As we sit here in our homes with our families and loved ones around us, tens of thousands of children wonder if their parents will come home tonight.
Their fathers and mothers aren’t stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. They’re on duty in places like Englewood in Chicago where there are 2 violent crimes for every 1,000 people in one month, Columbus Square in St. Louis or Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York City where two police officers were just murdered.
The men and women of law enforcement are on the front lines of the war at home. From the mugger on the block to the terrorist on the hijacked plane, they are the first ones there.
41 law enforcement officers were shot and killed in 2014. That’s in line with the number of Americans killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan. There’s a reason that Chicago has been nicknamed Chiraq. Some parts of the country are a war zone and after the latest shooting of two police officers in New York City, a statement circulating among cops states that the NYPD has become a “wartime police department.”
The war at home has been going on for a long time and by some accounts has claimed the lives of 20,000 law enforcement officers. Since 2001, more than 700 officers have been killed by gunfire. During the Gulf War, more officers were killed on the streets of American cities than in combat against Saddam.
Even as the murders of NYPD cops Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu fill the news, Officer Charlie Kondek has been shot while pursuing a suspect in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Officer Kondek had been a former member of the NYPD. He leaves behind five children. His killer, Marco Antonio Parilla Jr, had been repeatedly arrested for the possession and sale of cocaine before being released just this August. Officer Kondek and his children paid the ultimate price for his release.
All three police officers were casualties in the war against human evil that never ends. It’s an even dirtier and more unglamorous war than Iraq or Afghanistan. And police officers are hated in a way that it’s still socially unacceptable to hate soldiers. Ramos and Liu were the latest casualties of that hatred.
The police officer is the handyman of the welfare state. His job is to put his life on the line to plug the social leaks that the sociologists, consultants and social planners who made this mess had not foreseen. It’s his job to be there for a domestic violence complaint in a Florida motel at two in the morning or a failure of multiculturalism between two warring gangs in Oakland. He goes to places that the politicians don’t like to think about and deals with issues that the welfare state created and walked away from.
Progressives don’t believe in evil. It’s the beat cop who has to believe in it and clean it up.
The planners and politicians who allocate funds for new housing projects don’t have to patrol them at night. They don’t have to walk down a narrow concrete block hallway lined with dirty doors any of which can open at any minute with a gun behind it. The drug sentencing reformers have never had to carry a deranged screaming figure through the rusting doors of an emergency room. They have never had to get their soft shoes dirty walking through puddles of blood in an alleyway.
When liberalism fails, it’s the cop who gets the call. And when he does get the call, it’s the liberals who will be the first to call for his head.
It’s not enough that the cop has to clean up for the welfare state. He also has to be its scapegoat.
The chants of “Black lives matter” aren’t aimed at the gangs and drug dealers who rack up an astronomical number of black deaths; it’s aimed at the cops who put their lives on the line saving black lives. It’s the very people whose messes they clean up who hate them the most.
The police officer has come to embody America, abroad and at home, the nation that risks its lives to free peoples only to be despised for it, the nation that extends every benefit and privilege to its own criminals only to be shot and stabbed, raped and robbed for its endless generosity.
The American police officer was never supposed to be venturing into neighborhoods where no one speaks English and the locals see him as a member of an occupying army or patrolling in communities where gang members number in the thousands and could take down the entire local police force.
He was never supposed to be a social worker, a mediator, a medic and the commander of an invading army negotiating truces and treaties with the local tribes. And yet he is expected to be all these things and more. Every time he goes out he knows that he may face a choice between his life and his career.
If cops seem touchy, isolated or out of control it’s because they have been left hanging by a system that uses them to dam up the breakdown of a society without ever acknowledging that this is their job. Many urban police officers operate in environments where crime is not an aberration, but the norm. Like the American soldier, the police officer is better trained and more effective than ever before, but like the soldier he is also haunted by the sense that his work and his sacrifices are futile and unappreciated.
The police officer isn’t spending years in Iraq or Afghanistan; he’s spending decades in Chiraq. When his time ends, there will be no victory parades. Just the knowledge that he tried to make a difference and that unlike many brother officers, at least he made it to retirement.
Officer Daryl Pierson was shot and killed leaving behind a wife and two young children. Pierson had been an experienced officer. His killer, Thomas Johnson III, had been paroled after serving three years for an attempted armed robbery.
Officer Justin Winebrenner tried to get Kenan Ivery to leave a bar. Ivery drew a gun and shot and killed him. Officer Winebrenner was a second generation police officer. He left behind a 4-year-old daughter.
Officer Perry Renn responded to shots being fired and encountered Major Davis Jr. who was carrying a semi-automatic rifle. Davis Jr. had an extensive criminal record. He fired killing Officer Renn who had survived twenty-two years on the force.
Patrolman Jeffery Westerfield responded to a fight between Carl Le’Ellis Blount Jr. and his girlfriend. He never even got a chance to draw his gun or leave his squad car before Blount shot him in the head.
Deputy Sheriff Allen Bares was off duty when he saw a gold Lexus crash into a ditch. He approached the vehicle and was shot and killed. The two men inside, Quintylan Richard and Baylon Taylor, stole his truck and took off.
The police officers in all these cases were white. Their killers were black. But the police officers in many of these cases were trying to protect black people and black communities.
The killings all took place in a matter of months in 2014. And their numbers will only continue to grow.
While the wars abroad expand or contract, this is the war that will go on. Its soldiers will serve their tours of duty for decades on the streets of our own cities without having anywhere else to go home to. And when their time is up, they will never receive the thanks that they deserve because most of us will never understand the difference that they made.
When the left took over, it was the police officer who kept everything from going under in our major cities. It was not the politician or the planner, the sociologist or the social worker who kept the crime and chaos from sweeping everything away. It was the man in blue who did what had to be done.
Under Obama, when the criminal is king and the progressive planners are changing the country in ways unprecedented since the seventies, it’s still the lonely figure in the squad car that does his duty and holds the line in a thousand dark and dirty neighborhoods where gunshots and screams sound in the night. The American police officer has become the soldier of civilization fighting to keep it alive.
And somewhere a family wonders if their father or mother will come home tonight.