Whoa, where did that come from? Have you ever heard a fellow officer say that? Have you ever said it yourself? If so, this article is for you. Yes, you.
Over my 26-year career I heard these words uttered more than once. Like many, I remained silent and walked away or went about doing my paperwork. I must admit, I am ashamed I didn’t speak up. You see, this attitude is killing police departments across the country. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
I understand the attitude, I just don’t condone it. As we read almost daily of a fallen brother or sister in blue, it seems natural to express our hatred of the very people we swore to protect and serve. I get that. But, feeling, thinking, and saying it doesn’t make it right.
A friend of mine works on a department that lost a brother to murder recently. He summed up his feeling in two words, “I’m tired.” He is tired of the senseless deaths within the police family. He is tired of the hatred spewing citizens he swore to protect and serve. He’s tired of feeling unappreciated by people who say that couldn’t do his job in the first place. But he doesn’t hate the people he protects and serves.
Another friend, a retired cop, recently shared his feelings, “I don’t know why anyone would want to be a police officer these days.” He doesn’t know or understand how cops can be so maligned, hated and walked on by citizens, the media and hate groups. I don’t know either. But, there is more to the story than the haters and the unappreciative.
What comes to mind, for me, are three well known and often quoted sayings. We have all heard the famous quote by President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I liken it to ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community.
Equally famous the “I have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., where he laid out his vision of a better country and a better society. Read it sometime, you will be inspired. I think back to my own dream. The dream of becoming a cop. When asked, I said like so many of did, I wanted to become a cop so I could help people. For many cops, that dream died a long time ago. But the dream can be revived.
The one quote that struck me the most is this: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul was referring to his walk of faith and preaching the Gospel and his seeing his end near, I find these words very meaningful to a cops calling to protect and serve others.
As cops, we swore an oath to protect and serve our communities, even if it costs us our life. We have heard the expression when speaking of a fallen officer, “He/she made the ultimate sacrifice.” We know dying in the line of duty is indeed a sacrifice. A sacrifice we are willing to make. Willing to do so, however, doesn’t make it any easier when the time comes. I heard it once said dying is harder on those left behind. No truer words were spoken. Attend a cop’s funeral and you will understand. I understand, I lost three fellow officers in my 26 years on the job.
Kind of like Paul’s description of being poured out as a drink offering. We knowing and willing pour our lives in to protecting and serving. Some of us poured our blood doing so. This sacrifice is indeed the ultimate.
So when I hear a cop say how much he hates people, I get a little annoyed. Actually, I get a lot annoyed and want to say, “Then find another job!” To have this attitude, let alone voice it, is a slap in the face to those who have fought the good fight to protect and serve others, who have finished the course, that have kept the faith. I’m not just talking about line of duty deaths. I include those who have retired after serving their communities. I am talking about those who are the true warriors and servants wearing the uniform.
We all have bad days. Some days are worse than others. But if your days are so bad and so frequent that you come to genuinely hate the people you are serving, then it is time to walk away. Or, change your attitude and renew your oath to protect and serve.
We all are human and sometimes we want to give up. At times like these remember your brothers and sisters who have made the ultimate sacrifice, paid the ultimate price. Honor their courage, their service and renew that oath. Revive that dream. Fight the good fight. Finish the course and keep the faith. People are counting on you. Not just the citizen you serve, but your fellow officers.
You know, Peter denied Christ three times and ran away in shame. But in his moment of doubt, fear, and anger he returned to the fight. He restarted the race and kept the faith. So can you.
Be safe. Be a warrior and servant. Lead with compassion, not hatred.
Pat Welsh is the Founder and President of PJ Welsh and Associates, LLC. Mr. Welsh is a retired Major, West Patrol Operations Division of the Dayton Police Department and currently is a Civilian Criminal Investigator with a Vice and Human Trafficking Unit in Colorado. A graduate of the FBINA and Police Executive Leadership College, Mr. Welsh specializes in law enforcement training, keynote speaking and coaching services. Visit http://www.Warrior-Servant-Leader.com to learn more about becoming a true Warrior, Servant and Leader or contact Mr. Welsh at [email protected].