Let’s be honest. Many of us don’t feel like showing up for work on certain days.
Maybe it’s a difficult boss, hostile co-workers or nasty customers. Or maybe you’re just bored.
But more often than not, you take a deep breath, walk through the door and try to make do. It’s called being a professional, or at least an adult.
Police probably feel the same way. But imagine how Kansas City officers felt earlier this month when walking to work at police headquarters and noticing what protesters dropped off in front of the door: a coffin, wrapped in police tape, with “abolish the police” and “the other white meat” spray-painted on the exterior.
Many were outraged by this vile display and asked, “Who would do such a thing?”
A better question would be this: “When treated this way, who would want to be a police officer?”
Everyone is having staffing problems right now: the landfill, schools, manufacturers and retailers. Police departments experience a similar challenge, but there’s a different wrinkle. The ugly display outside KC police headquarters shows how protests can drip with a level of venom that will cause some to rethink whether a law enforcement career is really worth the trouble.
At a recent meeting, St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally described how one survey showed that only half of the respondents between the ages of 25 and 35 think that policing is an honorable profession. He noted that it happens to be the age group of most recruits. “We’ve been hit really hard with some of the publicity and people not seeing the better side of it,” he said at the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Citizens Crime Advisory Committee.
Gallup opinion polling that shows 52% of the public finds police officers to be trustworthy, which is well below nurses at 89% and grade-school teachers at 75% but significantly higher than bankers at 29%, journalists at 28% and car salespeople at 8%. Even clergy only came in at 40%.
What’s interesting is that public views of police were largely unchanged from 2019 to 2020, showing that perceptions were entrenched before the George Floyd murder. Over time, approval of police officers bottomed out at 37% in 1977 and peaked at 68% in 2001.
Significantly, public approval of police shows significant variation based on political affiliation, with 79% of Republicans trusting police compared to 36% of Democrats.
The real shame is that the level of discourse out there will tend to drive away the kinds of officers that a community most needs: veterans who know the ropes and recruits who go into the profession for the best reasons, like service and a desire to make the community a better place.
Reforms are needed, but if you drive too many good cops away, you may be sorry the next time you call 911.