Barclays Center protest in Brooklyn, NY on December 1, 2014.
Photo credit: Stephanie Keith

Dear Police Critics,

Whether you believe me or not, I hear you when you voice your opinions and concerns about police officers. I fully support your right to peacefully march or protest for causes you believe in. I understand the emotions you feel when someone you care about dies at the hands of another. The truth is, we are more alike, than we are different.

I know what it’s like to bury someone you love, went to school with, or in my case, wore the same uniform. I understand the feelings you experience when you hear about a preventable violent tragedy and think, “That could have been me.” It’s our worst nightmare, for both us. Like I said, we are more alike, than we are different.

I know how frustrating it is to be judged solely on your appearance and not your character. I realize I made a choice to wear this uniform and unlike some, I can change my appearance by simply removing it. However, the fact remains, nobody should be judged by appearance alone, it’s that simple. I ignore the dirty looks, the hateful comments, and the people who spit in my direction as I pass by. Whether you believe me or not, I go to work every day hoping to be a positive influence in the community and strive to treat everyone equally.

We both want safe neighborhoods, the ability to chase dreams, and a fair justice system across the board. Like you, I want violent criminals held accountable and the innocent protected from violence and evil. I take it personal when someone is hurt or killed on my watch. Despite what some may think, I especially don’t want to hurt or kill anyone. It’s truly every officer’s worst nightmare. Just remember, without hesitation, I’ll give my life to save yours. Whether you believe me or not, it’s true.

I can say with absolute certainty; all good police officers despise the bad ones. When deserving, we have no issue with them being fired or sent to prison. There’s no place for a dirty or corrupt police officer in our profession. Their lack of integrity, poor decisions, or corruption wipe away any good we’ve done and erodes the vital trust of the community. This sentiment is shared across the entire profession, whether you believe us or not, we simply hate dirty police officers.

In the end, police officers are human and like you, they make mistakes. Despite their humanity, the highest standards of accountability are paramount. However, accountability is a two-way street. Collectively, we must look at incidents objectively and assign blame fairly. If we move forward with a willingness to walk in each other’s shoes and learn from our mistakes, the potential for progress is endless. True change is possible, but it must be achieved together, not apart.

Behind my badge is a heart like yours.

In the end, we all want the same things.

I hope you see, we really are more alike, than we are different.

The Officer Next Door

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