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LETTER: To be for one thing doesn’t mean you are against another

Wife of a police officer paints a picture of compassion and empathy

The world is aching for change, change for a more positive future that is genuinely inclusive and more equitable for all people in society. I (as many people do) wholeheartedly support movements towards these much-needed changes. From my lens, it seems as though the world is taking notice of other voices that have been aching to be heard for so long, through the forms of documentaries, books, and listening to people’s diverse experiences. My hope is that this leads to greater understanding, as this is an essential step towards building a future that is more equitable for all.

However, it seems that so many people believe that to be for one thing you have to be against another, and that is just not how things need to work all of the time.

In my household, we’ve been feeling a lot of digital daggers of hatred from the general public lately.

Let me explain.

My husband is a police officer. I’m sure that you have noticed an awful lot of negative social media and news attention around police. It is way easier to find negative stories about police officers than positive ones. This generally seems to be the case, but it is especially true right now.

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Police agencies hire their members from the same human population as every other organization, so of course not all police officers are going to be wonderful human beings. Some of the actions of police officers shown in the media are disgraceful, to say the least. Obviously, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin falls into that category.

Police officers who conduct themselves in this way by no means make up the majority of the police officers in the world.

On the contrary, they make up a tiny fraction of the general policing population. Negative policing stories are simply reported on with much higher frequency than accounts of police assisting people out of a dangerous situation, lending a helping hand to someone in need, or showing compassion.

Let me put it to you this way. Out of all the articles you’ve ever read about elementary school teachers, how many of those articles were about child abusers or sex predators? How many of those articles focused on teachers who went above and beyond to help prepare their students for an upcoming exam? You’ve probably read more articles about teachers who turned out to be predators than teachers who gave their all to help a student succeed. Does that mean that most teachers are sex offenders? Absolutely not. That is my point. What generally gets reported on are the tantalizing stories, not the mundane everyday stories that are not newsworthy. The exact same principal applies to the depiction of police in the news and on social media.

I wish people could understand what the day-to-day of policing is really like. On a daily basis, police officers respond to calls from the public where they are asked to bring justice and peace to pretty awful situations.

While doing this, they are shouted at, spat on, and worse. My husband has personally been called to deal with some incredibly reprehensible situations this year and has helped to arrest people who have committed some of the most horrific crimes imaginable. Because of this, he has been in some extremely dangerous situations. He loses peace over it, he loses sleep over it, he has nightmares, and then he repeatedly experiences hatred towards him because he wears the police badge. Nonetheless, he gets up in the morning, puts his uniform on, and goes back out to do his job to help make our communities safer. This can be very hard to watch as a spouse.

My husband is a genuinely kind and compassionate person. He has taught me more about understanding and empathy towards people from all walks of life than anyone else I’ve ever met. But to be honest, I know dozens of police officers who, just like my husband, also have a heart of gold and the actions to back up their intentions. It breaks my heart to see all of the police officers being painted with the same ugly brush based on the conduct of a select few whose actions have become highly publicized.

I suppose this letter to the editor is just a public service announcement from a police wife, who is hurting alongside the rest of the world. It is honourable to be working for positive changes for the world, and I truly hope that you are.

Please remember that while doing so, you don’t need to be against the kind-hearted and dedicated police officers who are working towards the same positive end goals that you are working towards.

Lindsay Spielman

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