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Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – September 11, 2017

Distribution: Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – September 11, 2017

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: You have a hard job. I know that, as do countless other people across our communities and great nation. Sometimes encouragement is in short supply, and some of us are our out there working to change that, and to turn the tide of negativity.

There has always been a “that day” for people to remember. The previous generation had dates like the Kennedy Assassination, the attack on Pearl Harbor or another major event. September 11 is that day for me. I can remember what I was doing in detail on that day. Even some of what I said, or other small details that are burned in my memory. I can’t tell you what I ate for lunch yesterday, but I can tell you what channel I changed it to that morning, and what I said to co-workers. (As a side note, it was the day I went on my first date with my wife, who has now became part of the Thin Gold Line.)

So why do those days impact us, and why do we remember so much about them? It’s because we ALLOW it to. We slow down, look around, and turn off our internal “auto-pilot” and see more clearly. We think things through, we contemplate our choices and our lives.

This year marks the 16th September 11th since “the 9/11″. Where do we stand as a nation? Possibly more divided that ever, at least in my generation. So what can we do? How do we bridge the divide. If you listen to the news (which I watch less and less of these days), everyone has an opinion about almost everything. And if you can’t agree with my opinion, then we have to be at odds with each other. But I have a secret to share with you, and all you got to do is tell everyone you know :”You can disagree without being disagreeable”. BOOM. SHOCKING.

But honestly, how do we stop the seemingly downward spiral that society is on? A lot of us have heard the adage “How do you eat an elephant? ONE BITE AT A TIME”. How do we stop the animosity and division in out country? One decision at a time, one choice at a time, one word at a time.

It really is that easy.

Really.

There are approximately 2.5 million people who are sworn officers, fire fighters, EMTs and dispatchers as of 2014. And if half of us decided to do one extra good deed per day, that is over 37 million times in a month that someone would benefit from a little extra generosity. That could make a real difference. But it even gets better. Nelson Mandela said “As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Take that same number, 37 million. Now let’s say 25% of the recipients of our kindness do the same thing. That becomes almost 47 million times someone is a recipient of an extra good deed in one month, almost 575 million of them in one year.

When I was in technical school in the US Air Force in Biloxi, MS in 1995, one of my instructors said “If you can’t find an example, be one”. Over 20 years have passed and I have not forgotten the advice of Sergeant Teresa Fountain (which by the way if someone knows her, let her know that someone took her advise to heart, and I possibly owe her a meal as many times as she’s been quoted).

We can do this. We can change a Nation, one day at a time. (And if you need some ideas just Google “Random Acts of Kindness ideas” and you’ll be surprised just how simple it can be.

So who can I do more for? What can I do today to brighten the day of someone else? I know what my answers are. What about you?

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.

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Distribution: Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – Fourth of July 2017

As always, I want to say a big thank you to all 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 each of you reading this. I hope you will find some encouragement or inspiration. I know you’re busy and you do a lot to get ready for your shift. So again, thank you for reading.

We are quickly closing in on July 4th, the day we celebrate our independence. And while some of you may dread this because of all the fireworks calls (or the shots fired calls that turn out to be fireworks), the significance of this day is largely up to how significant it is to us. To some it may be another holiday (or another day we get overtime or “comp days”). To others, a time to cook out with the family and bask in the sun by the pool. Or maybe you will celebrate it on July 6 because you work on July fourth, are off on the sixth. But no matter how you celebrate it, as Americans, it means something to all of us.

The “American Dream” has been described as a relay race. We take experiences, information, and feelings from the generation before us and run our part and pass them off to the generation ahead of us. It’s fair enough for us to as “What am I passing to the next generation?” Not just our families, but our communities, and all the organizations we are affiliated with.

How do we make it better? How do out small acts for others matter? How does the smile, handshake, or kind word to others matter? How does our willingness to be better and to help others change the world? We’ve all probably heard the story of the man who noticed a child walking along the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. He came up and said,” Good morning! What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.” “I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?” “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.” “But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!” The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

I think that humanity rises or falls based on thousands (maybe even millions) of events we do in our lives without giving it much thought. That those individual acts may not mean much, but collectively, they encourage others to reach just a little bit farther or be just a little better. To quote another of my favorite sayings “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

What can I do to raise the level of humanity just a little bit today? What can you do? What can WE do? Who knows, but it sure is worth the try.

So Happy Independence Day, America! Let’s go out and live it!

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.

Distribution: Please distribute to all law enforcement personnel – Police Week 2017

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 14-20, 2017 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.

