DaddyShootYouI was a cop. My four-year-old son had just seen another police officer reported killed in the line of duty on an afternoon newscast. Tears brimmed his eyes.

“Daddy, will somebody shoot you?” he asked.

It is difficult to explain to children about the violence in our nation. Children of cops realize that policemen have become the catalyst around which violence revolves. Wherever there is chaos, dying, and tragedy, there also are the police. Kids of the thin blue line are subjected to hearing their parents described as “racist pigs” and “fascists” while hundreds of officers are assaulted or killed every year.

During my time in law enforcement serving in two major cities—Miami, Florida, and Tulsa, Oklahoma—two of my police friends were murdered by gunmen in the streets. One will never see his children become adults. The other was a 22-years-old rookie and had been married six months.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been assaulted. I have been shot at several times. I went through the Miami riots when parts of the city burned. I shot a man who was shooting at me. This is not a unique background for American police. Today, this is every cop USA.

A contemporary police officer perhaps has more direct power and more direct personal responsibility than any other single individual in modern society. Each day he places his career, his reputation, his life on the line and is reimbursed by attacks against his character and life.

Nights patrolling dark alleys; talking some doped-up psycho out of a gun; hustling drunks and addicts out of abandoned buildings and wrecked cars; explaining to an irate traffic violator why he earned a citation for doing 90 in a 40-mph zone; settling husband and wife fights when they are both drunk, wrecking the house, and terrorizing the children; going in after an armed robbery suspect; apprehending killers and child molesters and rapists and… on and on.

And always trying to be ready. The next call, the next street, the next car he stops may expose the burglar, armed robber, murderer, rapist, political fanatic who will stop at nothing to escape.

There is really little glamor in police work. Excluding traffic, police deal primarily with the dregs of society—the misfits, drunks, addicts, criminals… There is nothing glamorous about a drunk defecating all over your police car while being transported to jail. About some skinny little doper burglar handcuffed and panting and looking terrified. About a weeping middle-aged man who tries to commit suicide after you apprehend him for molesting a child. About what’s left of a lonely, elderly woman dead three days in an airtight rented room in summer…

Idealism is only one of a combination of traits common in most police officers, although few will admit it. Certainly not the sentimental type of idealism so prevalent today among the “woke” and “inclusive” with their “safe places” and “security animals.” It requires more than that to bring order to city streets and maintain freedom and security for society.

Cops are tough, individualistic, rarely sentimental, sometimes hard, frequently pessimistic—but always buried beneath all this is the desire to help, give assistance, protect victims and community, prevent crime, and bring criminals to justice. Willing to go out in the grime and put their own lives and safety at risk for others.

When my sons now want to know why I remained in law enforcement so long, I say, “There are four things I believe in strongly: courage, truth, justice, and liberty. I went on the front lines so that you and others like you may enjoy the right to believe is these also and to practice them in a free Republic under the Constitution.”

Charles W. Sasser is a freelance writer/journalist with over 60 books in publication and thousands of magazine and newspaper articles. His most recent book is Crushing The Collective: The Last Chance to Keep America Free and Self-Governing. Available almost everywhere. Look for his forthcoming Looneyville USA: America’s Descent into Madness and Chaos.