Several weeks ago I wrote a piece on the Black Lives Matter movement and the questions, concerns, and statistics that I feel need to be acknowledged and studied. In that article, I was very intentional to not speak ill of the police force across this country, and today, I want to speak on the Blue Lives Matter movement, and the questions, concerns, and statistics that also desperately needs addressing in our country because you do not have to choose between black and blue lives. Each movement brings up valid concerns we should not ignore.
Let’s begin by admitting law enforcement is an incredibly dangerous pursuit. According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund, from 2006-2015 1,439 police officers died in the line of duty or as a result from the line of duty. There are a variety of causes of these deaths from felonious acts, accidents, disasters, and even job related illness. It was eye opening to see being shot by a criminal is not even close to the only danger police officers face. If you want a more detailed list of how many police officers were killed by crimes, you can search through the FBI statistics here. Besides from being killed in the line of duty, being assaulted is also a common occurrence. According to the FBI from 2010-2014, 8,617 officers were assaulted with 9 dying from the injuries from the assault. That number is not how many assaults occurred. It is how many different officers were assaulted.
I think the most dangerous aspect to my day as a pastor is the fast food garbage I grab to eat, so I can drive to make visits.
I found the following video enlightening to how quickly life and death decisions have to be made by police officers. I cannot fathom being placed in that position.
I think we all can agree law enforcement is dangerous with life and death decisions that must be made in a flash of a moment.
With all of this danger, many law enforcement officers and departments are underfunded and undertrained. I am not sure which of those facts are more frightening. From 2010-2013, there was severe cuts in Federal funding for state and local law enforcement and rehabilitation services. Just a quick search of “budget cuts” on Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine online and you will quickly see stories from across the country from Oklahoma being unable to hire needed troopers, Chicago being forced to close a training center, fuel rationing in Texas, staff cuts of 61% in a department in Michigan, unpaid furloughs all over…it is moves beyond depressing to just plain wrong.
Hand in hand with small budgets and budget cuts comes the problem of being undertrained. Mentioned above, due to budget cuts in Illinois a training facility had to be closed. The Department of Justice cited lack of training as a significant factor in the police’s use of force in Philadelphia. Also, without a federal standard and federal funding, smaller police departments across the country face difficult training issues.
Police officers face incredibly dangerous situations. Many departments are underfunded, with many police officers under trained.
Law enforcement officers and supporters of the Blue Lives Matters movement are right to say: the job is dangerous, most police officers serve with honor, and police departments and officers need more resources to be more effective.
Blue Lives Matter are also right to say the police force is being slandered. Here is one example from MSNBC where it is commented that police shootings are not required to be reported to the Federal Government and then in the same paragraph, lumps all shootings by the police as “homicide totals.” Not all shootings are homicides, some are justifiable, and some are accidental. Homicide implies deliberate and malicious intent. This term of homicide is a passing of judgment by MSNBC on law enforcement. It is bigotry plain and simple.
My hope is to see the Black Lives Matters and the Blue Lives Matters movements march hand in hand to Washington D.C. and with a united voice say, something must be done!
When you look at the two movements what each wants is not as different as you would expect. Both groups want lives to be respected and honored. Both groups have a reason to cry out because they both face real problems that should not exist. Both groups need the government’s attention to study and seek solutions to the difficulties faced.
I am fearful that society has pitted these two movements against one another when they could be working side by side. A better funded and better trained police force could more effectively serve their communities. More resources and more education for the impoverished would drastically change the communities in which the police are serving.
My hope and prayer is that the hatred and especially the violence between these two movements will stop. I hope that each movement will see the common ground between the two. Because from that common ground and with voices united, true change and true growth could come.
Of course, I condemn the violence and hatred performed in the name of either of these movements. The violence and hatred stifles productive dialogue and is dark sin ensnaring us a whole to continue with the problems. With that said, I do hope and pray that as a country we will come together and seek to solve the real problems each of these movements face. The question of do you support Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter should be answered by saying a resounding “Yes!” This is NOT the same as All Lives Matters, which ignores the needed changes by offering a trite truism!
I want to see the lives of police officers and minorities improved from the situations I cannot imagine facing. I am thankful that the fat grams of a Big Mac is the most dangerous part of my day. I am thankful for law enforcement and the sacrifices made each and everyday for us. I most assuredly back the Blue.
Preacher Jesse Colbert