Last week, a Harris County, Texas, sheriff’s deputy was shot to death while putting gas in his squad car. On Tuesday, a Fox Lake, Ill., police lieutenant was shot to death by one of three suspects still sought by police as of this morning.
By one online count, nine U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed the past nine days.
That prompted this, reported by WAOW-TV in Wausau:
“The whole law enforcement family, we all seem to take a hit every time one of these things happen,” said Chief Deputy Daniel Kontos of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.
Another officer killed is something that hits home for the chief deputy.
“We are not a bunch of robots,” said Kontos. “We are human, we have families, we grieve just like everybody else. We get afraid.”
Kontos took to the sheriff’s Facebook page to talk about the role of law enforcement. In a lengthy post, he writes “sometimes officers seem defensive, stand-offish, and wary of everyone around them.”
He says it comes with the job, since they can be in harm’s way.
“We need to protect ourselves, because if we don’t, something bad is going to happen to us,” said Kontos. “So these bad people can get at the victims, and we just can’t let that happen. We didn’t sign up to get shot or stabbed or run over, but that is always a possibility, and we’re always trying to guard against that.”
He says officers aren’t perfect.
“We hold ourselves at a pretty high standard, and we are accountable and if we make a mistake, we admit it and we take care of it and we move on,” said Kontos.
He says even though Portage County is a safe community, law enforcement will always stand with people, and not against them.
“I’m now a law enforcement officer here in this county because I want to protect our county, and I want to defend the way of life that we have and when my children grow up, and have their families,” said Kontos. “I want them to have a great place to live, so that’s why we do what we do here.”
Kontos’ post includes these thoughts:
Meanwhile, people are killing each other at unbelievable rates across this country, and we don’t even seem to care. There were 216 homicides in the first half of 2015, just in the City of Chicago alone. No one seems to care. Nine just last week. No one cares. Shootings, stabbings, and a strangulation. Nope, no one cares. No one except the families and friends of the victims, but they don’t seem to count. No one seems to care about them either.
What ever happened to our humanity? What ever happened to the inherent value of human life?
I have been wearing a uniform virtually every working day of my life since 1985, and here at the Sheriff’s Office since 1995. I’ve never seen it so bad in our country. We have become such a polarized nation, one side of just about every issue pitted against another side. Us against them. We matter, but they don’t. It makes me sad to see what we have devolved into. When we start to dehumanize the “opposition,” we devalue their existence, and their lives.
How have we become such an upside down world where it has become insulting to say that all lives matter? Where high-profile politicians can flaunt the law, their oath, and their duty – and they are still defended by some. Where we stop actually thinking for ourselves, and allow others to tell us what is true and what we should think.
The police are the latest victims of this sick and twisted mentality that is based on a lie. The lie is that there is wide spread racism in the hearts of law enforcement officers across the country. The lie is that something must be done to reign in an out of control criminal justice system, where cops are just looking for reasons to oppress minorities and kill with abandon. This false narrative is pushed by politicians, capitalized upon by race hustlers and the professional grievance industry, and amplified by a lazy national media. Remember the lie, “Hands up, don’t shoot?” A proven false allegation, but to some, the facts don’t matter – as long as it gives cover for what they want.
Rather than make things better, these “leaders” have fomented an environment where it’s acceptable to fight the police. Where rioting, looting, arson, and assaults are acceptable forms of expression. Where everyone who can imagine some alleged slight now has license to hurt their fellow human being, and blame the real victim.
Often times you see the police afraid of doing their job, as their “leaders” will capitalize upon the slightest perceived error, throwing them under the proverbial bus, rather than stand up for their communities and hold the lawless accountable. These “leaders” blame the cops for skyrocketing crime rates while handcuffing them at every turn. No wonder many cities are simply out of control. Again, no one seems to care.
Who made these people “leaders” anyway? Not me. I reject their tactics, motives, and goals. …
We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Believe me, I’ve made some doozies. Thank God I have known some very forgiving people. (Yes, I mentioned God. Get over it.) I think that this is why I have become a forgiving person myself. The police make mistakes too. Let’s not overplay this fact, and work to hold them accountable, just like anyone else. Yes, I said just like anyone else.
And yes, we are also allowed to have differing points of view and different opinions. Respectful public discourse is one of the things that have made this nation great. The key is respect. Respect for your fellow human being, and respect for life. They go hand in hand.
As you know, I covered the murder of a law enforcement officer, which remains perhaps the biggest story I’ve ever covered. It was one of those stories that gives you a professional thrill until you realize the human cost of your big professional thrill.
One of the advantages of living in small towns is being able to know the police, because they’re your neighbors, they go to your church, they coach your kids in sports, and so on. It’s harder to be insular in small towns.
One problem law enforcement has is that the bad cops stick out in some people’s minds. I know some people who are reflexively anti-law enforcement, sometimes for personal reasons, sometimes because of bad experiences they had with law enforcement. (The same could be said about journalism, which includes an additional parallel with law enforcement: All your mistakes are in public.)
The police should not be blamed for bad laws, since the police has to enforce all the laws our elected officials pass, whether they are good laws or not. Even when police officers advocate for or against certain laws (for instance, in favor of gun control or against drug legalization), those laws still have to be enacted, and the police doesn’t create the law.
The police also should not be blamed for certain people’s failure to follow easily understood laws, such as, not killing someone, not beating someone, and not stealing from someone. The sheriff where I live once said that 80 percent (I think that was the number) of people will have only one encounter with his department, and of the other 20 percent, 80 percent of them will have only two encounters with his department. As you can guess from that statement, most of who police deals with are, shall we say, repeat customers. Police officers get to see things you don’t want to see.
I’m guessing readers don’t need to be told this, but I’ll write it anyway: The problems of racism and other evils of our society will not be solved by shooting police officers.