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Tag: media

Personal Perspective 0

Tired Of Sadness and Tragedy? Try this article on for size.

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People complain about the negativity in the news and on social media all the time. Yet, little do they know, it’s their fault. I bet if I titled this article something mundane like, “Tragedy Sells” or “Tragedy Rules the Media” it’d get passed over even more than with the current title. In fact, I’ve written a similar article before, it garnered very little readership, so we will see how this one goes.

I recently saw an officer comment on social media something like, “We were on our way to serve a warrant looking for a murder suspect, we had our heavy gear on, helmets, and as we were headed toward the target location, multiple voices could be heard saying things like, ‘Be careful!’ and ‘Protect yourself!’” The officer went on to say how much that meant in that moment. It’s the little things.

All too often police only hear criticism for “wearing militarized equipment” or “looking too aggressive,” as if to suggest police officers should go into situations being outgunned and under protected. That kind of rhetoric is sheer nonsense. But that’s a whole other axe to grind.

Back to the topic at hand, people’s love affair with tragedy.

Why do we as a society eat up tragedy with such vigor? A tragic event hits the news and we hit that share button on social media, spreading the word like wildfire. However, ‘mum is the word’ when a positive news story comes out, unless it involves a cute puppy or something funny and worthy of going ‘viral’. It’s sort of a shame.

Two officers have been shot in the last 12 hours, one has died. I haven’t rushed to share either of those stories, despite the fact I know they would garner a large number of “likes” and “shares” which is your ultimate goal running a website.

Why?

I don’t want to constantly be the bearer of bad or tragic news. If I were “greedy” for “likes”, “shares” and “comments,” then I could easily “fall in line” and share the sadness like all the rest. I could bask in the glory of my “website traffic” and “social media reach”. But I hesitate. And maybe it will be the death of The Officer Next Door, who knows? I guess we will see.

I will likely share some “tragedy” from time to time, it comes with the territory, so don’t burn me at the stake the next time it happens. I’m just hoping to have a different priority. A different focus if you will. Maybe I will resort to “falling in line” to surive? I hope not. I guess we will see.

Why do I hesitate to share constant negativity despite the “popularity” that comes with it?

I recently saw another police officer post on social media expressing his desire for a more, “positive police social media group or website”. His point is valid. He spends all day dealing with other people’s problems. He sees tragedy in all forms while at work, the last thing he wants to see when he gets home is more “bad news” on social media. It’s like the bullying crisis we have in our schools today. With social media, it is now possible to be bullied around the clock, not just while at school. Same goes for police officers and their constant bombardment of negativity.

If that officer only knew how badly I want The Officer Next Door to be that “positive and supportive police page”.  Unfortunately, there’s a few problems with that goal.

First, it isn’t easy to come up with stories that are positive. Not because they aren’t happening, they’re just severely under reported. They certainly aren’t self-reported by police officers, I’ve said it many times, they’re too humble to do that.

Second, people don’t tune in to positive. So if you’re a news station, a lowly blogger just trying to spread a message, or someone trying to generate some revenue to do things like donate to police charities, posting and writing stories of positivity sounds great, but nobody will listen. You’ll go broke and basically be talking to yourself.

Half the time, it seems people only read the headline or look at the photo associated with the articles anyway. If they aren’t controversial or sad, they get passed over. I’m still debating what to call this article. I know one thing is for certain, the more controversial or sad I make it, the more readership it will get.

How do I know that we love negativity like we love our apple pie, smart phones, and baseball?

The proof is in the pudding.

I’ve been writing articles on this website for just over six months now. I’ve written articles on a wide variety of police topics. Happy ones, sad ones, thankful ones, short, long, medium ones, news related, original stuff I pulled out of my very own brain, I’ve tried them all.

The most popular? The saddest and most tragic things I can think of, or report on.

You would think social media “groups” or “pages” related to policing would yearn for positivity. I can’t imagine the “non-police” civilian followers on such pages – who no doubt are there to be supportive – enjoy seeing constant negativity either. It has to wear on them like it does our police officers.

