Earlier this week, my sister shared a screenshot from the Facebook page of cop-hating group.
The posting included a large sheet painted with the words, “The only good cop is a dead cop.”
She was angry, of course. If you know my sister, you don’t want to make her mad.
I avoid it at all costs.
During the all the recent controversy involving police use of force I’ve seen phrase used over and over again. It seems hate speech – at protests and on social media – is okay as long as it’s directed at police.
As someone who worked in law enforcement for 30 years, I got used to the vile spewed in my direction.
I’ve been called so many names over the years I can’t even recall them all.
At one time, the words stung. But, over the years, I realized these were immature or silly people.
I can’t imagine what they might think of themselves decades from now, when they are grandparents, telling their grandchildren what knuckleheads they were as immature kids.
So most of the time the words didn’t sting. I became like Teflon and just let them slide off my skin.
But today, the words stung and they stung hard.
And they stuck.
Today, I learned about the death of Officer Kerrie Orozco in Omaha, Nebraska. She was a member of the department’s gang unit when she was killed during an attempt to arrest a wanted suspect.
The tragedy of her loss is only deepened when you hear what about how she lived.
Orozco was a seven-year veteran of the department who was assigned to the gang unit and cared deeply about kids in her community. She coached at Boys and Girls Club. She worked tirelessly to fundraise for the Special Olympics.
In February, she welcomed her daughter, Olivia, into this world. Delivered prematurely, Olivia was hospitalized and due to be released the day after Orozco’s tragic killing.
Orozco had banked her maternity leave so she could spend time with her daughter once she came home from the hospital.
I teared up as I read about her professional and personal life. She was awesome. She was making a difference.
Every police officer is a person – as surprising as that might sound to some.
It hurts that somebody would use the words, “The Only Good Cop is a Dead Cop,” no matter how immature they might be.
It hurts the parents of a child they’ve watched grow up to fulfill their dream to wear a uniform and serve their community.
It hurts the spouses who kiss their beloved every day they leave to go to work, knowing the potential danger.
It hurts the children who are proud of the fact Mommy or Daddy wears a uniform.
I only hope the people who wrote, posted about or “liked” the banner read about Officer Orozco.
I hope they recognize that hateful rhetoric is just that. Hateful.
I hope they realize that today a cop is dead, and she was a good cop. She was one of the best.
You can read a lot more about Orozco on the Omaha Police Department Facebook page.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org