LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Cops rarely talk about emotion.
“I have seen the extreme cruelty that one human being can inflict on another, and the incredible kindness of everyday people toward the less fortunate,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Parker said. “I have smelled death so strong I could taste it.”
Parker didn’t hold back recently on Facebook while sharing some thoughts on his career in law enforcement.
“If people could see what my eyes have seen, they would understand what the few do for so many,” he said.
Parker is giving voice to the many officers who keep their emotions hidden, while working on the front lines of human tragedy.
“I have felt the shared weight of society’s failures heaped upon the backs of peace officers who endure it and forge ahead with courageous hearts,” he said.
“We as a profession don’t talk about emotion. We have to internalize it while we handle the emergency or we can’t help people, and so as a result, we internalize it at that moment and oftentimes forever.”
There are the moments when lives are saved.
“I’ve heard the elated shouts of parents as a deputies find their missing child safe,” Parker said.
And when lives are lost.
“I have heard mothers crying over their murdered children and felt against my face many victims’ last breaths.”
Then there are the moments that give meaning to all the rest.
“I have buried my friends, and seen their children grieve feeling lost and alone yet surrounded by a sea of uniforms,” he said. “It’s incredibly difficult to bury someone. … to be at the funeral and see children who will never know their father or their mother and to see a widow or a widower have to pick up the pieces and move forward and to see my partners help that family help that family for decades.”
Those who work in law enforcement aren’t there for accolades, the commander said.
“They’re just I think looking for a little understanding that we are human beings and we make mistakes and we are deeply flawed, but we’re willing to step into the arena and take on anything that comes our way, from danger to threats to broken hearts.
“I really am grateful to all the men and the women who step up — and that I get to be one of them.”