Saturday, June 06, 2015

End of Watch: 5/25/2015

"Rest In Peace"  photo © Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio

The site where our Rio Rancho Police Officer Benner was shot on May 25th is less than 1/4 mile from my house. The next day, the site where he wa shot became a makeshift memorial site. Each day it grew and each day, no matter what time of day, people were there-standing in silent prayer, thanking him out loud, weeping over his death (total strangers to the officer, mind you). I posted quite a few images on my Facebook page if you want to get a good idea as to the extent of it. People were bringing by flowers, flags, notes, stuffed animals, votive candles, etc. It has all been overwhelming and moving. Within 24 hours a candlelight vigil was held and the community of Rio Rancho was there en masse to show their support to the family and to the police department. I couldn't help but swell with pride over it all and that's what I tried to convey on this blog posting that I had done in regards to that (it was late when I wrote it and I guess I didn't convey that as well as I'd have liked to). 

But, one reader from another part of our country commented on my blog posting in this manner:

Mom2SeaBass said...

To say "America take notice," says that you're oblivious to what's happening with Americans and the people who police them. It's fantastic that there's an outpouring of support for this man's family. He seems like he was a genuinely descent human being. However, the people of Rio Rancho have never been abused by this officer and his ilk. Rio Rancho is not the rest of the country. To claim some sort of superiority over people who have been brutalized because they don't mourn the people who have brutalized them the way you in Rio Rancho are mourning is ridiculous.

Oblivious? No. Not at all. But, I wanted enough time to pass before responding in order to give a thoughtful and hopefully, balanced response.  Over the past 10 days or so, you start to hear all the stories of what Officer Benner was like and how he cared. But, was he atypical of police officers? I think not. Resources are always limited in the department of public safety-there is no time or resource to dedicate towards their public image-all the good deeds that they do-these stories remain untold for the most part. So, the only thing out there that conveys their public image is the news media-who make it a habit to report only when things go wrong. And yes, some departments in other cities have some pretty big internal problems. These men and women have to make snap decisions in an adrenaline-filled moment. I'm not making excuses for these wrong decisions, but the whole operation of public safety is a complex one. Where are we as community members in all of this? Are we out there supporting these men and women? Do we get involved with the policy makers to ensure that there is good leadership and the right kind of training needed? As a community, do we help those families who have lost their loved one in the line of duty?

I will say it again, that I am proud of our community's response not only to the family of Officer Benner, but to our department. Yes, we do have a public safety department that has great leadership and training. It is something that I consider to be one of the city's greatest asset.

Aside from the intense outpouring of grief from the community, what I've also witnessed here are parents bringing their children to the makeshift memorial site to show their respect. All the heartfelt notes that these children wrote-as parents use this opportunity to teach their children to respect our law enforcement officers. That is something that I feel has eroded from the fabric of our society-this concept of respect and gratitude for what is a dangerous job. The families of law enforcement officers never know if their loved one will return from work that day. Could you live with that on a day to day basis?

If your city offers a ride-along program with their police officers, go do it-and do it on Thanksgiving night when domestic violence is at its worse. Find ways to better understand what these men and women do everyday and ask what you can do to better support them. Marching in protest and destroying small businesses does not become an agent of change. The people who are out there protecting us deserve our support-and yes, there will be some 'bad eggs'-but, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Join us as a group of us (yes-there are many of us!) from around the world post our shadow shots over at Shadow Shot Sunday 2. Entertain your muse and be amused by stopping by to see what others have posted!


bj said...

dear heart...don't worry about it when someone says mean things...their parents didn't tell them that "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". I feel sorry for them because they will be rude to others and end up with not very many people even liking them
In blogging, it is so easy to just move on to another blog and that's what we should do, rather than saying something that will hurt the other.
Hope you have a good weekend.

Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio said...

Thanks, bj-I guess I would like to at least try to have folks who feel this way to balance out their view and to be involved in their community.

colleen said...

This is a beautiful compilation with just the right amount of light shed and shadow revealed.

Norma Ruttan said...

well said, Paula. Having had a husband who was a correctional officer, a son who is one, and a daughter who started out as one and is now the superintendent of a juvenile prison, I've lived through my husband being locked in while a riot raged in the prison. With that, no calls could be made out and none could go in. We had only one reliable TV station (Indy's CBS) that reported facts. The others specualated and made things worse for the officers' families. Too much of that goes on with all the turmoil these past few months. I wonder when new reporting resorted to feed the frenzy. As you said, police officers and correctional officers must make important split second decisions. I presume that our officers must be much like your town's since we've had no problems like the cities that have been in the news. I give thanks for that.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Memorials like these always fill me with sadness...

Old Farmstead Shadows


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