Gary Hinterlong, a long-time West Texan, is Townsquare Media's web guy. This view does not necessarily reflect the views of this station or the company. Instead, he simply wants to share his own message of peace and clarity as we all cope with this tragedy.

Ron Jenkins, Getty Images

It’s difficult next to impossible to not see all the tragedy of the recent deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the officers killed in Dallas. It’s all over television and FB and now with Facebook Live, you can bear witness to it as it happens. No filter, no editing, just the brutal horror of people losing their lives. It’s REAL, maybe all too real. But that’s maybe what we should be talking about right now. What’s REAL!

You’ve seen the videos I’m sure and I’m sure you’ve seen images like this in movies and TV shows all the time, but this isn’t a show. The people you watched get shot in these videos were not actors and they didn’t get back up after the video stopped and go home. Sterling and Castile as well as the five officers in Dallas didn’t read a script and know what was going to happen to them and neither did the officers that shot Sterling and Castile. They woke up just like you and me, got dressed and went to work. They probably had plans for the weekend, thought about how hot it is outside these days and looked forward to watching their favorite shows when they got home. My point is that these are REAL people. We can’t forget no matter how much politics and the headlines dissect what’s happening, we’re talking about real people.


And just like real people, no one is perfect, even at their job. If you look at any job and any employee, they do something wrong or could improve in some way. Some don’t get their reports in on time, others are late after lunch, etc. etc. Now, does every job deal with matters of life and death and require decisions to be made in split seconds? No. Forgetting to send an e-mail about a rescheduled meeting isn’t going to mean someone’s life is over. There are jobs though that do matter in life and death. Surgeons, airline pilots, the military of course and law enforcement among many others.


But when I fly or need surgery, I trust the people in that profession with my life, no matter what color they are and despite the fact that I know that there are surgeons and pilots out there that don’t always do what’s right. You hear about botched surgeries and plane crashes, but I don’t put a blanket over every doctor and every pilot because of it. I also never think that violence against them would make them do surgeries better or fly safer.


I trust that the people in the jobs they have are doing their jobs the BEST THEY CAN. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but the best they can possibly do.


So when I watch the videos from Dallas, I noticed a few things. One, when the gunfire started, people rightfully and understandably, ran away as fast as they could as I think I would. But in that same exact moment, you can see the officers running TOWARD the gunfire and getting people out of harm’s way.


The officers in Dallas didn’t just show up once the gunfire started. They were there long before making sure that people protesting the actions of police officers were given the chance to do. Think about that. That’s like a chef making sure protesters of how restaurants are run had food to eat. They were making sure people who were upset about their profession were safe to express their constitutional right to peacefully assemble. You didn’t see officers picketing back or shouting obscenities to the protestors as they walked past them.


In fact, you can see photos from Dallas showing officers posing for pictures with protestors.


Now, I’ve seen on countless Facebook threads of people saying all cops are racist or they don’t care about black or latino people and I understand where people can get that impression. Those are real feelings and I’m not dismissing that. You can feel mad, you can feel sad, you can feel violated. How you feel is how you feel and no one can tell you how to feel or that your feelings or right or wrong.


However, lashing out at law enforcement, especially those that had NOTHING to do with Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights isn’t the answer. These men and women not only when through a grueling police academy to even become an officer, but they SWORE to help you when you need it. Whether it’s making sure your neighbors turn down the music so you can sleep at night or putting their own life on the line to make sure bullets don’t hit you.


So what does all this mean? Sterling and Castile were REAL, imperfect people, the officers you saw in those videos were REAL, imperfect people and you and I are REAL, imperfect people. But here’s the catch. What I may not able to do just right, you may be able to and what we can’t do that well, someone else may. We all help each other, or we should, when we can.


If you’re needing examples of what I’m talking about, here are just a few instances we recorded of how law enforcement helps our area.


In closing, my heart goes out to the families and friends of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, those that witnessed their passing, law enforcement and their families and friends no matter where they serve and all of you. Prayers that when you log onto Facebook, turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper, there isn’t another tragedy only adding to our sorrow.


Thank you to all the men and women in uniform for protecting us every day. We truly appreciate it and are a reminder that there is always more good in the world than bad.


If you’re interested in attending a prayer vigil for those killed in Dallas, our media partners have found there will be one in Odessa at 6:30PM in front of the Odessa Police Department. OPD is also asking you to replace your porch light with blue bulbs through the end of the week. Midland will have a prayer vigil at Hogan Park at 7:00PM.