Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

If you look at my left shoulder very carefully, you can still just see a tiny round area, a little smaller than a dime, that looks a bit different than the rest of my skin. It is slightly depressed, and I’ve carried that tiny scar for nearly 60 years now. I can still remember when I got it and it represents one of my earliest memories from the 1960s. Our family pediatrician, a very nice man with the unfortunate name of Dr Fink, gave me that scar during an office visit so long ago it was likely when Kennedy was still president. I remember him taking a needle, that to my youthful eyes seemed to be as large as a golf pencil, the tip of which he dipped in something moist. He then jabbed that needle into my arm over and over again. I don’t recall it hurting a great deal, and I didn’t know at the time that he was rendering me immune to one of humanity’s greatest all-time killers, smallpox. A small scab formed over the jabbed area, and when that scab eventually fell off, I had my tiny round scar.

Neither my kids nor my grandkids have that scar. We stopped inoculating against smallpox back in 1972, when that vile illness was exterminated in the United States. In fact, the virus was wiped out globally through vaccination programs – programs so thorough that we actually know the name of the very last human to catch smallpox, a gentleman named Ali Maow Maalin, a cook in a hospital in Somalia, who happily beat the odds and survived the illness. 

Today there are only two places on Earth where you can even find the virus, and those are the CDC in Atlanta and a similar research lab in Russia, where samples are kept carefully frozen and locked away, just in case we ever need to study smallpox again for some yet unimaginable reason. But fundamentally, we as a human race killed the germ that for millennia killed us by the millions.

Which, of course, brings is to the Denver Police Department.

A recent Colorado Politics story reported on the efforts of a group of Denver cops who asked a court to rule against the vaccine mandate ordered for such high-risk governmental employees in the wake of the COVID pandemic. 

Now, as a former military cop myself, I often find myself quite sympathetic to the challenges faced by the folks in blue. But in this case, I’m frankly appalled at the effort by these front-line public service folks to reject common sense, science, and, well, basic decency. The notion that the good people of Denver might find themselves in need of the police only to have an unvaccinated officer show up to help, only to possibly spread an oft deadly contagion, is just unacceptable.

The actual court case is highly technical and the judge’s ruling rejecting the officers’ effort to dodge the vaccine has more to do with the intricacies of the law than the actual mandate itself, but at its core it is an effort by some of those sworn to protect and serve to be allowed to potentially bring illness and perhaps death along with them on traffic stops, domestic violence arrests, and all the other many and varied ways cops interact with the public. 

My regular reader (Hi Jeff!) will recall that I’ve oft leapt atop my rickety soapbox of idealism to spout off against those who are, for apparently mostly Trumpian-nonsense reasons, opposing the vaccine because of silly and non-scientific reasons. And such willful and hazardous stupidity would, if I am brutally honest, bother me less if it only impacted the silly people directly. If vaccine refusal only injured the folks who think, for example, there is a tracking chip in the vaccine, I’d be more likely to roll my eyes and feel smugly superior. 

But the simple and undeniable fact is that if you decide to reject the decades of science behind vaccinations in general and the years (yes, years) of study behind this particular type of vaccine, you, my dear reader, are a damned fool. 

And that is your right. 

But you don’t have a right to compel others to suffer from your folly. If a crime is happening, there is no alternative to calling the police – they are the only game in town. If you are a person in Denver who is suffering from a criminal act, you need the cops. You need to be able to call 911 and know that a good person in blue is coming to help you, and that the cop will rush to your aid, and heroically and instantly will place him or herself in direct danger to protect you. But if that cop also unknowingly brings COVID to your home a sacred trust has been violated. 

Happily, we are not talking about that many Denver cops. The same CP story noted above reports that 82% of the police force has been vaccinated, and that’s great. And if you happen to be a Denver cop and you (for whatever so called reason) don’t want to get the vaccine that’s fine, I guess, but you shouldn’t be able to continue to be a cop. Perhaps the Trump company is hiring, though I doubt it, given his many, many business failures (Ed: you just had to get in one shot against Trump, didn’t you?). 

If you want to be a Denver cop, get the damn shot. The life you save might be mine.

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

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