Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hearts Beneath the Badge~

Hearts Beneath the Badge

 "Love is silent. Hate is loud. I don't want our love for law enforcement to be silent any longer. That is why I wrote this book."
 ~ Karen Solomon 

Perhaps now more than ever, we need a book like this. "Hearts Beneath the Badge" is exactly what it sounds like- an attempt to introduce readers to some of the human beings who wear those distinctive uniforms. 
Those badges mark cops in the eyes of the world. For some of us, when we see a uniform we know help is nearby if we need it. We see cops as the protectors and servants in our community. 
There are other people see cops in a much less positive light, and that same badge marks officers to receive unkind treatment or outright hatred. 

Either way, it's easy to loose sight of their individual humanity, and just see them as cops, for good or for ill. 
Yet as long as we have this simplistic view, our law enforcement officers will never be respected, honored, or properly supported. 
There really are hearts beneath the badges, and there's a life story of family, friends, and goals behind each LEO. 
Some of their stories would be too painful to tell, but others certainly need to be told. 

Karen Solomon has brought a valuable collection of stories together in this book.
She interviewed both male and female officers, some of them young and just starting out {Ray and Damien} and others retired and looking back on a full career {Walt and his wife Jan.} 
Some of them worked in cities, where gunshots and blood trails were common events, and some in quieter areas where barking dogs received a full investigative response. {That reminds me of my town. Two weeks ago a local officer was dispatched to deal with loose pigs in the road. And he handled it with such a good attitude!}
Some went into police work because of a mentor's example, others because it made sense after time in the military.
Some of them chose to relate a lighthearted account, others described a tragic moment that they can still see in Technicolor.
The common denominator between every LEO she profiled was their desire to help people and their attempts to live a life of integrity and courage. 

There will be times when you're reading when you set the book down for a moment and regroup. 
Some of these stories will hit you hard as a reader, and I tried to imagine living through them as a direct participant. 

You'll hear several messages ringing through this book, good ones to consider as we relate to our police.
People do not become cops to harass citizens, or to be called heroes. They don't want to be put on a pedestal, but they don't want to be judged and convicted by public opinion either. 

They do hard work because somebody has to: there's precious few pleasant calls coming in to 911. They appreciate community involvement, and many cops try hard to reach out to their neighborhoods. They don't want to distrust everybody, but they do have to be cautious. There may be no such thing as a routine call- things can turn bad very quickly, or on the rare occasion, it can end very good. 

In a lot of places, departments operate on shoestring budgets and officers respond knowing that there may be no backup, and minimal equipment is provided. Shifts can be long and lonely, and the hours and stress all take a toll. And for most officers, the people they go home to experience the effects right along with them. That's right... an entire family is involved in law enforcement along with their officer.
Karen skillfully illustrates the role of family in a LEOs life, by including the testimonies of wives and girlfriends, and highlighting the experiences of children who grow up proud of their police officer parent. 

Obviously, people who already appreciate LEOs will be drawn to this book, and they'll find it a rewarding read. However, as Karen Solomon points out, this is a book for the unconvinced or the hostile, too. If you think cops are out there to make your day difficult, or that police departments are a drain on the taxpayers, perhaps this book would challenge those preconceived notions.

As Karen says about one man, but paraphrasing for every officer, "Their job does not define them. They define their job."  

God bless our law enforcement and all the people who love them and support them, and may this book help us civilians reach a better understanding of them and their work. 

I thank Karen Solomon for providing me with a copy of Hearts Beneath the Badge, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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