not only are their sacrifices and amazing bravery not considered by the masses of today, but their efforts and sacrifices are often vilified. Vilified by those who possess neither honor nor courage. People who live peacefully and safely because of their sacrifice. People who are so entrenched in cushioned lives, they have come to believe they are victims of violence if someone disagrees with them!

It is mind-blowing!

Surprisingly, the gulf between respect for men and women in uniform and the populace they protect is historical and dates back to the Revolutionary War.

People are suspicious of those in uniform with power and authority, no matter their sacrifice nor how much is owed. That lack of respect and the dishonoring of our nation’s heroes comes with a risk.

What if no one was willing to serve and sacrifice?

The Honor and Sacrifice of Law Enforcement

Let’s segue to criminal justice.

Being a cop for 30 years and in and around the profession now for over 40, I’ve always strongly resisted the use of the word ‘hero’ when I describe those in law enforcement.

Why?

Because most of them are uncomfortable with that moniker. They don’t think of themselves as heroes and they don’t join the profession to become one.

But, I’m changing course.

Those in law enforcement are heroes! They absolutely act heroically. They are honorable. They sacrifice. And you know how often?

Every – single – solitary- day!!

They prove this every time they answer the call. Which is constantly!

Think about what we ask of them: The impossible!

The police in this country aren’t just the last line of defense against evil, they are the default problem solvers for each and every one of society’s ills!

Consider…

A family member talking about suicide? Call the police.

Leaves blowing on your lawn because the neighbor won’t rake their yard? Call the police.

Squirrel in the attic, deer in the backyard, racoon in the garage, birds crapping on your patio? Call the police.

Dog sick, cat sick, grandma sick? Call the police.

Suspicious person on your block? Call the police.

Man with a gun shooting up the Walmart? Call the police.

Woman walking down the street mumbling to herself and cutting her arm with a knife? Call the police.

Hear a noise downstairs in the middle of the night? Call the police.

Hear a noise upstairs in the middle of the day? Call the police.

You don’t like fireworks going off on the Fourth of July at nine in the evening? Call the police.

Your father just dropped to the ground clutching his chest? Call the police.

Neighbors are making noise, left their garage door open, left a light on that points in the direction of your house? Call the police.

Armed robbery just occurred? Call the police.

Loud cars, speeding autos, your vehicle just got stolen? Call the police.

Traffic accident? Call the police.

My son stopped breathing? Call the police.

House fire? Call the police.

Active shooter in your school? Everyone in the school will call the police.

Mental health office has a subject that the mental health experts can’t calm down? Those psychiatric professionals will call the police.

And the police respond. Every-single-time!

The expectations of many in the public, many in the media, the many activists and too many politicians? Well, they expect that not only will the police come and handle the issue, but handle it perfectly based on each individual’s perception and concept of perfection.

In many cases there are multiple people involved; combatants, relatives, suspects, witnesses, bystanders, victims and perpetrators. Each with their own skewed idea of what it is the police should do. How they should act. What they should say. How the situation should be rectified.

In the world of video where police encounters can be viewed by the masses, opinions are plentiful.  And those with no honor, those that benefit the most from division and hate, will disparage, condemn, and criticize using the vilest of terms and language. They will call those that respond and risk their lives everything from racists to murderers in spite of obvious facts and having not the slightest of clues of what it is they are talking about.

Such behavior and sentiments are not new. Throughout history there has been an odd line of thought about those who protect and it goes something like this:  “Someone has to keep me and my family safe. I don’t want to do it, but I do want, need and deserve such protection. I expect it to be provided. But bother me not about the protectors or how they accomplish their mission. Shield me from them and the ugliness of what they’re protecting me from.”

The police, for whatever reasons, every single day put themselves in harm’s way. The job seeps into their souls and literally destroys their physical and mental health.

Cherish Those Who Protect

Much like the military who we should be honoring this weekend, they don’t need or seek out accolades or thanks. But they don’t want to be disparaged and demonized for what it is they do for you.

We have turned our back on those who served in our military throughout history. Once they have done their job and provided us with the blanket of safety, many would rather they just go away until we need them again.

Our former military personnel are committing suicide at an unconscionable rate. That should be recognized as this country’s greatest shame!

We have abandoned them! We have disparaged their sacrifices, criticized what it is they needed to do.

We are now doing that to our police.

And quite frankly I’m sick and tired of those who sacrifice nothing, those who lack any semblance of courage, those devoid of honor, brazenly criticizing the police with impunity.

Police officers save so many more lives than they reluctantly take and that is a fact beyond argument.

Continue disparaging them as human beings and there will be dire consequences for us citizens who sleep well at night knowing that there are people who willingly sacrifice for the betterment of society.

If the police aren’t supported by their bosses and the politicians, if they are demonized by the media and biased activists benefiting from the widening divide, what will be the result?

If honest and true efforts to stop crime and protect the weak and innocent are met with derisive contempt how will the police respond?

If you wonder, look at the violent crime rates in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, New York, Austin, St. Louis and Minneapolis to name but a few.

People are dying and the demonizing continues. Police recruit candidates are below historic lows. Veteran cops are quitting, retiring or pulling back from proactivity.

Robert Kennedy said it best: “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”

This is playing out in real time right before our collective eyes.

Where will we be in a year if the vile vitriol continues?

Cherish those who protect.

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Lt. Jim Glennon (ret.) is the owner and lead instructor for Calibre Press. He is a third-generation LEO, retired from the Lombard, Ill. PD after 29 years of service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the Investigations Unit. In 1998, he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Law Enforcement Justice Administration, is the author of the book Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement.