.. You’ll fall for anything.” ~ Alexander Hamilton
Wow. Things around here sure have gotten busy in the last few days. I’ve had feedback from all over Canada and the US, and have been humbled by the kind words, and touched immeasurably by the heartfelt thanks given to me by families of fallen members. Your sacrifice was the ultimate, and not a day goes by that we, as wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, and children, don’t send our loved ones out without remembering that.
Of course, there was negative feedback, some with a differing point of view, on which I was willing to open up a conversation on, and some that was just nasty and aimed to hurt. I left commenting open for a day, which I felt was fair as the new comments were redundant (both for and against my stance). The majority of the dissenting viewpoints held by people centered around the belief that police, the RCMP in general, was a corrupt organization that needed a cleanse by media. I guess here’s where we agree to disagree.
I entitled my post “ A Wife’s Point of View” (with an html that was embedded with a rough draft that held a typo… please know I cringe every time I see it linked.) Because, the heart of my message wasn’t some PR blitz, or a call to ban all media coverage (I never even insinuated that) but my personal view coming from where I sit.
I have no team of editors, I write on my laptop in my kitchen while my kids are napping or playing. I have no hidden agenda or any professionals vetting what I write. I say what I have to say from the heart, always trying to remain insightful, while respectful and positive.. and apparently with one typo, too. (Yup.. I had a bonehead typo. I guess one typo gave a person credence to question my education, bravely anonymous, of course.)
It’s a confusing time to be married to a police officer. Because what I see in my everyday life, our friends, our experiences, our time spent in the community, is so different than what I see in the media, or hear about on chat forums, and Facebook. You could argue I’m in a bubble, and I’ll vehemently disagree. Let me explain.
We have been to three posts which were all vastly different experiences. A small farming town, a northern rural LDP(Limited Duration Post), and now a municipal post in a city. We have moved provinces, and garnered experiences I can only describe as positive, and enriching.
We have always put ourselves out there, had many friends outside the force, and took a piece of every post with us. I’ve volunteered to coach kids in every place we’ve ever lived. My husband has played evening pick up hockey with local teams at every post. We’ve been invited into livings rooms, shared stories over the fire, and become a part of the community.
Our children were accepted in communities where my little white kids stood out like sore thumbs. My son went to Cree immersion preschool and learned from elders. Our daughter was given a beautiful baby gift of handmade wraps beaded by a kokum.
We rode in combines with lifelong farmers on their homesteaded acres, have taken gardening advice from the church group ladies, and sat in stands and cheered with the rest of the community against the rival senior team. We felt at home wherever my husband’s job took us. This, in communities where he was highly visible, communities he was called upon to police.
His job meant he had to arrest some members of these communities, give tickets, and lay charges, as is expected in his course of duties. I think that one of the most underrated aspects of RCMP members in these communities is maintaining this precarious relationship. Being visible, doing a good job at work, and still being accepted and liked by the community. But they do it… all the time.
Oh sure, there have been some uncomfortable moments. There is a fragment of society that won’t be so happy to call you friend, no matter how nice you are. In a small community there is no hiding who you are married to, who your kids are, and where you live. It comes with the territory. In a larger community, I think most spouses can tell you a time or two when their off-duty police officers made a sudden exit at a public event, to ensure some of the aforementioned fragment didn’t get the pleasure of meeting their whole family.
This is my reality. A life lived in communities with my husband’s coworkers, but many, many other great people. So back to my point, and what spurned me on to write the post in the first place.
It seems like every time I read a police involved article (and can I clarify I mean local. I don’t even pretend to understand the goings on with the Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, or Super Nintendos. Wait… Intendants) I feel so confused about why they are portrayed in a light that’s so black.
I’m taking issue with the everyday police officer. The ones I know are a well-liked part of the community.. on duty and off.
And what I wondered, was to what aspect the media plays a role in this disparity I’ve come to notice. In other words, but the same sentiment I expressed in my first post:
As a society, has the loss of respect for those in authority positions (I think teachers and nurses might feel the same way) created an environment where we want to hear salacious details about how people in these positions have screwed up. OR, is the increasing trend to publish character witnesses for the accused professing their innocence, and blaming police for an injustice without taking the time to adequately illustrate, or even acknowledge, that there is another side.
I’m not asking for the coverage to stop. It can’t, it’s news. I’m not asking for censorship either. And I’m definitely not pretending that police officers are anything above an average human who has faults. Flaws. That a few can make mistakes, fail to do their job properly, and in those cases, who must be held accountable.
I’m just asking to think critically about what we see portrayed in the media, and to ask ourselves the bigger question.. do our latent opinions affect the media coverage, or does the media, unwittingly or not, shape what our opinions are?
And finally, because this is my personal platform, I’m choosing to end it with something I feel is poignant.
TEARS OF A COP
I have been where you fear to be.
I have seen what you fear to see.
I have done what you fear to do.
All these things I've done for you.
I am the one you lean upon.
The one you cast your scorn upon.
The one you bring your troubles to,
All these people I've been for you.
The one you ask to stand apart.
The one you feel should have no heart.
The one you call the officer in blue.
But I am human, just like you.
And through the years I've come to see
That I am not what you ask of me.
So take this badge and take this gun.
Will you take it?
And when you watch a person die,
And hear a battered baby cry.
Then so you think that you can be
All those things you ask of me?
~ Author Unknown