I hate this band more than Def Leppard, Nickleback, and Justin Bieber combined.
It’s a simple task, and it takes no specialized training to do it, but it’s one I dread. The material it is made of weighs very little, but it feels far heavier once it is on. It’s worn as a memory and out of respect, but it’s something I’d really rather never wear.
Mourning bands memorialize the sacrifices made by a law enforcement officer after he or she passes away. It’s a simple task to add the small elastic band to a badge, but it makes everything seem so difficult.
We have lost 14 officers to gunfire since January 1st in the US. A total of 26 have passed away in the line of duty after you add those that died in automobile crashes and other causes.
Those of us who work in law enforcement understand how dangerous this job can be at times. We read the studies by the US Department of Labor that show that only taxicab drivers have a higher rate of being murdered at work. Police officers are always in the top 10 of the most dangerous jobs in the US. We understand. We signed up for it and know that it may happen to us at any time on any call.
Our families are typically very proud of our chosen profession; but adding a mourning band to the badge hanging on our chests gives them an upfront and vivid reminder that one day the band could be worn for us rather than by us.
For me, the little black elastic band makes my uniform feel much heavier. It means that one of my brothers or sisters is no longer with us in the struggle of good versus evil. That little band is a small token gesture of respect and admiration for one of us who answered the last and final call.
It’s a realization of mortality and the chance that my children may grow up without me in their lives. My sugar donuts are old enough to notice that band now, and they ask why I am wearing it. I’m always hesitant to explain why and usually try to be as general as possible so they don’t stress about me while I’m at work.
It’s a reality check that Mrs. Donut and I may not have the opportunity to grow old into retirement together. It’s a stark realization that life is fleeting and that every second with my family is a gift.
That little black band releases so much anger that festers beneath the surface of my existence. When I receive notification of the passing of an officer in my area that anger permeates my everything. It clouds my view of the world.
I’m in no way marginalizing the non-felonious assault deaths. Death is death, and it’s always difficult. When an officer passes away in a motor vehicle crash, I question my instructional techniques as an emergency driving instructor and try to figure out if I could provide anything to prevent one of the officers I am tasked with training from meeting a similar fate. Those of us who patrol on a daily basis are in our vehicles a lot. Having every driving skill and technique at our disposal when it’s needed is vitally important.
Those deaths still hurt. However they don’t elicit the same primative response from me as the felonious assaults that result in the death of an officer. Those directly result from a choice made by a selfish asshole or assholes who decide that taking a life is a better choice than time in jail or prison, although a good number of them survive the incident and end up there.
It’s that selfish decision to take the life of a cop who is a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, and a friend that makes me doubt our society.
Two officers were killed by gunfire this weekend. Police Officer Allen Jacobs from Greenville, SC and Deputy Carl Koontz of Howard County SD, IN answered their final calls.
We all will honor their sacrifices in our own ways. I’ll loop the mourning band around my badge and go to work with a renewed, grim determination to carry on knowing that the world is now short two young peacekeepers.
I hope that this is the last time any of us will need to wear these bands this year-or ever again.
It’s time to go patrol the Donut…rest in peace my brothers.