Category Archives: Police

Distribution: Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – Thanksgiving 2016

As always, I want to give another thank you to all who forward this message to your departments and staff. You trust me enough to share my message to others, and I strive to not make you regret that decision.

To all reading this message: For many of us it has been a long year. And in spite of everything going on, you still get up and do a job that is under-appreciated and in some cases ignored. Like I said in my last note, sometimes encouragement is in short supply. I am one of many hoping to change that and make things better for all of us. Thanks for spending a few moments with me, and Happy Thanksgiving!

In this email I want to address a comment I’ve received on more than one occasion. Some people reading this may not feel that they are the heroes that I reference in my ending line. A lot of public safety personnel have the same struggle with being called a “hero”. This is how Doc sees it.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines hero as:

1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life
3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See Synonyms at celebrity.
4. The principal character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.
5. See submarine sandwich.

We can safely discard 1, 4 and 5 since I’m not talking mythology or food. However, I (and a lot of others I might add) see thinks like running into a burning building to check for survivors, going inside buildings to fight a fire that might easily collapse on you, taking on an active shooter, etc. falls into “feats of courage or nobility of purpose” in my book. I think the problem is that we think of “hero” as one who has a cape, some sort of super power or does something that is non-human. And that just isn’t true.  We look at people like the NYPD, FDNY or other high-profile instances who gave their lives say “They are heroes, but not me”. And without taking anything away from those brave people, the only thing that separates your department from theirs is 2 things: location and opportunity. And if “push came to shove” in your community or a community close to you, it would be you that would be pushing up the stairs into the fire, pushing into a school to get a shooter, or pushing through a disaster area hoping to save at least one more life in the rubble.

I had my hometown Sheriff’s Office and Volunteer Fire Department downplay themselves to me at one point. It was just a “job” for them. Until March 2, 2012 when I (and lots of others) saw them make tremendous sacrifices and go to such great lengths to rescue folks after the Kentucky Tornado outbreak. They still may not like the term “hero”, but what they did was nothing short of heroic. And in my mind, what I witnessed first hand was legendary.

Ronald Reagan once said “Those who say we live in a time where there are no heroes just don’t know where to look” and I think he is right. So maybe instead of looking to others, it’s our turn to stand up, accept the mantle, and be the heroes of our stories.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, we all know that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again: You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Thoughts on the Dr Phil interview with the mother of Michael Brown

I used to like Dr Phil. I mean, catchy southern expressions, and a “say it like it is”  discussion, what’s not to like? But after the recent interview with the Mother of Michael Brown, I’m not sure I can support him any longer. Brother Kenneth Hagin used to say “Be as smart as an old cow, eat the hay and spit out the sticks”, so I can tolerate some things from people that I disagree with.But his seeming anti-police (and in this case anti-Darren Wilson) thoughts can not be tolerated.

Look, are we still sticking by the “he was a good kid” story? Haven’t we seen the videos of not only the store robbery moments before, but other videos that testify that his character wasn’t quite as wholesome as some would have us believe?  Come on, both investigations cleared Wilson. The actual facts, scientific evidence, lines up with his story, not the “hands up, don’t shoot” lie that was told time after time. it’s been said “If you tell a lie long enough people start to believe it”, and the “Hands up” is just that kind of lie.  so I am asked to make a choice between an officer with a good record whose story is backed by facts, or the story told by a criminal about a FELON (which is what Brown became after his assaults) which has no basis in fact. I think I know which story I would choose.

Then he asks”Has anyone apologized?” I seem to recall Darren Wilson saying he was sorry it happened in his interview. But even if that is not the case, why should I expect a man to say “I’m sorry that I chose to defend my own life against a much larger man that was attacking me?”

The apologies need to come FROM the Brown family and those who surrounded them that kept the lies going. To Darren Wilson for having to defend his life from a criminal attack.To the city of Ferguson of which they said “Burn this @#$%@ down” and to the shop owners in Ferguson who lost their livelihood because the crowd was incited by the lie that Brown was just a good kid and Wilson was the monster. And an apology to every cop who has hesitated in the moment when they have to choose to defend themselves from a criminal attack because they are afraid of being the next Darren Wilson. And to every one of us who were called racists, bigots, or backwater hillbillies who dared to show their support for Darren Wilson.

Sorry Dr Phil, this one was over the top.

Distribution: Please distribute to all law enforcement personnel – Police Week 2016

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.

 

Dr. Mike A. Crain I, D.Min.
Chaplain
Huber Heights, OH 45424
Blog: https://chaplainthoughts.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DoctorMichael

Distribution: Please distribute to all Police, Fire, Dispatch and EMS personnel – Happy Thanksgiving 2015

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. You’re busy and the fact that you are taking a few minutes to hear what I have to say is humbling. I hope you walk away a better or happier person because of it.

