(This Op-Ed by yours truly appears in Florida Today newspaper, 1/27/18)

Studies vary, but most list police officer in the top five of the most stressful jobs in America, just behind firefighter and active duty military service.

     Policing is not only stressful, officers are constantly in the spotlight where one error, one misjudgment, can land themselves as a defendant in court or, at worst, in a grave. There are few jobs in this country where employees wear bullet-proof vests. There are few jobs where employees must respond to calls where violent conflicts are in process. There are few jobs where employees are required to confront dangerous criminals. It’s their job to enter, not evade, the arenas of danger, violence and hate.

     There is no other job that comes with all these components.

     Meanwhile, officers must always remain professional, stoic, even robotic. They must do what the manual dictates, and look the other way when protesters spit in their face or scream profanities in their ear.

     It ain’t easy folks.

     Nearly 900,000 law enforcement officers in America are sworn to perform their duties, no matter the risk. Roughly 140 cops will die in the line of duty each year. That doesn’t include serious injury. That also doesn’t address the misery for spouses, kids and family members when sudden death strikes.

     These figures do not include suicides. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,  police and firefighters are in sixth place among career statistics associated with suicide. In my 30 years with Miami-Dade County Police (1960-1990) I personally knew a dozen cops who killed themselves, including a woman named Hilda who had just lost her police job. Days later, she was found on the beach, with one bullet in her 4-year-old son and another in her head. In another case, a crime scene officer was being forced to testify against another officer, a friend. He refused. Some of these suicides are related to economic and domestic strife, not necessarily police work.

     Yes, a rogue cop will occasionally mess up, or reveal that he/she should not have been a police officer. The system is not perfect. If only one-half of one-percent of 900,000 cops are dishonest, careless or proven incompetent, that would still leave 4,500 in America working in the wrong profession. It only takes one to make headlines.

     It is normal to be angry at police officers who do wrong, regardless of race. But it’s far more wrong to broad brush all officers with hate rhetoric, suggesting that cops conspire to form a cabal of racists. The Black Lives Matter and similar movements did more to dis-empower policemen from doing their sworn duty than ever before. The victims of that were citizens such as you and me. In violent encounters as in Baltimore and Ferguson, the real victims were businesses, homeowners and law-abiding taxpayers while cops were ordered to stand down, basically stripped from performing their duties.

     I’ve spoken to many officers in today’s America. They do what they are required to do, and for the most part, they do it well. But proactive policing has become a thing of the past. The hunt for stolen cars, the suspicious guys behind a building, the strange movements of swarthy people, the fingers of hate and disrespect toward cops often go unattended.

     Cops are human beings like all of us. They are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, all religions, all races. They have kids to send to college, or help them through tough times. They have dreams to pursue and bills to pay.

     And they bleed like us. I know. I’ve lost too many friends in Dade County. I’ve been to the emergency wards with my fallen comrades. I’ve attended funerals and comforted families. As for me, I was lucky: shot once in the leg. Proudly, I never seriously hurt anyone.

     Would I be a cop today? What do you think?



  1. Helen Frigo January 27, 2018 at 9:52 am #

    I agree with Mr. Frank. I grew up on the far NW side of Chicago: many police officers lived there. Our neighborhood policeman was a GREAT person and rode around in a 3- wheeled motorcycle. He often stopped and played ball with us. He was like an uncle.
    Then as I got older, I learned that most policemen were like him, but not all.
    My white father gave his children the talk, and warned us: don’t open your mouth and sound off. People all over the world, including Americans, have always had to be afraid to speak out against the Police. Would any of us Whites want to be subjected to what Blacks have endured here in America, let alone in the South? (See the movie, “the Free state of Jones”, “The Great Debaters”, and even “Hidden Figures”. The videos of the man being choked, the one running and shot in the back, the woman dragged from her car for not signalling a lane change, and then hauled to jail? Yes, Marshall, you have a point, but so do they.

    • Bill Burbaum January 27, 2018 at 2:02 pm #

      Helen, sorry to see that ,after reading Marshall’s piece, you continue to be consumed by the idea that African Americans are being suppressed by the evil empire of White supremacy. You, madam, are living proof of how successful BLM and Hollywood have been in building the false narrative that’s endangering the lives of today’s law enforcement officers.

