I realize nobody is out buying cards and flowers for Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, as most of the time, when you're encountering these folks in blue you are usually in distress.

But I would suggest a slight change in your behavior when you are out and about today. Try and wave to a cop. There they are sitting next to you at the light. You needn't divert your gaze. This is the law enforcement at work. It's no different than when you greet a sales clerk, or the guy at the hardware store. We have no trouble saying a 'Hello,' or 'Good Morning' to those folks, and cops are pretty much the same.

Of course, I'm basing this experience on my normal encounters with the law. Things like driving past them while I'm nonchalantly checking my speedometer, hoping they aren't noticing me. Totally normal. But a quick wave wouldn't kill you.

The first cop I ever knew who was my age was a guy I hung around with socially during my high school years. He became a Chicago cop. Yep. THAT Chicago. He told stories of the people he would try to apprehend after getting a call on the radio. He would break out in a sweat just re-living the stories. Foot chase, car chase, somebody gets tasered, and doesn't fall down. Then, right when this same punk is about to run him over in a stolen cop car, the thing won't go into gear...and Bob let's out this roar of laughter about his good fortune. Chicago is a different kind of town. But Bob was just a regular kid like me, from the suburbs, who wanted to be a cop from his earliest days in school. He died on the job about 15 years ago.

He was a great guy. No particular hero. Maybe like the cops in your town. Guys and gals doing a job. And sometimes that job requires restraint, sometimes aggression, and sometimes both within a split second. A Trooper once told me by the side of the road (Yep, he pulled me over for speeding) that even though he has to bury it deep inside somewhere, he knows that anytime he steps up to a car, it could be the last time. Another once told me that while the officer is going through whatever routine he's called for, he's always looking at your hands. Every cop spouse knows, when they say good-bye in the morning, or at night, they may never say hello again. I don't know what it takes to be the kind of person who does that. But I know I'm not that person, and I always try to appreciate those who walk the line between me and trouble.

So I wave. Goofy, yeah--but I think they appreciate me right back.

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