Law Enforcement: The Individual Team Sport

I’ll say it time and time again: law enforcement is the most unique profession on this planet. Yes, I am biased towards this profession, because it is the profession that I am in a deep love affair with. Some days it may feel more like a “job” than others. However, for the most part, this profession is not a “job”, it is a life style, it is a sport of sorts. In this analogy is where today’s article stems from.

When we think of team sports we may automatically think of football, soccer, lacrosse and baseball. When we think of individual sports we think of swimming, tennis, track, golf etc. In which category does law enforcement fit? I would say, neither. Law enforcement is an “individual team sport”. I’m all about the clever comparisons and witty phrases that bring out the unique qualities of the “law enforcement sport”. On the surface, and when looking at the day-to-day actions and tasks of a LEO, it would appear to be an individual “sport”. We patrol alone in our cars, rarely with a partner. We respond to typical calls for service alone. We proactively look for crime, alone. Despite the fact that many of our daily tasks are completed alone, we are involved in a team “sport”. Yes, we may be physically alone, but we are never truly out there by ourselves. When you call a traffic stop, often the other officers on duty are mapping out the streets in their head in preparation to back you up. When you do call for assistance, a fellow officer is NEVER too far away. When we struggle, both physically during the job and in life, we have a sea of blue backing us. I can draw from many experiences in my very short career, thus far, when the blue brotherhood has backed an officer in need. We see it in our every day work place, when one officer begins a fight, everyone backs him up in no time flat. Then we see it when an officer has a more subtle struggle, a life struggle.

Take, for example, an officer in financial need. I have never seen so many people, who are not the most financially comfortable or sound, give the only money they have to support an officer who is in a worse place financially than them. I’ve seen it on a large-scale and I’ve seen it done for an officer who just couldn’t afford dinner out when everyone else on the squad is eating out that day. No one goes un-included. In my department we have had officers fall ill; seriously ill. Fellow officers will donate accrued leave, money, conduct bake sales or raffles, all so that the effected officer does not fall ill alone. We can tell when our fellow officers are having a bad day, and we pick up the slack (without a complaint heard).

We may not all get along. In fact, there are some officers that may not like each other on the personal level, but because we all do the same job and see the same terrible things, we will not hesitate to assist that officer in need.

There are some things we may physically do “alone”, but we are members of the biggest individual team sport known to man.

I love my sisters and my brothers in blue, and I know they love me. That is why I would die for this “sport”, and they would die for it too. I can only imagine that when an officer stands at the gates of heaven and answers to St. Peter, they are backed by a sea of winged men and women with badges; men and women that have seen hell on earth, have fought in this country’s biggest battles and throughout their lives have earned the warrior status.

Just as football players wear the scars and bruises from big hits, law enforcement officers bear the scars, both mentally and physically, of our trade. We wear these scars well, sometimes hidden deep within our souls. Never forget that the scars we bear make us the people we are. Never hang your head down low.

Look to the skies and know that, both on this earth and up in heaven, you belong to the biggest and most professional team ever known to mankind.

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