It used to be that cops were considered the good guys, the honorable, the men and women you automatically respect. But today, if you follow social media, or even the news, you’d believe one of the most despised groups of people in our country are police officers. Cops are portrayed as unremorseful killers of children, corrupt bullies who prey on the weak, or unfeeling dispensers of their brand of subjective justice.
Yes, there are bad cops in the world, but 99+% of the men and women who wear the badge walk the line with the right motives and a dedication that affects their health, their relationships, and their wallet.
Why are cops the favored romantic hero in my writing? First and foremost, a police officer represents honor and integrity to me. He has taken an oath to stand between the lawful and the lawless. The officers I have known will choose right over easy, truth over lies, and sacrifice their personal needs for the good of others.
Second, they make attractive heroes because the job wears him down for all the right reasons. A cop, in fiction, can be broken, disillusioned, and seem unfeeling because his honor clashes with the dishonor of the people with whom he has to deal. A man of justice must live in the world of injustice. A man of integrity must walk among men of villainy. The life he chooses to live, by its very nature, is the one most opposed to his character.
Dr. Gary L. Patton conducted a study in 2011 on the desacralization of police officers (http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/june_2011/research_forum).
“In the experience of desacralization, people lose contact with the aspects of their lives that they previously had considered sacred and special.” Patton says.
Police officers become cops because they believe in the value of the law and the importance of justice. Desacralization means that those beliefs are questioned, mocked, and seen as parody on the streets he tries to protect.
Patton explains, “Given the sense of disappointment and disillusionment that law enforcement officers frequently encounter in their work, it is reasonable to conclude that they seem to experience a loss of some of the special reasons and motivations that they had set out to fulfill and experience. Certainly, officers encounter times of high drama and intense excitement, yet they do not spend a shift racing from one call to another as some people assume. When this repeated experience of waiting and watching is linked with the times of heightened adrenaline, officers feel like they ride an emotional roller coaster. While they can get excited and dismayed, they frequently deal with the events they encounter with a sense of apathy. The officers in the author’s research indicated that they would not be able to cope if they let themselves feel too much.”
Third, it is the nature of a cop to rescue those in need. He doesn’t consider it heroic, he just does what needs to be done.
Put it all together, and you have a good man who’s encased himself in an emotional shell, wanting to rescue others, but in need of being rescued himself. Seeing him come alive again, with the help of his heroine, of course, is a beautiful thing. It makes for good reading, too!
Curl up with Sherriff Deputy Jason Belt, one of the characters in Rebecca Reilly’s new novel, Haunting Megan.
Available at Amazon http://bit.ly/RReillyAmazonAuthor
Join my email newsletter subscribers and receive exclusive content, private Q&As, giveaways, and more. No spam, ever. Just great stuff!