February 14th means St. Valentines Day to most people. But to me, it means much more. On Valentine’s Day 31 years ago, I stopped smoking cold turkey. I haven’t had a smoke since then. It was on Valentine’s Day I started Sergeants School with the Chicago Police Department. I was supposed to begin Lieutenant’s School on the same day just five years later, but it was postponed a couple weeks.
The biggest thing about February 14th is that in 1983 I started the police academy. It was the beginning of a career that I loved for the next three decades. The work, though boring at times, always found ways to keep me interested and excited. I used the benefits and got my bachelor’s degree and moved up the ranks.
While in the academy I made friends I still hold dear. Sadly, some are no longer with us. Once in a district, I found out what a true partner is. You spend more time with your partner than your spouse. You probably tell each other more than you could ever tell anyone else. I’ve seen partners who argued like they were married and when they split to go separate ways it was often like a divorce.
I’ve had several very good partners. One is even godfather to one of my sons. Another is as close as a brother and my sons think of him as an uncle.
February 14, 1983, was one of the most significant days of my life. It ranks up there with the birth of my sons, my marriage, my divorce, and the day I almost died in a squad-car accident. People who aren’t police officers just don’t understand what it means to a cop.
I’ve changed a lot since that day in ‘83. I put on weight, lost hair, what’s left is grey. My bones ache and I make old man noises when I get up from my chair. I once was young and spry. I like to remember that although I wasn’t the fastest, I wasn’t the slowest either, I did pass the physical portion including running in the academy. Today I know I can drive there quicker.
More than anything I have experienced a lot. In my years in a patrol car, I helped deliver two babies. I’ve also carried a dead infant in my arms to the Medical Examiners office. I’ve been shot at and they missed. I’ve shot back and I missed. I’ve been punched in the face and I’ve returned the favor. I’ve also had people on the street thank me for what I did for them.
The job gave me the opportunity to spend time with my sons that other fathers might have missed but it also prevented me from enjoying some things that civilian fathers never miss.
I meet for coffee with friends I have worked with over the years and often the question is asked: “Did you like the job, would you do it again?” Hell yes! I loved the job.
To all my fellow classmates from CPD 83-1, I salute you; to 83-1A, go you Lounge Lizards.
Stay safe everyone, run low and zigzag.
– Robert Weisskopf (ret. Lt.)
Note: You can read all of Robert Weisskopf’s articles at https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/author/robertw332/ and find all his books on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2PsbT4t.