In the last year, we have seen a lot of articles and social media hastags regarding Public Safety. We’ve seen videos like “I see You” designed to show us that citizens do notice and care about the efforts and sacrifices made by our officers. We’ve seen things like the LEO Bill of Rights, Why We Can’t Stop Talking, and You Are Not Alone, all telling us that LEO’s have rights, why we always talk about our heroes, and what we say to each other. When Officer Perry Renn was killed in Indianapolis, we saw the “I will Always Get Out of My Car” campaign. When everyone wanted to say that any lives were more important than Public Safety, we saw tags like #PoliceLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, #LESM and recently #WarOnPolice spring up because in our hearts we know that Blue lives do matter. We don’t say that to exclude others, nor do we want to put ourselves on some sort of pedestal. We say it because we will not allow people to reduce our lives to second class because of the uniforms we wear. (Rest assured, if our fire and EMS brothers are under attack, we will jump in with #FireLivesMatter or #MedicLivesMatter if we need to, we honor and respect them too!!!!)
So as a supporter of Law Enforcement, Fire fighters, and EMT’s, here are some of the promises I make to my Public Safety friends. As a Chaplain, these are the promises I make to my departments.
1. I will ALWAYS come for you.
What I mean by this is this: When you need me, I will be there. If you get in a shooting and need someone to talk to, I will come for you. If you find yourself at the hospital, all I need is to hear about it, and I will come for you. You need someone to ride with you? Block traffic with you? Treat mass victims with you? Feel alone? Get divorced? Need a friend? I will ALWAYS come for you.
2. I will always be prepared.
Beyond the regular education that ministers have completed, I’ve completed other trainings like Active Shooter, First Aid, CPR, and trauma treatment.
3. I will have life saving materials with me.
For those who have had me ride with you, you know that I always have a bag with me. In it you will find regular first aid items, and trauma items too. I have items ranging from band aids and ibuprofen to Israeli Bandages and QuikClot. I might not be able to do brain surgery, but I sure am going to be able to keep you alive if the worst comes for you. If the worst does come for you I will help you kick it in the rear end. If it comes for you and I’m next to you, we will BOTH make it out.
4. I will always support you. I might not be able to make it the best place to be a cop, Firefighter or EMT, but I’m sure as heck going to try. If you make a mistake and have consequences, you will still be supported. If you need help at 3 AM because you are at the end of your rope, I will do what I can to help.
5. I will always speak up. I will not be silent, and any of you who are my Facebook friends know that. I won’t back down. It doesn’t matter if it’s fashionable or not . It doesn’t matter what someone else does or says.
6. I will not be offended. I had to put this one because sometimes officers are afraid of saying something in front of the Chaplain. You can tell me anything. Seriously. I’m not offended by language, and although I don’t use it, you will not be shamed or thought any less of if you do. I don’t need shielded from reality or from your thoughts. If you’ve had a bad day and need to yell, I can listen.
7. I will go anywhere needed. When I come out for a visit, you don’t have to keep me in the business district or on the nice side of town. If I’m riding with you, I’ll go with you whenever possible, and when you say “Stay in the car”, that’s what I’ll do…just answer your radio checks! Bad side of town after dark? Scene of a suicide or bad car accident? I’ll go anywhere needed.
I encourage all my “supporter” friends to share this. If you think of other things, pass them along. I also encourage all my Chaplain friends and LEO spouses (and anyone else who regularly rides/visits with officers) , have a bag with you. Get first aid training. Have trauma supplies. Always be ready for the worst. Know their cues. Col Dave Grossman says “If you wake up everyday like it’s 9/11, when 9/11 comes you’ll be ready.”