EDITORIAL: A far different narrative would have emerged if Officer Wilson had been killed
By CHARLEY WILKISON
If Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, had been murdered with his own weapon, the sod would already be level over his grave and the dormant roots of autumn grass would be waiting patiently for spring.
If he had not regained control of his service weapon inside his own unit, he would be dead.
If Officer Wilson had been the one to die, there would have been no federal inquiry, and the media would not have covered it except the local news might have had a few shots of the bagpiper at the police funeral. President Obama would not have said anything.
Some will say that we have arrived at a new place in the American experience. Not true. The majority of the public has never cared much about the deaths of law enforcement officers, except perhaps in the abstract. Police deaths have always been treated as a wreck they pass on the freeway. Regrettable, but unavoidable.
With the death of a law enforcement officer comes the stoic acceptance. The loss is buried deep beneath the sounds of the riderless horse, “Amazing Grace” by the bagpipers, the final bugle calls and the jarring sounds of the 21 guns.
Law enforcement is forced into the loneliest job in the world — mourning its own. The entire country mourns drug-addicted Hollywood stars and ignores her heroes.
There is never a police protest. The anger, the grief are all silent to the outside world. Everyone is under strict orders from the local district attorney’s political machine to remain quiet. The accused perpetrator retains a plethora of lawyers and a well-choreographed dance plays itself out in the deep shadows.
Ever been to a police funeral where the priest or pastor pounds their fist on the podium and calls for justice? Me neither. Ever seen the officer’s mother allowed to speak openly on television? No, and you probably won’t until years later when she and her widowed daughter-in-law are on the courthouse steps saying justice was finally done. No one knows what she is talking about and no one remembers. Imagine if law enforcement families encouraged burning down the area where a cop was murdered.
A law enforcement officer’s death is seen as part of the cost of doing business. A sad tax that falls randomly upon someone who applied for the job and therefore somehow deserves his or her fate. The officer’s family is expected to understand that this is a byproduct of a dangerous, violent war in the streets.
Law enforcement pays the heavy price of empty chairs, fatherless children and sad memories for Christmas. However, if the police use high-end technology to protect the streets, they are becoming too militarized. Sound like fair criticism? No, but the law enforcement community is simply too numb to say anything.
After more than 1,500 law enforcement deaths in Texas alone, who can blame us? Texas leads the nation in officers killed in the line of duty.
Perhaps it’s time to begin shedding the bitter tears in public. Maybe it’s time to let everyone see the heartbreak. Now is our time to say “Stop murdering cops.”
The media and the politicians need to see and feel just a few of the millions of tiny, broken pieces of loss that our families deal with every day.
If Texas really values her law enforcement officers, then maybe it’s time to show it. Stop trying to strip the hard earned retirements of the living and raise the death benefit for the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty.
Let’s see which elected leaders will be willing to step up.
Charley Wilkison is Executive Director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) and co-owner of The Liberty Hill Independent.