I Am That Cop
By Kirk Lawless
This year, the names of 153 police officers taken from us in 2018 were added to the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall, located in Washington, D.C.
Not added to this wall are the names of 165 police officers who died by suicide in 2018.
The numbers of police officers taken from us in 2019 regrettably continues to grow as are those who are being lost to suicide.
I have had the misfortune of being muzzled for nearly 10 years, due to legal action that has now run its course. I have endured the lies. The muzzle is off now, as are the gloves, and I will no longer be quiet.
What people fail to realize about the police culture in the United States is that I am every name on that wall and I am every name on the other list as well. That is the culture of policing I cut my teeth on when I came on the job, and sadly I see it is time for a change.
The spirit of brotherhood I used to see on the job seems to be waning. Statistics don’t lie. The job is toxic. It is a dangerous profession. We know that as fact. Some will argue that there are more dangerous professions to the point it becomes monotonous, but of those professions, how many include daily interactions with people who simply want to hurt or kill you because of what you are and what you represent?
Where I come from, if you spit on my brother or sister, you have also spat upon me.
I am that cop:
When one of us is killed, it causes something inside us to die, and that’s the way it should be. The death of a police officer by suicide is no different. At least, it shouldn’t be.
Those officers with PTSD are still our brothers and sisters. They are supposed to be. Its 2019, folks, and asking for help should not end a career. Politicians and cold-hearted brass need to be educated. They need to help fix us, not abandon us, and not lie to us. Cops on the job don’t want to call bullshit on what goes on because it can impact their career negatively. I don’t work for anybody anymore. I fear no man. So, I will say it. The system needs to be held accountable.
I know the seemingly eternal sorrow of abandonment. I know how it feels to be ostracized and I am familiar with the sting of inaccurate and vicious labeling. I know how it feels to be held incommunicado, to be prisoner in your own mind, prisoner in your own home. To cry for help, to call for backup, only to hear the crackling static on the police radio, no response, no wailing sirens coming from a distance announcing, “Brother, we are coming for you,” I will tell you this, it is one of the worst feelings in the world, to be alone.
If you have ever delivered a death notification, telling a parent they have lost a child, or a child that they have lost a parent, or any such scenario that usually ends with gut-wrenching cries of anguish, and felt your own heart break,
If you have ever stood over a brother or sister officer who has been shot, stabbed, mangled or killed, and felt part of yourself die,
If you have ever visited the scene where a brother or sister officer died, if you have seen their blood (lots of blood) spilled on the ground and watched while the firefighters hosed what was left of your friend, down a storm drain
If you have seen every conceivable act of violence and cruelty perpetrated against one human being by another, or have seen the vertiginous retching horror of the most grisly death scenes, whether by accident, or a crime committed on purpose
If you have witnessed the death grimace on the faces of countless victims, the open eyes clouded by death, the ones who haunt you and left you wondering what their final moments of life were like
If you have seen the suicides of people who chose to “opt out” of life and wonder why they did such a thing in that final moment of desperation
I see every flag draped coffin, I hear every playing of “Taps.”
I see every grieving widow, widower, child, parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent or friend.
I hear every lone bagpiper playing “The Fields of the Forest.”
I see every wet-eyed police officer standing graveside.
I see every grizzled, hardened, disgusted, on the brink of losing all faith in humanity, police officer.
I hear every curse spat at every cop, every threat of violence.
I feel every punch, every gunshot wound, every stab wound and every kick in the nuts.
I have seen, stood in, and smelled every crime scene, the blood, the vomit, the piss, the shit, the death, the filth, the decay.
I have held the hands of the dead or dying. I have held the crying, hurt, sick, abused, battered, dead or dying babies. I am just like you.
I am with you.
I am standing beside you, shoulder to shoulder.
I will never abandon you.
I will do what I can to help you.
I will do my best to save you, even at my own peril, including my own death.
I will share what I have with you, whatever that might be.
I will never run away.
I will never give up my gun.
I will never quit fighting.
I will always guard your back, even if no one is watching mine.
I will never put you in harm’s way.
I will shield you.
I will defend you.
I will avenge you.
I will tell any boss or politician who attacks you without cause, where they can go, including inviting them outside for a “cup of coffee” to work it out.
I am “Old School,” a dinosaur, not yet extinct, but perhaps on the brink.
If I have 10 and you have zero and need it, when we part company, you will have at least five.
If I have an extra hundred and I know you need it, you don’t even have to ask.
If you need someone who will ask the all-important question “Are you okay?”
If you call for help, know this, “I am coming for you!” I am on my way, no matter the circumstance, no questions asked. If we go down, we go down together, fighting. If you need someone to go through “that door” I am with you, no hesitation
I am that cop … There are many like us, but there needs to be so many more.
Will you be that cop?
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.