The Hundred Club of Genesee, Shiawassee and Lapeer Counties is an organization of local residents who contribute money each year for the benefit of public servants who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty. There Lieutenant Randy Sutton (Ret.) delivered a powerful presentation that raised serious questions and provided determined answers. Do we ever think about how easily and glibly we glamorize and dehumanize law enforcement? Do we ever ask ourselves whether we have thereby benumbed ourselves to that very segment of our humanity which has committed itself to our safety? And do we ever wonder why we have turned our back on the plight of those officers who are the casualties of that very commitment?
In movieland, there are only a few kinds of cops. There are anonymous extras, who are blown up in squad cars and vans. We also often find villainous, corrupt figures that die dramatically in a final stand-off. At the center of these fantasies reside the hero cops. Inevitably, the heroes take a bullet or two, are briefly hospitalized, and go right back into action. As for emotional trauma, the Hollywood prescription is one night of “understandable” heavy drinking followed by a galvanizing personal insight that sets the final act of the movie into overdrive.
Unlike the movies, viral videos and other dramas, there is reality. Lieutenant Randy Sutton (ret.), founder of The Wounded Blue: The National Assistance and Support Organization for Injured and Disabled Law Enforcement Officers, is committed to awakening the public and empowering injured and disabled police officers. He points out that in 2016, approximately 57,000 law enforcement officers were assaulted in the line of duty and almost 30,000 lost time from work because of line of duty injuries, most requiring medical attention. In addition to the visible injuries, emotional and psychological traumas have also afflicted an untold number of law enforcement officers with PTSD.
“Abandoned by their agencies and the governments they sacrificed so much for, these officers are often forced to seek legal recourse for the medical care they are entitled to.” – Lieutenant Randy Sutton (ret.) –
In order to focus our attention on this tragically neglected aspect of American law enforcement, Randy– also noted for his books, articles and frequent appearances on TV with the show “Cops”– founded his crusade, The Wounded Blue. His 35 years in law enforcement coupled with his own struggles led him to take a leadership role in developing the The Wounded Blue Organization.
As Randy puts it, these injured and disabled officers “are the forgotten.” He points out on his website, https://thewoundedblue.org/, that it is a barely acknowledged, almost secret, tragedy in American policing. Abandoned by their agencies and the governments they sacrificed so much for, these officers are often forced to sue for the medical care they are entitled to. Meanwhile, their spouses or families may have to give up their own jobs to care for them, throwing the family into staggering debt, and even poverty. In the words of one officer’s wife whose husband suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was shot in the head while he was still on probation, “If he had died, his struggles would be over. Now he is helpless and knows it. His soul is as tortured as his body and no one cares.”
Randy Sutton’s passionate commitment to getting his message out on all possible fronts has recently led him to develop the feature documentary “The Wounded Blue,” a Lightning Entertainment production. This picture tells the powerful stories of the six individual police officers who inspired the creation of The Wounded Blue Foundation. The film demonstrates the necessity for peer counseling, as well as the need for legislative support within a “system” that is clearly broken. You can find this movie any time by using the key words “the wounded blue movie” in Google or any other search engine.
The Wounded Blue has grown from a one-man crusade to a fully-fledged, national peer-support organization, gathering more volunteers every day. An article of this size can barely do justice to its ambition and accomplishments. If you or anyone you know has suffered in the line of duty, The Wounded Blue can be reached via the “Peer Support” pull-down menu on their home page (https://thewoundedblue.org/).
There is much to be done and an enterprise like this needs our continuing support. Finally, the author wishes to thank Corporal Eddie Richardson (Ret.) for invaluable help with this article.