Saturday, December 27

Support the Police

Tensions between law enforcement and citizens have experienced a sudden escalation, which began this summer and culminated in the assassination of two of New York's finest last weekend.

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York sparked violent protests in both cities.  Sadly, the target of those protests were police officers.

In Ferguson, a grand jury decided not to indict the white police officer who shot an unarmed, teenaged robbery suspect.  Riots ensued after the decision was announced.  The city was, literally, on fire.

Similarly, in New York City, a grand jury decided not to charge a police officer after he was caught on tape taking down Eric Garner.  Garner famously told police, "I can't breathe" while they were restraining him.  Garner later died of a heart attack at the hospital.

In both cases, race played a major role in the outrage.  Two white police officers involved in the death of two black men.  

Law enforcement officers have a dangerous job to do and they must perform, sometimes, in split-second life or death situations.  When they feel their lives are threatened, they are trained to respond with deadly force.

We cannot, as a nation, second guess the decisions of police officers and try these cases in the court of public opinion.  The talking heads on TV have just as much information about what actually happened in both of these cases as ordinary citizens.

We do a disservice to the men and women in uniform when we try to put ourselves in their shoes.  The truth is, unless you are an officer of the law, you will never know what it's like to be in these types of situations.

Protesters and demonstrators have broadly accused police officers of being racist.  In New York, marchers chanted about wanting dead cops.  The New York Times went so far as to publish the name of the street where Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson lived.

There is a war on the police brewing.  The men and women in blue need the support of the citizens they swore to protect.  

Follow Eric on Twitter @ericssalomon

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