During the month of November, lots of people go to social media to daily list something they are thankful for. There are the usual staples of spouse, kids, parents, other family members, friends, their church, etc. The kind of gratitude that warms your heart, puts a “spring in your step”, and just makes you feel good. There are others I have seen, however that are shall we say, unconventional.

– That I’m not a turkey.
– Indoor toilets.
– McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” face.
– That I “have” to work the day after Thanksgiving, so no shopping for me!
– Facebook . . . because with it, I have visual proof that my friends are eating well.
– I am thankful my kids are finally at an age where they’ll watch my shows with me, instead of making me watch their shows with them. I’m pretty sure Disney XD was causing my brain to atrophy.
– Any day my spouse doesn’t have a saved segment of Dr. Phil backing them up on something.
– I am thankful that I don’t look anything like the portraits my kids draw of me.

Any counselor, pastor, or 12 step program will tell you that being thankful is a key to living a happy life. We all tend to look at the things we don’t have or that we wish we didn’t have, and I’m just as guilty as anyone. Sometimes just listing the things you are thankful for will improve (even drastically improve) your attitude and you moods. So what are you thankful for? What makes you smile when you think about it? I encourage you to take the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and do some “homework”:
– Write out a list of things you are thankful for, no matter how big or small.
Things like pets, places, food, and hobbies. My list includes the Red River Gorge, Ale-8 (a Kentucky soft drink), and the Florida Marlins. It doesn’t have to be big things.
– Write down a list of people that you are glad you know and have made contributions to your life.
– Write down a list of surprises that made you happy (Finding $10 in the parking lot, someone buying my lunch, surprise birthday party, etc.)

And then once you have your list, see if you can add anything regularly. Consciously LOOK for things to be happy for and see if you don’t feel better.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, we all know that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.
I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

What’s up with all the anti-cop stuff? Recording Police, Trust, and those dirty cops

Disclaimer: This is written as a perspective, not official guidance on the law or police procedures. If you have questions on your laws and ordinances, seek professional guidance. This article, or my views, may not necessarily represent the opinions and thoughts of any agency that I (the author) am affiliated with. They are strictly my own. Any real-life scenario will have any information withheld that would be considered confidential or identifying information.

It’s long….I know.  But if it perspective and truth you seek, it is worth a little bit of reading.

In the weeks since what happened in Ferguson, New York City, and here locally in Beavercreek, I’ve seen that police is a very polarizing issue. I’ve seen and heard lots of positive comments from people with my involvement with the “I Support the Beavercreek Police“, and from folks on Twitter and Facebook across the nation. However, I have seen some VERY negative comments, including personal attacks. I’ve been told I’m a “white supremacist, black lynching, hillbilly monster”, that I’m a murderer (because I support the officers in question) and that should just “rot in hell”.

So what is my take on some of the issues? For those of you who don’t know me, here is how I come to the following conclusions. I’ve been around public safety since 2008 and a Chaplain since 2012. I’ve spent over 550 hours in a police cruiser with police. I have been in situations that I thought I might have to use a weapon in defense, or almost hit by a passing car in traffic.

Complaint 1: “No one trusts the police” – Here is my “official” opinion. We can not cite low “trust” in police without taking a look at the broader picture, and this is what various police sources have been telling officers in the last few months (that I have seen) – people do not trust any form of government. The president has a low approval/trust rating. So does congress. So does state and local governments. And enforcement of the laws passed by these governments come down to one group of people. Most of us have seen the pictures from anti-police organizations with instance of abuse by police. (I’m not going to say that there are no bad cops, or that some do not follow procedure, or that none of them abuse their power.) However, for every one of those that I’ve seen I can produce at least twice as many of officers doing amazing things in their community. Buying meals, sports equipment, or furniture with their own money for people. Stories of officers adopting children of murder victims. I can also provide a list of names of the over 100 officers that die in the line of duty every year. And when you have cultures who wholesale teach (in word, deed or song) not only to not trust them but make heroes out of people who attack (physically or otherwise) then we have a huge problem. To clarify that statement, that is not a racial thing. There are places in the US (Eastern KY, Montana, etc) and groups like Sovereign Citizens who not only “don’t recognize” federal or state law enforcement, is cases like the Sovereign Citizens movement advocate the murder of Federal LEO’s.