So what is my solution? It’s a challenge really.  

Luckily, I’m not just writing to grumble. Unlike most politicians and other ding dongs with a large voice, I present a problem and offer a solution. Novel idea, I know.

Start looking for ways to be a positive supporter of our men and women in blue. Our men and women riding our ambulances, our fire trucks, our military. Any first responder, or public servant. I don’t discriminate.

I challenge you NOT to wait for tragedy, or a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” to speak up and recognize someone for their hard work or job well done.

Let’s put a positive spin on the unfortunately necessary catch phrase, “See something, say something!”

If you see something positive, hear something positive, even think of something positive, message me. You can message me on this website via the contact button. You can find The Officer Next Door on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I have made it rather easy to find me, so please do. I’ll share your positivity as much as I can. Then once I share it, share my posts or article. Use the power of the internet to our advantage.

Just know that I may start posting things that don’t seem as “topic relevant,” especially on my social media pages. I want people to laugh more than they cry. So hang in there if you really enjoy the negativity and sadness.

I hope The Officer Next Door continues to grow and help officers in ways I haven’t even envisioned yet. We shall see.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

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Law Enforcement 0

Media Headlines Matter

 

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Colin Kaepernick, right, and Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem before an N.F.L. game last year. Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Today there was yet another news article published somewhere in the United States about the shortage of police applicants in their jurisdiction. Admittedly, I didn’t read the article. The headline stated what we already know, or at least what any reasonable person would suspect. People aren’t applying to be police officers anymore. At least not at the rate they did in the past. (If you could see me as I write this, I’m displaying my best shocked face).

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past four years. Since the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting and the subsequent riots and protests that swept the nation, police officers across the country have been labeled nothing short of racist and blood thirsty monsters. By and large, thanks to the mainstream media in this country. Why? The answer is simple. The controversy surrounding policing in the recent years has made them money. Sadly, it’s that simple. The more people protested, marched, and held rallies, the more the media could give them the microphone to stir the controversy. The more controversial a topic gets, the more clicks, views, and revenue they make. Their job is to make money. Nothing gets more views than something controversial.

How do I know this? I know from experience in writing and posting articles like this one on my website and social media platforms. The number of “views, clicks, or shares” articles get, seem to be directly correlated to the photo or title that accompanies the article. To test this, I’ve posted the exact same article with two different photos and guess which one got more traction? The one with the more controversial and sad photo. Same article. Same title. Different photo. Completely different results in readership. The photo and title I choose for this article will be relevant the first time I post it. Then the following day I will repost it with an even more controversial person in the photo, I’m almost certain, the results will be completely different. We will see how it affects readership and I will update this article. I don’t like or want to be controversial. I started this to be honest, truthful, and give officers a voice. Their side of the story if you will. But, sometimes controversy happens.

Conclusion, the more sad or controversial an article title or photo appears, the more “clicks, reads, or views” it garners. So maybe we as consumers are also to blame? Apparently, America just loves controversy and sadness. This may all be true, but it doesn’t remove responsibility from the mainstream media to be mindful on how they report facts and stories, or worse, how they choose to skew them.

Basically, media headlines matter.

The narrative they push matters and has direct and tragic real life consequences when they create hate that leads to police being ambushed and killed like in Dallas on July 7th, 2016. Other consequences are less tragic, but equally concerning when it comes to the lack of police applicants nationwide. Soon, there will be a crisis. I’m calling it now. Unless the economy crashes and people are in dire need of jobs, police applications will remain low, continually pushing police departments to levels that put officers and the public at risk. Who honestly wants to work holidays, weekends, and be called a monster for doing your job for $60,000 a year? Not to mention the obvious dangers associated with the job.

