By Lexi Schumaker, VI Form
The Thin Blue Line of Family
“Cops in the U.S – especially in Texas – are savage animals that will shoot you whenever they please. Now in Dallas is payback time, pigs.”
This tweet, shared to me by a classmate, is what I woke up to the morning after the Dallas shooting. I read it repeatedly until tears swelled up my eyes. I could not comprehend the fact that someone would want my father, a brave cop whom I look up to, dead. I called my father immediately and asked him what I should do and how I should feel. He simply told me to ignore these kinds of comments because not many people view the police force the way my family does. If it does not bother him, it should not bother me either. So, why did it?
My father is a Lieutenant on the Massachusetts State Police, and is also the Commander of the S.T.O.P. team (Massachusetts’ version of a swat team). Everyday for seventeen years, my dad has walked out the door of my house to protect with his life the men, women, and children living in Massachusetts. Everyday for seventeen years, I have lived with the harsh reality that one day my dad might not come back home. As years have passed, many have come to assume that a white cop automatically thinks a black or Hispanic man has the intention to commit a crime or an act of violence. White police officers have been degraded to the status of pigs, yet they are not allowed to stand up for themselves because of the fear that the media will turn it against them. People have gone out of their ways to shoot police officers because they assume that they are racist. For the past years, I have had to watch my dad walk out the door to protect those who hate him – those who want him dead. I have had to listen to my peers call police officers evil and corrupt and even celebrate those who have killed officers. I have tried to defend my dad and what he does, but I have never been able to find the right words until this past summer.
I sat down with my father one night after the Dallas shooting and told him my feelings towards all the hateful comments I was reading on social media. I told him that I felt helpless against these cruel remarks. Did it hurt him as much as it hurt me? He looked me deep in the eyes and said, “Sheep don’t like the sheep dog, but they are afraid of the wolf. And when the wolf comes out at night, they pray for the sheep dog to scare it away. They don’t fight the wolf themselves.” He explained that he does not expect people to adore police officers, but when a criminal is robbing their house or is putting a gun to their head, they are going to pray that the police comes and saves them.
I asked him how I was supposed to deal with my peers at school who were against police officers. He then asked me if I believed he was doing the right thing. “Of course I do!” I replied without hesitation. So, he replied that if I believed that he was doing the right thing, the opinions of my peers did not matter.
My opinion is not always going to be a popular one. I am not always going to agree with the people I interact with. Despite these hateful comments about the police, I have learned to brush off the opinions of my peers. I have learned that sometimes the only opinion that matters is my own. If I truly believe in something, what others believe or say about my belief should not bother me. I believe that my father and what he does are a part of my background that is essential to the woman I have become. I am proud of my father and what he does, and nothing will ever change that.
Lexi Schumaker is VIth Form boarding student from Charlton, Mass. She plays field hockey, ice hockey, and softball, and she loves dogs.
Bravo, Lexi … very thoughtful, insightful piece. As the wife of a recently retired police officer, I very much appreciate your words. You and your father are modeling the grace and tolerance that we can only hope for from all members of our society. Dad has many reasons to be proud.