Be That One
Not too long after joining the Norfolk Police Department, serving out of the 4th Precinct, I was assigned a partner, Drew Grant. His father, Charlie Grant was Chief of Police. We worked together for a couple of years on patrol, and then went to the Detective bureau where, once again, we were partners, assigned ultimately to the burglary squad.
I joined in 1973, and the senior guys were trained in the 50′s and 60′s. No doubt they were a tough crew, far different from today’s officers. The culture has changed. When I joined, my plan was to be a great Christian cop. Being trained as I was, my plan evaporated without a good support network, and I blended in with the guys on my shift to a great degree. Being a Navy town, we got into quite a few fights, especially on payday weekend. I became callus, cynical, not a nice guy, and quick to fight.
One night on patrol, Drew and I had reason to stop a guy, and he became hostile. Out of instinct, I reached out and grabbed his neck with one hand and pulled back the other ready to plant him. But something happened. Drew put his hand on my shoulder and asked, “Do you need to hit him?” The perp was still in the grip of my right hand and my left still clinched to hit. This was different. In the past, no one ever asked that question. My reply was, “he’s a jerk and needs to have his attitude adjusted.” Drew responded, “you are right, but choose to not hit him.”
Honestly, it was a God moment, using Drew to create a crossroad. I had to choose to listen to him and go that way, or continue on the other path I had chosen so often before. We had become so close as partners, had been in enough fights side by side, I knew he was saying this for my good. At that moment, Drew became “that one,” willing to risk what I thought for what he knew was right.
In a very real way, Drew’s action is responsible for Serve & Protect. The years following, I was a changed man, ready to fight when necessary, but not looking for a fight. Our friendship and understanding of each other helped us in the detective bureau, impacting our effectiveness in investigation, interrogation, and closure rate.
We have remained close friends to this very day, and he was my first call for a Board member. His courage in the moment recalculated my route, learning restraint, choosing to fight when needed, and in due time, paved the way to leave for Bible College and Wheaton. It set me on a course to pick up skills in marketing / PR, radio production and syndication, basic design, event management, and running a non-profit which all considered, prepared me to launch Serve & Protect. Yet it all began making the right decision when challenged by another officer willing to “be that one.”
I love this quote – “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale
When you consider the pressures first responders face, our Homeland Heroes often live in a pressure cooker. A closed brotherhood, where seldom does an outsider have the opportunity to make an impact, much less challenge their decisions and choices. The past 60 days have seen multiple officer suicides, two of which were murder/suicides. One from Norfolk PD. First responders see things that would make most people not only cringe, but vomit. They run to danger that causes others to run away. How can we help them?
First, encouraging others serving police and fire departments, EMT’s, and corrections officers to “be the one” willing to talk to someone in crisis, someone hurting and needing a trusted ear. It means asking for help from the right people who have your best interest in mind. Drew was the son of the Chief, but until I told his dad what Drew did, Chief Grant never knew.
“Being that one” does not mean seeking out people to correct either. When the moment is right, and the situation makes itself appropriate, be gentle, encouraging, not judgemental, a voice offering hope and the ear of a confidential friend. And then, zip it. Keep that confidence completely. Don’t hover over them trying to be their conscience. Rather, pray for wisdom and the opportunity to walk with them.
My goal with Serve & Protect is to “be that one,” and along the way, raise up an army willing to make the same commitment. By God’s grace it will be so. His Son was willing to be that One, the only One who could make the sacrifice to show God’s love and salvation for mankind. Our partner organization, for the crisis hotline, Safe Call Now, was founded by Sean Riley, a police veteran who saw the need and chose to “be that one>”
Written by Robert Michaels, a veteran of law enforcement having served with the Norfolk Police Department (VA) on patrol and as a detective, and with the 229th Military Police Battalion of the Virginia Army National Guard.Serve & Protect www.serveprotect.org