Sadly, the mainstream media doesn’t care about the repercussions of their controversy creating headlines. They don’t care if people who once strongly desired to be a police officer, are now rethinking their career choice. Can you blame them? After over a decade of wearing the uniform myself, in one of the largest cities in the country, my simple answer is, NO. I don’t blame them. In fact, I think it is wise to really question your desire to be a police officer in 2018 and beyond. If you really, really, want to be one, then do it. Because those are usually the best ones. It’s not just a job, a paycheck, or something you should do half-assed. It’s a serious job, with lifelong consequences for you, your family, and everyone you deal with. If it’s nothing more than a paycheck to you, you’re likely the kind of officer I wish never became one. They generally seem to become officers that make negative headlines in legitimate way.

Buzzwords like “police reform” now flood media headlines and political rallies because somehow “they” believe “they” can change the fact that every day police officers confront the violence most people deny exists. Yet somehow, “they” get upset when the confrontation turns deadly. Well, let’s keep speaking the truth, “they” only get upset if the police officer survives and a citizen dies. However, if the officer happens to be one race and the deceased another, CHACHING!!! Time for an inflammatory headline! Let’s not worry about the facts or circumstances surrounding the incident, publish that inflammatory headline! To hell with the consequences! Who cares about the facts or the fact the entire incident was on video and  likely justified!? Profit through division. Tell me I’m wrong.

Sadly, no matter how many community events police plan, cute lip-sync videos are made, or ice cream cones are handed out in the summer. One even remotely controversial police shooting and we are back to square one with the help of the media. Police are quickly painted with a wide accusatory brush suggesting that because of ONE particluar incident, we must remind you that ALL police are racist, blood thirsty monsters! It’s like a sad game of chutes and ladders.

Meanwhile police recruiters hastily hold up signs at a job fairs, “Sign up folks! Come join the team! It’s the greatest show on earth! Let’s make a difference! You can help people!” Come on, let’s stay on the honesty train. Times have changed and your good intentions no longer matter. It’s now all about what the media headlines say that define police officers’ actions. The media doesn’t care if you are the best officer to ever wear the uniform, never been disciplined, or have 58 medals pinned on your chest. Ultimately, when given the chance you, the American police officer will be crucified to their benefit.

To my knowledge there’s never been a protest or rally after a police officer was shot and killed. If there has been, please enlighten me, because I am unaware of such an incident. Vigils don’t count. Police haters generally spew the usual despicable response when an officer is killed, “That’s what they signed up for.” Get real. No one signs up to die.

I’ll be the first to say, dirty or racist cops of any kind should be fired and go to prison if warranted. The recent 3 year prison sentence of a Police Chief for framing African Americans for crimes they didn’t commit was too short. The punishment should have been harsher for ruining people’s lives, betraying the trust of society, and tarnishing the badge. His despicable acts have consequences for everyone involved and the damage is permanent and likely irreparable. For that, he should’ve been punished more harshly.

To conclude, I will say this. Police officers don’t become police officers to get rich. They don’t become police officers to hurt people. They genuinely view their job as a way to keep the evil from hurting the good. They know their role is to hold those accountable for THEIR bad decisions. Becoming a police officer, is a way to serve their community and bear burdens of which most people are blissfully unaware. They don’t go into notoriously violent communities – no matter what the racial makeup may be – looking to hurt someone.

The next time you hear about a fatality car accident with multiple people killed, a deadly shooting, or any horrific tragedy, pause for a minute and ask yourself, would you want to be the one rushing to that scene? Do you want to see the dead bodies sprawled across the highway? Do want to see the person taking their last breath after being shot by a rival gang member? How would you feel about the fact the media is able to portray you as a monster or an inherent racist with a few simple keystrokes, despite knowing nothing about you? Despite the fact you rush to those scenes without knowing or caring about the race of the victim. You just want to HELP. Would you be able to handle it? Again, I think we know the answer. When you think about it in these terms, the nationwide police application shortage comes as no surprise. There is an elephant in the room. The question is, how long until it reaches a critical point?

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door 

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