BORTAC team members catch a ride aboard an OAM UH-60 in upstate New York. (Kristoffer Grogan/CBP)

PERSPECTIVE: Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Law Enforcement Family

This piece represents the views of the author and not U.S. Customs and Border Protection or the Department of Homeland Security

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents. My mother, who was a single mom until her passing in 2015. My grandparents, who I also called Mom and Dad since they helped raise me in the United States so that I could obtain an American education and be able to achieve more in this great country of ours. They, too, have passed away.

Every time I get together with my neighbors, Joe, Enrique, Juan, and Miguel, we always bring up the conversation of our parents. How they raised us and some of the lessons they taught us while we were younger and even as adults and parents ourselves. It seems as though their lessons live on forever. They are always with us no matter where we are or what we are doing. We carry them with us until we ourselves meet our maker, the almighty God.

We do so simply because we cherish all those wonderful memories they left with us. We do acknowledge the fact that our parents were not perfect beings. Just like any other individual, they also made mistakes and we didn’t always agree with everything they ever told us. Isn’t that a part of life? We grow into our own personalities and mold ourselves by following the teachings and examples of people we love, admire and respect.

Our parents are an integral part of that cycle. They are our first mentors, our first teachers and the ones who spend countless hours doing their best to explain the facts of life to us. They are the ones who talk to us about the good and the bad. Let’s face it, they are our superheroes way before we even know what superheroes are.

Their lessons are powerful ones, having to do with a vast array of topics such as being respectful and mindful of others, the importance of education, having a strong work ethic, providing for others in need and even the basics of right and wrong. All great lessons that helped mold us into the individuals we are today. Helped make us the parents we are now and have guided us as we now pass those lessons to our own kids.

Sure, we quite possibly change some of the wording and delivery method altogether. I remember some of the lessons passed on to me involved the flying of a sandal across the room and somehow always ended up either on the center of my back or even my forehead. I am just kidding: my parents were not that good at aiming for my forehead and I was able to react quicker back then.

So now to the reason of this column: I do have another favor to ask of you, just as I did a few months ago.

I must ask you again to clear your thoughts of one thing: forget the career or profession you have chosen, the work you currently do.

Imagine yourself as a police officer, a Customs officer, an ICE agent, an Air and Marine operator, or even a Border Patrol agent. That is the only thing I want you to change about your memories and your current family situation. At least for a few moments – in this moment.

Please, join me and thousands of others for just a few moments of your life. Be one of us. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

We already discussed the fact that you were raised to know the difference between right and wrong, the good and the bad. Let’s dive in.

In the past few weeks, several police officers have been killed throughout our nation. A Border Patrol agent and a Customs officer lost valiant battles against COVID-19. These individuals have forever been taken away from us, from their families, from the greatest country in the world.

Yes – the greatest country in the world. That, too, has been one of the lessons passed on to us by our amazing parents. The superheroes in our lives.

Place your right hand over your heart. Imagine that small badge under your touch, between the skin of your finger tips and your heart. It means everything to you. It’s the unspoken pinky promise you made to your child. The vow you share with your spouse without even having to utter the words: it’s a shared sacrifice. Don’t let its small size fool you; it carries the weight of the world with it.

Now remember, those officers and agents have paid the ultimate price for having worn that same badge. Remember them. Your best friends. The same men and women you’ve had at your house laughing and joking around your kids. They were at your wedding, at your child’s birth and they were there for you in one of the saddest moments of your life.

They were your partners. Law enforcement officers who had vowed, just like you, to protect the community, their families, your family, you and the country in general. A solemn oath that they had all agreed to uphold no matter what. An oath you hold dearly because you believe that what you do is for the greater good of the community.

They were more than partners. They were more than friends.

They were family.

They had sacrificed countless hours with their families to fight evil at your side. Missed birthdays, sports events, dance recitals, plays, science fairs, holidays and even anniversaries.

All to be at your side. All so that the two of you could arrest a drunkard, a drug dealer, a murderer, a human trafficker and countless sex offenders. More importantly, they stood at your side so that the two of you could make it back home at the end of your shift.

As you walk into your house, you see and hear the news playing on your television. Your spouse quickly shuts it off and your kids run toward you. Your arrival caught them off guard because they were focused on the report of your partner being killed in a senseless act and another dying in the hospital from COVID-19.

You can see the fear in their little eyes. The same fear you’ve had to address during countless nights of nightmares because they believed a monster was hiding inside their room. How many nightlights have you and your spouse purchased to fight those fears?