  2. Pat Pesce January 27, 2018 at 11:01 am #

    So pointed and perfect description of one of the most difficult professions in a civilized society. Thank you for the article and reminding us of the sacrifices and contributions made by our Police Officer’s. All Heroes.

  3. Richard Plager January 27, 2018 at 11:57 am #

    i did 45 years “on the job”; NO, I would not want to do it today; we used to be respected; now I am not sure.

  4. William V. Saladrigas January 27, 2018 at 12:04 pm #

    I am intimately familiar with the suicide you cite of the “crime scene officer.” He was a dear friend and a true brother in deed. He was the crime scene officer on a police shooting in which I was involved while off-duty back in 1983 near Miami International Airport. BTW, Mr. Frank, I would be interested in reading your book. Where might I purchase a copy in hardback?

  5. Ron Fischer January 27, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

    I wouldn’t want to be a cop today and I wouldn’t want any member of my family to be a cop either. The risks verses the rewards are totally out of balance now. The biggest risk of all is the constant exposure to negative press and foul politicians.

    Unfortunately I do have members of my circle of friends that are cops today!

  6. Adamsalan January 27, 2018 at 1:10 pm #

    You are so right, Marshall. “But proactive policing has become a thing of the past.”
    And because of this, less than 1% of America has jeopardized the safety of the other 99%.

  7. Frank Rodriguez January 27, 2018 at 2:03 pm #

    Agree with everything in your article. It will take many years to undo what the previous anti LEO administration did to this nation. Did 33 years, starting in 81 shortly after the McDuffie riots, Cocaine Cowboys and Mariel boatlift. I support those brave souls still doing this very difficult, but noble profession.

  8. Bob McGavock January 27, 2018 at 8:02 pm #

    When I began my 31 year career with Miami-Dade in 1960 ( in Marshall’s Academy class) we were warned that we would probably succumb to synicism, that we must strive to avoid the temptations that would confront us, and that we must be constantly on the alert for those that might wish to harm us while we conducted police business.

    I was naive, I’ll admit it. I thought everyone loved the police. ( Well, almost everyone) Wrong!! Didn’t take long for reality to hit home.

    Years went by and I I met and worked with a lot of different police officers ( of any persuasion you can name). Once in a while I crossed paths with officers that I was not proud to be associated with and occasionally was involved in investigations of officers that led to their arrest.

    I can readily imagine these same officers as they interacted with the public, qualifying as “Black Lives Matter poster boys”.

    I was not the only one that experienced those less-then-stellar individuals who had the wrong ideas about their mission.

    But without a doubt in my mind, without any hesitation or reservation, 95% of the officers in any law enforcement organization are there to serve as they are expected to.
    Unfortunately, our society has evolved as one that now values “personal rights” over “personal responsibility”. Anything bad that happens in one’s life is invariably someone else’s fault. It is becoming a violent, violent world, and the police have become the target for venting frustrations. It’s unbelievable the number of law enforcement officers that are murdered or wounded every year. The officer graduating from a training academy today learns more about defense than offense. Paranoia is an asset if you work the street. I WOULD NOT WANT THAT JOB NOW.
    When I retired in 1992 it was getting bad. When my son retired in about 2010 he said it was a nice ride but no way would he do it again. My grandson I now a Deputy Sheriff in Pasco County, Florida and “feels the pressure” everyday but is proud to be serving.

    I am sick of all these groups of people who think that all their problems and someone else’s fault. I am fed up with the slogans and “causes” that lash out at “the police” as if they are the cause of those problems and inadequacies. But what really burns my butt is the effort by boot kickers with celebrity and notariety to legitimize these hate groups to further their own agendas.

    My hat is off to all of those men and women who go to work everyday, armed and armored with one main determination, and that would be to come home to their loved ones safely.

  9. Snake Hunters January 28, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

    Marshall: Seventy-five years ago, as a young veteran of ww2, I survived a combat zone in

    Northern Italy for over 4 months, 10 days… then the European war ended for us.


    For Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers… their “combat zones” begin on the day they

    pin on that badge! – reb