Monday, March 8, 2021

Part II : Media Literacy, and How Media Works

Last month I published my promised primer on media literacy. While I was writing it, I realized asking the right questions while you're reading a news article helps only just so much, if you don't know (really know) how the news industry works. A free and independent press was enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution because it's THAT important. It is a counterbalance to political power, and can be a valuable source of accountability to contain and expose corruption. 

It's not perfect. Nothing involving humans can be. And partisanship and slanted reporting aren't new- newspapers during the Revolutionary War were famously, fabulously biased, full of propaganda and bickering. "Yellow journalism", a phrase coined in the 1890s during a battle for supremacy and market share between publishing titans William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, described the sensationalism and self-promotion that propelled our country into the Spanish-American War. In a lot of ways, both press and government have actually calmed down over time. (We haven't had any senators try to beat each other to death on the Capitol floor in good 150 years now, after all.)

In this Part II, I'll give you an overview of news and media: what it is, how it works, why it matters. 


                                                              *photo via FreePik*


WHAT DOES 'MEDIA' MEAN?

A medium is anything that carries or transmits something else. News media is any means of mass communication, in print (newspapers), broadcast (TV and radio) or a website that carries an electronic version of news. 

"Mass media" just means that lots and lots of people can access it. Pretty much all media is mass media anymore, with the exception of small, targeted blogs, like mine. 

"Mainstream media" is a pervasive term used usually as a pejorative-- a bad thing. Sometimes it's abbreviated 'MSM'. In real life, all it means is large, well-known, usually well-funded major news sources with big distributions. The major video networks- NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and the like are mainstream media. So are the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other large papers. 

The word mainstream implies the existence of alternate sources. Alternate sources exist everywhere now, thanks to the internet, and they often position themselves as "real" simply because they're not the more-established outlets. This is an easy trap for a suspicious mind to fall into.

  Whether a source is good or bad is solely a measure of its sourcing, thoroughness and journalistic ethics. Being big or small is a measure of circulation numbers and reach, not accuracy or bias. 

 Now, a few necessary definitions if you're going to understand news coverage:

NEWS: news is specifically newly received, noteworthy information. In journalism, information that's more than a few days old is not news. Sometimes the term 'hard news' is used to differentiate from other kinds of articles. 

FOLLOW-UP : this is further information that adds depth or perspective to an earlier news story. 

FEATURE: a feature story is 'soft news' or creative journalism, a topical, longer-form story related to a subject of interest in the news, or that the writer thinks should be better understood. 

OPINION: what a writer thinks or feels about what happened in the news, sometimes called commentary. 

ANALYSIS: offers extra information for context and understanding, often using research by or interview with outside experts. 

Learn to discriminate between the types of coverage, or you may be misled. Opinion is not news. Ever.

BUT HOW DOES NEWS WORK?

This is an overview, so the answers will be broad.   

In the United States, news is mostly a business. 

There is a small percentage of public broadcast funding from public grants (the rest comes from private donations and business partnerships), and of course publications like Stars and Stripes and Voice of America are publicly funded. Government code includes a 'firewall' that prevents political interference in news coverage by those outlets. 

All other news sites, papers and channels that sell advertising are commercial. So what does that mean to you, the reader? 

It means that good reporting, like good law enforcement, costs. It's expensive to do it right. Doing it right involves constant travel, research, subscriptions to research resources and services, phones, computers, cars, and contacts. Travel is expensive, but only so much depth can be acquired over the phone or secondhand.

If you want high quality reporting, investigation, editing and publishing, you're going to have to pay and the way you pay comes in three varieties: subscriptions, advertising and information. 

First, know that subscriptions do not cover any significant portion of the costs of reporting and publishing news. If they did, no one could afford them. What subscriptions do is provide a small, steady base of income and also proves a base of loyal readership for advertising sales. Paying for news access is more common internationally than in the US, but some small, local papers have been using the model to fund high-quality local news coverage. 

Next, advertising sales is the most common source of steady income for news, whether it's print advertising or the unending flow of television and web commercials. Businesses pay for space, time and eyeballs, ad execs get paid a commission, and the remainder of the fees pay for reporters, resources, travel, subscriptions to research services like LexisNexis , and costs for buildings, printing and more. 

