SOUTH WINDSOR--With rallies and protests, poisonous language on social media, pundits spewing opinions, and plenty of political leaders weighing in too, one South Windsor police officer explained exactly how he has been feeling the last few months: angry.
“I am a police officer and I have been angry,” Caleb Lopez wrote in an opinion piece published in the Hartford Courant on Monday. “I have heard the attacks on my fellow officers. I have seen the media and the Al Sharptons take common criminals and turn them into martyrs.”
Lopez said it was hard for him to stomach the harsh criticisms leveled against law enforcement colleagues. He felt that the profession was painted with a broad brush in the wake of police involved incidents such as the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
"Ultimately, our goal is to save lives, protect lives, protect property,” he said. "No officer ever wants to use lethal force or any force."
Lopez also decried the racial element, which he says is too often injected into police altercations. "The vast, vast majority of officers see a situation based on the situation itself. And they could care less if they are black, white, Hispanic, whatever,” he said.
Lopez said his emotions came to a head when two New York City Police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were executed by a gunman who then took his own life.
"I can safely say I was a mess and I felt for my fellow NYPD brothers and sisters. And, I couldn't even fathom what they must have been going through,” Lopez said.
Shortly after, his feelings took a drastic turn.
Along with thousands of other police officers from across the country, Lopez went to the funeral for Ramos. What he saw, he said, changed his outlook. "When I stood there, hand in hand, literally with two officers in a moment of prayer and reflection, and I'm not the praying kind. But yet, there we were and there's no way that I could be that angry anymore,” Lopez said.
In his op-ed piece, Lopez wrote that the mere sight of the sea of officers gave him hope for his profession. “There is no challenge we cannot overcome. We are stronger because we are a brotherhood and a sisterhood. A fraction of the officers on active duty came to New York and we took over a city, because two of us had fallen. We outnumber those who would do harm,” he wrote.