Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I’m a cop’s kid. I’m as pro-cop as anyone else. I lived in Detroit. Not in a cozy suburb. Not in a little satellite city. I lived IN Detroit. Why? Because that’s where Detroit police officers had to live. In the city limits. Unlike many other police officers my dad didn’t have an address in the city while my mom and I live in the ‘burbs. It was a fairly nice neighborhood. But it was still Detroit and even in the early 70s that wasn’t the most gentile of cities.
My dad’s grandfather was a Detroit cop. My dad’s uncle was a Detroit cop. My dad was a Detroit cop. My cousin was a cop in Houston, TX. That’s four generations of my family who were police officers. In many cases the family members who weren’t cops were firefighters. It’s a long and proud family history. One I am not afraid to share, and even brag about.
My dad survived being a cop in Detroit, MI during the riots of 1967 and 1968. Between my dad, my great-uncle, and my cousin I’ve heard a lot of cop stories. The good, the humorous, the heroic, the tragically sad, and the unabashedly bad.
I support cops.
I remember being a kid and having to tell people my dad was a garbage man because being a cop’s kid in Detroit wasn’t really all that great of a thing. I remember one of my friends from school learning that my dad was a cop and his older brother following me around calling me a “little white piglet.” It was awful. I remember seeing my mom worry every time dad was late. I remember seeing her worry every time the phone rang. I remember knowing that my daddy’s job was dangerous and that he “might not come home.” I had no idea what that meant in reality – but I remember knowing it was bad.
I’m a cop’s kid. I support the thin blue line. My heart breaks with every reported death of a police officer because I know that it could have been my family. I know, better than anyone who isn’t actually a cop, how dangerous that job is and the toll it takes on the people who do the job and the families who love them.
I support cops.
But what I don’t do is turn a blind eye to the fact that there are real problems in our criminal justice system. From racism in the rank and file of police officers to racial bias in sentencing laws … It is everywhere. It is a real problem.
My dad was one of the first white cops in Detroit to be assigned to work with a black partner. My dad an Mike got along pretty well. Mike came to our house. My mom and his wife liked one another. they even hung out together after work. Like partners do. But because he developed a relationship with the guy who he trusted with his life my dad was called a “n****r lover.” And some white officers refused to work with him. In all fairness after he was one of the first partnered with a female officer they called him a “pussy.” The *isms weren’t limited to racism.
Racism was alive and well in Detroit in the 1960s and 70s. It was alive and well in Houston where my cousin worked in the 90s and 2000’s. In the 40+ years since my father’s retirement and the 2+ years since my cousin’s death I have no reason to believe that things have changed drastically. I also have no reason to believe that the racism in the police community is limited to Detroit and Houston.
I am a cop’s kid. I am pro-cop.
I can be pro-cop and cry for the deaths of every officer killed in the line of duty. I can also admit that there are problems in the system that need to be addressed and changed, I can cry and feel my heart break for innocent men and women who are treated differently than I am because they weren’t born white and I was. The two are not mutually exclusive. And if you think they are, or you think I am not pro-cop … you obviously know absolutely nothing about me.