Police officers have a much more dangerous job than most. For them, every day at work is unpredictable – and any single action can have dire consequences. It may be something as simple as a single traffic stop gone awry. There have been many cases of officers pulling over someone, only to have an escalated situation occur due to the suspect. In some cases, officers have even been hit by another driver while standing at the shoulder of the road.
Many of these are not the result of an officer’s fault. The nature of the police job means that every morning an officer walks out of their front door, they risk not returning home. Some would argue that the same applies for everyone – we never know when we may die, and anything is possible. This, however, is simply a flawed argument. The typical white-collar worker walks out putting less on the line than a police officer. They are not consistently risking their life with every action that they take. And every choice they make does not have consequences that can compare to the magnitude of ones than an officer makes.
They are not targeted because of their uniform – like in the case in Dallas earlier this summer, where five officers died and eleven were shot at a protest against police brutality, or in Baton Rouge shooting, where three officers were murdered. They are not consistently called names such as “pigs” nor harassed because of their job. In no other profession are there workers who consistently risk so much yet are derided constantly.
Without police officers, there would be no order. They are the ones we call when we are in trouble. They are the ones who rush in and towards the gunman. They are the ones we count on to protect us. It’s true that they have failed some of us in some cases. Like us, they are human too. And like us, they make mistakes. It’s just that their mistakes have much more severe consequences. And so we place much more responsibility on them as a result.
Are police lives worth more then?
It is, according to judges. As a capital felony, the murder of a law enforcement agent is punishable by the death penalty. In some cases, even a police dog may be worth more than an ordinary citizen’s life. Under the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection act, anyone convicted of killing a federal law enforcement animal may face 10 years in jail. Some cases are notable for their severity. A man who fatally shot a Canton police dog Jethro was sentenced to 45 years in prison, and a Florida teenager received a 23-year sentence for killing a K-9 officer during an armed robbery.
The risk that officers accept is due to their own choosing. We must certainly honor that, and make better amends to respect them. It makes sense to have harsher penalties for killing an officer because it offers a sense of protection from having them targeted. But it does leave a bit to be desired, especially if the officer in question is a police dog.