Cameron Smith Utah

Portentous Policemen?

If our country loses it's respect for our officers, what will be the next to fall?

Mr./Madam President,

I would like to start by asking a simple question. What is a cop? Although the profession is clearly defined, these days it’s hard to tell who exactly a cop is. I would like to take the opportunity to shed light on who policemen really are. My uncle, Doug, was a police officer for the Unified Police Department in Taylorsville, Utah. He had three kids and a wife whom he loved more than life itself. Doug devoted nearly 20 years of his life there--to the service of his city and the protection of the people. Unfortunately, Doug also struggled with cancer. For seven years he fought seemingly endless battles which included multiple surgeries and being bedridden for a full year. It was hard to see him at family gatherings. My childhood is flooded with memories of our tickle fights, hugs, and laughter. But after cancer had taken it’s best blow at him, he was physically incapable of being the silly uncle that I formerly knew.

However contrary the circumstances may have seemed, though, he never gave up. Last year Doug was finally able to get out of bed and go to work, feed his family, and continue working in the job he loved. And his job loved him too, Mr./Madam President. There are countless stories of his unconditional and sometimes unnecessary kindness to those he worked with and attended to. If you were a police officer called on a scene, you hoped Doug was your backup. He could make light any situation by easing the tension and was calm in stressful situations.

On January 19, 2016, Doug was shot by a wanted felon. He hadn’t even drawn his gun before he was fatally wounded by a shot to the head. It was a tragic and heart wrenching experience for the entire family. Over 10,000 people were in attendance at his funeral, and because I was a part of that, I was exposed to the community that he had spent his life working with. I learned a lot about the police force, the strength that they have and the love that they have for each other. They are some of the bravest and most humble people that I have ever met. My respect for the protectors of our country does not waver.

Sadly, this is not a common opinion in America today. Instead of the love and admiration that I associate with policemen, there is fear, accusation, and hatred. Cops are working under a bad name. They are under a dark cloud which grows gloomier day by day. And I am here to tell you that we must put an end to this. The police force is so crucial to America. If we let it be torn down, ridiculed, and disrespected, what will be the next to fall? Have you met our police officers, Mr. /Madam President? Have you felt their love for what they do? Have you experienced the connection that each of them share because their job is so different, so hard, so tasking? Brutality against policemen needs to stop, not the supposed police brutality. If you aren’t convinced, let me give you more evidence.

The biggest accusation against police officers today is that they are racist; however, there is no direct evidence of that. Because police officers don’t keep an absolute and direct record of past shootings, there is literally no evidence that they are biased either way. The only evidence we have is increased media coverage of black shootings, which is not a reason to believe that they are racist. If we showed more coverage of doctors who were unable to save patients’ lives, would we identify them all as criminals? Why then must we be so hard on those who are forced to make split-second decisions and who operate under so much pressure daily?

Many people are trying to prove causation by correlation which is never a viable source of evidence on it’s own. Because killing a black man has become the worst of all sins in today’s society, the opposite has not been acknowledged. Cops are rarely recognized for the good deeds that they do in comparison with the mistakes that they make. To put it into perspective, “everybody loved the cops on September 12” (David Klinger). If we were to acknowledge not only these obvious good deeds but the hard work they do every day we might begin to appreciate the force.

Not all cops are bad. When placed in tough or challenging circumstances, they have no choice but to make instantaneous decisions. Does this justify the shooting of anyone? No, but every circumstance differs. Most cops are not bloodthirsty. They are not killing machines. They are just people who want to protect others. They deserve the respect of this entire nation. They deserve appreciation and gratitude for their service. Without them, our laws would be meaningless, and our nation would fall into social and criminal ruin. The disrespect found in this nation today will not suffice.

In the history of their service to the country it would be impossible not to have a cop who makes a bad call. To accuse cops for said calls would be to blame human nature in itself. Am I saying that every bad call made by a cop is a mistake? No, I understand that there may be racist people alive who take on the job of being cops. That they truly are racist and have prejudices. But we can’t let these people, who are such a small population of all policemen, create a stereotype. One bad policeman does not make every policeman bad. The only evidence we have is that the media’s reports of shootings. We get so offended because our natural instinct is to preserve life, we forget to put ourselves in their shoes. And constantly seeing these images and reports every day does not help the situation. Overuse of unnecessary media reports need to stop. It destroys the trust of those who protect us. If we feel hesitancy towards and are uncomfortable with the protectors of our law many things could fall apart. Media must be limited. Trust needs to be regained. Support needs to be shown.

Whenever I hear someone speak out against policemen, it tears at my heart. My uncle was no uncontrollable racist machine. He was a true hero. Being killed in the line of duty was an HONOR to him- possibly the greatest of his life. He would do and did everything for this country. But Mr./Madam President, he’s not the only one! This is a common attitude in our unified services, as many cops risk their lives every day for us.

Some like to argue that it isn’t fair that trained police officers may open fire while untrained civilians must stand still. But I assure you that the police officers really are trained for a reason. They do all they do for the benefit of Americans, not themselves. They don’t shoot to kill, they shoot to protect. I have heard stories of black people who feel threatened by police officers. They say that walking down the street it is not uncommon for an officer to ask them to empty their pockets, a request made by a cop looking for a criminal. But to these people I ask, what else was the cop supposed to do? When did a cop doing his job become such a crime? When did an investigation of a criminal become a violation of privacy? What has happened to our nation?

Mr./Madam President, I plead with you one final time. This disrespect for our officers needs to stop. We need to address the nation in a call for a reform of respect. My uncle died a hero Mr./Madam President. He was never a villain. Don’t let this country ruin the name of policemen for all who have come before, and all who will come after. 

Spanish Fork High School

AP Language 16-17

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