By Stephen Owsinski:
The Thin Blue Line, a globally-recognized icon representing law enforcement officers’ fight against evil (good versus bad), is being bullied. In bittersweet fashion, I read about several municipalities in a few northeastern states whose local governance permitted road crews to paint a solitary thin blue line between the ubiquitous yellow painted stripes we see on our nation’s highways and byways. The gesture connotes honor for police officers who stand on those very same front lines (sometimes literally on streets during ever-so-perilous traffic stops). As well, the striping embraces the self-sacrifice variable delineating thousands of law enforcers who succumbed in performance of their duties.
Courageously, they put their lives on the line…for each of us.
In one particular city, the mayor himself paid out-of-pocket to have the striping completed. To refrain from using tax dollars, some cities used private donations while others used surplus paint from storage. However, once publicized, the usual anti-police conjecture (Black Lives Matter) decried how the Thin Blue Line-striping symbolizes hate and systemic racism. One of BLM’s New Jersey factions declared the striping typifies racial bias by cops and is a response to police feeling threatened. (I am still scratching my head.)
Presumably, the iconic Thin Blue Line emblematic of police culture is abruptly and grossly misconstrued. Rife with rhetoric, BLM and its constituents believe the emblem is representative of an American institution (police) hell-bent on making miserable the lives of certain members of our society.
Some political leaders denounced the Thin Blue Line road-striping, regurgitating the “police are implicitly biased” mentality attributable to President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Continually, study after study refute BLM claims that cops are racially biased and are heavily involved in shootings of African-Americans. In fact, those same studies indicate a higher percentage of Caucasians, not African-Americans, are shot in encounters with law enforcers. Blacks comprised 26 percent of such encounters with police.
In a September 2016 Washington Examiner article titled “Black lies matter,” analysis of data, bolstered by various studies from objective (read non-police) sources, unequivocally contradict the anti-police discourse propagated by BLM and the media. (I invite you to read it in its entirety.)
Moreover, the Washington Post maintains and populates a database of statistics specifically comprising fatal police shootings across the nation. In 2015, the data depict 991 officer-involved shootings, the majority of which were white suspects who were either armed and/or viciously resisting arrest. Thus far, the vast proportion supporting the Thin Blue Line-painted roads are Caucasian.
For the fractional percentage of cops whose dishonor of the badge of honor brings disrepute upon the police profession, the American justice system has the answer (verdict). Disavow the oath? Betray the public? Pay the price! For the vast majority who uphold their oath and facilitate Constitutional fulfillment for citizens, you are commended and applauded.
Without dismissing any wayward cops, holding an entire demographic accountable is an abjectly misguided notion. Demonstrably, the choice between evolution and de-evolution exists. It is not a cumbersome feat, not at all. Albeit cliché, there is conventional wisdom in the adage “Do not be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution!” Note the distinction between apart and a part; no gray area whatsoever. Overwhelmingly clear, hate breeds hate. Who wants to be a part of that segment?
Why not redouble your efforts for the good of everyone? Exponential dividends prevail for the common good. Police know this quite well; that is why they exist in our democratic-centered society.
Ironically, the exact same blue hue representing The Thin Blue Line iconography is not dissimilar to the blue hue we see all over the globe. I am referring to the blue striping (and icon) demarcating parking spaces reserved for our disabled-motorist population. It stands for recognition of a demographic who wish you no harm. It connotes marked social accord over discord. And, it happens to be enforced by the Thin Blue Line membership. The parallels are striking.
As the national pendulum swings between order and disorder, we can always meet in the middle of the road and take monumental strides in humanism, rationalism and empiricism. National unity is an attainable quest in which we can all partake, derive dividends, and grow exponentially.
So much altruism rests upon the line which separates good from bad.
Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer.
(Feature Photo courtesy of Kevin Connors.)