Lastly and most recently, information about you funds the production of news content. That's what's going on when you click on a news story, and get blocked by a survey before you can read it. Just click on the survey; it's annoying, but it's also cheaper than subscribing, and less intrusive than online advertising. Cookies collect your data without even asking first, after all.



A FREE MARKET GUARANTEES A FREE PRESS- RIGHT?

Eh...sort of. Well, no. The news industry in the US is relatively free from official, governmental interference because of the First Amendment. However, the pressures from commercial sources are many. 

People have political and social opinions. People own businesses and spend money to promote their businesses in commercial advertising. Therefore, they can withhold advertising dollars when news coverage displeases them, or worse, their customers. Boycotts and broken contracts are the original expressions of cancel culture and censorship. 

In theory it shouldn't affect coverage. In reality, news stations and papers have bills to pay and losing big advertising accounts (or more palatably, "partners" or "sponsors") exerts a LOT of financial pressure to tailor coverage to avoid offense. This can come in the form of minimal reporting without detail, skewing a story to avoid unflattering content, or 'spiking' a story-- pulling it altogether and not covering the topic at all. 

Because revenue from internet advertising is driven by traffic, more traffic (clicks) means more income. This creates a feedback loop that rewards sensational and controversial topics. Stories that provoke an immediate and powerful emotional response drive comments, argument, sharing-- and money. Any rewarded behavior will be repeated; it's human nature and a financial imperative. 

Does this mean the news industry is evil? No, it means the news industry has bills to pay. Just like law enforcement, they must use the resources at hand to pay those bills. 

For you, that means the local tax base, grants, and in some places, revenue from fines, fees and asset forfeiture. For news papers and stations, it means advertising, subscriptions and sometimes grants. The work product of both industries is unavoidably shaped by their economic realities. Ethics, integrity and education will vary in both, and there are good reporters who have destroyed their own careers by running with the right story, just like there are cops who have thrown away their pensions to make the right arrest.

Until someone comes up with a better idea, that's the way it goes in our economic system.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

It means you have choices to make, and those choices influence the quality of the news everyone consumes. 

1. Choose to read and share only well-sourced, well-written news. Learn to discriminate between opinion and news.

2. Support high quality sources and writers with sound ethics. Engage with their articles on social media, share them, subscribe if you can, grit your teeth and finish the surveys.

3. Understand that we, the readers, have influence over what 'goes viral'. It's easy to say "MSM will never report this!" but the fact is that, if you're reading it anywhere, someone already reported it. THE STUFF THAT GOES VIRAL IS THE STUFF THAT GETS ATTENTION. So, search the topics that are important to you, read them, pass them along. Give those clicks to the topics that matter.

4. Don't get derailed by name on the masthead. The best interactive series on the Dinkheller video I've ever read was produced by CNN. 

5. Remember that civilizations are destroyed when judges, cops and reporters become fair targets for attack. We've watched it happen in Colombia, in Mexico, in Egypt, Afghanistan and Libya. 

Understand how news happens, and how it gets reported. Understanding the limitations, pressures and responsibilities of the news industry makes it simpler both to take advantage of the resource and to have some say in how topics important to you are represented in public. 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Part I : Media Literacy, or The Right Questions Matter


I don't run the biggest law enforcement FB page, but I do run one that's trusted by the people who follow it, because I'm careful about what gets posted there.
When I asked readers if they'd like to know more about media literacy, the (surprising) answer was an emphatic YES.

 Therefore, this will be an in-depth, two-part explainer: Part I will be about media literacy itself, Part II about what media is and how it works. Like the field of law enforcement, there are a lot of moving parts, and it's complicated.

                   *photo courtesy of Freepik*
 

"Media literacy" means understanding, analyzing and evaluating the information drowning you on the daily.
Until you can do that with confidence, and just enough skepticism, you're at risk of being steered instead of informed.

How do you know what that article is that you're reading, that podcast you're hearing?
You didn't ask for it. You didn't seek it out.
There you are, scrolling through your social media, and link after link bombards your feed-- suggested, sponsored, shared by friends and family, or just appearing from the Upside Down. Now what?

CHECK THE DATE
You see an 'Officer Down' headline, and your heart races. Don't touch that share button without looking to see when it happened.  News about critical incidents floats back to the top of news feeds because of increased search activity on anniversary dates, or when follow up articles get published.

