Editor’s Note: We recently spoke with police officer Ryan Holets about his family’s decision to adopt the baby of a young mother struggling with addiction. In this post, he reflects on why he remains a cop despite the current struggles.
My heart has felt extra heavy and sick the past few weeks. I have wrestled with whether this job is worth all the pain it exacts. Lately, the news explains how police are too racist and violent, people post how tear gas and rubber bullets (they are foam, by the way) are excessive force, and the whole world is having a field day beating police into a mold that many of us simply don’t fit. Police departments are so local, unique, and diverse. Sometimes departments are as different as day and night within the same county. People are somehow refusing to judge each local department by the content of their character and choosing rather to judge all police by the color of our shared occupation.
The reasonable human reaction would be to tell you all that before becoming an officer, I left a career that would’ve made a lot more money and allowed me to see my family every night. I don’t have to do this job. I have been shot at countless times, fought hand to hand to preserve my life, I have had adrenaline flood my body as I wondered if I would live through the next few moments. I’ve comforted many as they’ve gasped their last breaths through bullet riddled lungs. I’ve breathed fruitless CPR into the dead bodies of little children while their frantic parents wailed behind me. I’ve had to guard with complete professionalism monsters who tortured innocent babies with terrible acts (so vile I cannot repeat them here) and whose only concern was when they would get to eat next.
My instincts tell me to say, “you’re on your own.” Have fun dealing with the armed robbers, the child rapists, the murderers, the burglars, the car thieves, the mass shooters, the violent domestic partners, the vandals, the arsonists, the gangsters, the kidnappers, the shoplifters, the neighbor disputes, and the stabbings, shootings, and mayhem that erupt on the streets every day. But I can’t say that. We who are the police (and I refer to the 99%) are a different breed. We cannot turn our backs on our community when it needs us so badly.
So, while everyone calls for the abolition of police; I’m here to assure you that no matter how you judge us, flog us in the media, batter us with your words, and say ignorant things about use of force and policy….you are not on your own. I will put on my badge and serve this community until I die, retire, or they disband the police as we know it. This job has injured me, taken pieces of my soul, wrenched my heart and mind; and yet, in a heartbeat, I would do it again.