As always, I want to say thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance. I also want to thank you, the reader. While I can’t visit with each of you individually, I can, however, remind and show you that people DO care. This message is being read by departments of all shapes, sizes and locations. To each of you, welcome. I know you’re busy and you do a lot to get ready for your shift. So thank you for reading and I hope it will be beneficial to you.
May 11-17, 2016 marks the period that we call “Police Week”. In 1962, President Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, when we set aside a time of “recognition of the service given by the men and women who, night and day, stand guard in our midst to protect us through enforcement of our laws”. I, like a lot of you, will attend memorials or private ceremonies. Some of you may just gather together to reminisce about our fallen comrades. Most of us will do something so we remember them and never forget what they have done for us.
As Cicero wrote, “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” During this time, I think it is fitting to ask ourselves “What am I doing to bring honor to their memory?” The way I look at it, I’m the product of many people back in my family tree. I could be dramatically different, or maybe not even be here today if one of those couples had not met. I might not think the same; feel the same, like the same things. So I feel that I owe it to them, to my family, both here and no longer living, to be the best version of me that I can. The harsh reality of that, however, is that some days I live up to that, and some days I don’t.
So how does that affect us in our career? How do we bring honor to those who have come before us in our career? Here are a couple of thoughts that I think may help us do that.
1) Live life to the fullest. This means different things to different people. Donate time to a church or charity. Volunteer in the neighborhood or homeless shelter. Play basketball with the neighborhood kids. Attend a 12 step program or finally kick that habit that has been a thorn in your side. Maybe start a group workout. Help someone with a hobby you have in common.
2) Never stop growing. Life is an unending series of changes. Make some on your terms. Never stop training. Never stop learning. Read a book, take some training time, learn another language, skill or talent.
3) Tell the stories for those that came before us. Those that are just starting their careers need to hear the stories of those that came before us. Why do we do things a certain way? There is probably a good reason, find it and tell the story. That guy who told great jokes when someone was having a tough day, tell his story. Share the stories of those officers that your department has on a memorial wall. Set aside a day in the memory of an officer to do special events in your community, or to the less fortunate.
4) Learn from costly lessons. Some of the changes in the way we do things are learned by sacrifices of those before us, like seat belts, vests, back up weapons, traffic stop safety etc. Learn their stories, share them, and motivate yourself and others to prevent the deaths and injuries we can prevent by heeding those lessons. When we attach a name and face to something, we work together to prevent it from happening again. Take those accidents from the realm of “statistics” or something that happens somewhere else and allow it to motivate us to help one person at a time, maybe that officer that may be in roll call with us next time.
For all law enforcement reading this, I’m praying for a peaceful and safe week for you: safe traffic stops, safe building searches, and safe DV calls. I pray for a time of healing for the departments reading this who have had a loss in the last year, or with a loss that continues to hurt. I pray that those of you making trips to Washington and state memorials will have a safe trip. For those who are attending a memorial to honor a fallen brother or sister, I pray for healing. But most of all, I hope now more than ever, there is an outpouring of appreciation form the communities that you serve.
In closing, thank you for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it for the remainder of my days. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.