Complaint 2: “Police don’t care about ‘public relations’ anymore” – No I’m not a strategy guy. I’ve never been to the academy. But very few departments have anyone dedicated to “public relations” because they are busy doing an increasingly harder job with increasingly few resources. There are some departments that I know that are so short-handed, that some officers work almost as much overtime as regular hours. So it’s rare that a department (especially local smaller ones) can afford to have an officer dedicated to the PR function. And some who do , they do it on their own time. They manage the department’s Facebook page at home. Some rural departments the officers do a 12 hour shift, and go home and repair their own cruiser. I’ve been in one.

Complaint 3: “The police is too militarized.” – We complain we cops get RE-ISSUED equipment from the military, but no one seems to care when they are driving Crown Vics that are 15 or 20 years old. No one complains that there are police vehicles that do not even have the basic internet connection to run plates or to see if the guys they stopped has a warrant or is dangerous. Don’t tell me they don’t exist because I have been in them. We complain that they have “scary guns” (hey I’ve handled an M4 and that would qualify if it’s coming at me) but no one seems to notice that some are using outdated weapons and in cases they are FAR out-gunned by the locals (good or bad) in the area. It’s called “parity of force”. The most common department cited is Ferguson. Keep this in mind: They rolled in with those AFTER they are assaulted with rocks, guns, bricks and Molotov cocktails. “So if you up the ante against me, it will come back and bite you, because I am going home tonight to my family.” As for body armor and Kevlar, it has saved the lives of countless officers, so as far as I am concerned, they can wear it all they want. When I was in a disaster area for almost a week (Tornado ravaged KY) all the KSP, and local officers were in camouflage and had weapons like the M4. And no one complained except a few people and those who were trying to loot. And why wear camo? Because it is more durable and functional in high stress or high use incidents.
The other thing to note is that police have had access to military surplus equipment for years. The twenties and thirties cops had bars, Johnson Rifles and Tommy Guns from military stock. Even Barney Fife had a Military Motorcycle and helmet.  To close out this point, I’ll quote a law enforcement officer friend of mine on a recent attack in Texas: “So… ISIS is now taking responsibility for the Garland TX cartoon contest shooting. One in which responding officers stopped within 15 seconds of their arrival according to news reports. For all of you that are adamant that American police departments don’t need armored vehicles and high caliber weapons, we just stopped a terrorist attack on OUR SOIL. Your argument is invalid. Find something else to complain about.”

Complaint 4: “Police should NEVER shoot anyone with a toy gun” – “Killed because of a toy gun”. What people infer is that since we NOW KNOW that the gun was an Airsoft or BB or toy gun, the police did not have to shoot. While this statement is true, it is only true at face value. The each of the major cases, officers were not aware that the gun is the suspect’s possession was an Airsoft/BB/toy gun. Only after examined up close were they able to determine that fact. So based on the information they had, they thought someone was pointing/using an actual firearm. In Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), the United States Supreme Court held that the “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. The Fourth Amendment “reasonableness” inquiry is whether the officers’ actions are “objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. Pp. 490 U. S. 396-397. In an initial statement following the tragic incident in Cleveland, a police spokesperson said, “Upon arrival on scene, officers located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands. The suspect did not comply with the officers’ orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso.” So the point here is that given the information they had, did they do what a “reasonable” officer would do in the situation. Is it reasonable to shoot someone who attempts to go to their waistband for a gun? I would say “Yes it is”. Is it reasonable to do it even when it is a child, even if it may be (or even looks fake)? I again would say it is. And while some would like to rush to judgment based on the facts as we know them now, the Graham v. Connor standard mandates that officers be judged on the information they have.

Complaint 5: “I should be able to film the police anytime I want.” – Some people (including anti-cop groups) are encouraging everyone to  “record all contact with police.”  On face value (and some of my LEO friends may disagree), I don’t see a problem with recording. When I think back on my experience, the overwhelming majority of that time would not reveal ANYTHING wrong, or improper. It would show that the overwhelming majority of that time the officers have been professional, dedicated, courteous, and accommodating (even to those who were placed under arrest). But it’s not the majority that these folks are after, and quite frankly I don’t think that they care. I’ll give you a personal example.

Scenario: I am with a police department who gets a call for a missing child. We catch the suspect who is extremely uncooperative with officers. He admits to maybe knowing where the child is located, but is belligerent to anyone talking to him.

