Four Things to Remember About the Job
“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4)
The death of a cop is always a disaster. You may read in the news every so often—too often–about a cop being killed somewhere. It’s always a sad read. You see the cop’s photo and read what happened: maybe a pursuit, domestic fight, or violent-crime-in-progress call. Things you handle all the time. Sometimes a cop is killed in or near your city. Then the grief hits so much harder. You mourn. Sometimes you cry.
A cop’s death is also a stark reminder of an easy-to-forget fact: Police work can be dangerous. As to spiritual battle, 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” Satan wants to devour Christians so they are not useful for the cause of Christ. Christians need to strengthen weak areas in their lives that he can exploit: unconfessed sin, carelessness about God’s Word and prayer, and unfaithfulness to church, to name a few.
In the same way, you need to keep your guard up as a cop. Watch your tactics. You may do many traffic stops, searches, pat-downs, and domestic calls with no problem. Yet the next suspect you meet may be the one willing to kill you if you give him the chance. And even with good tactics, times will come when you can’t avoid danger. You have to face it head-on. That’s police work.
The death of George Floyd brings up another fact of police life: You are in the public eye. Everything you say or do can be recorded. You have to strive not only to be right but look right. What you do should not be wrong or even look wrong. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Not just to abstain from evil but from the appearance of evil. Possibly the worst image of the Floyd footage was the officer’s knee on Floyd’s neck as bystanders begged him to stop. That looked really bad. Period.
Of course, fighting a suspect isn’t like a schoolyard brawl. He may assault you or try to take your gun. But here’s another point: You need to act like the good guy. Most people know cops have to use force at times. So use it when you must, but be sure it’s reasonable, and when resistance stops, force has to stop. Don’t get emotional and throw an extra punch for good measure. And if a bystander is taking video, ask him afterward to email you the video for the invest, because you don’t mind explaining what you did.
Another desperately important point: You cannot abandon decent people. Nowadays we get so much toxic input about cops. They’re condemned with a broad brush as brutal and racist. Politicians talk of defunding police departments. It would be naïve to say police misconduct doesn’t happen or that cops never act racist. Yet departments have body cams, internal affairs and complaint units, and even the eyes of fellow officers to discourage bad behavior. Still, with all the negative media attention, good cops get an undeserved beating from the media, politicians, and sometimes even their own departments.
Yet if cops don’t do their jobs for fear of bad media attention or their department throwing them under the bus, who suffers most? Decent people in bad areas, as usual. The people who are robbed at gunpoint and get their houses kicked in and their businesses smashed and destroyed. People who worry about the drug dealer poisoning their kids or recruiting them into the business with big money. The people who really want you there, but they don’t say so publicly for fear of criminals. Does anyone think about them?
The media, politicians, or high-level brass may not think about them, but you need to. That’s what our verse is about: protecting decent people from wicked, violent people. People don’t call reporters, activists, or politicians to help them in the middle of the night. They call cops. That’s why you are on the job, to help decent people against wicked people. God’s Word says so. Do your best, and don’t be ashamed.
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Brian Miller 6/15/2020