We live, unfortunately, in a VERY divided world.

Many people see things only in black and white, and I get that.  There are, however, plenty of reasons to see things—particularly if one is open-minded (and quite frankly one should—and I dislike using the word “should”—often keep an open mind) in many different shades of gray. Or, blue.

And here, the blue I am referring to is the police. It is a topic which is sure to elicit various, and strong, opinions from everyone. Given the inherent nature of police work—in my opinion a noble if dangerous, especially these days, profession–any encounter with the police tends to be fraught with unpleasantness.  If not worse.

In other words, any encounter with the police tends to be on “our” worst day. But it doesn’t have to be. Indeed, the vast number of people in the world rarely, if ever, have any interactions with the men and women in blue. Most of the time the police are in the background, doing what they do best: protect and serve. Often, “invisibly.”  And, unfortunately, the age-old adage, “one bad apple spoils the rest” is often, misguidedly, applied here.

So it was, the other day, that I was driving for several hours with a very close friend of mine–who is the Commanding Officer of the Patrol Division of one of the jurisdictions here in Maine–and he was regaling me with one positive story after another where the police should be (again, with the word “should”; but here it is apt) applauded and lauded for their work. One story, in particular, brought tears to both of our eyes.

Briefly, that story–which you might have even seen or read about–was concerning an officer who encountered a gentleman, clearly in extremis, who threatened to take his own life. With his gun pointed at his head. The officer not only tried to “talk him down” but pleaded with him not to take his own life. Never mind that it would have taken a millisecond for the gentlemen to redirect the gun towards the officer. Not only did the man not take his own life, the officer and the man engaged in a deeply emotional hug afterwards. If that doesn’t bring you to tears–or put the men and women in blue in a positive light and perspective, I do not know what would.

These are the stories which the public rarely, if ever, hears about.

And, of course, many–perhaps countless–stories like this do not end well.

“News”–as I wrote in one of my previous guest blogs–tends to be negative and/or “sensational”. That and not everyone can have a friend who is not only a police officer but one in command of many, as well as sharing numerous positive stories with me.

The public–and often people of color–has a different view, or experience which is usually rather negative.  (And it is not lost on me, writing as a white American, that different people can and do have different views or experience than I).

Based on numerous conversations with my friend–who takes enormous pride and passion in his work (two of the hallmarks of any profession) his officers, and his department–it all comes down to training.  And not all training is alike. In some cases, far from it.  And I do not profess to know anything about training, merely that I have utter trust and confidence in my friend; therefore the officers under his command and in his department.

I cringe when I hear calls to “defund the police” when it is clear to me that if there is anything to change–if needed and necessary–better train the [our] police.

I would never let one “bad apple or apples” out of countless thousands tarnish my view of the men and women of all our law enforcement, and neither should–sorry–you.

Being a police officer can be a thankless job which is why I always try to thank any police officer for their service when I can (and the sign of appreciation, verbally and/or visually, is quite evident). Simply because they–the vast majority of fine police officers–deserve it.  That and our respect.

 

The author of this blog, Jay Levine, is a very dear friend of mine who lives in the great state of Maine with his lovely wife, Elizabeth Ernst.