lives matter

I don’t know if you could find a picture whose moment in time more accurately explains what our law enforcement face every day.  First posted on Scott Madaus of Fox 13 News Facebook page, it has such striking context that it literally takes one aback when they consider the officer of over 18 years would fall in the line of duty 4 days later.  Father to 3 children and beloved by all who knew him, of course his life mattered and yet here he was participating in a campaign to remind the world of that fact for it seems far too many have forgotten.  You see, when Officer Smith first swore his oath to duty 18 years ago somewhere in the world was a 3-year-old named Justin Welch.  And just as Justin Welch was coming of age so too was a flurry of “lives matter” movements that placed into the public forum the question as to whether “blue lives” lives mattered as well.  With the social context he couldn’t escape, a 21-year-old Justin Welch speeding in a stolen car decided Officer Smith’s did not.

Social Dialogue Matters

Originally from Memphis myself, I have both family and friends on the Memphis Police Department and every time I see notifications of an officer injury on social media my heart pauses for just a second.  Many of my Marine brothers serve on the force and in fact, Officer Sean Bolton who was killed in the line of duty last year was a Marine with whom I served.  But after I feel a slight pause of relief for my personal grief I instantly feel a heartbreak of grief because I know the fallen officer’s family and friends are now bearing that burden.

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Most of humanity has as much appreciation for the lives of people they do not personally know at least that is until the public dialogue brings that into question.  War is probably the cleanest example of this as prior to any conflict the citizens of one nation are not sitting around questioning the humanity of another.  Then war arises, a group is labeled the enemy in the public forum, and slowly but surely one nation begins to believe the lives of others matter less and less.

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Make no mistake about it, the modern “lives matters” social movements and their offshoots have declared war on those in blue and are in a pitched battle to label those who wear the shield as the enemy.  So why should it surprise when across this nation and twice in less than a year in Memphis some piece of trash has accepted that context and struck quickly to end the life of an officer.  It safe to say that more people view the police as the enemy today and more people question whether their lives matter than did 3 years ago.  Those pushing such social narratives are partially culpable for the lives of fallen officers.

School Circle Memphis

I don’t live in Memphis anymore and in fact have been gone less than a year.  But let me address my beloved hometown for just a minute.  I’m not sure if Justin Welch was a native Memphian, but as someone who spent 13 years working with emotionally disturbed youth in Memphis I can say he easily could be.  If you are ever going to address your violent crime issue which is quickly becoming Chicago-esque, you going to have to do a little forward thinking.

Who was there for Justin Welch in Memphis at age 3?  What school did he go to at age 10? If he was showing signs of trouble, what services, mentoring, or support was available for him at age 13? And then start asking these questions of the current “Justin Welch’s of your city and act now.  Memphis is currently in an all hands on deck moment regarding crime and kicking any cans down the road now will lead to disaster.  Squabbling over taxes, jurisdictions, and yes, race, must come to a stop.  And suburbs I’m talking to you too, because you could build the Great Wall of Trump if you want around your city lines but as goes Memphis so goes you.  Your ankle is chained to the anchor that is Memphis and it will drag you into the abyss if you don’t contribute to the solution.

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Out of respect for Officer Smith, I’m not going to get into what Memphis as a City did to its Police Officers just a few years back in terms of Health Care and Pension, but I think you all know.  Officer Smith almost made it after 18 years and do you think you can honestly look a qualified new recruit in the eye today and tell them you will be there for them if they but risk their life in service to the city.  Now do a little more forward thinking and ask yourself how that bodes for the future.  I have lived in Memphis long enough to feel like I can speak fairly informed on the matter, but I’m out now.  I can but pray for those who are there and that Memphis will heed an all hands on deck approach to prevent this coming crime implosion.

And a last note to those again who have brought into question whether our officers across this nation matter, let me just tell you that they do and they are not going down without a fight.  Your warping of the social dialogue based on lies and prejudices has put blood on your hands across this nation.  You can say you disavow violence all you want, but Pontius Pilot washed his hands too.

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One Reply to “Beloved Officer Verdell Smith Held This Sign and Four Days Later Was Killed in the Line of Duty”

  1. We got a lot of brothers on the street in Memphis. Cpl Williams recently finished the academy. I’m afraid it’s become acceptable for officers to be killed , like people are keeping score. Very sad.

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