My heart sinks and my eyes fill with tears. I try to hold back emotion as my family and I say goodbye to my dad. I watch him drive off in his St. Louis County police car, not knowing what the day holds for him. My hands come together and I pray. This is the everyday ritual my family goes through when he leaves for work.
According to Fox News, 135 police officers died in 2016. Since Jan. 1 of this year, 93 officers have died in the line of duty. I do not know how to comprehend that my dad could be another number every time he goes to work. I try and grasp the concept of how there are people in this world who want to see police officers dead.
What amazes me most is how these police officers still fight for complete strangers, despite knowing how hated they are. They did not have to choose this job. They do not have to deal with the hatred, but they want to save people so badly they are willing to go through hell to make a difference in the world.
My dad was a U.S. Marine for eight years and has been in the police force for 21. I have never met someone who is so fair, respectful and dedicated in my entire life. The number of hours he spends at work is remarkable. He works 10 hour days with hardly any days off. Since protests began in St. Louis over the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley, it is mandatory for him to work 12 hours a day, indefinitely. He puts so much time, education and work into something that is so unappreciated.
I often wonder if people don’t understand the reality of what police officers go through or if they just don’t care to see it. It is easier for people to blame police officers, in our society. Making police officers the villain is easier than accepting the fact that there are bad people in the world who break the law. The fact is there are people who murder, steal, rape and hurt others without even thinking about it. Those people are in our streets and they have been there for a long time. Blaming the people who risk their life for strangers is not the way to face reality. It only causes more chaos.
It is our right as Americans to protest and express our opinion when we feel something is wrong. I admire those views and opinions wholeheartedly. I just don’t understand how a majority of these people protesting for peace, justice and equality are retaliating in such violence and hatred. Those violent groups are the ones who are dehumanizing people and are immorally acting out against human life.
Protesting is our right, but we also have to make sure to follow the law while doing so. Standing in front of a moving vehicle and refusing to move is illegal. Blocking highways and roads is illegal. Fox 2 News reported protesters were blocking roadways on Kingshighway where Barnes Jewish Hospital is located. People with medical emergencies have to get through. Police officers want to make sure everyone is safe. Retaliation against officers because a protester is committing a crime is not the officer’s fault.
During the protests in Ferguson, my dad and his fellow officers dealt with a tremendous amount of violence and hatred from protesters. They had bricks and bottles full of urine thrown at them. They had death threats and unimaginable words said to them; they were shot at. Now they have to experience the same thing all over again.
No one deserves to go through this, especially the people who risk everything to protect us. If you follow the law and treat officers with the respect they deserve, nothing bad will come of it. Police officers deal with things we can’t even imagine or comprehend. They do the job no one else wants to do.
All the death, crime and evil in this world is something my dad and other officers are brave enough to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Seeing these people retaliate in violence towards officers breaks my heart. My dad is my hero. He does the best he can to provide for his family and fights so hard to protect other people. Police officers are human. My dad is human. Their lives need to be valued and their voices have to be heard.