When she was a young teen, I remember my daughter coming home from school one day in a T-shirt with the word ANARCHY in large letters across the front of it. “Take that shirt off!” I demanded immediately. “Where did you get it and why would you wear such a thing!”
“Mom, it’s a band. Relax,” she replied in that off-handed way teenagers have of dismissing paranoid parents.
“Do you know what anarchy means, what it looks like?” I asked. She didn’t really. I painted her a word picture of the horrible, scary world ours would be without the order of authority and what an ugly word anarchy is to promote in the face of police, there to ensure ours would not be that world. I never saw the shirt again. Not long after that (fortunately isolated) incident, police and firemen were our saviors when our home burned.
On September 4, thousands across our state rallied to show support for law enforcement in a day set aside to “Back the Blue.” We wore blue and thought consciously about its role in our daily lives’ peace and security. We thanked an officer, a fireman, an EMT, a highway patrolman, a soldier for being there day in and day out. We consciously appreciated their presence, something we usually take so for granted that we see right past and through it until we are the ones in need.
I was thinking about all of this one early morning this week as I perused my calendar, psyching up for numerous meetings between which I hoped to scratch a few to-dos off my list. That day started early with a Rayzor Ranch breakfast meeting. In the back of the room, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder between a couple of our boys in blue. Officers Orlando Hinojosa, known to most of us as Hino, and Officer Shane Kizer, stood on either side of me, the three of us squeezed amiably among the crowd gathered to hear updates from the fast-growing north Denton district.
Several meetings later the same day, I arrived at an afternoon gathering of Denton hospitality businesses downtown. There they were again in their blue shirts and badges, Hino and Shane, mixing and mingling on a first-name basis with every hotel and restaurant operator in the room. As they had that morning, they listened, eager to hear both challenges and celebrations. And as they always do, they took their turns reminding about programs like Hide Lock Take designed to ensure safer, more positive experiences across the city.
I imagined their day might have begun much like mine, with packed calendars and more to juggle on their lists than hours to get it all done. Except for one very big difference: those blue shirts and badges. The uniforms they don before leaving home are significant, because on top of the demands of regular life and work, they have a higher purpose. They live on the line for the rest of us.
Hino and Shane are the Denton Police Department’s Community Relations Officers. These are the go-to guys among the business community, their ears and eyes always alert to our concerns. They are with us as we plan. They help the worker bees get done the countless details that make our Denton life fun, keeping us safe at the same time. They are visible when and where we come together.
They are two among hundreds of Denton professionals who wake up every day on a life or death mission, largely invisible except as part of the set in which we do life. We notice when their lights flash behind our speeding vehicles. We notice when a siren whizzes by on the way to someone else’s emergency. But for the most part, it’s a benign kind of noticing until it’s personal. My house is on fire. My property was vandalized. I was wronged. I needed help.
It’s an upside-down world when the holistic blue is touted as bad. They’re not. They’re the good guys. In Denton, we are especially lucky. Our officers aren’t just sitting around waiting for dispatch to ring. They are engaged in our good times, our everydays, yet always at the ready when a dark day happens. They put that shirt on, kiss the family, pet the dog and leave the house every day knowing it could be the day they won’t come back. The rest of us don’t think like that. Thankfully, they do.
To Hino, Shane and all of our Denton protectors, thank you. I back the blue.