• author
    • Tom McMasters-Stone

    • March 28, 2016 in Columnists

    The Thin Blue Lives

    All lives matter, of course they do. To use the old clichés: white, black, brown, red, yellow — all of them!

    Even the Blue ones. No, not the Picts, or as we frequently call them, Woads — my ancestral barbarians from the north of Great Britain, in central Scotland.
    (Yes, perhaps that ‘splains a lot, huh?”)

    The contemporary term. Blue Lives, as in Blue Lives Matter.

    My law enforcement brethren are horribly upset at the extensive, negative press that a few of them have gotten while they either did or may have abused their power.

    Of course they are upset, and they think that nobody really cares.

    (Source: NYPD)

    (Source: NYPD)

    Well, we do. It’s only that they don’t realize it!

    Why? The shallow news format we find ourselves ensconced within, and people’s idea of news.

    Police officers are expected to suffer casualties, as are firefighters, sailors, soldiers and Marines. It’s always a tragedy, but not an unexpected one.

    When it happens, unless of a particularly “epic” nature, the word goes out across the state, or maybe just within a 100-mile or so radius. People may or may not see it in their news feed, or briefly on cable, but, anymore, it is almost certain they will not see it in a newspaper — especially since so few read them anymore.

    “…not an unexpected one.”

    Expected events are not news anymore, not in most cases. It is the unexpected things that are news, that catch people’s attention, and get played over and over again on Cable Snooze Networks.

    Most police officers do a good job, and many do a great one. At a conscious level, most people understand that, but subconsciously the authority of the job, and its inherent conflicts, modulate that consciousness.

    Unfortunately, racial profiling has been — and still is — a significant issue. Ironically, police officers, especially in large cities, are now being subjected to the same type of myopia — all of them being judged, being placed under the microscope, by the actions of a few.

    What constitutes news these days are the anomalies.

    A firefighter who commits arson. A soldier or Marine involved in a slaughter. Collateral damage from a bombing mission gone awry.

    And, certainly, a police officer abusing his or her authority — particularly when there is video, and in particular when the video either conflicts with the officer’s story, or at least appears to do so.

    So, what’s the solution, how do we regain some semblance of balance?
    Our elected and appointed officials need to do a better job of leading the way…

    Governor Jay Inslee here in Washington gives us some insight. The flags here in WA are often at half-staff on his orders. He has a system in place that gets people asking routinely, “Why are the flags at half-mast?” and sends them scrambling for their iPhones and Androids to look it up.

    Police officers. Firefighters. Battle casualties. Washingtonians of some renown. Methinks there is a lesson here, to be followed and expanded upon everywhere.

    When a police officer dies in the line of duty, the flags in that state should be flown at half-staff until the day after the funeral. Period — in each and every state.

    It should be the Lieutenant Governor’s job in all states to attend the funeral — again, period.

    Standard, and consistent — no quibbling over who should be there, none of the hypocritical double-standards that accompany so many line-of-duty deaths today, across the spectrum. Stop this crap about which events, which trips, for living people should be cancelled or should not. What total, myopic bullshit.

    On a local level, at City Hall or in the county courthouse, a large portrait of the officer should be displayed appropriately for a period of 30 days. The portrait can then be passed on to the family, or placed permanently in a public place — someplace well-traveled, lest we forget.

    A state law enforcement officer should be so honored in their respective state capitols, and federal officers should be honored both in Washington, D.C., and at their local federal court.

    These things would help a lot, but people already have email lists, Facebook pages and bulletin boards that are available to keep them informed.

    If they want to know. If they really care.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • March 28, 2016 at 7:44 pm
      • Reply

      Way more people care than probably show it, which is really sad. Even people who are outraged by the abuses and expose them — and I am one because keeping them in the shadows keeps them from being stopped — grieve when a good cop dies. My life was rerouted by an angel of a cop and I have never for one moment forgotten him or ceased to be grateful. He would have passed peacefully by now — he was one of the ones who made it to retirement, a loving wife and an adoring family and the freedom to keep giving to troubled kids like me…

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