“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” –Matthew 5:9
At last count, I have submitted 29 articles to Theology Mix for publication on their website. Most of them have dealt with the perspective of law enforcement officers from my own point of view. That’s what the administrators of the website asked me to do, and I have been happy to oblige. I agreed with them that the voice of law enforcement had been getting lost in all the noise from current events. Not that what I have to say is the end-all, fix-all, solve-all for the world. If it had been, five officers would still be alive in Dallas, Texas.
I had another article prepared for this week. Given the events of the last few days, it can wait until later. I simply couldn’t ignore the officer-involved shootings this last week and the outrage in Dallas…not if I am to be true to the original requests from TheologyMix.com.
As I sit here trying to consolidate my thoughts and emotions of the last few days into something that might be useful, I’ve been asking myself what I could say that I haven’t already said in past articles for Blue Lines. The subject of police officer shootings and general use of force, along with all the tangent issues, have been pretty well covered so far. As I mentioned, I don’t pretend that Blue Lines has existential impact on those who read it. I do hope to encourage those who share my points of view, and enlighten those with open minds that are unfamiliar with law enforcement and those who make a profession of it. For the rest, perhaps I can offer some scraps of “food for thought.”
There’s a lot to be said about this last week…more than I have time or space for here. Instead of reiterating the contents of those past articles, let me narrow the discussion dominating national attention in an unremitting crossfire of points and counterpoints to what I believe is the overriding problem surrounding the events of this last week. I think I can sum it up by sharing my contemporary Facebook postings before the Dallas shootings and the morning afterwards:
July 7, 2016 at 6:34pm (The evening just before the Dallas shootings):
“Okay, so this is…what?…the 3rd or 4th time he’s had a chance the get this right?”
“What President Obama should have said was… ‘Everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty and only after a proper investigation and due process. Having said that, I am concerned about these recent cases of officer-involved-shootings and am directing the Justice Department to conduct investigations into them.’”
“That way he could say he had done the professional thing to defuse irrational emotions among his constituents, let alone potential violence…as has erupted in the past…and wouldn’t look like a horse’s ass when and if these officers are acquitted of any wrongdoing…which, based on what I’ve seen, is quite possible…if not likely.”
“Wasn’t Ferguson and Baltimore enough? Yeeesh!”
July 8, 2016 at 6:24am (The morning after the Dallas shooting):
“Many have warned about the consequences of bombastic rhetoric from politicians and the news media. In the last 24 hours, I have listened and watched as pundits, reporters and anchors jump to conclusions repeatedly regarding this latest spate of police shootings. Our president, governors, mayor’s and even some police officials haven’t done much better.”
“Officers have already been killed in direct response to and in sympathy for this movement based on a largely false narrative that officers are ‘out to kill black people.’ The stats and the reality do not support it. I say ‘largely’ because no one can ignore the incidents that are either questionable or are obvious examples of misconduct. But, I will not parse or temper my words like a politician. This is dangerous BS being spun by people who should know better and by those antagonistic to law and order…and it’s got to stop.”
“These recent cases will be investigated and there will be accountability for malice and mistakes. But, based on what I’ve seen, I have a strong suspicion most everyone who has offered speculations and opinions have gotten it wrong.”
“And, now, Dallas. Violence always follows patterns and trends. Well? What are we going to do?”
Unfortunately, the media and the politicians continue to jump to conclusions about these recent shootings without the benefit of any objective investigation of the facts, let alone any explanation given by the officers involved. Based on videos that are incomplete, narrow of focus and interpreted with blatant bias, judgment has already been passed publicly by the President and Vice President of the United States. Activists need not demonize the officers, because the White House has done it for them. “Racism,” declares the Governor of Minnesota. Apparently, he sees no need for an investigation and due process. If there is criminal culpability involved, how is a fair trial to be conducted now? It’s gross irresponsibility for the sake of political kissy-points. Would this kind of mass, overt prejudice be tolerated for one moment towards members of any other group besides law enforcement? I dare say cases of suspected terrorism would be treated with greater caution. Come to think of it, one current presidential candidate has referred to officers as terrorists. Nice.
And we wonder how Dallas could happen?
“‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” -Acts 17:3-5
No matter what the message, its justification or righteousness, it appears there will always be those who stir up the mob in opposition for personal gain.
Michael P. Kelly is a retired police sergeant from the Huntington Beach Police Department in southern California, with 30+ years of law enforcement experience.He served in a variety of assignments in uniform, administration, and supervision.He developed expertise in training personnel with an emphasis in defensive tactics, officer survival, and critical incident management.He served several years in media and intergovernmental relations.At the time of his retirement, he was assigned to the department’s Professional Standards Unit (otherwise known as Internal Affairs). Two years before retirement, Mike was diagnosed with cancer.Thanks to the Lord's blessings and a team of good doctors, he survived the ordeal after major surgery and a battery of chemo and radiation treatments. Subsequent to retirement, he taught academy classes at the Golden West Community College Criminal Justice Training Center in Huntington Beach, CA, and worked for the California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training as a course evaluator.Mike has done volunteer ministry work for his local Catholic parish, as a teacher of adult and school-age formation classes, and as a member of the Pastoral Council. He has also conducted public speaking presentations about his spiritual life as a police officer and cancer survivor. He authored a suspense novel entitled For Sake of the Son, which was published in 2013 and is well received by readers who have responded with five star reviews posted by online retailers.He is working on another project for future publication. Mike resides in southern California where he celebrates a successful family life as a husband, father of two successful sons, and grandfather to two rambunctious boys…all of whom he considers his greatest blessings.