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Why the thin blue line still holds in 2015

Despite the danger from ambushers, terrorists, and active shooters, the line holds. Despite the very few who take the wrong path, the line holds


We call it the ‘thin blue line’ — the line between order and chaos. I helped man that line for a good many years and remain just behind it, training new officers who will step up to their spot on the line. The line has always been under assault to some degree, but the last couple of years have been worse.

We’ve seen controversial use of force incidents result in massive anti-police protests and police officers ordered to give protesters room to vent their rage: in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago to name just a few.

Yet, the line holds.

Good Cops, Doing Good
Are there bad cops? Yes. I have worked with a couple — even physically stopped one who was going too far. Does one bad apple ruin the whole barrel? No. We’ve seen officers charged with murder which probably deserved to be charged, but others have been wrongly accused by overzealous prosecutors, influenced by politicians whose hatred for police officers drips from their podiums.

In 2015 we’ve had officers ambushed in deliberate, execution-style attacks simply because they wear the uniform. We’ve seen cops bleed defending innocent citizens like the brave officer who was killed and five more that were wounded at the Colorado Springs active shooter incident. They ran to the sound of gunfire and placed themselves between the wolves and the sheep.

We also saw a few in the media try to come to our aid this year, trumpeting the honor and bravery of our men and women, like the two Michigan officers buying — from their own pockets — a car seat for a lady’s baby instead of issuing a citation. Or a lieutenant in Oregon who told a cash-strapped family they couldn’t sleep in their car in a city park, then bought them a motel room for the night.

We know that the line prefers to help people — not hurt them — whenever possible.

Yes, the line holds, courageously returning fire when needed. In 2015, terrorists who challenged officers in Garland, Texas and San Bernardino, California died — as they should — in a hail storm of police bullets.

This is the Thin Blue Line
Tough times take a toll on even the strongest protectors. Already we see fewer applicants who want to join the line. Who would choose this profession in such a turbulent and dangerous time? Sheepdogs would, and do.

Sheepdogs — to quote Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman — are brave young men and women who were born to answer the call. I’ve seen a tiny Asian girl take on a program geared for much larger, stronger people and frankly, kick its butt. She stands on the line now, deservedly proud to be there. I’ve seen men well into their 40s — military combat veterans — subject themselves to 25 weeks of tough training to serve on the line, knowing an age requirement will prevent them from ever earning a full pension. People who answer an inner call to protect their fellow man choose this profession today, as they always have.

I have served in the military and all three first-responder branches. It has been my good fortune to live my life surrounded by the finest people on Earth. It breaks my heart to see how some in the public and media spit on the graves of those who protect them.

The single most unchangeable thing I’ve seen is the dedication of all the sheepdogs who keep the wolves at bay.

I’ve walked among the lions a couple of times at the Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. and touched the names of those I knew. Those who stand watch on the thin blue line today are standing on the shoulders of those giants who paid the ultimate price. I believe those heroes would tell today’s officers to hold their heads high and carry on, protecting even those who might hate us.

Despite the danger from ambushers, terrorists, and active shooters, the line holds. Despite the very few who go wrong, the line holds. So long as this great nation remains the shining light of liberty, despite our occasional stumble, the thin blue line will hold.

Be brave and be proud. Hold your head high and carry on.

Dick Fairburn has had more than 26 years of law enforcement experience in both Illinois and Wyoming. He has worked patrol, investigations and administration assignments. Dick has also served as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst, and as the Section Chief of a major academy’s Firearms Training Unit and Critical Incident Training program.