ASK QUESTIONS.
Who is this writer or speaker?
How do they know the stuff they're telling me?
What do they want me to think about it? Why?
Who's paying for this?
Who is the target audience? (Who do they expect to be reading this article, or watching this video?) 

If your answer to any of the above is, "I don't know" then you have two choices. 
1.Find out OR
2.Skip the article and move along with your day. 
But in that case, don't share it. If you're going to find out more, here are your next steps.

IDENTIFY THE SOURCE. 
Did it appear unsolicited on your social media? If so, it might be a promoted post, or ad. 

Is it a source you recognize? What do you know about it already? How do you know it? 
Did someone else share it on social media? 
What do you know about that person's judgment, personal biases and critical thinking? Someone can be a good friend and be an unreliable source of information. Don't enable that.

Is it even a real news source? Lots of articles posing as news on social media are from conspiracy, pseudoscience, and satire sites. Well-intentioned people are captured by the initial hook, and pass it on as if it's real.  

The saying 'Video or it didn't happen' is cute, but it isn't accurate. As technology evolves, it's as easy to manipulate video as it is to alter static photos. Beware the Deep Fake, and do some fact-checking if anything seems off. Fakes are engineered to provoke that "I knew it!!" reaction from viewers, so be suspicious when a video perfectly, conveniently makes a point you've always 'felt' was right.  You can't believe your eyes, actually.
In fact, according to the nonprofit journalist training site FirstDraftNews, many videos widely shared to "prove" election fraud during the 2020 campaign season originated from Russia, not Illinois, Pennsylvania, or Arizona. No investigation, criminal or journalistic, can benefit from contaminated or falsified evidence. 

Plug the source into a search engine and find out who owns it; association with or financial backing from a highly influential or political person or institution, or with a religious organization, will influence the way the news is reported.
 It doesn't mean the information is necessarily false. It does mean you should use that information in evaluating the reportage and deciding how much credibility to ascribe to it. 

News is like groceries: local is likely the best, and every news story starts out local. 
Once the national sources pick it up and syndicate it, the story is edited for time, losing depth, context and follow-up.  Therefore, if it's a national news story, search the topic or name in the incident and find a local news source about it. Think of the game 'Telephone' you played in kindergarten: information still works like that. The closer to the original story source, the better.  

EVALUATE THE SOURCE
What can you tell from the link?  The domain may show you whether it is a government office, a nonprofit, a business, or a school.

 Is it a press release straight from a government source? Again, the closer the news is to the original source, the fewer options for dilution, contamination and opinion to seep in.  
For law enforcement readers, this can be especially important when sharing news of a line-of-duty death. The accepted etiquette requires that the officer shall not be identified until the death is verified and the name released by an official source, to allow for next of kin to be informed. No one deserves a death notification by social media.

Cross reference the story. Search for coverage of the same event, and see how the story differs in other publications. What's being left out? Added? Why? 
If you cannot find the story elsewhere, hold off on passing it on.

I like a site called MediaBiasFactCheck.com  for assessing a potential source. It is an independent outlet supported by donations and third party advertising, used by many large media companies and fact checkers. And, it's free.  
I can search for a source there and find out who owns it, what the site's evaluation of their bias is (ALL sources have bias, because humans), and the source's history of factual reporting. The site has a clearly explained method for evaluating bias, and I've found them to be reasonable. 
The more you know, the more value the information has. 

RED FLAGS
Sensationalism and cliffhanger headlines indicate clickbait , not news. There's information being conveyed, for sure, but it's to make easy money off quick clicks, not to enlighten you. Here's a visual guide created by a Reddit user for his grandma:

















Don't go down that rabbit hole. And don't share it. 
And I'm sorry to add, don't assume a source is reliable just because it has 'law enforcement', 'blue', 'police' or the like in its name. News sites and social media pages know that cops are suspicious of "mainstream media" and will take advantage of your (justifiable) suspicion to gather your eyeballs and your clicks. You deserve better than that. Find the ones that are neutral in tone, well-sourced and reliable. You may not always like what they have to say, but it's worth that once in a while to not be manipulated for better results in a search engine. 

Loaded language is another red flag, in the body of an article or especially in a headline. 
News reporting should tell you what happened. If it tries to steer the way you feel about what happened (outrage, anyone?) , it's no longer just 'news' and you need to turn on the skeptic filter.

