A Thank You, From One Police Officer to Another

I know, just as well as any other police officer, that we do not do this job for the praise or the “thank you’s”. But, today, I offer up a “thank you” from myself, to every police officer in this great country.

Why? we all do a similar job, day in and day out. I offer up the “thank you” because it is every single one of you that have my back every single day. Every single one of you creates an atmosphere of belonging, of justice and of peace. Every single one of you represents what is good in our human race. You are the mothers, the fathers, the sisters, the brothers, the husbands and the wives that every single person strives to be. You represent the good and you fight against the bad. You are the voice behind the mute, the eyes for the blind and the legs for people that have found themselves down in life. Ultimately, you stand in the direct line of danger, so that a complete stranger may be spared that pain. You may stand in between me and death one day, just as I will make every effort to stand in front of you, so that you may continue on our righteous path.

We are all in this together, but I owe every single one of you a big “thank you” for allowing me to be a part of the most incredible, rock-solid, institution in this country: law enforcement.

Complacency…It Will Kill

For those of us that have been in the military, we will never forget the phrase that was drilled into our heads almost every single day, “complacency kills.” Such a short phrase that holds so much meaning and relevance to our every day job as police officers. Complacency takes on many forms and appears in almost every single thing we do. From outfitting our belts properly, to making sure the shotgun in the rack has the proper rounds in it, we must never become complacent with even the most menial, day-to-day tasks.

Let us take into account making sure the shotgun in your vehicle has the correct rounds in it. You may go years in this profession (all depending on the jurisdiction in which you work) without ever needing to shoulder the shotgun in your vehicle. Ultimately, that does not matter, whatsoever. We, as law enforcement officers, need to go into every single work day, expecting to have to use every single tool we have been blessed to carry. If we begin to show complacency towards certain tasks and duties, we will become non-proficient in these areas. Non-proficiency leads to mistakes; mistakes lead to injuries and, God forbid, death. Despite whether or not you have ever had to shoulder the shotgun in your vehicle for a “real life” situation, you must check, every single shift, for deficiencies in that weapon system. You have no idea what happened in that vehicle the shift prior that may not have been relayed to your shift and, therefore, may have caused a change in the status of that vehicle’s assigned weapon. The last thing you want to happen, is to have to rely on that weapon, only to figure out that it is not properly outfitted for your situation.

Another area in which some officers become complacent is their radio traffic. It is imperative that all radio traffic is clear, concise, complete and ACCURATE. Location, location, location. This should always be the first thing stated on a run. ALWAYS. Situations can go from normal to “what the f***!” in no time, flat. In those stressful situations, you will not have to worry about calling out your location (unless the location is ever-changing) if it has already been done. You will call for assistance and dispatch will have already recorded your location¬†and will take on the duty of relaying that to responding officers.

I urge you to evaluate one of your duty days, from the very beginning until the very end. Find an area in which you have become complacent. Change that area and erase the complacency. Find another, and do the same.

Remember, complacency kills, but we are ultimately in control of it.

Become Disconnected, to Stay Connected

Today’s article is, once again, one of those instances where I can sit back and say I have trouble following my own advice. I don’t think that anyone in our profession would argue the fact that our family is the most important thing to us. Not only is our family important to us, but we probably could not successfully be in this profession without the direct support of those closest to us. If that is not the case for you, then I am sure you could find someone, somewhere, in your life that gives you the support that allows you to conduct the work you do.

No one would argue against the fact that these people deserve the world. We would do anything for the people who mean the most to us in our lives. And that is where my thoughts are today.

We are constantly surrounded by technology and media and other outside stimuli that constantly draw our attention away from the reality of our lives. Cell phones, television, media, video games, social media etc. receive most our attention during our off time.

What I have found, recently, is that when you allow yourself to separate from these outside stimuli, you are able to relax and de-stress to a degree that I was unfamiliar with before. I am not urging anyone to throw away the phone or the TV. What I am urging is that maybe for an hour each day (or every couple of days if disconnecting gives you anxiety), turn off the TV, put the phone and computer down and just allow yourself to exist in your home, in your household, in your family relationships. It is hard to do at first. Sometimes, even, we find it impossible and unthinkable to separate ourselves from our cell phones because we rely on them so heavily for the job. What if a phone call comes in, updating you about a case you’ve been working on for weeks? Well, I am here to tell you that the call can wait. The person on the other line has already busied themselves with some other task and can await a call back. It will be no skin off their backs. Allow yourself to pick up a book (an actual book, not one on a digital platform). Sit down in a chair, your favorite chair, and allow yourself to disconnect from all the outside stimuli that is constantly attacking us from so many different angles. This will allow you to separate your work from your home much more easily. Once the hour is complete, pick it back up. I bet, after a trial run, you are much more relaxed, you have realized that nothing world-changing has occurred, and you will live to see another day (or another text).

If reading isn’t your thing, then take that hour to go on a walk with the girlfriend, the boyfriend, the husband, the wife or the kids. For God’s sake, take that hour to sit and talk. You will be surprised how that hour may turn into 2, 3 or even 4 hours! Sit down at the table to eat, not in front of a TV, where you will only be reminded about the horrible things that exist in our world that you have the fortunate and unfortunate opportunity to see every single day.

I am lucky enough to remember when I was a kid, when there were no cell phones, TV was reserved for Thursday nights or Saturday mornings. Allow yourself to go back to those days and free yourself from your daily worries.

You owe it to yourself, peacekeeper; you owe it to everyone around you. Nothing is guaranteed, not today, not tomorrow. Heaven forbid, the last memory people have of you is of the glow of a cell phone reflecting upon your face.