We’re Not So Different
In light of recent tragic events which have unfolded in our country, it seems appropriate to take a step back from normal topics covered in this blog. In the spirit of the ITEA, parallels can be drawn between the two main groups likely to read this blog, police officers and truckers. While at first it may seem the two professions have very little in common, nothing could be further from the truth. The slogan of the ITEA is “Exceptional Authority Demands Exceptional Accountability”. Were you aware this tag line is not exclusive to law enforcement, but also calls for the accountability of those in the trucking industry? The fact is, both professions carry a great burden when it comes to the prosperity of this great country.
While both jobs couldn’t be more different on their faces, they do share some very distinct commonalities.
1) Both professions are regularly demonized by both news media and those on social media.
Both the police and those in the trucking industry are deprived of the luxury of complete, thorough and accurate details of specific incidents being reported to the general public. The media is quick to get their cameras on the scene of a tragic event and immediately spew tainted, one sided stories of what unfolded. They do so with a complete lack of accountability or responsibility for what happens to those involved in the incident. In the law enforcement profession, this comes in the form of officer involved shootings and other incidents in which there is any application of force. In the trucking industry this is evident whenever a crash occurs where a commercial vehicle is involved and another party is seriously injured or killed as a result.
The problem is headlines which immediately fault the truck driver or the police officer will always outsell the headline which blames the driver of the other vehicle or the suspect who was hurt or killed by the police. The truth is generally not important to those reporting the incident.
What takes precedence is reporting the possibility some sort of injustice took place. This type of story is what will pay the bills, meanwhile the true reality often becomes an inessential burden which might be covered on the last page of a newspaper six months after the event took place.
These types of news stories undoubtedly invoke emotional responses from a wide variety of individuals. While some people in the general public will immediately jump on the anger bandwagon and blame the truck driver or the police officer, others will attempt to defend those in either profession. The will say things like “every profession has its bad apples.”
2) The bad apple argument is sometimes as destructive as reckless media reports.
Saying that every profession has bad apples is doing nothing more than justifying the portrait the media has painted of that individual. This bad apple they are referring to, may actually be the farthest thing from a negative example of the profession.
In recent news reports, officers have been accused of being unreasonable, murderous thugs by those in the media. These same officers were later found to be completely lawful and justified in their actions by authorities who conducted a complete and thorough investigation of the incident. The problem is that once that stigma has been placed on the officers, they may never recover from the initial accusations.
This is very similar to incidents when commercial vehicles are involved in serious traffic crashes. The first thing running through the minds of the public, and what is often eluded to by the media, is the truck driver was most likely at fault. Assumptions are made that the driver of the truck must have been violating some state or federal statue, or driving negligently.
News broadcasts will plaster the worst Facebook photo they can dig up of the driver, while they simultaneously display a picture of the “victim” from the other vehicle, wearing their Sunday best. When the facts later come out proving the truck driver was not at fault (and the supposed “victim” was actually under the influence or driving recklessly) the media will be nowhere to be found. Why is this you ask? Because unlike the police and trucking professions, media accountability not only lacks, but is relatively non-existent.
This author would not be fulfilling his responsibility if he didn’t discuss the incidents where people in each profession step outside of their authority and act in a negligent, reckless or unlawful manner and actually cause injury, death or injustice to an innocent party.
These particular individuals not only disgust those outside of the profession, but anger and disgrace those who proudly perform their jobs honorably on a day to day basis. Nobody wants the true bad apples to be eliminated more than those who take pride in their profession and regularly perform their duties flawlessly.
3) True bad apples, as in those who enter the profession or perform their duties with malice, are hard to come by.
While these true bad apples are few and far between in both professions, the mainstream media would have you believe they are the majority and not the extreme minority. While having even one bad police officer or truck driver is unacceptable, it is simply unreasonable to weed out every single problem child before they put their black mark on the profession. As hard as employers may try, it is an impossibility.
Unfortunately, humans are imperfect beings and always will be. This is why accountability is important in both professions. True accountability can only be enforced by those who do each respective job well. These subject matter experts are the only ones who best know how to perform their duties. They can recognize the signs of those who are not conducting themselves in accordance with the law and professional standards. It falls solely on their shoulders, not the shoulders of those who have never strapped on a badge, gun and vest or sat behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle.
The only thing to do is stay the course, take care of each other and constantly strive to be better.
For those of you in the trucking industry, keep doing your thing. Know that a vast majority of the population appreciates and respects what you do. This includes those in law enforcement. You provide a valuable service to this country which is often overlooked and thankless, another commonality between police officers and truckers.
For those in law enforcement, it is important for to remain strong and have faith. Recent tragedies will haunt every one for years to come. We cannot allow those who try to dishearten, demoralize or even kill police officers to succeed. They cannot break your will, and you must continue to hold the line. The very line which protects the good from evil. Continue to hold your head high and provide your communities with the very best possible service, but watch your back for those who would do you ill.