It  is during this time of year that we talk about honor. We see honor being displayed during memorials  in Washington, and in state capitals, and local cities and towns across our Nation. We see honor being displayed by federal, state and local officials with proclamations of Police Week. We see honor given as a surviving family member of one of our heroes walk by to grieve, to remember, to honor.

But what is honor? Webster’s Dictionary defines honor as: “a showing of usually merited respect”, “one whose worth brings respect or fame”, “a keen sense of ethical conduct” (integrity). Honor can carry a broad definition, but we seem to “know it when we see it”.

You’ve probably heard policing described as “an honorable profession”. Maybe it was in the academy, or from your first FTO. Maybe you’ve heard it as you participated in a memorial event. But if not, policing certainly is an honorable profession.

The final scenes of Saving Private Ryan show a James Ryan hoping that the life he lived “earned what all of you have done for me”. Then he turns to his wife and says  “Tell me I have led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man.” I think that most of us can relate to that. As we look back over our careers, even our lives, we hope that we have “led a good life”.

From time to time we should all ask that question. “Have I lived a good life?”, or in terms of honor, “Have I lived a life of honor?” The good news is even if we have fallen short of that mark thus far, we can make changes to our life. We can make decisions that bring honor  to ourselves, our family, country and our profession. The good news is that we can live a life of honor, and when we do that, it will encourage others to do so.

For all law enforcement reading this, I’m praying for an especially 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

Police Week 2017 Prayer Points

Each year I post some prayer thoughts for Police Week. Most of this is taken from a note I did in 2012, but added some modifications each year. For all my law enforcement friends, spouses, and Chaplains: If you think of anything to add, let me know!

I’m asking all my friends to pray for our Police Officers this week more than any other. Even now as the anti-police movement continues to stir hatred of our officers, it is up to us to keep them in our prayers. May 14-20 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”. I’ve listed some “prayer targets” for each day. This is a work in progress, so as I find things or as other officers give me suggestions, I’ll update the list. Also, you will see some action “ideas”. The book of James tells us that “faith without works is dead.” So do something. Get involved. Be kind. Make a difference.

Note: National Peace Officers Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 15 in 2017. Because National Police Week takes place during the calendar week on which May 15 falls, this year’s official National Police Week dates are Sunday, May 14, 2016 through Saturday, May 20, 2016. However, several annual events will take place before May 15.

Romans 13:1-4 tells us “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

Friday 12th-Sunday 14th – Safe trips to DC, local memorials

Monday 15th – Community support for officers
-Prayer targets:
— Officers would be honored in the communities they serve.
— Officers would not be hated for doing their job-upholding the law and correcting law-breakers.
-Ideas:
— Officers love simple tokens of appreciation. Buy their lunch when one is in the drive-thru behind you.
— When you see businesses giving officer discounts, let the manager/owner know that you appreciate that.
— Get involved. Call/visit your local police department (during business hours) and ask them what you can do to help.
— Post blue lights in your windows to show your respect for officers.
— Join/start a neighborhood watch.
— Greet them when you see them in public.

Tuesday 16th – Officer Safety
-Prayer targets:
— That no department would have to choose something else over officer safety due to small budgets.
— Officers would have wisdom and safety in all situations.
— Pray Isaiah 54:17 -No weapon formed against them shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against them in judgment will be condemned.
-Ideas:
— Have your house number in a location where it can be seen in the event they need to respond to you.
— Only use 911 in cases of emergency.
— If you are stopped pull over as far to the right as possible so that, when the officer comes up to your widow, he or she won’t have to worry about being clipped by vehicles in the right lane.
— Do NOT get out of your car unless the officer asks you to do so.
— If a police car is coming behind you with its siren blaring or emergency lights flashing, pull over to the right safely and quickly.

Wednesday 17th – Officer Families
Note: Officers have a higher rate of divorce than the general public.
-Prayer targets:
— That the families might know peace when their loved ones are on duty.
— That the families have understanding when the officer they love is under stress.
— That officers would be able to separate work and home, and that their families can support them in times of stress, and know that their stress is not directed to them.
-Ideas:
— If you are fortunate enough to know a police officer, offer to babysit while they go out with their wives.
— If you know an officer and you can see he is having a rough time, just be available. They don’t have to tell you what’s going on, but they may need someone to talk to.
— If an officer tells you something in confidence, KEEP IT IN CONFIDENCE. Don’t tell the neighborhood that an officer is struggling in their marriage.
— Be good neighbors and human beings. How do you want people to treat YOUR family?

