A daughter’s story: The heart behind the badge

Elizabeth Gonzales

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Elizabeth Gonzales wrote the following article for the student newspaper at St. Edwards University in Austin. She graciously allowed the Badge & Gun to reprint it herewith.)

By ELIZABETH GONZALES

I am a proud member of the blue family. For 23 years now, my

dad has walked out of the house every day wearing his uniform

proudly with only one goal in mind: to protect.

My dad, Sgt. Robert Gonzales, has been protecting not only our

family, but the city of Houston for 23 years. I have always lived in

fear for my his life and even more so now.

I make sure to kiss my father every time he leaves the house. I

make sure to always end every phone call with an “I love you”

because I truly do not know if that will be the last goodbye I get

to say to him.

My father and many other law enforcement officers can no longer

walk in uniform without receiving nasty stares, being called

awful names and fearing for their lives in public.

More often than not, police officers are dealing with people who

have broken the law, and I have almost lost my father in the line

of duty.

On Feb. 15, 2001, my dad clocked a speeding car turning too fast

from a surface street onto a service road and attempted to flag

the driver over. The car was not slowing down, so he walked over,

trying to make eye contact with the driver — briefly taking his

eyes off the exiting traffic.

As he approached the car, another speeding automobile exited the freeway

into the lane occupied by my father and the vehicle he had

stopped for speeding. Trying to avoid a collision, my dad ran to the

left, but the car switched lanes as well.

The car violently hit my dad. He flew onto the roof of the car,

then was thrown onto the hood and slammed onto the pavement,

snapping his pelvis in half.

“As I was put on the board by paramedics, my entire spine

cracked, which scared me. I moved my feet to see if I was paralyzed.

Luckily, I was not. I asked my partner, prior to being loaded,

to pick up my wife and bring her to the hospital,” my father vividly

remembers.

This long recovery process affected not only him but me. I laid

by his side every night for two months when he was bound to a

hospital bed. Do you know what it is like to suffer from Post Traumatic

Stress Disorder? Do you know what it feels like to almost

lose your father?

One of my father’s most gratifying cases occurred on his first

year on the job. A rape victim, who was visibly shaken, was able

to describe the suspect and details of the incident. My father

went to the location and found the suspect along with the weapon

that had been used. My father was able to make the arrest and file

charges for rape.

“I joined (the police force) to help people, but you soon learn

many people do not want your help,” he said. “Officers change

people’s lives without knowing on a daily basis, but we usually

see people at their worst times.”

The rhetoric that has been spread on social media and news

outlets has completely made police out to be the bad guys. My

father believes the emergence of video cameras allows people to

quickly record usually only police officers’ reactions and not the

initial, provocative actions that led to that reaction.

“Now granted, there are or have been those officers who cross

the line, but I have never personally seen it occur in my presence

my entire career,” my father said. “Those officers are not thought

of very highly by our own and usually end up fired and/or jailed.

But by far, those that do are very few.”

My father is my role model, my hero. My father is someone who

I aspire to be like. My father is not the pig or racist, but a loving,

hard-working and selfless man. My father is a public servant. He

lays his life on the line for your life.

Who do you call when you’re in danger? My father. Who do you

call when an emergency happens? My father. Who is there for

you when no one else is? My father.

Although you may spew hate

about my father and the men and women he works with, law enforcement

officers protect you without hesitation.

Before you spew hate, please remember that he is a father, son,

husband and friend before he is an officer. Please remember that

when you spew hate, you are only creating more hate. Please

remember that a handful of officers do not represent the whole

population of officers. Please remember that not only do blue lives

matter, but all lives matter.

For every officer in blue, this one is for you. Thank you for being

brave, courageous and strong, despite what others may think of

you.

Thank you for serving your community. Thank you for giving

your life to others so they can live a life without fear.