I hate to speak in generalizations, especially about my people, so I’ll just speak from my own experiences, reasoning, and fears. I go to work every day with the subconscious acceptance that I may not come home. I accepted and filed that possibility as among the ‘costs of doing business’ long ago. It’s not that death, or my potential murder, for that matter, actually occupy my thoughts and concerns as I drop the sled in Drive and head into the office. It is my reality, however, but nowhere near my greatest fear.
Each year, at least for the last few decades, about a hundred or so cops die in the line of duty. We’re killed by felons, uncontrolled vehicles, and heart attacks. Even suicide, far more often than I’m comfortable with. Even if it’s not one of our fraternity, we’re commonly called to respond to some stranger’s demise. So, death is a frequent ride-along for us. He’s spent enough time in my passenger seat to have earned some frequent flier miles, so, even though I don’t like the guy, I’m comfortable with him. Even with the understanding that he may someday come for me at work. Hell, he’s gonna get me in the end anyway, so I don’t see a lotta need to work up my ulcers about it. Fuck ‘im.
No, my concern isn’t The Reaper. It’s his brother. That asshole goes by a lot of names: Injured, Maimed, Hurt, Disabled. Given a choice, today, between guiding a motorized wheelchair with a straw or moving on to the next life, my bags are packed and I’m ready. God and I are good. My family knows how I feel about them, and everyone who mattered in my life has heard about it. My wife and family will be taken care of, because that’s the responsible and necessary thing for me to do for them. If I have time to realize what’s happening, I expect to be sad, even forlorn. What I can’t imagine, though, is barely surviving the near-death experience that leaves me dependent.
That. Terrifies. Me. The FBI reported 51,548 assaults against cops in 2015 (most recent data) that resulted in 14,453 injuries. The cops who get dragged by cars. Punched, knocked out. Bones broken. Traumatic brain injuries. While communities across America mourn 9 or 10 cops’ lives that ended in uniform each month, 141 cops are assaulted and 39 are injured every day. Cops like Corporal Nick Tullier of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office who continue to struggle to recover more than a year after being ambushed and shot. By the way, he’s currently homeless, in addition to being dependant on his parents and fiancé for his most basic needs. Oh, and his insurance is reported to soon run out. His life is my greatest fear. The drowning dream, where you have to force yourself awake because you can’t breathe? Yeah, that, just orders of magnitude worse. And, I imagine, without the ‘waking’ part.
I admire the strength, dedication, and tenacity the injured officers and their families must live each day. I know my family would be up to the task, and would surely hide their struggles and burdens from me. I pray that if I someday awake in a hospital bed with a slim chance of returning to something resembling my normalcy, that I have the courage and intestinal fortitude that cops like Cpl Tullier have shown.
If you want to help Cpl Tullier and the other Baton Rouge officers injured last year, please go to http://www.braf.org/ebrfirstresponders and donate.
You can also help the officers injured in Las Vegas last month through their local Injured Police Officer Fund at https://ipof.vegas/donate
Locally, the 100 Club of Arizona helps injured and deceased cops and firefighters, as well as their families: http://www.100club.org/web/Online/Online/Fundraising/Donate_Now.aspx
For this month, I’d planned on donating to 100 Club, but, then Vegas happened and I found out about Cpl Tullier. So, my donated dollars went there first. I hope 100 Club gets my money next month after a November absent tragedy for my people. Please support the injured military, cops, firefighters, and EMS personnel if you can. They went to work with a heart to sacrifice their safety for others, and they’ve been cruelly punished for it.