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Police Need to Be Invited to this National Conversation

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Regular readers of mine know that I’m the son of a police officer. He’s now retired, but since I was a small child, my dad was a Galveston, Texas, patrolman who served his community honorably for years. Because of his job, I was constantly surrounded by badges. Many of his fellow officers were just as good as uncles growing up.

As I got older I was invited to ride along with my dad on some of his patrols. I watched my father and these men deal with things that most of society never has to see except on television. As a scrawny teenage kid, some of it shocked me, but it’s something that I think everyone should see. I think people should get even a minute taste of what it’s like to be a police officer and get a sense of what they have to deal with.

What astounded me more than the things I saw, however, was how these men were able to smile, joke, and show unequal kindness throughout it all. Even when they were being insulted, screamed at, or even violently resisted, they managed to maintain a professional and even sometimes jovial attitude through it all. And why not? When you’re dealing with 10 percent of the population 90 percent of the time, and often on their worst day, sometimes you have to be as positive as possible to make it through.

Law enforcement lives a life that many people will thankfully never have to live through. Their entire job is to make sure they don’t have to go through what they do. They are the rough men willing to do violence on your behalf so that you can sleep soundly in your bed.

Yet, the nation has focused on police in a negative light. Despite there being millions of police officers in the nation, the media, special interest groups, politicians, and more have zeroed in on a few officers involved in wrongdoing and made it the fault of the entire police community at large. It’s unfair, unreasonable, and wildly dishonest. It also reeks of ingratitude.

Calls to defund the police have risen all around the nation with various city officials actually caving to the demand and beginning the necessary steps to weaken their local police force. As I’ve written in detail before, this is a wildly horrible idea.

(READ: Calls for Defunding the Police Are Now a Trend and Here’s Why That’s a Bad Idea)

Police have been ultimately kicked out of the conversation surrounding their defunding. They’ve been kicked out of the conversation about everything period. This is not only foolhardy, but it’s undeserved. As I made clear earlier, police have knowledge and experience that are valuable. You can reject it all under the make-believe presumption that every officer is just like the one that kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, but they aren’t. These are good men who care about their communities.

But I won’t be able to put it better than New York Police Union boss, Mike O’Meara.

That badge is the line between society and anarchy. Where that line collapses or is weakened, chaos seeps in, and while that may sound like a good time for rioters and anarchists who don’t care who is affected by the destruction and violence they bring about, the rest of society does.

Police need to be invited to the conversation. We need to hear what they have to say. They’re going to be able to add context, insight, and wisdom to the situations we’ve only, so far, heard one side of. If the conversation is continuously dominated by a side that clearly has little idea what police deal with on the daily, and/or have a vested interest in seeing them weakened to the point of ineffectuality, then expect that aforementioned chaos to befall us. Maybe it won’t hit you immediately, but rest assured it will find you one way or another. Crime has a rippling effect. A city unable to properly fund its department may have a growing drug or prostitution problem. Next thing you know, the city begins to decay from drug addicts, and girls may start disappearing, sold into sex slavery. This isn’t sensationalism, this is a pattern.

It’s true that we need to strike up a conversation about the relationship between police and the black community. Methods can always use perfecting. None of that can happen without police input. If you advocate for a complete rejection of police from the conversation, then there’s reason to suspect that peace, law and order, and understanding aren’t really your end-goal.