It's easy to look at the landscape of public opinion in America and come to the mistaken conclusion that the majority of people in the United States despise the police.
It's undeniable that a certain number of people have a deep-seated and intransigent hate for police—of this, there is no doubt.
These are the folks who rampage through the streets following a critical incident—without knowing even the vaguest details of the event—stomping on police cars, breaking into businesses, and lighting dumpster fires.
These are the members of the mainstream media who set up camp to chronicle the mayhem, labeling rioters as protesters, and inferring that the police are the cause of the chaos.
These are the politicians who—sensing blood in the water and feeling the direction of the prevailing political winds on their fingers—capitalize on the fervor in order to curry favor with voters.
However, the vitriolic anti-police sentiment demonstrated by a small number of the public, the press, and the political class is not an accurate reflection of how the majority of Americans feel about their law enforcement officers.
The overwhelming majority of citizens support their police officers.
The trouble is, they are largely a silent majority, and even when they are vocal or demonstrative of their support for law enforcement, their voices are often shouted down.
A Day of Thanking Police
This week police supporters seized the narrative—at least for one day—on social media and beyond.
Wednesday was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and I was delighted to see my social media feeds alight with sentiments of admiration and respect for police.
The Cincinnati Reds baseball team said on Twitter, "Thank you to the men and women of @CincyPD who constantly keep us and our fans safe in and around our ballpark and throughout our beautiful city."
The New York Giants football team sent out a Tweet saying, "A special thank you to all the brave men and women of the @NYPDnews, the Tri-State Area and across this great country who protect and serve us every day."
The U.S. Army Tweeted, "Today is #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay. Thank you to all law enforcers who train hard to keep us safe every day."
The Missouri State University Tweeted, "Thanks for engaging with our community and keeping our campus safe, @SGFPolice."
There were hundreds of images posted to Instagram with varying versions of the same sentiment: "Thank you, law enforcement officers, for what you do."
The men and women in blue even got great love from their counterparts in the fire service.
Edward Kelly—the General Secretary-Treasurer of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)—sent out a Tweet saying, "Today is #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay. Our Brothers & Sisters in blue are ALWAYS there when we need them, & #OurIAFF support them 100%."
There were countless private citizens who echoed these sentiments on their personal Facebook pages.
In Las Vegas, more than 50 marquees on the Las Vegas Strip were illuminated in blue in commemoration of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
It was gratifying to see such widespread support.
Appreciation Beyond a Single Day
However, it's important to remember that we see acts of support for American law enforcement every day—if we look hard enough—and not just annually on the 9th of January.
Just last week we reported on a young lady named Megan O'Grady who travels with her family to deliver hand-made stuffed toy bears to the friends and family of fallen officers. Astoundingly, she has delivered 450 bears to law enforcement families in 31 states.
In December when a high school dance team in Colorado created a performance to honor fallen law enforcement officers and their families.
In November, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and his teammates donated $200,000 for the purchase of "advanced protective kits" body armor, a helmet, and a trauma kit.
In October, Football players with South Gwinnett High School in Georgia added stickers to their helmets reading "ADT1808"—the initials and badge number of Officer Antwan Toney, a member of the Gwinnett County Police Department who was killed in the line of duty.
It is well known—or at least it should be—that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a charitable foundation that helps police departments set up and maintain K-9 units across the country. Roethlisberger's Foundation has reportedly distributed more than $1.92 million to K-9 units since 2007.
Every year, hundreds of Olive Garden restaurant franchises across the country deliver hot meals to law enforcement officers on Labor Day as a way of thanking police officers for their service to the community. This year, more than 850 restaurants participated in the effort.
Then there are the stories of citizen support for law enforcement that goes well beyond a gesture—some members of the public have put themselves in harm's way to help an officer survive a deadly situation.
We've seen incidents in which an officer is struggling with a resistive subject—and potentially on their way to losing that fight—when a Good Samaritan appears seemingly out of nowhere to help bring the suspect under control.
We've seen citizens race to help an officer wounded in a gunfight. We've seen citizens pull officers from burning patrol vehicles. We've even seen citizens help officers end a high-speed vehicle pursuit.
There are myriad other examples—too many to list in this space.
Take Solace, Brothers and Sisters
I won't diminish the negative impact that the actions of anti-police groups—from Antifa to Anonymous to Black Lives Matter—have had on law enforcement morale.
Those groups have largely seized the national narrative about policing in America, and they are anything but objective in their appraisals of law enforcement.
Officers understandably grow weary of the keyboard warriors—safely positioned in their parents' darkened basements—perpetually debasing police tactics.
Those individuals have no real knowledge of police training or what it's like to be involved in rapidly unfolding, high-stress, potentially deadly incidents in which the outcome is uncertain.
Take solace in the fact that the vast majority of those critics are willfully ignorant of law enforcement policies and procedures and Constitutional law.
Take solace as well in the fact that those who support the police are likely to have participated in a citizens' academy—they've at least sought out information about policing based on facts, not feelings.
Take solace also in the fact that—according to a Gallup poll released in 2018—the majority of American people have tremendous confidence in their police. The only two groups to score higher on the question of how much confidence they have in a variety of institutions were the military and small business.
In the 2018 Gallup poll, police scored higher than organized religion, organized labor, newspapers, and television news in terms of public confidence.
You can take that to the bank.
Police scored higher than banks, too.
Take solace, my law enforcement friends, that you are beloved by many, many Americans.