It is a simple question but there is no simple answer.
I know I might be preaching to the choir, but sometimes you have to sit back and take a look inside yourselves and think about why you are still in this profession. Let me explain.
If you think about it, you have to go back to the beginning when you entered the academy. Many came, but few had the tenacity to complete the grueling requirements. You did.
You got up at o-dark thirty for your physical training where you did push ups and pull-ups until you thought your arms would fall off. You had so many classes that you felt your head swim with the amount of information you were given. You worked hard and gave up any social life you may have had for what?
You demonstrated the tenacity, initiative, and guts in sticking it out during the hard times for the privilege of wearing your badge! Sometimes officers forget that wearing the badge is a privilege and not a right. I am very passionate, as I am sure you are, about never tarnishing that symbol of trust that we pin on our uniforms.
This is a great profession and the only certainty about law enforcement is the uncertainty! Where else can you have a job where you don’t know what to expect from day to day, minute to minute? One minute you’re riding in your patrol vehicle just cruising along and the next minute you’re flying be the seat of your pants in a high-speed pursuit? Where else can you work to help people in their daily lives? Or be so appreciated by our citizens and feared so much by the bad guys? Where else can you go and have fun interrogating the crooks and have them “cop” out and tell you about all the stuff they didn’t want to tell you to begin with?
This is really a fun job, but like any other job it is what you make it. You can be happy and positive. I‘m not talking Pollyanna, and everyone is “kumbaya.” You have to be realistic here, there will be times that you are down. You have to learn to turn the negatives into positives.
Or you can sit around and do nothing but complain. These are the people that I call my five percenters. My WSM’s – whining, sniveling, and malcontents! Every department has them and you know who they are. I could give them a raise today and they would complain because they did not receive it yesterday.
One of the most important things that I can say is to maintain your sense of humor. You’ve got to keep laughing. You can’t take yourselves too seriously. you take the job seriously but never yourselves. If you can’t laugh at yourself once in a while you are in serious trouble.
Moving on, I would like to take time to discuss the badge or shield that you all proudly wear on your uniforms. There are many stories about the badge, but this one stayed with me during my entire career and I would like to share it with you.
In ancient times when gladiators went off to battle, they all carried shields and used them for protection. Protection was needed against striking forces of evil, protection to save their bodies, or to save their fellow warriors. With all the shields together they would form barricades, which was another form of protection. If a warrior was hurt the shield would be used as a stretcher to carry their wounded comrade off the battlefield to safety.
There is more to the badge than just its shape. The badge or shield or whatever you wish to call it demonstrates that LEO’s, are given the responsibility for protection and safety of the citizens who depend on you.
George H. Savord, Police Chief of Cypress, CA stated:
This badge started out as a piece of lifeless metal; it was stamped, shaped, and inscribed with words, police officer. Now it is yours. It is a symbol of Americanism, Law, Order, Justice, and Freedom. The badge lives. It is a courageous defender. Possession of it transforms you from citizen to sentinel. You are a guardian of the safety and welfare of others. Display it with dignity. Wear it with pride. Treasure it, polish it, and keep it gleaming. The reflection of the badge is one of hope, peace and security. Respect the badge and others will too.
Always remember your passion, your will, your desires. Maintain those traits throughout your career. It’s easy to do. You worked hard to get your badge or shield. Enjoy it! You are a special few and this is why you are still in law enforcement!
Elvin G. Miali, was in Law Enforcement for a total of 37 years. In 1967, he began his career with the City of San Gabriel, CA and proceeded through the ranks. In 1986 he was appointed Chief of Police with the City of Fountain Valley, CA. and held that position for 17 years until his retirement. Chief Miali is the author of the book “Unless You’re The Lead Dog, The Scenery Never Changes,” which gives a Police Chief’s insight on how to properly prepare for promotional exams. He is a consultant for candidates involved with the promotional process, a lecturer and an instructor at the police academy. He can be reached through his Web Site, Leaddogpromotions.com or (714-756-0233)