Some examples of loaded language versus neutral language:
*Did the involved officer shoot the suspect, or "gun them down"?
*Is the suspect a...well, a suspect, or is he/she a "father of two" "a grandmother" "a teen" (at 18 or 19, rather than "a man")? A "graduate"?
*Did someone "say " something? Or did they "report"? "Admit"? "Concede"? 
*How about "died"? Or, "passed away"? "Was killed" or "was murdered"?

Each word may be technically accurate. Each word also carries its own positive or negative implication, influencing the reader's view of what happened. Loaded language does not necessarily make a report incorrect, but it may very well make it misleading. 

Practice being a literate news consumer. If you don't, you risk simply becoming an information sponge, or worse, a dupe being steered by others who want your vote, your influence, your money and your time. Lives have been ruined by social media mobs pushing social media inaccuracies. 
It's worth the time and effort, to preserve your own credibility and the integrity of the information you pass along. If you'd like to start teaching your kids to be wise news readers as well, try playing online games designed for students. Make it a competition, and talk about the results. 
 

The Golden Rule of Media Literacy (Especially Online) is verify, cross reference, and when in doubt, wait. 
Yes, I just made that up. 
It works anyway, I promise. I've been doing it for years now. 















Sunday, October 25, 2020

Superheroes, and You

Watched Civil War again last night, and got talking about our deep thoughts on the matter; yeah, we're a house full of nerds that way.

The themes of that film, Batman v. Superman and The Incredibles collided---
Fear by the public of the use of strength and authority, to defy and contain evil. Sound familiar?

I don't think it's coincidence that this theme keeps repeating itself, and that it is the the heroes who are doubted, second-guessed and criticized for fighting what needs to be fought, even when it's hard, when it's messy, when the outcome doesn't always seem clear.

And each film resolves the same way: the heroes are needed, but not loved.
Their consciences require action, to protect those who cannot defend themselves.
Their community, troubled by what they do not understand, is still better with them than without them---and that ultimately they are admired, and emulated, but never completely accepted.

Sound familiar? That's you. That's the ones you love.
Your Sunday comics came with a moral this week.
You're welcome.
*image by No Greater Love Art *

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Officers We're Leaving Behind on Peace Officers Memorial Day

*Fallen Officer Memorial, San Bernardino County*

Peace Officers Memorial Day was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.
Every year, officers killed in the line of duty are honored at the national memorial in grand and solemn ceremonies.
Their survivors are offered solace, closure and promises of support. Their heartbreak is seen and publicly acknowledged,surrounded and supported by a sea of blue.
This is as it should be.

The intent of President Kennedy's proclamation goes further, though.
We've ignored what he intended for this day, and thousands upon thousands of officers and their families pay the price for that omission.


Read that excerpt again: Peace Officers Memorial Day, Police Week, all of it, was intended from the beginning to honor both fallen officers, and the disabled who survive.

We aren't doing that, yet.
Too many officers are met at the hospital with assurances that "we've got you", that "we're with you" and that "no one fights alone", and then...they're left alone.

They're left alone with hospital bills, left alone with their pain, left alone to fight with work comp lawyers, or worse, with their own departments.
They're left alone with spouses who are now caregivers and breadwinners, with children they no longer can lift.
They're left alone with disappointment and loss of identity.

They're left alone by the people who swore they'd follow them into the fire.
That promise rings hollow when their real concern is health insurance, a vehicle they can drive, a doorway they can navigate, loss of income, loss of independence.
It rings hollow when the people who would take a bullet for them stop calling because it's hard to visit a reminder of what can happen, so fast.

The single biggest myth about policing is that some "system" magically kicks in when they get hurt.
The truth is isolating, expensive and painful: there is no system.
Every wounded officer is left to struggle on his own.
Every agency, every city and county, township, parish and state, is making this up as they go along, and it is the wounded officers who pay the price for their shortcomings.
Hollywood perpetuates the myth, depicting injured officers returning to duty by the next scene, the next episode, with an emotional sprinkle of folded flags and bagpipes.

A disabled officer told me once, "If I had died, I wouldn't be a burden."

Until no officer feels that way again, something remains missing from Police Week.
Remember the fallen.
Comfort the bereaved.
Walk alongside your wounded and disabled.

This in how you honor them all, this Peace Officers Memorial Day.





