I was born in 1956 and grew up watching a 19” black and white Admiral television. It was in a large wooden cabinet and commanded the focal point of the room. With only a few television stations to choose from, my choices were limited. When my parents were seated there, they were even more restricted.
My father would usually select our nightly viewing unless he was working, then my mother would. TV censoring was in its heyday. The Rob and Laura slept in separate beds, Father always knew best, and everyone on TV dressed for dinner. My mother’s influence ensured I watch the Lawrence Welch show and later Perry Como. My father, as well as my uncles, had all served in WWII, either in Europe or the Pacific. John Wayne and Gary Cooper were always welcome in our home on our Admiral.
I paint this background so you will see where I come from. My family stood when the National Anthem played at a game. Heads were held high and right hands covered their hearts. Silence was demanded and I know my parents were remembering friends and family buried on foreign shores.
This helps to explain the person I am today. My parents stressed things they believed I would need to know to grow into the man they hoped for. They stressed that in order to be a grown-up you needed to understand duty, honor, loyalty, and responsibility.
Duty, honor, and loyalty were towards your family, friends, community and your country. These are what got you up in the morning and off to work when there was 14 inches of fresh snow on the ground and more to follow. They are what kept you going to work that second job when you needed to pay the bills. They are what ensured you kept your home clean, your family fed, your lawn mowed and your neighborhood safe. It is why a person could walk down the streets safely after dark in my neighborhood. It is why you checked on your elderly neighbor when the weather was nasty, and why you shoveled more than just your walk in a blizzard.
This was your responsibility. It wasn’t too bad since your neighbors were the same. We looked out for each other and helped. If your dog left something on a neighbor’s lawn you cleaned it up. Not because it was the law but because it was the right thing to do.
Most officers I know had similar backgrounds and many have come from the military, where they are taught from day one the importance of duty, honor, and loyalty. They know what it means to be responsible. There aren’t many careers other than law enforcement and the military that stress this as much.
Duty, honor, and loyalty are a badge of honor worn by the men and women in blue, but that badge comes with tremendous responsibility. It’s more than to each other. As I said before it is to family, friends, community, and country. It also comes with the great possibility of injury or death. We have accepted that responsibility and live with it. It takes a great toll on each of us personally, and eventually, to those to whom we are responsible.
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Perhaps that is the most frustrating part of law enforcement today. It appears that the people who lead our communities, the politicians, as well as religious leaders, and news media have missed out on duty, honor, and loyalty and their only responsibility is to themselves.
It is very difficult to put on a uniform and take orders from political leaders who show no loyalty to anyone but themselves, certainly not to the police. But that’s the officer’s duty. It’s this responsibility to remain loyal to their oath of office. That’s how they bring honor upon themselves and pay honor to family, friends, community, and country.
Perhaps someday we will come back around to a time when duty, honor, loyalty, and responsibility are once again respected by more than those in uniform. In the meantime, it’s what had the Dayton, Ohio police racing to and ending the slaughter brought forth by one man who had just killed nine people and wounded 27 more. It’s why they were able to end the shooting after just 30 seconds of violence. They didn’t cower and call for help. They took the responsibility of eliminating the danger.
A friend, a retired Chicago Police Sergeant, posted on his Facebook timeline “39 people shot over the weekend. Damn it. Punish the police until this stops!”
Despite it all, police officers got up today, put on their uniforms and went to work because of duty, honor, and loyalty. After all, it’s their responsibility.
Please remember your comments are always encouraged and welcomed. You are always welcome to share this with your family, friends, community, and country.
Stay safe. Run Low and zigzag.
Robert Weisskopf (ret. Lt. CPD)
P.S. You can find all my articles published in Law Enforcement Today by following the links at https://bobweisskopf.com/l-e-t-articles/