Rumors of Our Demise Have Been Extremely Exaggerated
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser, C.P.D. (Ret.)
Today, we are constantly bombarded with news; all kinds of “news.” In the era of 24-hour news channels and talk radio, whether on your dial or the internet, we are sometimes “overloaded” with real news, fake news, and too many opinions relating to both. Fact checkers are in high demand it would seem, and some of those, unfortunately, have their own agenda.
How do police officers who need to go about their manifold duties in a professional manner and calm demeanor maintain their composure when dealing with a volatile public? On Facebook, YouTube and other outlets, we see a lot of anti-cop rhetoric and also witness blatant disrespect and assaults taking place against our law enforcement community on a diurnal basis. Seeing all of this, we might easily surmise, that “The sky is falling.” But making a problem bigger than it is because of the hype doesn’t help the situation. Morale, and how effective we are when doing our jobs, is now at stake as a result of built-up anxiety.
(Morale; NOUN, the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person, or group, at a particular time.)
One area of deep concern for law enforcement officers is the amount of “Line of Duty” deaths. The hype on this subject, I believe, also effects recruitment as we see many posts on social media and news outlets, of another cop who was killed somewhere in America. But are more cops being killed in our morally bankrupt society these days than in past years, or is it just publicized more?
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website, there were 129 “Line of Duty” deaths of police officers in 2017, including 46 by gunfire. 2015 saw 160 killed, and 2016 saw 159. By comparison, there were over 200 officers killed each year throughout the 1970s, with the exception of 1977, the year I was sworn in, with 196. If someone told me in 1974, the year I graduated Clifton High School, that 284 cops were killed that year, do you think it would have stopped me from becoming a cop? I think not. From 1919-1936, every year saw numbers averaging out in the mid-200s of police fatalities. 1930 was the worst year in recorded history with 310 deaths, contributing to the 21,541 brave souls who lost their lives in the defense of their communities.
Ambush attacks, fatal and non-fatal, are up over the last 10 years, according to FBI statistics. These attacks, 240 in 2015 for instance, are still far fewer, however, than the 500 attacks reported in 1991. Many of us “old timers” saw much more violence during the 1980s crack epidemic, but never let it deter us.
As police officers, we shouldn’t be overly concerned about the people who don’t like us. Between the arrests we make and the person that you just issued a ticket to for a motor vehicle violation, there are going to be people out there who hold a grudge, as we live in a society with very little personal responsibility anymore. If you’re going to worry about all the people who don’t like you, you’re in the wrong line of work. Cameras for a lot of officers seem to be a problem, but did you know that more cameras by far, have exonerated police officers rather than convict them? I know, I know, police work today is a little different than it was years ago. But eventually all new officers will be accustomed to the cameras, and in some cases, even like them. I know that if I were a police officer lying dead from an ambush, I would hope that the perp could be identified from my body-cam.
There are a lot of remonstrations about “police brutality” on social media as well. Some people see 3-4 cops taking someone into custody, and they start yelling police brutality. I see just the opposite, however. These officers are usually trying to wrestle the person into submission, rather than resorting to a night stick/ASP or Taser; and BTW, why do so many cops think that if someone pulls a gun on them, they can shoot them, but if someone throws a “haymaker” at their head, they can’t knock that person out? When someone didn’t want to get on the ground, I always favored the foot sweep; but that doesn’t mean there weren’t times when I needed to render someone unconscious. Be safe out there, and wear that BADGE with PRIDE!
Pat Ciser is a retired lieutenant from the Clifton Police Department, and a 7th Degree Black Belt. He was a member of 5 U.S. Karate Teams, winning gold medals in South America and Europe. He is the Author of BUDO and the BADGE; Exploits of a Jersey Cop (BN.com/Amazon), and is a guest writer for Official Karate Magazine.