It has happened again.
Not quite three years ago, Brandon Sigler was preached into the sky, his casket surrounded by his fiancée, his family, and his police family. But last night, the bad guy sent another one home.
If you turned on the news last night, you learned Officer Steven Green’s name.
Did you ever think about him before he was gone? Before you knew his name?
If you made it through the day without being kidnapped, raped, robbed or shot at, or if you expected him to show up and help you in the sad case that any of those things happened to you or someone you love, you should have.
Men die at work sometimes. They are crane operators; they are millworkers and shipbuilders. They do honorable work for private enterprise, and because it is their job to protect themselves and the people who work for them, they are counseled on safety ad nauseum. Even then, there are horrible accidents. And it is terribly sad.
But this is very different.
The Police Officer works for The People. He carries at his side a gun, and wears over his heart a badge; together, they become an Open Threat to any bad person he encounters. The People for whom he works he does not personally know. Nevertheless, he protects them. He fights for them. Sometimes, on a Friday afternoon in the sallyport of the Mobile County Metro Jail, he is stabbed to death in the neck and he dies for them.
He wears a nondescript dark-colored uniform and listens more than he talks. Regardless of marital status, he rarely wears a wedding ring and almost always dons sunglasses. He sits in corners in the backs of restaurants, always facing the door. He blends in where he can and tells The People nothing about himself.
But he is flesh and blood, and he has a home and a personality. He has a family. He has children.
There is someone cooking dinner for him when he is dying for you, The People, in the sallyport.
So, when you hear the words “public safety cuts” and “City Council” in the same sentence, you think about him. When you decide that the starting salary of the man who protects you doesn’t matter, you remember that You are The People, and ask yourself how much your safety is really worth. And when you hear the words “police pensions” in the same sentence with “cost too much,” you think about the wife and three children he leaves behind.
Yes, he is a city worker. And no, he isn’t in it for the money. He wears that badge and uniform because he was called to; because he is particularly good at getting the bad guys. Remind yourself of that. And remind yourself that no other kind of city worker has ever been stabbed to death by a prisoner in the sallyport of Metro Jail for a starting salary of $29,000.00 a year.