These are difficult times to be a cop.
It’s always been a tough job, dangerous and occasionally frightening, though it can come with a lot of satisfaction that you are doing something important.
But times have changed and there are pressures that make the job harder than it’s ever been.
John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 creating National Police Week, and next week is that week.
The string of stories about black men being killed by white (and in some cases, like Baltimore, black) cops has prompted almost universal calls for deep and wide reform of police departments throughout the country.
And the incredible explosion of smartphones that have captured many of these incidents on video has had a cumulative impact on the street cop. When cable news networks run the video over and over and over there is obviously a buildup of emotion that can only be described as anti-police.
The relationship between police and minority communities has always been problematic, marked by suspicion – on all sides – and tensions. But with all that’s happened recently, the stress on officers who are already under great stress, as increased dramatically.
Mike Crivello is the head of the Milwaukee Police Association and spent 20 years as a cop on the streets. He is in close touch with his officers and said he is concerned about what’s happening.
"I think all of this has increased the pressure and stress on our officers," he said. "Support for police is a very important part of our job. Both support from the administration and from the community.
"I’ll tell you that even though the media focuses on the people who are protesting, I get calls every day from every segment of the community, telling me that they support our efforts to fight crime and keep their neighborhoods safe."
The conflict between the work of being a cop and the negative attention that is being showered on them should impact their performance.
"Our officers are professionals and when they get a call, they go. All that other stuff doesn’t keep us from doing what we are supposed to do."
I can’t imagine having a job where when you leave for work your family just hopes you manage to make it home alive after your shift. That is a rare way of life and one that is truly problematic.
"We’ve done things to help officers cope with all the pressures. Officers can get all kinds of help to make it possible for them to deal with this. We are even moving to have a chaplaincy in the department."
Nobody, including Crivello and me, makes any excuse for officers who behave badly. But seeing an entire occupation be marginalized by a few bad apples makes no sense.
I have friends who are crying about "police state" and calling for fundamental change in the way police operate. I’m troubled by that attitude. I live in an area of town where it’s not uncommon to have disturbances that require police attention. I feel safer because of the presence of these police.
So much so that every time I’m in a convenience store or a gas station store and there are cops in there, I try to buy them a coffee or a donut, just to say thanks. I don't think the cops care that much, but it makes me feel better.
For me, Police Week takes place 52 weeks a year.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.