So , had this entire thing been recorded, what would they have seen? Was the suspect handled rough? Was he treated graciously? In the real life case he was treated kind, far better than I think he deserved. But it could just as easily go the other way. If the officer didn’t guide his head properly and he hit his head on the door, you become an internet sensation. “Officer XYZ when talking to this helpless teen, bashed his head on the side of the car. #StopAbusiveCops.” What if it was very hot or cold and you left him outside so you could talk to him and not break your neck trying to turn around in the cramped car? “Officer XYZ leaves defenseless young man in the hot sun for hours while questioning him. #StopPoliceBrutality” See a problem there? Out of an hour or so incident, someone took 5 seconds to “prove” their own agenda that all cops are bad, and that police brutality is intolerable. Then we all get to see that picture on the internet a thousand times. And does that cop have any recourse? Can he stop the flow of misinformation? And taken out of it’s context, you have “proof” of brutality that doesn’t really exist when it’s viewed in context. I know some of you are saying “That doesn’t happen” or  “You are minimizing the significance of the proof”. I’m not saying that every cop is perfect, that brutality doesn’t exist, or that there are no bad cops out there. What I am saying is this: I don’t object to anyone videoing the interaction. What I object to is the ability to throw a 30 second video or a couple of pictures taken completely out of context. In addition to that, where is the right of the office to face his accusers? Where is the right of the suspect for fair treatment (I mean, the suspect may not want that picture/video out either)? And on the flip side, what if we recorded you at your job? Do you always give 100% all day, every day? Because that one time you don’t, I’ll make sure all your friends and family (and boss) see you sleeping on the job, shopping online, or sticking that pencil in your pocket. Fairness and context is all I ask.

Complaint 6: “If cops dealt with ‘dirty cops’ then I might care more. – This came up from a Twitter message I had after another New York officer was attacked, shot and killed in the line of duty.  People might care more about the deal of an innocent, dedicated and highly decorated officer who was killed by a career criminal if  “dirty cops” were dealt with? SERIOUSLY?

So why do we not hear more about the “dirty cops” getting caught? I think there are a few reasons for that. You also must consider what makes a cop a”dirty cop”. If you are reading this, I’ll presume that you mean more than a “hateful” cop who doesn’t seem to have a lot of patience or “niceness”.

Police, just like most of our jobs, always have supervisors who are making corrections. Some infractions may be minor or department policies (misspellings in reports) and others major or legal issues (taking money from a drug raid). So when you see the article or meme on the internet, you just presume that the issue was not dealt with, when in fact, the disciplinary action was not published. Officers are fined, given extra duty assignments, suspended, forced to resign or fired when it is deemed necessary. I’ve received a “correction” at work, and it didn’t appear in the Dayton Daily news or on WHIO, and most likely, neither did yours. So why do we expect any different from them?

In addition, cops ARE arrested and charged when they do wrong. Michael Slagle was fired and charged with murder in South Carolina. 6 cops were arrested in Baltimore on various charges. Those are two recent and high profile ones for example. Additionally, they, like everyone else, are innocent until PROVEN GUILTY. When not proven guilty, then there is no conviction.

On a separate note, the odd thing is that you could not get away with that statement about ANY OTHER GROUP.
“If Christians dealt with bad Christians, I might care when one dies.”
“If Muslims dealt with bad Muslims I might care more when one dies.”
“If YOUR RACE dealt with bad members of YOUR RACE then I might care more when one dies.”

Most rational people would not say those statements, and fewer would defend their use. But police and their families are supposed to be OK with it?

It’s long, but there was a lot to cover. I’m sure there are more, but I wanted to touch the big ones, from a Chaplain’s perspective. Can law enforcement agencies do more? Sure. Can they appear less aggressive? Maybe. But I place my family’s safety way over my neighbor’s touchy-feely experiences any day.

Thank you for reading and I hope you were able to glean from this article.

If you are one of my LEO friends and you have additional thoughts, examples or clarification, please let me know and I’ll update the article.

Distribution: Please distribute to all law enforcement personnel – Police Week 2015

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 and sizes. 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.

May 10-16 this year is Police Week. It was designated by President Kennedy in “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”. Some of us will go to memorials, or private ceremonies, or just sitting around reminiscing about our fallen comrades. Most of us do something so we remember, so we never forget. As Cicero wrote, “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” I encourage you to take time to remember.

There has been so many events occurred over the past year, and I’m sure I don’t need to mention most of them. They are common names and places now, that one year ago most of us had not heard of. I wanted to use this note to share some insight I have been given. Insight that some of you reading this note have given me over the last year. Some of you reading this have shared your thoughts, hurts, anger and frustrations. You are under a spotlight more than ever. Some of you feel that your job is hated, or no longer matters. You feel that the average citizen does not notice, or worse, does not care. I have heard from officers in different places about the environment we find ourselves in. Public opinion is brutal, and unfortunately for us it’s been turned in our direction. So here are some things I want you to remember:

1) Eventually some (if not a lot) of the negativity will die down. There will likely always be some that will cause us heartaches or headaches. But it will get better. Humans go in cycles, and people will movie on to other things.

