There was a lot of violence targeted toward the police in 2016. Living north of the DFW area, it hit close to home. It took few degrees of separation to understand how close. A friend of a friend was a family member of the DART officer that was killed. Just this past week, an officer was killed in Little Elm, Texas, a bedroom community outside of Dallas. In the almost 17 years that I have been a wife of an officer, I have not experienced more fear for my husband and our friends in multiple departments than I do currently. The fear and anxiety I felt during 9-11 and after was different. This just seems much more personal.
This blog was going to be something different. It was going to be a follow up to my Control Colliding at Home post about law enforcement and domestic violence. Instead, as I started researching some statistics about law enforcement and domestic violence for the future article, I found myself wanting to write about what I was experiencing in the moment. Typing into “the google” (as I like to call it) “domestic violence by police officer statistics”. I pulled up several websites of which none were PoliceOne.com or Officer.com. The top one was from “thefreethoughtproject” which proclaimed, “Cops Beat Their Wives and Girlfriends at Double the National Rate”. The second one was “copblock” which stated, “Marry a Cop? You and Your Kids are More Likely to be Abused”. The two site names and the titles just smelled bad to me so I did a little research. Come to find out both operate under the guise of “we’re just promoting liberty here” kind of beliefs. I dug a little deeper on “freethought” and up came SNOPES.com with a couple of articles they had researched saying they were false along with several other sites asking about the accuracy of the site.
As dug a little into ”copblock”, I came across an article in PoliceOne from 2012 saying that the site was being sued. There were articles on other sites from 2014 regarding copblock being a cop bashing hate site and reported there being a movement to get the site banned in the same year. In this article from 2014, the increase of hits to the site over the previously most popular police site, PoliceOne is discussed. http://www.vocativ.com/culture/society/inside-rapid-rise-police-bashing-site-copblock/ Unfortunately, they are still in operation (you know, there is that free speech thing) and the site had spun a somewhat positive story here in Dallas to a negative story and from what I read, inaccurately based upon my understanding of Texas law. It made my blood boil for the brief 10 minutes I was on the site. I had come across it before about a year ago and just dismissed it. Now, I look at it as spreading the hate and the danger that all of our spouses must now subject themselves to on a daily basis.
I write this not to get you upset and mad or to scare you. I write it because for years I put my head in the sand about the negative information that floats about regarding law enforcement. When I heard discussion about the latest video that was uploaded to Facebook or YouTube, I would just walk away without really saying anything. That changed for me last year. I chose to not just talk among the wives, I chose to say something to others. 2016 took us all to the edge and I think we go into 2017 the same. There are conversations that are difficult to have with people we consider friends because the one we love wears a badge and a gun.
I challenge you to act in courage and not react: It can be a courageous thing to disagree with the mainstream, family, or friends. This doesn’t mean you need to swing the other direction and bash someone else for their beliefs but I encourage you to say something. It’s common as a spouse to become emotional when we hear something negative. Stave off that fight or flight emotional reaction and think through what you really want to say. Act. Don’t React. Sometimes the best I can do is say, “I was not in the officer’s shoes and I don’t know everything about the situation. I know that the officer must have felt threatened to have used force. I think we should wait to hear more about the situation before passing judgement. It’s easy to play armchair quarterback.”
I challenge you to get the facts: Getting all the facts you can surrounding the situation. People are often reacting to one aspect of a situation and don’t have the whole story. Even if someone doesn’t want to hear the facts, relevance helps to feel more calm about the situation. Be aware of the sources of the information. As I mentioned above, there are resources out here that have an inaccurate and negative slant. Vet out what you read and hear.
I challenge you to remember there is a spin to everything: There is almost always the, “that is wrong… isn’t that awful” spin first. Try to remember the spin when you start to hear all the negative talk. There are 3 sides to every story.
I challenge you to educate others: Our officers are trained to handle all types of situations but they are also human. One of my favorite videos is an activist and a newsperson going through mock threat situations. They have to make the decision to shoot or not. I don’t think that most people understand that EVERY traffic stop is treated as a potential threat. If they don’t think that way, they are dead.
You can watch the video I mention here: https://youtu.be/yfi3Ndh3n-g
I challenge you to reach out: If something happens in your department or in the local area, reach out to the family of the officer in an appropriate way. Even if you don’t know the family or officer, you can send a note of encouragement to the department and or to the family via the department. Feeling alone in those moments can be overwhelming to the officer and the family. Let them know they are not.
I look forward to standing with you for our LEOs!