Breaking Up Is Hard To Do


Breaking Up Is Hard To DoLet’s explore why it is so hard to “break up” from a job you love and love to not love. before beginning, I was approached by a lady Saturday night while monitoring a downtown nightclub crowd following the Ambrosia Mardi Gras parade. She is not associated with law enforcement and I am not sure who she is.

She was kind enough to share having read my previous LET article entitled, “I Quit!”.   She  emphasized that she read the whole thing. I was curious if she meant it was interesting, or long! Either way, it was a kind gesture. If she is reading this; thank you and owe this inspiration to you.

I realized then, that in addition to the many e-mails I receive from all of you in support of our cultural revolution, these principles apply to everyone. I write to encourage sincere public servants, but also know that cultures exist in all aspects of society.

Who knows, we may ignite a “change” reaction in another industry while recreating ours. I believe dedicated professionals are ready for a change, and desire a singular vision directing their energy. I believe “we” are the soldiers of evolution, and in our generation of service, a new era of fraternity will emerge.

Occupational entitlement has long allowed others to exist on the efforts of others. Accumulating “time” waiting to retire is the bane of those who will give their best effort and their last breath to this beloved profession.

I was told by a junior ranking officer that leading to your 20 years of service you add upwards. After making your 20, you count downwards to your retirement 30. I was guilty! I no longer shared that I had 15 years on, or 19 years on the job. I began saying I have 9 years left or 7 years left…

The difference is; he is counting down the years left for working to escape work. I am cherishing my remaining years left for effecting creative and positive change for our profession. How will your countdown contribute to policing? Are you dying to gain your pension, or living to gain perspective?

Let’s discuss perspective. That’s why I began writing this piece anyway. Why is breaking up so hard to do? While I examine the areas in need of improving in my study of cop culture, A Darker Shade of Blue: From Public Servant to Professional Deviant, I fully appreciate the many wonderfully amazing qualities of this job.

The most amazing aspect is you. I was taught in 1991 while attending a SWAT school in Amarillo, Texas that you can “do” SWAT with a knife while wearing a loin cloth. Not sure about wearing the loin cloth, but I understood the point.

Strip away everything black, ballistic and bought because there were lightning bolts and eagles affixed to the tag. It comes down to you. The officer willing to train, respond and sacrifice on-call for no extra compensation. You are what is special about this profession. 


My starting pay was around $11,000 a year while working out of a dilapidated wooden school house stuck next to the detention center. The men I worked with were older and much more experienced, yet they were in the truest sense of the word; public servants.

There were no take-home units, portable radios, in-service trainings or pay raises. Yet after blessed to rise through the ranks, earn a Ph.D., become a Chief of Police, travel this country and author a book, my fondest times were spent in that white wooden shack.

My first week on the job was spent with the greatest supervisor a public servant could ask for, Lieutenant Leo Naquin. A compassionate and fiercely loyal leader, he drove me by each officer’s home and their families’ homes ensuring I knew exactly where they lived.

This instilled the sense of family and fraternal obligation to care for each other. Not a message of looking the other way to illegitimate behaviors. He explained how important each officer was, and not as a law enforcer, but as a father, son, brother, and friend to the community.

Have you known a supervisor like that? Have you been a supervisor like that? If not, it’s not too late to make an enormous difference in another person’s life. It is an eternal investment. I will attest to you that though he had only met me, there was no way of knowing the effect he would have on my life.


I am collecting my thoughts while writing this in an effort to present the other great elements making our job hard to leave. The new cars will age, the new radio will lose battery life, the new station house will lose the new station house smell, and the cool new color-coded handcuffs you paid too much for will chip and rust like the first pair I bought and still carry.

Make a list of what keeps you coming back to duty every shift, even after throwing your rig on the bed and saying this was “it!” Next, scratch off anything that is black, ballistic and bought because there are lightning bolts and eagles affixed.

It is you. It is him. It is her. It is them. It is you. You make breaking up hard to do. Someone depends on you to be there. You may not know it, or realize it, but you do sense it. You sense the draw to each other, that no matter how bad conditions get, you belong there.

You belong to something greater than yourself. You are why I stay, and why I write. I know that because of me, someone else stays. Although I do not know who, it is my and our moral obligation to always mentor and encourage. You may just become the reason another one stays.

Breaking up is hard to do. It is not because there are no other professions out there. It is because no other job in this world values you the way I do. It is you.

I am blessed by the countless e-mails from people across this country willing to share their stories. I ask that you please continue contacting me at [email protected]. After reading this article, I would like for cops and cultural revolutionists alike, to e-mail me and title it; REVOLUTION. Confidentially share with me “why” you stay.

Scott Silverii, PhD is a native of south Louisiana’s Cajun Country and serving as the Chief of Police for the City of Thibodaux, Louisiana. Spending twenty-one previous years with a CALEA accredited Sheriff’s Office allowed opportunities for serving various capacities including 12 years narcotics, 16 years SWAT and Divisional Commands. Chief Silverii earned a Master of Public Administration and a Doctorate in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans, focusing his research on aspects of culture and organizations.  A member of IACPs prestigious Research Advisory Committee, Chief Silverii, author of A Darker Shade of Blue: From Public Servant to Professional Deviant and contributor for TheBadgeGuys, is available at [email protected], @ThibodauxChief, or [email protected]


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