You? You are just happy and relieved to be home. To be able to see your loved ones again after 10 or 16 hours of facing true evil and people who clearly don’t care about others. Happy to hold them all in your arms. Relieved to be able to tell them once more that you love them and that you are OK.

Do they believe you? Do they truly believe you’re OK?

The expressions on their little faces tell you otherwise. They want to believe you. They need to believe you, but they sense that something is not quite right. Something is off.

Your kids are not in school, remember? They have all the time in the world to watch television and see things on their phones that depict you in a bad light. Their hero. Just about every news network on television is talking about defunding the police because you are all evil members of a racist group and all you do is kill innocent people.

Does your child have a cell phone? What about all the information and false narratives that scream out of that little gadget? The constant posts of videos showing mobs of people yelling, spitting, and throwing objects at police officers throughout the entire nation. At least it seems to be happening everywhere. Add to their dilemma the nonstop imagery and soundbites of politicians yelling into their screens and calling for the complete dismantling of all law enforcement entities.

Weren’t those individuals voted into office? Didn’t you have these conversations with your kids about the importance of voting and how the people elected are to ultimately do what’s right for the country? If so, why are they now hating you so much? Why do they want you out of a job? Don’t they know that your entire family will be impacted by this? Will you need to look for something else to try to provide the same type of life you’ve provided so far?

What about all the people who need saving? How many stories have you shared with your family already about all those individuals you and your partners saved while on the job? All the kids whose lives you’ve impacted by going to their schools and talking to them. Letting them know and see that they can achieve anything they want as long as they grow up to be good, hardworking people. The countless charities you participate in for the community. Don’t you constantly show them all the good things about being in law enforcement and the importance of giving back to the community?

So why are you being attacked now? Why were your friends killed at work? Are you next? Are you protecting yourself from COVID-19 while you’re doing your job?

All these questions and more are quite visible in the faces of your family. You can read them clearly as you would read any other encounter throughout the performance of your duties.

Honestly, how do you answer these questions?

Sheltering them from the truth only makes things more confusing. Fully disclosing the evil that you deal with daily threatens their own innocence.

Has the weight of the badge grown heavier?

The next few days you’ll continue your duties alongside your other partners. You’ll do your best to carry on normally, but find it difficult to do so at times because of the ongoing discussions of funeral services for your partner. You carry on with your duties as best you can. You do so because that’s exactly what your partner would do.

The community still needs your protection. Someone will need you to save them. A criminal is out there who needs to be taken off the streets again. The job doesn’t stop; it never does.

America is strong, but she is strong because of people like you. People who promised to pay the ultimate price for its protection.

You are strong because of the millions of people who believe in you, believe in your chosen career and the importance of your duties.

It is a cycle that must not be broken. Belief and strength feeding each other for the essence of security.

Are you still with me, dear reader? I sincerely hope you are because if not, then a part of you has stopped believing in our law enforcement officers.

If that is the case, then you’ve taken some of their strength with you – you’ve weakened them a bit.

As strong as they are, they are only human. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters just like you and me.

They need you to believe in them, to support them, to encourage them and give them the strength they need to wear that badge one more time and walk out of their house ready to face everything for our very own well-being.

God Bless Law Enforcement. God Bless America.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email HSTodayMag@gtscoalition.com. Our editorial guidelines can be found here.

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Sergio A. Tinoco is the author of Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent and has joined HSToday as a columnist to provide insights and facts about the conditions, challenges, and humanity of the situation on our southwest border. Tinoco started his journey to America as a poor migrant worker of Mexican descent, having to pick crops for a living from the age of 7. As a way to break from the family cycle of farm labor and depending on government welfare programs, he joined the United States Army and served 10 years on active duty. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnian War only to find and deal with the aftermath of the genocide that took place there and be caught in the middle of several attacks. His experiences in Bosnia ultimately led to experiencing signs and symptoms related to PTSD. After completing 10 years of military service, Sergio joined the U.S. Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent and having family in South Texas and in Mexico introduced new issues of having to counter threats against his family and ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting “his own kind.” He is currently serving as a Border Patrol agent, and all observations and columns are his own and not endorsed by CBP or the Border Patrol. Sergio A. Tinoco was born and raised in Rio Grande Valley, commonly known to them as RGV. As a child, he had gone through many struggles. Having to come up with a big decision to leave his family behind at such a young age, Sergio began to live a dangerous life in the battlefield with the US Army. Between the Army and the DHS, he has worked in government service for over twenty years. He earned a master’s degree in organizational management. His wife, also a military veteran, works for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Together, they strive to provide greater opportunities and aspirations to their kids.

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