Kneeling Down for What’s Right

I’ve known quite a few police officers and sheriff’s deputies. A few were rotten apples who believed the badge was a license to push people around. I can count them on the fingers of one hand.

Overwhelmingly, the cops I’ve known were good people. Two — state troopers, it happens — come to mind.

One was a fellow who seemed to have dedicated his life to finding and arresting adults who harmed children in any way. He was pretty good at it. I never, ever saw him angry except when he learned of a case of child abuse.

Another trooper — and there will be people who remember this — was washing his car at home one day when he heard of a commotion several blocks away. In civilian clothes, he went to a house surrounded by other officers and deputies. Inside was a deranged man with a gun. All the ingredients for a tragedy were there.

Arriving at the house, my friend asked about the situation, borrowed a pistol, stuck it in the rear waistband of his jeans, and went inside. A few minutes later, he and the gunman, both safe and sound, emerged.

Guts? Skill? Compassion for a man who was having a very bad day? What do you think? Does the phrase “protect and serve” come to mind?

In many ways, these two were no different than the overwhelming majority of cops. I suspect that had many of the ones I’ve known been on a certain street in Minneapolis on May 25, George Floyd would still be alive. They would have stopped Derek Chauvin.

Which brings us to the worry many peace officers have that they and others in the profession are so hated and mistrusted that they go to work with targets on their backs. That has prompted many to circle the wagons. If cops don’t stand up for other cops, who will?

You can’t blame them.

But it’s time to break ranks. It’s time for men and women like my two brave, compassionate trooper friends to help weed out the tiny minority of rogues in uniform.

A few officers in some big cities have taken that stand. I’ve seen videos of them silently “taking a knee” as they face crowds protesting Floyd’s death. They’re signaling that they’re with the demonstrators, against bad cops.

Here in the Ohio Valley, there have been peaceful protests. A few police officers have talked with the demonstrators. Wheeling police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger attended one rally.

Will there be others? I hope so. That would give some of the really good men and women in local law enforcement an opportunity to “take a knee,” too.

I hope they get the opportunity, and I pray — really — that it happens. The protesters need to know how many good cops believe that “protect and serve” stuff.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.


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