Thursday 18th – Officer Seclusion, isolation
-Prayer targets:
— That an officer will never feel isolated from his peers or superiors.
— That an officer will never feel like they are facing their struggles alone.
— Pray that God would send good and trustworthy friends into their lives.
-Ideas:
— If you are fortunate enough to know a police officer, invite their family to your house for a cookout.
— When you see an officer, discretely and kindly ask if they would like you to pray for anything. And don’t be offended if you hear “No.”

Friday 19th – Mental stress, anxiety, suicides
Note: Most officers will shy away from talking about this. Officers are taught control from day one. If they are not in control, someone could die. When officers lose the ability to control their circumstances, self-doubt may set in. Officer suicides are two times higher than the general public.
-Prayer targets:
— That an officer will not struggle with self-doubt.
— That an officer will never feel like they are facing their struggles alone.
— Pray departments would give good stress detection and suicide prevention programs.
— Pray officers would always see a way through the pain and struggles they face.
— Ability to relax off-duty – Officers are human beings and need to rest.
-Ideas:
— If you are fortunate enough to know a police officer, invite their family to your house for a cookout.
— If an officer tells you something in confidence, KEEP IT IN CONFIDENCE. Don’t tell the neighborhood that an officer is struggling in his marriage.
— When you see an officer, discretely and kindly ask if they would like you to pray for anything. And don’t be offended if you hear “No.”

Saturday 20th- Departments and families of 2015 Line of Duty deaths
Note: There were 128 deaths in the “Line of Duty” in 2015 with am additional 27 K9 officers. Over 100 departments across the United States will honor names added to “the wall” in DC.
-Prayer targets:
— That officers and families would experience healing from the pain of their loss.
— That departments would develop programs for support before they are needed.
— Pray officers would not experience “survivor’s guilt”.
-Ideas:
— Contact your local police department/Sheriff’s office to see if they have any memorial events. Attend them.
— If your local department has memorial gardens, plaques, or stones, visit them. They died protecting you and your family.

 

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic, Fire and Dispatch personnel – Merry Christmas 2016

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators, fire fighters, medics, 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 or behind the mic 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.

With this email, I want to talk a little bit about encouragement. Sometimes encouragement is in short supply, especially in our line of work. So what can we do to fill that void?

  1. Get involved with local groups in the area that support Public Safety.  There are lots of groups out there that have missions to support. Groups like Wives Behind The Badge, auxiliary chapters of police or fire unions, or other civic groups. Don’t forget about places like churches, hospitals or schools that host local events. There are a multitude of reasons to go to these events. You can see that people really do appreciate what you do, and also it encourages them to do more of the events (it’s discouraging to these groups to announce an event and have a small turnout of people they are trying to support).
  2. Don’t forget about social media. This can be an overlooked area for encouragement (and engagement). There are lots of groups out there like Ohio Going Blue, and pages for the in-person groups we talked about above. Don’t forget about the bloggers and other writers who are supportive of your job. Consider getting involved here to (as long as it falls within your department policy). Give them information to pass to their audience like safety tips in the mall or how to properly fry a turkey. (This may help you in the long run too!)
  3. Support businesses that support you. Not just for the “perks” or “discounts”, but when businesses are rewarded by more business for being supportive, it encourages more support to be shown. So it is a “win-win scenario” here. (And as a side note, as a policy when I get items free/discounted, I always make sure to thank the manager, and give the waiter/waitress an extra tip. Don’t ever be the subject of a “stingy table” story.)
  4. Commit to being an “encourager” yourself. When I was in basic training and technical school in the US Air Force, one of my instructors said “If you can’t find an example, be one”.  Over 20 years have passed and I have not forgotten the advice of Sergeant Teresa Fountain. Give your co-workers high-fives for a job well done. Pay for the rookie’s dinner sometime. When you see the kids that want to see the lights and sirens, give them a memory of the “cop who smiled” or the crew of firefighters waving from the cab. Have stuffed animals in your vehicle for the times when you run into a child who is afraid or maybe just survived a traumatic event.
  5. Know people in your organizations or communities. There are plenty of folks who are “good at it” when it comes to encouraging others. Ask them if they’d like to come to a roll call, or ride a long for a shift, or share a meal at the fire house. Build relationships now, so when you (or they) are having a down time, one can help out the other.
  6. Write your story. Write down every time you have a good experience with a citizen. Did you get thanked for a traffic stop? Were you invited to a cookout by a neighbor after a hard fought fire? Write down all these positive experiences in a notebook and keep it close. Then, when you have one of those down times, you have something to fall back on. Consider sharing some of these stories with others.

