Vests of life and badges of honor

North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers shakes hands with Willie Hart in the Liberty Hill neighborhood in March. The department is trying to improve its relationship with the community.

What will you wear today?

Maybe your occupation demands that you don a suit, tie, hard shoes and/or long pants.

Maybe you find your job garb restrictive and/or unflattering.

Maybe you should consider how much worse your work clothes would wear on you if they included body armor — and not because you portray a knight of old in a jousting show at a medieval theme park.

North Charleston Police Officer Wayne Pavlischek was wearing a protective vest Monday afternoon when he was shot in the right side of the abdomen.

According to the police:

The gunman fired on officers from the second-story window of a house. Pavlischek, hit while trying to get by the house to evacuate nearby residents, was taken to Medical University Hospital and released.

Chief Deputy David Cheatle said the vest likely saved the officer’s life.

As for the gunman — again according to the police — he eventually came outside through the front door, again firing, before being fatally shot by officers.

As for the high-stakes risks facing that city’s police, check out this front-page report in Wednesday’s Post and Courier: “In the first half of 2016, North Charleston recorded a steadier rate of homicides than New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.”

And wearing a protective vest regularly reminds cops in and beyond North Charleston — and their fretting families — of the deadly hazards that come with that occupation’s relatively meager financial compensation.

So we non-cops shouldn’t wallow in sweaty self-pity over the July swelter now intensifying our daily grind.

Instead, we should ponder the literal and figurative burdens carried by police trying to hold the thin blue line against violent crime — and by firefighters who venture into burning buildings.

And we should appreciate the so many good cops who wear badges not to get rich, get even or get in your face, but to protect and serve.

Name the two actors who play the title character in “The Blue Knight” TV movie and TV series.

OK, so there are bad cops, too.

And there are all-too- familiar bad vibes from the racial angle of this Wednesday Associated Press dispatch:

“The police shooting death of a black man captured on video Tuesday as officers wrestled with him outside a convenience store fueled anger and protests in a Baton Rouge (La.) community, where officials and family members of the slain man called for a federal investigation on Wednesday.”

Much closer to home, federal intervention continues in North Charleston in an effort to improve the strained relationship between its cops and black residents.

That police force made terrible — and international — news when a cellphone video showed officer (and quickly former officer) Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott five times in the back as he ran away from him in broad daylight.

The killing occurred on April 4, 2015. Slager’s state trial is scheduled for Oct. 31, 2016, with a possible federal trial to follow.

Meanwhile, the federal trial of Dylann Roof, charged with murdering nine people at the Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street on June 17, 2015, is scheduled for Nov. 7, 2016.

Roof’s state trial is set — for now — for Jan. 17, 2017.

But all of those trial dates could be changed — again.

More from Wednesday’s paper:

“Federal prosecutors fear an ‘eleventh-hour’ maneuver by defense lawyers could derail Dylann Roof’s trial unless a jury is picked from all parts of South Carolina, court documents stated.”

So why make federal cases out of those killings?

At the risk of redundant repetition, review anew these revealing statistics cited nearly three months ago in this space:

The gap between the 1901 death of President William McKinley and the execution of his killer by the state of New York, not the federal government, was 45 days.

The gap between the 1933 death of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak and the execution of his killer (who was trying to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami but instead mortally wounded Cermak) by the state of Florida, not the federal government, was 14 days.

And the extended 21st century wait between crime and punishment widens the credibility gap of our legal system.

William Holden plays Los Angeles Police Officer Bumper Morgan, the title character, in the 1973 NBC TV movie “The Blue Knight,” based on former LAPD Detective Joseph Wambaugh’s best-selling novel. George Kennedy plays Morgan in the 1975-76 CBS TV series of the same name.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.