I’ll never become a police officer as long as I live.

Police often get a bad rap by simply being the police. Could you imagine what it would be like if I were to put on the badge?

I picture myself being the Barney Fife of Marshall County, but I would carry two bullets in my pocket rather than one. Why? Well, what if one’s a dud?

That type of intelligence is what I would bring to the force. I, like Barney, would probably have to consider myself an expert in firearms, martial arts, singing, wilderness survival, American history and all things women. And any problem? Why, I’d just “nip it.”

Unfortunately, there’s a stark difference in policing and being Barney, and that’s why I’ll stick to the editor’s chair.

The other day I went for a ride along with Boaz Police Chief Josh Gaskin. I didn’t do anything wrong. I only asked a few questions and witnessed what police officers go through on a daily basis.

While slowly rolling in and out of different neighborhoods, I watched the chief inspect every detail of each home we passed and realized something. Police get a bad rap. I know that isn’t quite the breaking news one might have expected, but it never occurred to me how much work these men and women put in to adequately protect and serve the community. From the way they approach a vehicle that’s pulled over with a flashlight in their non-firing hand to noticing if a home’s door is slightly opened signifying a break in, each officer is trained to be detail oriented with everything.

On top of that, they also have to put up with a variety of threats and rude comments made by the people they swore an oath to protect. That’s not the kind of bonus they can get excited about.

There are moments every day when each officer fears not being able to make it home to his or her family.

While each one may consider quitting from time to time, they continue to push through the negativity; they push through for you.

Police have a difficult job as it is, so let’s not make it any tougher on them. When pulled over, just cooperate and be nice. They haven’t done anything wrong, and being pulled over doesn’t’ exactly mean you’ve done anything wrong either. Gaskin said none of his officers like handing out tickets or getting into scuffles, so there’s no need to pick a fight or start an argument.

Remember, a police officer is more than a badge and gun. They’re people too.

Taylor Beck is managing editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at taylor.beck@sandmountainreporter.com.

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