Monday, April 6, 2009

THE WORLD WE LIVE IN: pittsburgh police department

The past two weeks have been especially difficult for the law enforcement community. On Saturday, April 4th - just two weeks after the Oakland shootings - 3 Pittsburgh police officers were shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call concerning a dog fight. The shooter, 23 year old Richard Poplawski, met officers at the door armed with an assault rifle and 2 other guns. Poplawski, who was wearing a bullet proof vest, was captured alive.

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've listened to people complain that cops are arrogant and rude, just looking to bully innocent people and hand out speeding tickets. People are outraged when an officer is less than polite to the guy mouthing off because he got caught speeding. They are quick to point fingers and make accusations when a cell phone video makes it appear that an officer may have been too rough with someone who was resisting arrest. What many fail to understand and appreciate is that police officers NEED to assume that the person they are dealing with is willing and able to hurt them and the civilians around them. The risks and consequences are very, very real. That guy mouthing off over a speeding ticket could easily be sitting on a gun. What you didn't see in that grainy cell phone video may be the guy reaching for an officer's gun just before the cop put him on the ground. Police officers need to consider all possibilities and act to keep themselves and those nearby safe. For this reason, they can not give people the benefit of the doubt as it can quite possibly have deadly consequences. The events of the past two weeks ought to be enough to make people appreciate this.

While there are always a few bad apples that take advantage of their authority, they are few and far between - no matter what the news media would like you to believe. The vast majority of police officers are good, ethical men and women who literally put their lives on the line every single day in order to protect you. And even when it may appear otherwise, they are acting in your best interest to keep you safe. I hope that the next time you are stopped for running a red light, or watch a sensational and inflammatory news story about a police officer, you remember this. Just because an officer's actions appear to be rougher than you might like does not mean that they are in the wrong. Most often, just the opposite is true. Perhaps rather than becoming angry or accusatory, you can be thankful that the officer is brave enough to risk his life everyday so that you can keep yours.

On Saturday we lost Officer Eric Kelly, Officer Paul Sciullo III, and Officer Stephen Mayhle. They are mourned by their mothers and fathers, wives and children. Please take a moment to remember these brave men in your prayers and thoughts.

1 comment:

Erin @ Bride Design said...

What a thoughtful and moving post Jessica! Just the other day my little girls told me they want to be police officers. That might change when I alert them to the fact they can't wear fairy wings or princess dresses on the job, but it made me happy nonetheless that they value and respect in their own little way, the amazing service officers provide us with daily. These families are in my prayers.