End of Watch: Dying on the Thin Blue Line

My daughter’s favorite movie is Disney’s “The Jungle Book” –and she absolutely adores Baloo the bear.

In the next to last scene, everyone thinks Baloo’s been killed by Sher Khan the tiger in an effort to save the man cub Mowgli.

As Mowgli realizes what’s just happened, Bagheera the panther comforts him:

 “Now, now,” says Bagheera, “I know how you feel. But you must remember, Mowgli, greater love hath no one, than he who lays down his life for his friend.”

It’s just a simple line from an old Disney film (and the Bible, if you’re interested) but it’s incredibly powerful one.

So, would you do it? Would you lay down your life for someone?

I’ll get back to that—hang tight.

This week as we all celebrated another Independence Day, New York police officer Miosotis Familia was shot point blank. Her crime? Sitting in a police vehicle in uniform.

This woman was executed by a man who raved months earlier on social media about how he believed police have been abusing and killing people freely. This woman’s three children have been left without a mother because her attacker believed the rampant rhetoric that Black Lives Matter, politicians like Congressman Cedric Richmond, and other activists have wrongly spread about how police in this nation actively target and abuse Black Americans.

That rhetoric is demonstrably false. (If you’re curious, the “demonstrably” part can be found here.)

What is demonstrably true is the fact that our officers are facing death on the job—particularly targeted death—at an increasing rate.

And I, alongside Blaze radio host Chris Salcedo, believe it has everything to do with that rhetoric. As I watch the dialogue on this topic, I’ve noticed a few common threads: Let’s look at a few:

  1. Myth: the average of cops killed in the line of duty is really quite small.

A frequent flyer in the comments section of The Chris Salcedo Show’s Facebook page pointed out that there was an average of just 62 deaths per year during the Obama administration (2009-2016)—painting a slightly less awful picture.

Here’s the reality:  1,206 officers have died in the line of duty from 2009-2016. That’s an average of 151 officers per year.

The number dips towards the aforementioned 62/yr average when one considers only gunfire (oh and for the record, officers shot to death is up a solid 68%), but understand this: cops are drowned, electrocuted, stabbed, struck by vehicles, exploded by bombs, killed in car accidents … all while directly engaging with criminals. Simply because they weren’t purposely targeted as Officer Familia and so many others have been, doesn’t mean they didn’t die in the line of duty. Speaking of targeting …

  1. Myth: Targeting of cops isn’t up.

Actually, ambush attacks (like the kind seen in New York, Dallas, Baton Rouge and beyond) are up 300%. Three. Hundred. Percent.

One can compare the two administrations (as some have been doing, pointing to the higher yearly average–not counting 9/11–during the Bush years), but this is where it splits from understandable line of duty loss of life, and a serious problem. The 300% is what ought to raise your eyebrows … more on that in #3.

  1. Myth: Trump’s in charge, you can’t blame Obama.

Remember what I shared with you all a few weeks back about the violent rhetoric towards those of an opposite political ideology? It went like this: “If the story is strong enough, vividly illustrated enough, persists for long enough, and told by enough people, it becomes fact to its audience—and people behave accordingly.”

So, ambush attacks of police are up 300%. Is there a correlation to something?

As this RedState.com author points out, there’s been no significant event in the last 8 years to which we can attribute this massive uptick.

So what gives?

Well, what’s the one thing that has patently changed over the last 8 years?

Our leadership’s attitude towards law enforcement.

Remember that line from “Remember the Titans,” where Julius confronts team captain Gerry? “Attitude reflects leadership,” he pointed out.

Bingo.

From nearly day 1 in office, Barack Obama jumped to conclusions on officer involved shootings. He didn’t wait for investigations (including his own Justice Department’s in places like Ferguson) to run their course before passing a Monday-night-quarterback judgement on the interactions.

As our friend at RedState continued, “he [Barack Obama] has sent a clear message that the police are not to be trusted. He sent a message that the police are a brutal occupying army and the federal government will protect you.”

Sure, Obama penned letters like this one, where he praised law enforcement and talked about “having their backs.” Fine words, to be sure. Yet that’s all they were—words. And that’s not the message he sent throughout his term.

From “the police acted stupidly” (part of his racially-tinged reaction to an arrest which, in the moment, was understandable–albeit later found to be a mistaken) to “guilty of walking while black or driving while black,” (his reaction to the justified shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, to whose funeral he sent a delegation), Barack Obama has helped to wedge a solid divide between this nation (particularly people of color) and our police—making it difficult to ever have a serious conversation on the topic.

Remember my illustration from the beginning? Take a second to pull that back up.

Let me ask you again:  would you volunteer to take a bullet (or a knife, or assault by vehicle, or drowning, or strangling) for someone that you know? Perhaps you’d maybe do it for someone that you love, but would you do it for someone that you just know?

Better yet, would you die for someone you don’t know? Would you sign up to show up every day, for crappy pay, crappy hours, and insane stress in order to possibly die for a whole community of strangers, many of whom believe you’re a ticket-writing nuisance at best and a cold-hearted racist killer at worst?

That’s our police. Every day, all day.

They care so deeply for their communities that they’re willing to lay it all on the line to serve them.

Still, some would call me a “cop apologist” for framing it up that way.

Shouldn’t we by and large defend a group of men and women that by and large does nothing but good for us?

Is that really an extraordinary frame of mind?

Look, I’m not suggesting we blindly support law enforcement. I’m suggesting we recognize that the vast majority of them are decent people looking to uphold a decent society.

And that they’re being killed for doing it.

 

Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: afuturefree@aol.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree

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