Passed Down Pride – Police Officer Legacy
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question posed by many teachers, adults, and parents throughout your life until one day, you decide. Many young kids answer with a sense of pride and want to be exactly like those they look up to. An astronaut, a firefighter, a veterinarian, and the popular response of “a police officer.”
While the “I want to be a police officer” response may be the popular answer for many 5 to 10-year-old kids, as years go on, especially in today’s day and age, the anti-police rhetoric spread by the media and has turned police into the “enemy of the people,” – a statement that could not be further from the truth.
Coming from someone who grew up in a military and law enforcement family, my go-to answer was the same as many others. I always looked up to the police who were sharply dressed in uniforms and who consistently deliver a feeling of safety and security to others.
I grew up watching my father leave our family every night to go serve our community. On his days off, I saw him engaging with other officers at events where one would see the true “blue” brotherhood expressed by all the men and women who risk their lives every day. Unlike many others, I have decided to pursue my childhood dream and become a police officer after pursuing my post-secondary degree.
Many people ask this because of the current state between police and the public and the danger that comes from a position like those in law enforcement. But many do not understand that growing up around a group of like-minded people who all developed the same passion for serving and protecting those that they don’t know, those they’ve never met, but those they are sworn to protect has had an impact that made me into the person I am today. Watching the spread of negative opinions about police by groups who look to demonize those who protect and serve the public every day has strengthened my passion for pursuing a position in law enforcement.
After the tragic ambush shooting of Officer David Hofer, Badge #554, an officer who worked with my father at the Euless Police Department, I attended the funeral where thousands of police officers from Texas to New York filled a football stadium to pay their respects to the fallen officer. I began to develop a sense for the impact these events have on police families, police officers, and those in the community.
Just a few weeks later, there was another horrific shooting targeting five Dallas Police Department officers during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. This deadly attack showed the true effects of the anti-police movement taking place across the country. The pride and honor held by each one of these officers for their fallen brother, and the visible impact that the tragedy had on the lives of the families and the lives of those they encountered, helped me to see the true reason as to why these officers commit their lives to such an honorable cause. Police officers make an impact on those they serve every day, directly or indirectly, and I feel honored to be pursuing a career with the opportunity to make such a difference in peoples lives.
Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a ride-along with a local police officer. I saw the support first-hand that many people in the community have for the police, as well as the disrespect that some officers face on a regular basis. Watching this officer and others in the department talk about helping the community and solving problems for those they serve, makes me proud to want to join such a passionate and supportive family. While I do not speak for all going into law enforcement, I can say that my reasoning for pursuing this career is about pride over everything else.
This pride comes from serving my community and helping those in need, the pride of knowing that I can help put a stop to the negativity being spread every day and help show those to understand that an officer’s job is not to just write tickets or to inconvenience those in the community. The duty of an officer is to do what is necessary to deliver a safe and secure environment to those they took an oath to protect, to build a bond with trust, and to create a brighter future each day they put on their badge and uniform.
Working as an officer is a profession of honor and integrity, and for me, a sense of civic responsibility. These qualities were passed down to me from my mother and father. If I become police officer, I may not be able to change the rhetoric spread by the media, but I can aid in changing the thoughts of at least those I may personally come into contact. Police work is not an “us against them” profession. The overwhelming majority of officers are only looking to do their part in making the world a better place by taking the pledge to keep men, women, and children of all races and all genders safe from harm.
As a child coming from a law enforcement family, I saw the sacrifices made by not only my father, but the sacrifice we must make being unsure of what the future will bring. A topic that is not talked about enough is the fact that many police families, including mine, do not know if our family will come home at the end of their shift and because of this, we must value every second we have before they say goodbye for the start of each day. All we, as a society, can hope is that in the coming years the rhetoric that is facing police can turn from negative to positive and start to shed light on the officers that help save lives every day. This is a mission and challenge I can place on myself as I consider my career in law enforcement.
Many people will see an officer and don’t see beyond the badge and uniform. At the end of the day, every officer hopes to go home to spend time with their family and enjoy their hobbies outside of their daily work. They are all regular and ordinary people who put their pants on one leg at a time who are making a difference in the best way they know how.
This is the way I hope to make my difference in the world.
Jacob Norwood is an 18-year-old from Haslet, Texas and an aspiring law enforcement officer.