 

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, or send an email. Reach out if you need to.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for 2017. 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.

 

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

Distribution: Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – September 11, 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: You have a hard job. I know that, as do countless other people across our communities and great nation. Sometimes encouragement is in short supply, and some of us are our out there working to change that, and to turn the tide of negativity.

It is during this time each year that we remember traits that shone through on this day. Traits that make us who we are, and make our country and your professions great.  We remember sacrifice, courage and determination. We remember not only the over 450 fire and law enforcement that died that day, but the hundreds since of related diseases.  We might read their names, go to a memorial, or we learn about their stories.

But what can we do, what can each of us do, to ensure that we help make their legacy count?  I’ll tell a story for an example.

When I saw Captain America: Civil War with my family, I absolutely hated it, but not for the reasons you may think. It had lots of action. The acting was good, as were the effects. There were good lines and funny scenes. It held my attention for the length of the movie. (Spoiler warning)What I hated is (and maybe I’m just too analytical): Here is a bunch of “super heroes” who can figure out each other’s weaknesses and fight each other, but they can not see that the true enemy is not each other but DIVISION. Then near the end of the movie ONE of them figures it out AND KEEPS IT TO HIMSELF. I wanted to scream in the theater. Seriously.

But the more I think about it, the more I think that it sometimes resembles our workplaces and our families. We are close to each other and know what makes them tick. We know what gets to them and where the buttons are. Yet, sometimes we fail to come together and fight for each other and instead we fight each other. Sometimes the reality is this: It’s sometimes easier to “grab someone’s throat” then it is to “have their back”.

And we do it on hundreds of ways. Someone comes after your spouse and you’ll fight to the death, but they have a bad day and instead of being there you want to fight back. Drop a 99 or a Mayday and everyone comes running (as they should), but it something happens on the jurisdiction lines…well most of you know how that works.

Sometimes we are so busy that we fail to see where the real battles of our life are, and how insignificant the ones we choose to fight are. John Maxwell says “Teamwork makes the dream work”, but sometimes we just fail each other.

So I guess the reason I hated the movie is because I have lived it, and maybe in some sense still do. But that’s what all good parables, stories, and lessons do. They show us what makes us mad, and then holds up a mirror to our lives. It changes a “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” to an” Ouch, I guess I do that too. ”

What do we do? Maybe we reach out to that person in the other department that is a pain in the neck.  Maybe we reach out to that department that we see running when there’s a distress signal that we don’t know much about. Maybe we talk to that guy who wants all the training and find out what he knows or why. Maybe we host a training and invite other departments (and we even provide the doughnuts). But more than that, we just help each other, encourage each other.

So what “team” am I failing, what “team” can I do more for? What areas do I need to grow? I know what my answers are. What about you?

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.

My commitment to you.

To all my Public Safety friends: You know I’d do anything for you that I can and that I’ll have your back as much and as often as I can. But I have something I need to say.
 
I know that we blame the administration, or the media, or CopBlock, or lack of volunteers in the department or community for where we are as a Nation (and I’ll not disagree with any of those), but to quote Dr Phil “Sometimes you have to show folks how you want to be treated.”
 
All it takes is one of us being on the news to make it harder on the rest of us. All eyes are on us and the media and our detractors are looking for reasons to pick us apart.
 
I’ve been public about some of my shortcomings and the demons I fight. And I know that some of you are fighting battles far more complex than mine, and I respect that. I respect you not wanting to put your struggles in the public eye.
 
We have had arrests of some of our own for issues like drug use, DUI, anger and other things on the news (not to mention what we may struggle with behind closed doors).
 
I want to make you a commitment: If you are struggling, and you don’t know where to go, or you have tried something and it is not working, I will help you find help. There are chaplains across the Miami Valley who would agree to help too. I’ve offered to start a Celebrate Recovery session restricted to only Police/Fire/EMS and would still do that if there was enough interest. I’ve offered to come out for ride alongs or address a shift or department, or have a yearly seminar on relationships, stress or suicide (or all the above). I’d do anything I can for you.
I made a commitment that I wanted to make the Miami Valley the best place to be in Public Safety…the best place to be a cop, firefighter, or EMS.  But when you suffer in silence, behind closed doors, you are tying our hands. But now, I’m asking  you: “Help me to help you.”
For a time in my life, I suffered alone. I know what it’s like. You don’t have to do that any more.