Monday, May 3, 2010

Detroit Police Officer Slain, 4 Others Wounded
I take this loss personally.
Not because I knew this officer or his family, but because he sacrificed his life for me.
I take this loss personally.
Not because I am a citizen of Detroit, but because I am the son of former Detroit Police officer, and the brother of a current one.
I take this loss personally.
Not because he had to respond to a call that resulted in his death, but because he chose to.
I take this loss personally because Police officers put their lives on the line daily for us and ours, and never expect a thank you.

There has been a lot of controversy, here in Detroit if no where else, about a major news network claiming that Detroit is more violent than Beirut or some war zones around the world. It was a gross exaggeration considering that there are many other cities in this country alone that are far worse. Take Los Angeles, for example; you can't go a day without hearing about someone getting shot or killed, and it's gotten to the point that it's not even news worthy there any more. But because Detroit has long had a reputation for being a dangerous city, Detroit becomes the butt of jokes, snide remarks, and ignorant comments.

That's not to say that the city is a paradise. There are tragic accidents, such as the one near my home that took the life of a two year old girl on Thursday due to the complete negligence and stupidity of her father. And there's today's shooting that resulted in the death of one of Detroit's finest.

It's strange that while I mourn the loss of this stranger, I am angry not just at his killer, but at Mayor Dave Bing who apologized to the officer's widow. Why does this anger me? A police officer, especially one that went through Detroit's Police Academy, is trained to know and understand that they may be injured or killed in the line of duty. Rookie or veteran, they each take to the streets to do their job saving our lives, and each of them make sacrifices in terms of time they spend with their families, their career (some may be well paid, but there are certainly higher paying less dangerous jobs that they could have pursued), and potentially their lives.

You don't apologize for an officer's death because you dishonor them and belittle their memory. These officers know consciously that their lives are on the line when they go out in the streets. They are often painfully aware that their uniforms sometimes make them targets as much as they are sometimes feared for them. They choose to do their duties not out of ignorance, but out of acceptance and the desire to serve their community. This officer wasn't forced into his job, he chose it. He might not have thought he would die in the line of duty, but he was aware of the possibility. He doesn't deserve our pity or apologies, he and his family deserve our admiration and respect.

You don't apologize for an officer's death, particularly to his or her family, because they died doing what they wanted to do. They sacrificed their life for us, and there can be no shame in doing their duty. This officer and his family deserves our gratitude for his sacrifice and theirs, and his memory should be honored, not pitied. He should be remembered for his sacrifice.

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