Military Veterans Provide Professionalism

Military veterans provide professionalism at the highest levels. And oftentimes it comes in methods that are undetected by others.

A person should have an affinity for military veterans working in law enforcement since much of our ranks are filled with people who began their career as American fighting men and women. Yet I saw a glimpse of their esteemed conduct while performing an odd task.

I’ll get back to that shortly.

My military service came during peacetime in the early 80s. If my memory serves correct, the only conflict or action we saw during my tour of duty came in Grenada, which I did not participant in. While there were other skirmishes, and of course the Beirut barracks bombing in ’83, we were not otherwise engaged in combat.

But that dramatically changed in the 90s and new millennium. As a result, we have so many active duty law enforcement officers who’ve seen combat.

My agency had tremendous success hiring young men that had recently returned from hostile action while serving on active duty. Their demeanor, decorum, and dedication was “top shelf.” In other words, they have proven to be some of the best officers in our organization.

Returning to a story regarding their esteemed professionalism.

As a police watch commander, I was given the unenviable task of conducting MDT audits. Since this form of communication is discoverable during civil and criminal proceedings, we wanted to avoid public embarrassment, as had occurred to other agencies when their “private” conversations via the MDT became public during lawsuits and criminal proceedings.

It was tedious and time-consuming work. Yet, I have to admit, it was titillating at times. Although we constantly warned officers to “monitor” their communications, they quickly forgot that “Big Brother” was looking over their shoulder.

Admittedly the assignment felt a bit voyeuristic. I quickly learned who was dating who as well as many of their preferences and pleasures. Even though we’d pass out admonitions to “knock-it-off,” there was never a shortage of social gab going on. Think of it as pre-Facebook; a new way to communicate and socialize before the social media frenzy went wild. And some officers socialized so much we wondered if they ever did any work.

But the combat veterans were never part of this group; at least not at my department when I conducted the audits.

On one occasion, I printed the MDT traffic between five random officers over the course of a week. It stacked about 12 inches high. Next to it was the MDT traffic over the same period of time for five random military veterans. It was less than two inches thick.

I brought each stack into roll call and explained the difference. I cajoled our officers by telling them they were some of the most articulate writers I had ever read. But I also reminded each one that our policy restricted MDT usage to professional conduct and conversations. We often told them the standard is easy to remember: If you wouldn’t say something on the air/radio, don’t type it on the MDT.

I put an exclamation point on my “training” for the day by saying I would begin to read the highlights aloud in roll call if they couldn’t abide by our policy any better than that.

Wow, suddenly I had immediate compliance. Of course there were also the wise guys planting coded clues throughout the week to see if I caught the hidden meaning to their message. Actually, this exercise motivated my thoroughness in an otherwise brainless activity.

The point of my story is that I never had to worry about our military veterans generating inappropriate communication via MDTs. It just didn’t happen.

So to all the veterans pushing a hack on Veterans Day, we appreciate your service AND professionalism.

(Photo by Antoinette Alcazar)