Kent Bush: Law enforcement’s routine acts of bravery taken for granted

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The police are easy targets.

Politically, it only takes one mistake to cast a shadow on everyone who wears a badge. One incident of racism, abuse or misconduct and people are willing to throw out all of the babies with very little bath water.

You can be mad that cops are being armed like soldiers, and there is reason to question whether we want local peacekeepers to look like warriors.

Depending on what you believe from the incident in Ferguson, Missouri, an officer might have shot an unarmed young man for being black in public. That is a favorite stereotype of officers, and so many great men and women get painted with that brush when, in reality, nothing could be less appropriate.

An officer in Edmond, Oklahoma, used his badge as a weapon to help him carry out a number of rapes. But does every officer abuse his or her power? Who would even think that?

The reason police officers make news when they do something wrong is because they are truly the exception. It is the “dog bites man” aspect of the story that gives it news value.

But every day, thousands of men and women put themselves in harm’s way to make sure others are safe. Police have a tough job. Sometimes they have to write tickets to control traffic. They arrest people who break the law.

Everyone knows the guy who speeds by them on the highway deserves a citation. But no one thinks they deserved one when they were the guy speeding by other drivers.

No other job has the intrinsic danger of being a police officer. Every domestic violence call could be a fight they have to break up. Sometimes weapons are involved. But they don’t get to sit in the car and wait for the situation to calm down. They have to go in and restore peace. That is so easy to say. It isn’t often that easy to do.

Add to that the fact that every traffic stop is potentially life threatening. In Butler County, Kansas, last year, a deputy walked up to a car in the early morning hours of Labor Day to check on a situation. Thanks to a protective vest, he survived the shot that was meant to kill him.

An officer in Topeka, Kansas, last weekend wasn’t as fortunate. A traffic stop in the middle of the afternoon led to a murder. Instead of investigating this crime, Officer Jason Harwood became a victim.

Harwood was the kind of officer every chief wants on the force and every city wants on the street. He had been injured in a traffic accident in 2010 but still returned to duty.

Now four years later, he leaves behind a widow and two children because a felon with multiple convictions didn’t want to end up back in jail.

It is easy to feel outrage when a police officers abuse their power. But those instances are so rare. The acts of bravery and dedication to keeping people safe are so pervasive that they are almost taken for granted.

Hopefully, this incident and many others like it will remind people why little boys and girls see the police as heroes.