To the editor:
A letter appeared in the Dec. 12 edition, by an eighth grader named Melissa. She praised former NFL player Kapernick for refusing to honor the American Flag and National Anthem for his perceived view of racism and police brutality.
I am encouraged to see an eighth grader concerned with something other than typical teenager talk, but as a law enforcement veteran and American citizen, I feel that her opinions are rather short-sighted and inconsiderate of American values. This is probably a result of unfamiliarity with the USA and of exposure to the often misleading stories on various media, rather than of intent. In reality, the exposure to the United States of America, to most Canadian children, consists of no more than a trip to Disneyland.
A serious form of police brutality is the brutality directed toward police officers. In 2017, 129 USA police officers were killed in the line of duty. 2018 was much worse; the latest number is 144. These officers, male and female, were of all races. They gave their lives in the course of serving under the USA flag and protecting all people. Canada is seeing the deaths of police officers in the line of duty rise as well. Additionally, there are huge numbers of officers sustaining serious injuries, in many cases resulting in permanent disabilities.
I’ve been to three police officer funerals. Coleen, a uniformed officer, was killed in a drug raid as the bad guy opened fire through a door. I knew her well. She and a sergeant friend of mine were engaged and planning their honeymoon. It never happened. Officer Tom and his wife were expecting their first child. He was shot and killed as he chased a suspect through a backyard. He never got to be a dad. A very good friend of mine was officer Melissa. She sustained a line-of-duty injury while fighting, hand to hand, with a man who did not want to be arrested. Complications from this injury resulted in her death at the age of 44. Every death of a police officer has a similar sad story, yet, people don’t seem to recognize the brutality, often fatal, directed toward police officers.
In today’s world, claims of police brutality almost always unfounded. Of course, instances of alleged excessive force are investigated. With cameras everywhere, police officers are generally highly unlikely to do anything that would result in them being that officer in a video. Many of these amateur videos that surface are only a snippet of what really went on. Once an investigation is completed, the use of force is almost always justified. If not, there are consequences.
I have also been to the Normandy cemeteries in France, where countless allied lives, many American, were given to free the world of the Nazi menace. I have been to Pearl Harbor, where thousands of lives were lost as a result of Japan’s unconscionable act of war. Whether police officers or armed service personnel, all these true heroes fought for my country. Our flag, Pledge of Allegiance, and national anthem are sacred symbols of my country, its values, its history, and its people.
I saw that Nike commercial once. It made me sick. What did Kaepernick give up? Nothing by comparison. He couldn’t cut it as a professional athlete. Certainly, by virtue of American freedom, he can voice his perceptions. However, there are constructive ways to do it rather than by disrespecting my flag and my heroes. He certainly is no hero.
I’d be happy to talk with Melissa’s class about what it is like to be a police officer in the USA. I have 31 years of experience, in various assignments. Her teacher may want to contact me.