Blue Lives

Blue Lives.

Although those words may sound political to many people, I assure you that is not the point of this project. I don’t share my experience with you tonight with a political agenda. I share this with you because there are men and women out there who deserve to be honored and whose voices deserve to be heard.

They are the men and women behind the thin blue line.

Day after day, they put on the badge to serve and protect their communities, as they swore to do before God.

Day after day, they say goodbye to families and friends, knowing that it might be for the last time, to ensure that all of us are safe.

Night after night, they are watchful. They remain calm in the face of protest. They remain kind, though spit on the face.

I had the unique privilege of spending time with our local officers in three police departments: Loveland, Longmont, and Fort Collins. I rode along on patrol for overnight shifts, walked alongside the patrol officers on a busy weekend night in Old Town, and was warmly welcomed into the family homes of officers who shared their stories with me.

(Text continues below video.) (Click here for the high-quality version of the video.)

I was happy (but not surprised) to see that the majority of interactions the officers had with the public were calm and pleasant. There were smiles, handshakes, “Thank you, officers!” and “Stay safe out there” comments to the extent that I lost track of how many. Though the people who thanked the officers might not have realized it, their comments and kindness meant more to them than you know. I am so glad that you continue to give them those positive moments in light of what they face on the other end of things.

In my conversations with these officers, I learned so much.

  1. They are incredibly helpful and nonjudgmental men and women. After chasing down a bicycle thief for several blocks and placing him under arrest, they treated the suspect with dignity and respect, though it wasn’t his first offense. When they approached a disabled and homeless veteran they didn’t just kick him out of the park when curfew time hit. They made sure someone would watch after him, bagged up and moved all of his belongings for him, helped him into his wheelchair, took him across the street to the shelter, and talked to him with respect the whole time.
  2. They love educating the public. Most of the time when they approach people, there is a positive response. But when there’s a negative or disrespectful response (as there is on occasion), the officers never got confrontational. They have an amazing gift for calming the tone of the conversation, avoiding confrontation, and simply educating the public on whatever they were doing that was suspicious or against the law. This happened on multiple occasions, and it filled me with such pride.
  3. They are passionate about their job. They want to do it well, and they want the general population to understand that they can be trusted. One patrol officer put it perfectly: “Every profession has its rotten apples. They get caught eventually, they get fired and/or prosecuted, and that’s how it should be. But that shouldn’t mean the rest of us are rotten.”
  4. Don’t approach an officer from behind without announcing yourself. These men and women are trained to assess every situation for what it is, and if someone approaches them from behind unannounced, it’s not a great way to start.  Makes sense, right? Furthermore, when you are approached by a police officer, your best and most respectful response is to comply with his or her request, remain calm, don’t make any sudden moves, and talk to them like normal human beings. Most of the time, they are just asking questions and clarifying information with you and are not “out to get you.” In other words, they are doing their job. Let them.
  5. Officers need and appreciate your support. It is what gets them through the not-so-wonderful moments. I experienced several of those while on ride-alongs and patrols with these brave men and women. My heart dropped when a call came across the radio for a possible domestic shooting. I can’t imagine what it was like for that officer to have to draw his gun when his life was threatened by the suspect. While joining the officers on foot in Old Town Fort Collins, I saw only one major negative interaction, but it took the life and energy out of those officers in an instant…it was devastating to observe. We were relaxing and chatting it up with some locals outside of a bar at 2:15 in the morning, and a young man came up from out of nowhere, unprovoked, and yelled out, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” multiple times at the three officers. The officers didn’t respond. I kept my mouth shut because I wanted to document the reality, but in my heart I was wondering why not one of the 20 people in the area said a word. You could have heard a pin drop as he continued to walk past and out of the vicinity, flipping the officers off as he went. I was shocked and sickened.
  6. Parks have a curfew…even if you’re doing Pokémon Go. Seriously, we had to kick people out of parks because they were playing Pokémon Go. It was fun to see the parks being used for a fun, non-destructive purpose, though!
  7. Finally, we must trust in them and in our justice system. Period. The truth and justice always prevail in the end.

My endless gratitude goes out to the Loveland, Longmont, and Fort Collins Police Departments for their assistance in this project, and for everything you do for us every day. God bless you.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Hardouin