Let’s consider all that police do

The murder of two New York City police officers reminds us once again of the dangerous job taken on by men and women who wear the uniform, even the men and women who serve in such relatively safe places as New Hampshire.

Police officers have been murdered in this state and when news such as that out of New York pops up, we tend to recall those more local murders.

Then, when the news cycle shifts to something else – oh, what has Lindsay Lohan done now? – we forget. Until the next time. And there will be a next time.

That might go some way toward explaining why officers sometimes use their weapons when, some might think, they shouldn’t have: because they are often targets.

There are those, of course, who will argue that the two New York officers were targets because of what happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner but anyone who would do so would be, in essence, justifying the officers’ murders. And there is no justification for them. Period.

The thing that we hope New Hampshire residents will remember is that officers, regardless of where they serve, always face the prospect of lethal harm. Since 1988, 16 New Hampshire police officers have died by gunfire. Perhaps in the great scheme of things – if that scheme is judged by, say, what happens in New York – that isn’t many, but our state has about one-eighth the population of New York City alone, so the idea that 16 of those who protect and serve us have been gunned down in 26 years seems, to us, like a terrible number.

Indeed, one would be a terrible number.

As a society, we have a tendency to take for granted those who we sometimes need the most – police officers, firefighters, amublance personnel and, of course, members of the armed forces. We pay them poorly, we show them little respect (except, of course, when we honor veterans twice a year, thank you very much) and we often verbally abuse them or accuse them of not having better things to do than to give us speeding tickets.

Well, you know what? When they are ticketing someone for speeding, they just might be saving the life of someone into whom that speeder might crash. That is especially true when they pull over someone for driving under the influence. A couple of drinks, a toke or two might seem a small matter to us when banks are being robbed and houses being ransacked but, really, everything a police officer does is important, even if it’s in a small way. Who can know what might have happened had that driver kept on speeding for another three blocks?

It’s human nature to be irked when we get a ticket but face this fact: We don’t get tickets for doing nothing. You don’t want a speeding ticket? Fine. Don’t speed.

The thing is, though, we really need to remember that the officer giving us that ticket, and irking us, just might be the officer who, the next day, has to face someone with a gun, someone who might be a danger to us. And he, or she, will do it.

They all do it when they have to. And 16 times in 26 years, they’ve died for it right here in New Hampshire.

The tragedy in New York reminds us of that and all of us would do well to remember for more than a day or two.