Why The Blue Line Is So Thin

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Why The Blue Line Is So Thin
posted April 6, 2011

“Sunshine go away today, I just don’t feel like dancin’…” (“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards)

Today, the flags are at half-mast, the faces are somber, and your police officers grieve. Tomorrow, the bagpipes will play, the community will weep, and a “thin blue line” of police officers will bury a brother. The sound of “Taps” and the hollow echo of the caisson as it rolls toward the cemetery will forever be etched in our memories. But, just what is this “blue line”, and why is it so thin? What makes the profession of law enforcement different from any other? Why are we not dancing on a sunny day like today?

“And I said to myself, ‘This is the business we’ve chosen’.” (Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in The Godfather II)

We must first look at the profession, itself, for an answer. Before we chose the calling (or it chose us) of law enforcement, many of us were accountants, teachers, engineers, repairmen, salesmen, soldiers, students, athletes, preachers, drivers, clerks, medical professionals, eagle scouts, IT, etc… Instead of pursuing these other ventures, we made the conscious choice to serve our community through the God-given profession of law enforcement (Romans 13), and all that it entails.

As members of this profession, we ‘appreciate’ the support, hugs, prayers, and kind words of the community at this time, but we know that it is temporary. We know this, but we continue to do the job that we have chosen. It is temporary, because through the required actions of our profession (making arrests, writing tickets, investigating traffic accidents, investigating crimes, and settling disagreements) individual members of our community will be offended, ticketed, arrested, and unhappy. They may even complain to the media, supervisors, co-workers, and the courts. It is at this time that our community support will dwindle. Ah, but we are not in a popularity contest, and we willingly accept this.

Because when the bullets start flying, together is all we’ve got (paraphrase from We Were Soldiers)

Even when we lose the public support of our community, we know that we will receive strength and encouragement from fellow officers. Sometimes, our own families will not support us, because they do not understand the long hours, cold dinners, and alienation that can result from us doing our jobs so well. This is the only job that one could do by the book and still get sued, complained on, assaulted, or even, killed. This fact creates a bond between us that is not readily understood by those outside.

When the chips are down, we know that our brother and sister officers support us, even when others do not. This has never been more evident than the activities of this week. The support shown by my brothers and sisters who share my profession is overwhelming, and it gives me hope for the future of our city. We have called each other, we have had coffee together, we have eaten meals together, but, most of all, we have spoken to each other to make sure that we are going to persevere, even at this moment of crisis.

As we go, this we know, God is nigh. (“Taps”)

So, please understand, that when we bury our brother Tim, tomorrow, we are not merely saying goodbye to a co-worker. When you see the tears falling, and you feel the anguish in our souls, know that we are mourning one who gave his last full measure of devotion to our city. We are grieving for a brother who devoted himself to the high calling of law enforcement. That, my friends, is why the blue line is so thin.

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…” (Shakespeare in Henry V)

We have worked together in a pursuit that would keep our city safe and our communities secure. He was the best of us, and he forever will be a part of us.

To my brothers and sisters in blue: You are heroes, and I am humbled and honored to serve with you. Remember the words of David from Psalms 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Sgt. Jim DePrimo #781
Chattanooga Police Department

Thank you sergeant, and thank you Chatanoogan.com for publishing this poignant article.

Join our forums discussion about this here.

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