I reached out to my fellow police officers across the United States and asked them to tell me in their own words, what they wanted to say to Americans right now. This is what they said.
"My wife cries and asks me why I still go to a job where I am vilified and threatened. She tells me that people have become more hateful; that it isn't the same job that I signed up for seven years ago. I think of my two-year-old son. It is hard to find the words to answer her, harder still to find a justification for the "why". The cliché answers come to mind: "It's all I have ever wanted to do," or "I love catching bad guys," and even the old "I want to help people." Those answers aren't good enough for her. Honestly, they aren't good enough for me either. The only meaningful answer I have left is: "If not me, then who?" Today, it is the only answer I have. Today, it is the only reason I still put on a uniform. Today, I have brothers and sisters in uniform all over the country feeling the same despair that I feel as I wrap a black band around my badge. Today, I have people depending on me. Today... it has to be enough."
Officer Joshua Madsen, Pasco (WA) Police Department 7 years' experience
"I was privileged to represent my agency last week in Dallas. While I was there, I met people of every race and from many diverse backgrounds. As I had the opportunity to speak with many people from Dallas, the discussions had one common theme. They were hurting as well and they wanted everyone in law enforcement to know that they cared and appreciated our efforts. More than one person began to shed tears as they spoke to me. As tough as things have been recently, I was reminded that deep down, the majority of Americans still respect and care about law enforcement. And for me, that is enough to keep on going."
Sgt William Vollberg, Pittsburgh (PA) Police Department, 23 years' experience
"It breaks my heart to see Americans taking to the streets to execute police officers in the name of whatever cause they believe or support. The belief that street justice, or taking the law into one's own hand, fixes societal grievances does not work. While Honolulu is unique in that we are a little more than 2,500 miles from the California coast, we are not exempt from similar heinous acts as our Brothers and Sisters in Blue from Baton Rouge and Dallas. My heart hurts for the families of those officers who left to serve their community and did not return home. Yet, I will continue to wear my uniform with pride and provide the people of Honolulu with the best police service I can offer."
Officer Jason Boquer-Wintjen, Honolulu (HI) Police Department, 13 years' experience
"Frustration, uncertainty, disgust and disbelief. These emotions sum up the surreal atmosphere of what it's like on the road right now. We are still going to work day in and day out without question, because whether you hate us or love us, we're still rolling if you call."
Sgt Chris Port, Hawthorne (CA) Police Department, 15 years' experience
"The people I work with have become more than friends, they are my family. As I walk into headquarters, the hallways have become quiet, the jokes and laughter are gone, and the smiles on faces seem to have disappeared. My family is hurting, our hearts ache, and we are filled with anger because our brothers and sisters across the country keep getting killed simply for the uniform they wear. I know we are not alone in this fight. The outpour of support and generosity from our community has been overwhelming. The simple reminders that we are not alone help us keep going, because in this family no one fights alone."
Officer Jacklyn Smith, Evansville (IN) Police Department, 2 years' experience
"Being a Police Officer is a thankless job. We wake up every day/night, put on the badge and head into the abyss. We patrol the streets knowing that all we have is our wits, our training and equipment, and our fellow Officers to keep us safe. We deal with the most heinous aspects of society without flinching. We witness unimaginable things that keep us awake when we should sleep. We learn to manage and re-direct our fear into action in split-second decisions... and we are flawed humans, no doubt, but we leave it all out on the streets. My God, being a Police Officer is a thankless job... but I wouldn't have it any other way... because it takes a quiet professional to put on this badge and hit the streets hard, just knowing that we serve something greater than ourselves. We stand our post on that thin blue line, between chaos and order."
Officer Juan Sanchez, Sarasota (FL) Police Department, 16 years' experience
"It's so sad to see all the hate in this world towards police officers. When I, just like any other police officer across America, took an oath to serve and protect, we did so because this is what we love doing. Regardless of those that want to make police look bad and the people that want to harm us, I will continue doing what I love most. I will continue to serve and protect the citizens of Pooler as well as anyone else from across America, who I may meet. We will overcome this day in time and I want to thank each of you across America who continues to believe in us and for your continued support for law enforcement. Please continue to pray for the families of the recent fallen officers from Baton Rouge and Dallas. God bless! "
Corporal Tripp Davis, Pooler (GA) Police Department, 16 years' experience
"Our challenges are ever changing, but our cause is never lost. Every day I leave my house, make the drive to my headquarters, put on my uniform, I can't help but contemplate if I'll be the next example. The next example of a young patrolman (or woman) forced into martyrdom. The next result of extremism. The next target in a blue uniform. As I walk into roll call, it passes. It passes when I allow myself to remember. When I remember to uphold the oath I took three years ago. When I remember my predecessors who dedicated their lives to giving their communities hope. I allow myself to remember how badly I wanted to become that beacon of hope. I remember, I am one of thousands who are fully aware of the risk, the public perception and the personal sacrifice that comes with this calling. One of thousands standing up for what is just; in a turbulent national society where stigmas and misconceptions are the roots of our challenges.
I am forever grateful for the support I receive on a daily basis. Grateful for the citizen who approaches me, just to give thanks. Grateful for the children who stare at me in awe; as if they just met Superman. Grateful to be the protector of a town that stands behind me, unconditionally."
Officer Alex Testani, Greenwich (CT) Police Department , 3 years' experience
"It does not matter how many of my brothers or sisters are murdered, we will win in the long run. Not by the use of violence, but solely on the fact that our purpose is of a higher level. We protect people who cannot protect themselves. They cowardly hunt the protectors that keep the evil at bay. Every day I put on my uniform and I know I will help make someone's life better. They can never take that away from me, no matter how many times they break my heart by using violence against us. If you call for help, we will be there for you no matter the color of your skin, your sexual preference, or your political affiliation."
Officer Zachary Caron, Brewer (ME) Police Department, 2 years' experience