Monday, April 6, 2020

Note to Crowds: GO HOME. Sincerely, Parks and Wildlife Refuges


The screenshot above is from a conversation I had with a veterinarian friend three weeks ago. It was part of a group discussion about whether the advisories surrounding COVID-19 were exaggerated.
His response: No.
"When we get diseases like this in veterinary medicine, we start culling entire herds."

The key takeaway from the experience of the 1918 influenza pandemic by the world's leading historian on the topic is simple: Tell the Truth.
The truth is that park rangers and conservation officers across the nation, local, state and federal need you to GO HOME.

As a journalist who grew up in rural Idaho and now writes from Montana put it, This Pandemic is Not Your Vacation.
It also won't last forever, but for now: go home.
Then, stay there.

The game wardens, park rangers and conservation officers responsible for protecting you, wildlife and the land are getting mixed messages from their bosses, higher government officials, and the public.
They're being told they are not to approach visitors within 6 feet without complete PPE (N95 mask, gloves, and eye pro), both for their safety and for yours.
The catch is they haven't been issued that gear.
Gloves and a pair of aviators won't cut it, and everyone knows they're not going to just stand by and watch while crimes are committed or visitors get hurt.

The public is getting mixed messages from officials too--go outside! Stay 6 feet apart! We've waived entry fees!
We're open! We're closed!

What's really going on?
Some of the biggest, most glamorous parks are closed- Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the like.
At state and federal levels,most of the rest are "open".
What's the catch?
The catch is what's really not open: visitor centers.
Parking lots. Bathrooms. Restaurants.
The catch is that 'non-essential' staff has been furloughed, or are teleworking.
The catch is that where bathrooms are open, they're being cleaned by the rangers and officers without appropriate PPE, or worse, by volunteers.
The few bathrooms available are often primitive vault toilets without handwashing facilities, and the truth of a novel virus is that no one has yet ruled out a fecal-oral transmission route (ew).
The catch is that crowds converging on parks and refuges without visitor centers are parking on beaches, hiking off trail in sensitive environments during breeding seasons, and overcrowding trails too narrow to allow for safe social distancing.
The catch is that visitors in parks without bathrooms are pooping in the woods like bears, only leaving behind blooms of toilet paper laden with microbes capable of transmitting disease to humans.

That's not love of the Great Outdoors.

Buy your park passes. Get the sunscreen, camera and boots ready.
Familiarize yourself with the Big 6 of our wild places.

And stay home till this passes.
I never intended to become Radio Free America for rural cops, but here I am one more time saying what they can't without getting fired: their hands are tied.
They're frustrated, their working conditions are growing less safe by the day, and they can't keep you safe this way either.
Please.
Go home.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Just in Time

A police wife I've known for a long time asked me to pass along this story.
She said, "Right now, we need to be reminded of hopeful things", and she was right.
You need this.

She said,
"My husband left law enforcement after an officer-involved shooting with some really nasty small-town fallout.
He went back to school.
I went back to work.
My parents helped us keep our house, and keep our toddler son safe and loved while we were in a messy transition. Faith helped us keep our sanity.
Eventually we settled in to a self-employed life, running an investigations business from our home. Once he built a full time caseload we made a nice living, and it felt like we'd started over,finally.

Then 9/11 happened.

By 2003, the recession it sparked caught up with us.
The contract work that paid our bills dried up like a creek during drought- slowly and then all at once, leaving nothing behind but cracked mud, and want.

After working in the family business for years, I found an outside job to fill the gap but it wasn't enough. Small towns are hard job markets.
His job search dragged out for months, and the savings we'd built so carefully dwindled, nibbled away by rats in the mailbox named Mortgage, Car Repair and Power.
It was frightening.
The options were daunting, and few.
It turns out that criminal investigations is a pretty particular skill set, no matter what side of the bar you're standing on.
Finally he decided the only realistic option was to renew his POST certificate (which required attending an academy two hundred miles away, at our expense), and look for work as a cop once more.

Before he left,a card arrived in the mail.
It was from his brother, with whom we weren't terribly close, and there was a note inside with some gift cards.
There were cards for groceries and for gas, and for Walmart, where you can buy anything.

The note said, 'We have been praying for you, and God told us to send these. We love you.'

We were grateful and we were embarrassed.
My husband's pride was stung. We were still paying our bills.
"We don't need those," he said.
"Let's keep them for now. When we know we're back on our feet, we can give them to someone who does need them," I said.
I put them in my wallet and forgot about them.

