It is not until you have stood within a sea of blue where the moaning of the bagpipe drones rises from your feet to the stomach and heart, and finally the head, that you can truly appreciate the precious nature of those called to protect their neighbors for a living, receiving in return a paltry paycheck.
I have been at far too many such places during my own career, which merely consists of writing down what folks who perform such difficult jobs for a living are subjected to. While the likes of me can, as just stated, appreciate the precious nature of these heroes, the experience does not come close to being one of those so chosen, or to be the parent, spouse or child of one whose earthly existence is snuffed out forever by the gunfire of a deranged, or the failure of a vehicle being driven to the scene of an emergency. All seats are cheap at the funeral of a cop killed in the line of duty except for those occupied by other cops or the mourners who knew the hero. The relative pain to which the heart is subject or may be subject to in the future is the price, as is the potential of being the next one for whom the bagpipes skirl and the mourning bells toll.
I was reminded of these feelings when recently reading comments within the great cesspool of human thought within the cyber-walls of Facebook, the place where our basest thoughts and therefore rather candid reflections of self publicly appear.
The comments were in response to a story I wrote based on a video taken Saturday night of a confrontation between a skinny, dumb kid and a police officer, in Dulac. The kid had been firing a .45, according to his mother, at the dog and into the woods and she was scared. Three deputies showed up and grabbed the kid, securing him in cuffs and securing the gun, along with the extra clip, thus removing the threat. There is no telling who might have been hurt. There were siblings cutting wood in the woods. There was the mom. There was the girlfriend. And there were the cops rushing toward the danger instead of away from it. It is for this reason that the great poet Malachy McCourt wrote that of 9-11 heroes “who went through hell on their way to heaven.”
And then it all went to hell.
The kid, Christopher Verdin Jr., starts acting up spitting and cussing and making wild, cuss-laden challenges to a cop who probably outweighs him by two thirds. The video tells the rest. The cop, Joe Cehan, appears to accede to the ridiculous invite to fight the idiot without a badge, forcibly removes the kid from the cop car and takes the handcuffs off, in a profanity-laced rage. The kid was smarter than the cop at this point, and backed down. The machismo match finally over, Verdin got re-cuffed, placed in another cop car and everyone was safe again.
Can’t you see it? Can you not see how at the moment the cuffs were taken off this kid a half-dozen tragic outcomes were possible? Can you not see the kid grabbing the cop’s gun and bagpipes resulting? Can you not see the kid grabbing the gun and losing his own life as the price for being an idiot? Can you not see the young man dashing across Grand Caillou Road and forever scarring the life of the unfortunate motorist who couldn’t stop in time, for either the kid or the cop who would be chasing him? Most of all can you not see that with 50,000 doses of truthful video flashing across phone screens into Sunday, the confirmation by a cop of every stereotype people use to chip away at all who wear the badge, and all those for whom the bagpipes cried.
But there were so many of you seeing full well what occurred, stupidity not even condoned by the sheriff himself, yet choosing to say that you are okay with this because the kid deserved the treatment, because you would do the same thing if you were wearing the badge, which is precisely why you were not, because you would never be fit to do so. Your willingness to accept this behavior, to encourage it, is an insult to those who really do protect and serve. Your reckless assertions place them all in danger. Respect and caring for law enforcement personnel cannot be unconditional. It cannot be that cheap. Just as the deputy should have thought before taking his reckless actions, it is for all of us not to condemn him personally, but to certainly call out what amounts to a desecration of the badge.