It’s not about the ‘police,’ it’s about the person

By Joe Vargas

There is a ceaseless campaign to vilify law enforcement these days.

The amplification of these voices through social media has resonated throughout mainstream media and generated a false narrative about the professionalism of police officers.

Joe Vargas

Joe Vargas

Below are just a few comments I have run across in online publications. There are a lot more and I refrained from using the ones laced with profanity:

“Film police officers at all times! Police officers are not your friends! Police Officers are America’s biggest Gang! And they’re RUTHLESS! THEY MUST BE STOPPED!”

“That’s what happens when u hire cops like u hire cashiers.”

“All COPS are cowards with a damn badge and a gun.”

“Police departments hire bullies and give them guns.”

The conversation is never about the individual officers. It has become about the “police.” The first step in the process of vilification is to depersonalize the individual and make it all about a nondescript entity called the “police.”

You put on a uniform and a badge and you are no longer a husband, father, friend or coach. You become the “police.”

As an officer, you can’t seem to go to a social gathering or talk to your neighbors without being asked questions about your personal opinions regarding the latest police shooting or the tactics used in Ferguson, MO.

I’m sure most officers have become expert police apologists.

You can imagine what the spouses, children and families of the thousands of officers who are serving proudly have to deal with everyday. Even though I have been retired a few years, my adult children feel compelled to defend the profession against detractors.

You see for them its not just about the job it’s about their Dad, their uncle and their grandpa. I am sure it is the same for families and loved ones of police officers everywhere.

Watching the pundits and experts give their opinions and commentary based upon speculation and hearsay is exasperating. Why does it seem like the detractors outnumber the supporters 10 to 1 on every news channel?

Is there a silent majority out there that still believes policing in America is amongst the finest in the world?

Just the other day I was asked by an acquaintance, “Why have police officers suddenly gotten so corrupted?”

When I asked him why he thought that, he responded, “Don’t you watch the news? Officers are corrupt everywhere.”

Seems like most people believe what they’ve been told and not what they know.

Police officers are not collectively a bunch of racist, boot-jacketed thugs and mindless drones. They are a group of extraordinary individuals who have willingly taken on the challenge of policing a society that has serious issues.

Officers didn’t create the socioeconomic environment that gives rise to violence and crime. Rather they are willingly choose to go out everyday and deal with a public that seems to believe they are the bad guys.

I hope that’s not true, but it sure feels like it these days.