The Thin Blue Line

Late one night when I was in high school, my father (the police chief of our town) walked into the house covered in mud & sweat – he had just hurt his elbow going after an armed suspect who ran into the marsh. Battered and exhausted, he took a shower, and went back and forth with my mom about whether or not to go to the doctor. The next morning, when I woke up, he had already made us breakfast, walked the dog, and was ironing his uniform, getting ready to go to work. This kind of quiet strength was commonplace in my home, and I had the blessing of being raised by someone who taught me what character really was.

That type of character is completely absent from folks like Joshua Clover, an English Professor at UC Davis. In a recent interview he was asked, “What’s wrong with society today?” to which his reply was, “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.” [1]

People like Professor Clover (who by the way, is still teaching at UC Davis), who get paid for sitting in bean bag chairs, theorizing about the world all day, could really learn a thing or two about selfless service from our men and women serving in blue.

Because when a domestic violence call goes out on the radio, officers don’t hesitate or contemplate. They drive. Rushing as fast as they can into harm’s way to protect that woman and her child.

When society fails in any aspect – mental health, education, etc… it’s the police who are left to pick up the pieces.

When bombs go off or tragedy strikes, while most run away – our officers run to the smoke, and to the blast. 

The most ironic thing about all of this is that if Professor Clover was in danger, and called 9-1-1, the police would show up to help him just the same.

While most of us go about our day worrying about the weather or what to wear, the thin blue line stands between us and evil, sacrificing both day and night for our safety. No one thanks the cop that works all day on Christmas and Thanksgiving, nor the thousands and thousands of police officers that put themselves in harm’s way daily to fight evil–you’ll never see those stories on the news. 

A year ago in Florence, South Carolina, Officer Terrance Carraway received a call on the radio for urgent backup. He didn’t care that he was on his way home and his shift had just finished – he rushed over to the scene to help. Tragically, he never came home. He was gunned down and left to die on the street [2] . Officer Carraway was a loving father, husband, and humorous guy who was a little league football coach and a mentor to struggling youth. This apparently did not concern the shooter.

Officer Terrance Carraway

Last month in Houston, on a routine traffic stop, Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was ambushed and murdered in cold blood for no apparent reason except for the fact that he was a police officer[3]. Sandeep was described by community members as a caring, generous officer of the law, making a difference to all those he encountered. After his own mother died last year, he stepped into a care-giver role for his father. The shooter didn’t bother to ask.

Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal

These great men could have had successful careers in other fields but they were driven by a sense of calling. They knew their job was dangerous, but they did it for people like you and me. Many times, for law enforcement, the only recognition or thanks they will ever get is posthumous. 

This January, as I was on my way to Salt Lake City for a meeting, the funeral procession for Provo Police Officer JoJo Shinners [4] came through my intersection. I got out of my car and put my hand over my heart. It was a quiet and cold day, and the low roar of the patrol cars’ tires droned on for a couple of minutes, until the hearse carrying Officer Shinners body passed through, followed by the vehicle carrying his now widowed wife and young son. With tears streaming down my face, my only prayer at that moment was for that young boy to know how much our community desperately needed folks like his dad. As I turned around to get back in my car I saw everyone else. As far back as I could see, people had gotten out of their cars saluting, praying, and standing in solidarity.

My only hope is that in the future we can show the thin blue line our support before it’s too late.

Provo Police Officer Jojo Shinners


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Tyler Clancy

TYLER CLANCY is a proud South Carolina native, studying Family Life here at BYU. He has been involved in the community from a young age, working on a number of campaigns on the local, state, and federal level. Besides being the former President of the BYU Republicans, he is an All-American Lacrosse player for the cougars, works at an ice cream shop, and is one of the founding board members at the Utah Center for Civic Improvement. His true passion is found in the kitchen: exploring new food and new flavors from across the world.

Tyler Clancy

TYLER CLANCY is a proud South Carolina native, studying Family Life here at BYU. He has been involved in the community from a young age, working on a number of campaigns on the local, state, and federal level. Besides being the former President of the BYU Republicans, he is an All-American Lacrosse player for the cougars, works at an ice cream shop, and is one of the founding board members at the Utah Center for Civic Improvement. His true passion is found in the kitchen: exploring new food and new flavors from across the world.

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