Editor Note: This contribution is part of an ongoing series of Patrol Stories with LT from Humanizing the Badge. The media works hard to show you a darkness surrounding LEOs. It’s part of our DNA at Law Enforcement Today to show you the true heart and soul of those who serve and protect our communities and our country. We hope you’ll take a moment to read this officer’s words and to pass them along as we help to humanize the badge.
This badge is heavy.
Not in actual weight, but the weight it carries. I’ll get back to that.
I like to stop moving and just watch sometimes. You’d be surprised what will pass by right in front of you when you least expect it.
Today I decided to park and watch, but not in one of my usual places. I decided to make a change, for no other reason than to have something different to see.
There I sat, unentertained and bored. I decided to move again.
As soon as my hand reached for the shift lever a car swooped in, and it was really coming. It was moving with haste. I figured there was a medical emergency inside the car.
I jumped out so not to be sitting still when the car stopped right beside me and be caught off guard. The car didn’t even get stopped before the window went down and the driver called out, “Officer, can I talk to you?”
I tapped my body cam twice and said, “Sure.”
The man exited his vehicle and immediately began to pour out his soul to me. He was struggling with something and wanted to share it with someone. Share it with anyone who would listen. As it turns out today that someone was me. So I listened.
He explained in great detail what he was dealing with and it was exasperating. I sympathized with him as best I could.
But then he explained how all he wanted was to be there for his young son, who has special needs.
As most of you know, I don’t take fatherhood lightly. I listened intently as he told his story.
He even showed me a noose he made last night and told me he nearly hanged himself.
He was desperate and seemingly alone in his struggles, barely clinging to his sanity and life. He cried to me as he just pleaded for some direction.
I spent thirty minutes with a man, a total stranger with whom I had nothing in common.
We looked different. We spoke differently. We dressed differently. We grew up on opposite sides of the tracks.
There was no common life experience we shared, except we were both fathers. We had that one thing that bound us together at that moment.
The more we talked we learned we did have some of the same life experiences, he was just behind me a few years. I told him about myself and what I had been through.
Sometimes it is enough to know that you are not the only one who has ever fought this fight. That seemed to bolster him.
He now had a rudimentary plan. Just a start, but it was a start. Any start is better than being stagnant.
We shook hands, then simultaneously leaned in and hugged. I felt the struggle in him. He felt my support. That’s all he needed for today I suppose. We said our goodbyes and salutations.
I did not know this man. I had no history with him. I can’t even tell you his name.
But our encounter happened because I parked in a different location, in a marked patrol car, wearing a badge.
A very heavy badge.
~LT from Humanizing the Badge