2016 Recap: Bad Cops Are 'Very Few and Far Between,' This Former Detroit Officer Says
December 30th, 2016, 8:09 AM
This semi-finalist in our countdown of most-viewed 2016 articles was published July 12. Links to the Top 10 series’ first eight articles are at the end.
An 800-word public plea for compassion and understanding between civilians and police officers comes from a woman who has "experienced both sides of the spectrum since I left the [Detroit] PD."
"Violence doesn't cure violence and hate doesn't cure hate," Merri McGregor, a second-generation law enforcement officer, posts July 11 on Facebook [where she later deactivated her page]. The 39-year-old Harrison Township woman was on Detroit's police force for 17 years before going on disability retirement status last year. She's the daughter and niece of retired Detroit officers, who wore Badge 4221, her father's number.
"I get it. I truly do. But this all has to stop," she writes amid national tension over two fatal police shootings of black men last week and the deaths of five Dallas officers during a Black Lives Matter protest last Thursday [July 7].
McGregor's emotion-charged post is shared more than 50,000 times in less than a day and has 80 comments. It's accompanied by this photo, which she puts in context at the start:
This is me at 21 years old. This is the day [in 1998] I graduated from the Detroit police academy at 4 p.m., went home and took a couple-hour nap, woke up at 9:30 that night and reported to my first tour of duty at the 12th Precinct for midnight shift.
Look at that smile on my face. I couldn't have been more excited, more proud. Armed with my dad's badge that he wore for 25 years on my chest, one of my mom's sergeant stripe patches in my pocket, my lucky $2 bill tucked into my bulletproof vest, a gun I was barely old enough to purchase bullets for on my hip and enough naive courage for a small army, I headed out the door. My mom snapped this photo on my way.
McGregor's disability leave was extended for a year on March 12 by the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, according to an online record.
At her social media page, she says her patrol service from 1998-2015 included "plenty of shed blood, black eyes, torn ligaments, stab wounds, stitches, funerals, a head injury, permanent and irreparable nerve damage, five ruptured discs, some charming PTSD and depression issues and a whole lot of heartache."
She describes other strains of the profession and addresses police abuses:
Smells, pictures, sounds and sights are burned and engrained into our minds -- things we can never forget, no matter how hard we try; things that haunt our sleep at night and our thoughts during the day; things that we volunteered to deal with so that you don't have to. Things I don't want my sister, little cousins or you to even have to know about.
I never once went to work thinking, "I'm gonna beat someone tonight" [or] "I think I'm gonna kill someone tonight."
I did, however, go to work every night, knowing that I was going to do the best I could to keep good people safe, even if that meant that I died doing so.
We all need to start being more understanding and compassionate toward one another. Violence doesn't cure violence and hate doesn't cure hate. . . .
Are cops perfect? No. Are there bad cops? Yes.
But please understand that the vast majority of police are good, loving, well-intentioned family people. They have husbands and wives and children and parents and pets and cousins and mortgages and electric bills and lawns that need cutting, just like you. They have hearts and consciences.
They aren't robots, they're not machines and they just want to help keep the wolves away from the sheep.
I know there's people who don't deserve to wear the badge but they're so very few and far between. It breaks my heart to see all this hatred and anger flying around. All it's doing is encouraging more of the same.
McGregor, a 1995 graduate of Lutheran High School East in Harper Woods, ends with a familiar phrase: "If we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem."
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