Hail to hardworking cops
To those men and women in blue who go to work each day to bring hope to the hopeless, to save a life and maybe a soul – we honor you
Author's note: When I was asked to write a column for National Police Week, I struggled on how to put on paper what was in my heart. This column is what flowed from my soul through my fingers and onto the page. Because cops have always been my heroes.
Hail to hardworking cops who police ethically, professionally and without bias day in and day out. Who honor their sworn oath to serve and protect the community. Who wear the badge nobly, are trustworthy and who treat everyone with respect. Who perform their jobs within policy and don’t need to be reformed.
Hail to hardworking cops who go to work each day knowing it could be their last tour of duty. Who kiss their loved ones goodbye as they leave for work knowing they might not make it home. Who miss their kids’ recitals, ball games, proms, graduations, holidays, first steps and births because they are in a pursuit, in court, on a stakeout, tracking a killer, taking a criminal to jail, or finishing a report. Who must work extra jobs to pay the mortgage and put their kids through college.
Hail to hardworking cops who policed during a pandemic, lockdown, protests and riots. Who have policed during tornadoes, floods, wildfires, hurricanes and winter storms when their own homes were in jeopardy.
Hail to hardworking cops who take criminals off the streets without any fanfare, credit, or accolades. Who answer the call when people are in danger, afraid, being abused, or attacked.
Hail to hardworking cops who were killed in the line of duty and to their families who grieve every day and survive with a hole in their hearts and lives.
Hail to hardworking cops who see the faces of fallen comrades lying in caskets and bloodied on the streets. Who give solace to families and young children left without a parent or spouse. Who stand in a wall of blue as taps is played, a 21- gun salute is fired, and their partners and friends are buried after being violently murdered.
Hail to hardworking cops who have been injured in the line of duty and live with injuries that prevent them from performing the job they love.
Hail to hardworking cops who put fear aside and face dangers that scare the hell out of the rest of us.
Hail to hardworking cops who protected businesses and property from destruction while being called pigs and racists, getting spit on, and having rocks and bottles hurled at them.
Hail to hardworking cops who fill out hours of paperwork to keep drunk drivers off the streets and innocent motorists from being killed or maimed.
Hail to hardworking cops who conduct traffic stops not knowing who they are stopping or if that person will be polite, compliant, rude, nasty, high, drunk, or come out shooting.
Hail to hardworking cops working double shifts and endless overtime because their agencies are understaffed and underfunded.
Hail to hardworking cops whose primary goal is to safeguard and protect lives. Who put the sanctity of others’ lives before their own. Who wear a firearm to protect life not to take a life.
Hail to hardworking cops who toil in summer’s heat wearing Kevlar while fighting off heat exhaustion and in winter’s bitter chill while fighting off frostbite.
Hail to hardworking cops who live with painful back problems from years of wearing a duty belt.
Hail to hardworking cops who go to work to help people. Who treat everyone like their grandmother, but are ready to stop a threat if and when required.
Hail to hardworking cops who have delivered babies, pulled a driver from a burning automobile, raced into a house fire to save a family, dived into cold, murky waters to pull a drowning victim to safety, chased down armed crooks on foot and rushed into an active shooter situation to save countless lives. Who have never received recognition, accolades, awards, or media coverage for their heroics.
Hail to hardworking cops who have had to stop a threat in the line of duty and live through the aftermath – investigations, grand juries, media scrutiny, indictments and being tried in the court of public opinion by people who have never worn the badge or been in a gunfight.
Hail to hardworking cops whose soul and worldviews are indelibly altered by the wrath and evil they endure and witness over the course of their careers. Who have seen tragedy and have the nightmares to prove it. Who live with traumatic reactions and flashbacks that won’t go away. Who survive sleepless nights when what they see on duty invades dreams and can’t be shooed away.
Hail to hardworking cops who arrest the same person over and over again because the criminal justice system has a revolving door.
Hail to hardworking cops who work in an environment where the majority of the persons they encounter will lie and twist the truth. No other occupation deals with that level of deception in their workplace.
Hail to hardworking cops who risk their lives and deter crime by taking knives and guns – too many to count – off felons, murderers and maniacs. Who keep those weapons from being used in violent acts against innocent civilians.
Hail to hardworking cops who wear body-worn cameras and have every aspect of their workday and job performance dissected, critiqued and evaluated by others sitting comfortably and safely in an office, easy chair, classroom, or jury box. Others who have the advantage of hindsight, slow-motion, freeze-frame and rewind in rendering judgment on a situation where the hardworking cops had only nanoseconds to make decisions.
Hail to hardworking cops who bear the brunt of the burden when another officer’s actions tarnish the badge and all it stands for. Who endure unrelenting criticism and blame for society’s ills from politicians, activists and the press. Who know that another officer’s actions can get them fired or indicted.
Hail to hardworking cops who continue policing while state legislatures enact laws to obliterate qualified immunity.
Hail to hardworking cops who have convinced the forlorn not to harm themselves and brought hope back to the hopeless. Who have negotiated hostage-takers into custody. Who have safely apprehended armed individuals high on drugs, experiencing mental breakdowns, or suffering from excited delirium.
Hail to hardworking cops who took an oath to protect life and property even if it puts their life in jeopardy – not only facing death – but indictment and prison for doing their job lawfully and responsibly.
Hail to hardworking cops who see things they cannot unsee – the face of evil and the face of innocence destroyed. Who see despair and the fires of hell, the rampage of thieves and the terror of robbers, the plight of the homeless, the horrific crime scenes left by murderers, and how addiction tears lives apart. Who comfort survivors of violence, rape, robbery, murder, assault and theft. Who comfort the damaged souls of abused spouses and children.
Hail to hardworking cops who see the toll policing takes on those they work with. Who see the horror in the faces of comrades forced to take a life to save a life. Who endure the lack of appreciation for the sacrifices the job forces them to make and take.
Hail to hardworking cops who see the face that stares back at them from the mirror. A weary face tired and worn from all that they have seen, from lack of sleep, and from lack of support from those who lead and employ them.
Hail to hardworking cops who go to work each day hoping to make a difference, to solve a problem, to bring hope to the hopeless, to save a life and maybe a soul.
Hail to hardworking cops who are out there right now protecting the streets, communities and citizens of this nation.
Hail to hardworking cops who would lay down their lives to save yours.
Copyright © 2021 Barbara A. Schwartz, All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any manner without the expressed written consent of the author.