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Friday, December 19, 2014

When a Policeman is Killed (Not about art)

I rarely post things that are not related to art in some way.  This article affects me and the way I see the world, so here you are then.

The following is an op-ed from the Austin American Statesman today.
I am copying it in full here which may be wrong, but the link may disappear and I would like you to read this.

Gene was a federal agent, my brother was a state policeman in New Mexico, my dad even dabbled as the marshall in Magdalena.  Gene's cousin, Gilbert Montoya, was killed in the line of duty in Moriarity, New Mexico, many years ago.  We have other friends that were also killed or injured in the line of duty. 

The article could also apply to how our soldiers and their families are treated.  Take heed.

If officer Wilson was killed, a different story would be told

  If Officer Darren Wilson had been murdered with his own weapon, the sod would already be level over his grave and the dormant roots of autumn grass would be waiting patiently for spring.

  If he had not regained control of his service weapon inside his own unit, he would be dead.

   If Officer Wilson had been the one to die, there would have been no federal inquiry, and the media would not have covered it — except the local news might have had a few shots of the bagpiper at the police funeral. President Obama would not have said anything.

   Some will say that we have arrived at a new place in the American experience. Not true. The majority of the public has never cared much about the deaths of law enforcement officers, except perhaps in the abstract. Police deaths have always been treated as a wreck they pass on the freeway. Regrettable, but unavoidable.

   With the death of a law enforcement officer comes the stoic acceptance most affected. The loss is buried deep beneath the sounds of the riderless horse, “Amazing Grace” by the bagpipers, the final bugle calls and the jarring sounds of the 21 guns.

   Law enforcement is forced into the loneliest job in the world — mourning its own. The entire country mourns the demise of drug-addicted Hollywood stars and ignores her heroes.

   There is never a protest by police. The anger and the grief are silent to the outside world. Everyone is under strict orders from the local DA’s political machine to remain quiet. The accused perpetrator retains a plethora of lawyers and a well-choreographed dance plays itself out in the deep shadows.

   Ever been to a police funeral where the priest or pastor pounds their fist on the podium and calls for justice? Me neither. Ever seen the officer’s mother allowed to speak openly on television? No, and you probably won’t until years later when she and her widowed daughter-in-law are on the courthouse steps saying justice was finally done. No one knows what she is talking about and no one remembers.

   Imagine if law enforcement families encouraged burning down the area where a cop was murdered.

   A law enforcement officer’s death is seen as part of the cost of doing business. A sad tax that falls randomly upon someone who applied for the job and therefore somehow deserves his or her fate. The officer’s family is expected to understand that this is a byproduct of a dangerous, violent war in the streets.

   Law enforcement pays the heavy price of empty chairs, fatherless children and sad memories for Christmas.

   However, if the police use high-end technology to protect the streets, they are becoming too militarized. Sound like fair criticism? No, but the law enforcement community is simply too numb to say anything. After more than 1,500 law enforcement deaths in Texas alone, who can blame us? Texas leads the nation in officers killed in the line of duty.

   Perhaps it’s time to begin shedding the bitter tears in public. Maybe it’s time to let everyone see the heartbreak. Now is our time to say “Stop murdering cops.” The media and the politicians need to see and feel just a few of the millions of tiny, broken pieces of loss that our families deal with every day.

   In the upcoming legislative session, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas will once again be on the front line looking out for peace officers and their families. If Texas really values her law enforcement officers, then maybe it’s time to show it. Stop trying to strip the hard-earned retirements of the living and raise the death benefit for the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty.

   Let’s see which elected leaders will be willing to step up for them.

   -- Charley Wilkison is executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.


Bag Blog said...

The article was well worth posting.

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks, Bag Blog. It hits close to home for our family.

Joan Tavolott said...

Unfortunately in this country we sometimes have our priorities really screwed up. This definitely needs to be seen and read by people. Up until now we have never had a family member join the police force, but that will soon change if my nephew passes all his tests for the police force in his home town in Georgia. I worry about him because of the job he wishes to do but also because of the casual thoughtless segment of the population that forgets the job these heroes do and the way it impacts on their families.

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks, Joan. Hopefully people like Charley Wilkison will make a difference. It is hard to get people interested as they are not directly affected. Same with the military, such a small percentage of the population that have a service member in the family. We will be wishing your nephew all the best!

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About Me

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Bastrop, Texas, United States
I Grew up in a small town , Magdalena, New Mexico. I enjoy art and the pleasure other people get from my work. I always donate some of my sales and art to charities, especially for children. That started in Bolivia with Para los Niños. (Link on sidebar) "I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns." -- Winston Churchill


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