By: Sgt. Baron Brown, Ferndale Police
TODAY’S POLICE OFFICERS FACE an unprecedented amount of scrutiny. Criticism and second guessing is rampant on both sides of the political spectrum. Calls for reform of police use- of-force policies and training are com- ing from the legislature, the President, civil rights leaders, and social media users across the Internet. Some of the discourse is appropriate and meaning- ful. Some of it is calculated and agenda driven. Some of it is dangerous at best and deadly at worst.
What does all this mean for the citi- zens of Ferndale? How are we affected in this small corner of southeast Oak- land County that we call home? As a twenty-year veteran who has worked the street my entire career, I can tell you that injuries to officers and citizens as a result of physical altercations have never been more infrequent. I honestly can’t remember the last time a prisoner suf- fered an injury in an arrest situation.
There are a couple reasons for this. First and foremost, I believe that the offi- cers who work for the citizens of Fern- dale conduct themselves with profes- sionalism and temperance. Secondly, the marked decrease in officer and citi- zen injuries coincides with the introduc- tion of the Taser as a less lethal use of force option for Ferndale police officers. I remember having fights with mentally ill and intoxicated people in the pre-Taser days that we just don’t have anymore. Thirdly, crime rates are down in almost all areas. That means that there are fewer arrests and fewer interactions be- tween the police and bad guys.
I can also tell you this: Never before have I felt that I cannot ever let my guard down as it relates to my own personal safety while in uniform. From year to year police officer deaths are down, but according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Ambush Fact Sheet, unprovoked ambush attacks on police officers are on the increase. The reality is that while there is a national accusation of an increase in “police violence,” there are really no numbers to support that accusation. Use of force numbers are hard to analyze because they are not kept in a standardized fashion at any level of government. The numbers used to both support and defend police use of force incidents are anecdotal and subject to interpretation.
So, regardless of whether the police – your police – deserve this criticism, we feel it on a daily basis. Recently I’ve had officers tell me they’ve been subjected to some pretty outrageous comments. A citizen, who wasn’t happy with the result of a complain she made about a child custody issue told the responding officer, “Now I understand why officers are getting killed.”
Another person, a business owner, asked that our officers not enter onto his property unless invited. While this police department is proud and appreciative of the support we receive from the vast majority of Ferndale citizens and visitors, some people are definitely more vocal and hateful when they are not happy with the service we provide.
So why do we all still come to work and give you one hundred percent? It’s i simple…and corny. It’s because we care. We care about this city, its citizens and visitors, and each other. We understand that in many cases we deal with people in the worst moment on the worst day of their lives. We are used to being called on for assistance and then being yelled at for showing up. We want to be there when you need us. We want to deal with the nastiness and ugliness of life so that you don’t have to.
Our collective spirit is not broken yet. We aren’t asking for your pity, or not to be scrutinized, nor do we get paid to suffer injury or death at the hands of anyone. We never wake up in the morning intending on hurting anyone, but we also make a solemn pledge to our loved ones that we will come home at the end of our day.
We are your guardians prepared to defend you when called upon and to help you ignite the pilot light on your furnace when you don’t know who else to call. We just want you to remember that we are like you in many ways. We have kids, spouses, parents, mortgages, good days, and bad days just like you I am a police officer for eighty-four hours every two weeks. The other two hundred fifty-two hours, I’m just Dad.
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