We Are A Community

Sometimes in the noise of the greater, national conversation it becomes very hard to stand in the shoes of others and not become defensive at even the smallest perceived slight. Particularly when you have suffered at the hands of those others. Police and citizens both have found themselves increasingly in this situation of digging in, defending their views, and not hearing those of others. The measure of a person can be taken in many ways.  One of those ways is the ability to see beyond your own pain and extend a kindness to those who you feel may have contributed to that pain, directly or indirectly.

Some of you may or may not be familiar with the name and story of Kathy Atkins. I won’t go into her story here, it’s not my place at this time. What I can tell you is that over the past couple years we have gone through our own rocky conversations, expressing our frustrations with each other, sometimes more at each other, and with those who espouse our respective “causes” for lack of a better term. I feel over this time that we have found a mutual respect and understanding. Even when we don’t see eye to eye, we have learned we can at least respect each other’s opinion, try to understand each other’s pain, and certainly at the very least respect the ground the other is standing on at any given time, even when one of us may be venting in anger at the other.  Any death at the end of a gun, legally justified or not, is going to cause pain and anger and frustration. What more does it take from any of us to bow our head for a moment for Philandro Castile than it does for any one of our lost officers?  To recognize, whatever the outcome of the investigation, that Alton Sterling had people who loved him and hurt for him?  It takes no more from you than it does to put your black band on your badge (which our sheriff again forgot about) in honor of Lorne Aherns, Michael Krol, Mike Smith, Pat Zamarripa, or Alan Thompson.  In fact, if you can give a moment of thought to all 7, it will likely make you a better person, one who isn’t losing their ability to empathize with humans in general.

I was very touched to receive this message after the Dallas shooting from some that many might view as a potential “enemy” because of her circumstances and what happened to her and her family at the hands of some of those who wear the uniform of the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office. Her message should help all of us in this conversation see how it is possible and it is important to remember we are all people, less than perfect, enduring a very imperfect world with people who are mostly trying to be good, and the occasional evil visiting our world.

Thank you for your thoughts, Kathy. You continue to grow in my esteem with each conversation and I hope that what you are seeing deputies do through my blog continues to improve your view of what law enforcement can be when you have good people with integrity who want to be the best they can for their communities. I continue to hope that you are able to find some peace through your ongoing fight for some kind of justice from those who failed you in the past from our office.

Hi,   I wanted to share with you how heartbroken I am on the shootings and murders of the police officers in Dallas and sickened by what I’m reading across facebook from people in the police violence movement last night.  It was a reminder of why I walked away,  there are peaceful people in the movement looking for change, to remove the cops with issues like KW but there are so many with violence in their plan and they walk together so that makes for  dangerous situations that I stay away from.  I’m sorry for the loss to your police family community. Did you notice that all the protesters ran when shots were fired naturally expecting the police to stand the line and take the fire for them and they did,  I’ve never seen such a thing as we watched all the police officers running to the danger as they surrounded the men down,  there is brave then there is brave and a huge difference between the two.   –Kathy Atkins

I thought long and hard about what to write about what happened in Dallas. Initially there were no words, and in later moments there were far too many. Today, I decided to let Kathy’s words stand for me here, and I also direct you to the words of Shetamia Taylor at about the 5 minute mark of her interview, telling about how officers worked under fire to protect her and her children. We know what law enforcement does; we know how dangerous it can be, how far we are each willing to go to do our job. And while it’s important to recognize acts of heroism and bravery within the law enforcement community, I think it’s more important right now to hear it from others, from our communities, that they know most of us are what they expect us to be, is something we don’t hear enough through the noise of more attention grabbing incidents than our day in and day out good deeds.