When a photograph of a uniformed Arlington, Texas, police sergeant kissing his daughter after her dance recital went viral on Facebook this week, it put a spotlight on #WhyIWearTheBadge: a social media campaign launched this May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police that they hope police officers will use to highlight "the diversity and commitment of the law enforcement profession."
The Arlington Police Department's post on Facebook reads in part:
"Here is an evening shift Sergeant and his daughter one night after her dance class. She wanted a special picture with her daddy at work while she wore her 'uniform' which is her leotard, tights and frilly skirt for dance. She was so excited to see him. She quickly ran up to him and stood on her tippy toes to give him a big kiss! ....#WhyIWearTheBadge."
The photographs reveal a human side of law enforcement seldom shown by mainstream media.
The majority of pictures on #WhyIWearTheBadge fly in the face of front-page photos in riot gear that sell narratives of fear, distrust and of a "police state" to the public.
They reveal the flesh and blood and vulnerability of every man and woman who has ever taken an oath to defend their fellow citizens: to protect and to serve the public.
They also hint at the families that wait for every police officer to come home safe ...
As well as the ones who will never see their families again.
The man you see above is Harris County, Texas Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, who was murdered in cold blood while pumping gas in uniform in late August. It is thought that he was targeted solely because he was a deputy.
In the wake of the recent spate of police killings, with the latest being the murder of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder earlier this week in East Harlem, it's worth a moment to consider that the men and women who put on uniforms and carry arms to protect their communities aren't just cops — they are, first and foremost, humans who bleed and grieve and feel and love just as their civilian counterparts do.