2) Stay strong, prepared, and optimistic. It’s my mission to help people not lose hope, even though it would be easy to do given the times. Keep training. Keep doing those extra checks. Keep “sharpening your saw”. Keep doing what you do. Tell a joke or two in roll call. I was on a ride along with a department, and the supervisor bought pizza for all of us. I thought it was great. It’s the little things in life that keep us going sometimes. So don’t neglect them.

3) You still have a lot of support, perhaps more than you think. There are thousands and thousands who support Law Enforcement, but maybe not as vocal as some of us. Just keep doing what you do, and the support will rally around you when you need it. Just don’t be afraid to ask.

4) Your role in society is just as important as it ever was. Maybe it’s even MORE important. Sometimes all of us look at our jobs and question “Is it worth it?” But in today’s environment, this one can be hard to remember. You are the ones who keep us safe from the evils in society. You are the sheepdogs keeping the wolves at bay, away from the sheep.

5) Don’t forget your support network. Maybe you were just on the receiving end of someone’s verbal abuse (or worse). Find someone who can remind you that everyone is not like that. Maybe you were on the receiving end of someone’s generosity. Share it. Bring those cards from that kindergarten class in to work. Someone bought you lunch, or the new K9 unit some dog treats, then talk about that. If you have good stories, share them on social media. Talk to your chaplain. If your department doesn’t have one, find out if a someone close to you does.

For all the law enforcement reading this, I’m praying for a peaceful and safe week for you. Safe traffic stops. Safe building searches. Safe DV calls. I pray for a time of healing for the departments reading this who have had a loss in the last year. 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 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.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic, Fire and Dispatch personnel – Merry Christmas 2014

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators, and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. For those of you in stations or cars working during the holidays, we appreciate the sacrifices you and your family are making while ensuring our safety and security. It does not go unappreciated or unnoticed.

If anything marks the holidays, it’s a sense of gratitude (hopefully). I know that we sometimes see the worst that society has to offer, and the holidays may seem like anything but gratitude. But what I’m coming to know more and more as I get older, that gratitude can be anywhere, and will be there when you least expect it. Sometimes you just have to know where to look. Just like most people, I can get disappointed, agitated, disillusioned, or just plan cynical. Sometimes we have bad days. Today, as I write this email, it was a bad day for me. Horrible really. But then took time to read a card I got in the mail. It was from a dispatcher far away from where I live who read my email and took the time to reply and it turned my day around (and if that person reads this before you get my reply, it is coming!).

So what do we do when we get to the end of the year and our “tank is empty” so to speak?

  1. Count your blessings  – A wise person challenged me to do a gratitude jar recently. So you get this jar and every time something good happens to you, you scribble it down and put it in the jar. Someone buy your lunch? Out it in the jar. Someone shook your hand at the gas station? Put it in the jar. Find a $5 bill in a parking lot? Put it in the jar. Then when you have those bad days, look at the jar. Maybe even read some. Use than money to buy your lunch.
  2. Open your eyes – If you tell me nothing good ever happens to you, or that no one ever cares, I challenge you to look closer. It might not happen every day but I bet that more happens than we notice! And the mid has a funny way of working. If you start noticing even the small things over the next few weeks, guess what will happen. You will see more good things than before.
  3. Don’t wait for big things – Some people wait forever for their “ship to come in” and it never does, so they get disillusioned. Life is too short. Take note of the small things. If you wait your whole life to win the lottery, you will be passing up so many good things that others would give anything for.
  4. Have “A Person” – Have someone in your life that can call you out when you are in a dark place. I have a few that can do that. When I start the “woe is me” they get to tell me what I am failing to see. Let me be honest, no one likes being called out. But it just might help you see how good things really are.

In closing, I know that some of you think that this is all crazy. You “live in the real world”. Maybe you don’t see anything good in your life right now. Just give what I said a try. What do you have to lose? If I’m wrong then all you are out is a few minutes and a dollar for a jar. But, if I’m right, you can be happier this time next year.

During the holidays, I always put in this information, because I know that someone may need it. The holidays are meant to be times of joy, happiness, time with those we love and hope. While it can produce stress for even the best of us, for some of you can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. It can be hard to balance out what you have to deal with and still know that there are great people in society as well. I also know that it’s hard for us to reach out sometimes (and I’m no exception to this rule). If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, and any other Supervisor available for help. There is also other Clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. My phone is always on and I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, send an email. Reach out if you need to.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for 2015. I’ve said it before and will say it again, you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.