He finished the re-certification academy and found a small department in the mountains where the boss was willing to take a chance on a guy who'd been out of the game for years. I stayed behind to keep working while our house was on the market.
Houses sell slowly in the winter.

He grew familiar with the weekend commute over a 5000-foot pass; my son and I finally figured out how to achieve detente.
Dad had always been the buffer. I was the one who lost my temper with 11 year old sass and shenanigans.

He thrived at the new department; he had a good boss, and police work was like riding a bicycle. He was good at it before, and he was good at it still. It felt good to have hope, and set down the burden of anxiety we'd been carrying for more than a year.

Five months in, I got a phone call at 12:33 a.m. from an emergency medicine doctor at a tiny hospital. My healthy, strong husband was suddenly, critically ill.
He was 100 miles away and it was snowing. The helicopters were grounded by weather, so they would keep him stable and transport him to the Big Hospital by ground ambulance in the morning.

I spent the rest of the night awake, packing and suppressing panic. When the sun rose, I woke my sixth-grader and we made the icy drive over interstate, through the canyons into the wide valley where my husband spent the next ten days in the hospital.

Illness and injury are nightmares when you're self-employed. That fear still dogged my mind.
This new job was too new for any usable number of sick days. In fact, he was still on probation and I understood that the department could let him go for any reason or none. Being the new guy and not working for ...I don't know, the foreseeable future, seemed like a pretty big reason.

I shoved those thoughts aside, and stuffed worries about loss of income- his, and mine. The Family Medical Leave Act protected my position, but it doesn't pay anything.
He was alive. If he recovered, we'd worry about it later.
If he recovered, I wouldn't care.

I had no power, but in that situation who does?
I couldn't make him well.
No one has a budget category for Loved One Suddenly Ill a Hundred Miles from Home.

I did have a key though,to my parents' house in the same city where my husband was hospitalized. They were traveling out of state, but there were warm safe beds for my son and me, a stocked kitchen and a washer and dryer.

And soon I had a phone call from his new boss, letting me know that every employee in his tiny county-- all 19 of them-- had donated time to a catastrophic leave bank for the New Guy. He promised me that there would be a light duty position ready for my husband when he was discharged, even if he had to invent one.

And in my wallet were gift cards, for gas and for groceries and for WalMart, where you can buy anything.

I had forgotten about them, those cards we didn't need- but the God Who Provides had not. He sees the end from the beginning, and the word He spoke to a brother we rarely see was perfectly timely.
We just didn't know it, then.

My husband did recover, and return to work. He grew in skill and wisdom, and supported that great boss through his own fatal illness just a few years later.
Then he led the little department himself and made it safely to a healthy retirement.
It was a path we could not have foreseen and maybe we wouldn't have chosen but then, we weren't in charge.

If you have no power to fix the problem before you, then it's not your problem.
It's too big for you.
Give it over to The One Who Is Bigger Than Yourself and let go of it, even if you have to keep doing it again every ten minutes.
You can't add a single minute to your life by worrying, and He never intended you to try."
******************** ******************** *********************
That isn't the end of her story, but it's the end for today.
For tonight, I wish you rest.
Wear your vest. Look after each other.
---Charlie Pitt

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thoughts on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day


Your news feed is filled with ideas for showing appreciation for law enforcement officers. Saying thank you, paying for their coffee and waving with all your fingers are kind gestures.
There's no downside to kindness.

But, do you really want to show them you appreciate them?
Really?
Then take it a little further.

Contact your legislators when I share a bill that ensures wounded officers have access to the care they need.
Donating to a GoFundMe is a kind gesture, but a charity fund is a bandaid on an arterial bleed.
No officer should have to beg for help paying the bills while recovering from traumatically-acquired holes they weren't born with.
No cop's wife should get a bill for her husband's mediflight from a crime scene, while he's still in ICU. It happens.
It shouldn't.

Help get laws changed in states that allow cities to put officers on the street before they've even gone to academy. It's not safe, and it's not fair, to the officer or to their community.

If communities want to show they appreciate their law enforcement officers, they won't wait till after they get killed or hurt, and then call them heroes, and name things after them, so mayors or selectmen can have a photo op by a road sign, or a building.

They'll buy them vests.
Buy them tourniquets.
Send them to training.
Fix the brakes, and replace the tires.
Find them help after critical incidents.

That's how lives are honored.