Imagine feeling like every kiss goodbye to your loved ones each day might be your last kiss. Police officers and their families feel this way every single day. Every morning when police officers puts on their badge, they know there's a chance they might not come home that night.
However, although police officers risk their life daily, being an officer is literally quite a thankless job. Not only are police officers often taken for granted, many people are highly vocal about their dislike for cops.
In fact, as I type this essay I know already that it will receive many negative comments below, ragging on the police. And not just "some" police officers. People tend to use the phrase "all police officers" when they speak negatively about cops.
Why is this?
Why do some people simply love to say "all cops are bad"?
Andrew Hale believes that much of people's anti-police attitude is due to a media bias to report the shocking and dramatic.
"Unfortunately the bad tends to stand out and make more interesting news stories," explains Hale, "Mistakes and problems tend to be more dramatic, attention-getting, adrenalin-fueling - far more than the calm, peaceful good deeds police officers do every day."
Hale knows a lot about the good police do. He is a lawyer and founder of Andrew M. Hale & Associates -- one of the top firms in the country, known for representing police officers in some of the highest stake police lawsuits in the world -- where often tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money is at stake. He believes many of the suits are wrongfully filed because plaintiffs are simply trying to ride the wave of anti-police sentiment.
"From what I've seen, the vast majority of police officers are dedicated, hard-working and conscientious," says Hale. "There are over 13,000 police officers in Chicago. The fact that a handful of officers have been in the news for misconduct should not taint the other 12,980. One bad apple does not mean they are all bad apples. We need to start understanding this mathematical fact. Not only for the sake of the police's reputation, but for the financial stake of our cities' monetary stability. Although 'wrongful convictions,' when they do happen, are terrible, so are wrongful police bankruptcies. It's a real travesty when an honest, hardworking police officer can be hit with punitive damages, that come out of their own pocket -- and a city can be hit with a huge multi-million dollar verdict, causing severe financial distress for the city."
Hale is well aware of these financial dangers. He garnered media attention when he successfully defended ten retired Chicago police officers being sued by Michael Evans -- a man released from a 27 year prison term on an innocence pardon. Evans claimed that the officers framed him for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in 1976. He sought $60 million in damages at his civil trial. In a case that started out looking almost impossible to win, Hale revealed enough of the "whole truth story" to demonstrate to the jury that the police officers were following legitimate witness leads. They'd truly done nothing wrong.
Soon after Hale founded Whole Truth Project -- a thriving, vibrant pro-police community which started on Facebook -- and is now becoming a highly empassioned off-Facebook grassroots movement. Indeed, it's amazing how speedily Whole Truth Project is rapidly growing. It's typical for Hale's FB posts to reach over 1 million people per week from all around the world. Plus Hale's Whole Truth Project now also proudly boasts over 600 "team captain" volunteers, each spearheading their pro-police efforts in their hometowns -- each trying to do their part to share the whole truth about all the good the police are doing.
With all this in mind, on Sept. 15 2012 Hale's Whole Truth Project is holding the very first "National Tell A Police 'Thank You' Day."
"It's such a simple thing to do," says Hale, "to vocally share gratitude to the police. We need to take time to recognize what a truly brave and dangerous job it is to be a police officer - as recently evidenced by the two officers killed in Louisiana. It's time we recognize how police officers are our everyday heroes. They serve and protect - no matter the fear inside. They run towards danger - when everyone else is running away."
In honor of Sept. 15th's "National Tell A Police Officer 'Thank You' Day" Hale's 600-plus team captains are doing their part in their local towns to pass on the gratitude by encouraging people to use the most basic form of appreciation -- by simply saying "thank you" to police officers all that day. Businesses are also encouraged to show appreciation through a small act of gratitude, like providing a free cup of coffee or breakfast to local police officers
"Cops help people every day," says Whole Truth Project supporter Amanda Wietfeldt. "They do things that are dangerous to help make our world a better place. At the same time being a cop is a job. Just like a doctor has to give a shot or do surgery on people who need them, cops need to do things that people don't like, for example, give tickets. It doesn't mean they are mean or bad. They are just doing their jobs."
"The police are soldiers on the streets of America," says Lynne Richard-Brown, a supporter of Whole Truth Project. "At the same time they are mommies, daddies, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles. They are people just like all of us. They just happen to be super brave people -- who will go help strangers in scary situations that most of the rest of us are too afraid to handle."
Again, as I type out this essay for the Huffington Post, I have an intuitive feeling it will be greeted not only by fellow pro-police supporters but by many people who will loudly share their dislike for "all police."
I'm curious to hear where you stand on the police and why. Please do comment below!
"We are all each unique individuals," says Hale. "There's no way you can support an all encompassing statement like 'all' cops are bad -- just like you cannot say that 'all' people in any subgroup are 'all' bad." Hale pauses, chuckles softly. "You know," says Hale, "there's an old joke how if you do something bad, no one forgets. But if you do something good, no one remembers. Unfortunately there's a lot of truth behind this joke - which is why on September 15th I'm trying to make sure we do take some time to remember the good that's being done. I'm hoping on National Tell A Police Officer 'Thank You' Day many people will be thanking police officers in their hometown for all the good they've witnessed."