Why I Wear The Badge

I wish the question, “why do you wear the badge?” was asked of me more, so that, maybe, just maybe, people could understand law enforcement a little better. I understand it is not my responsibility to make everyone appreciate the police, comply with the police, or see eye-to-eye with the police. Not only would this be near impossible to do, it is not part of our job. However, when we are presented with a situation in which we can educate the public on the police, we should take it.

There are many reasons I wear the badge. To some, the badge represents power, authority, the ability to take someone’s freedom. While the badge does represent authority, and gives us the power to take some liberties, when appropriate, there is so much more behind the badge than just these things.

The badge, to me, is more a representation of what we stand for as police officers. The badge is a constant reminder that I belong to a family unlike any family on this earth. The badge represents the fact that I have lived my life, up to this point, with respect of the public and adherence to the laws of our land. The badge also represents that I am not without mistakes and flaws, for it was a long, tough, mistake-laden road to achieve my badge. Just as the metal-cast badge isn’t without imperfections, nor am I. The badge allows me to realize that, just as I have made mistakes in the past, the public makes mistakes too. The badge allows me to realize that there are people who look up to it and some who look down upon it.

We are without names to many, we are strangers to many more. However, the badge allows us to be a beacon of peace, positivity and freedom from wrong-doings. The badge is a symbol of safety, for that is what we are, keepers of safety and keepers of peace. The badge represents strength. Not just physical strength, but moral strength, intestinal fortitude, mental strength, strength that we can deliver to others when they find themselves weak.

The badge is a symbol of determination, long hours, sleepless nights, all so that we may find the end goal: Justice. In this, the badge stands for justice. The badge will lead us forward, never retreating and never backward, towards a threat, towards an end goal, towards peace, justice, integrity of the public and the safety of our streets.

The badge stands for truth, honesty and respect. We ask the public to put their trust in the same.

The badge stands for family, family that cannot be broken, as the badge itself can never be broken, cast of heavy metals and inlaid with gold and silver.

The badge stands for diversity, as no badge is the same. We honor diversity, individuality, and freedom of mind, speech and protest.

The badge stands for you, the public at large. The badge is a literal and figurative shield you can stand behind or be in front of. It is ultimately your choice. To those who stand behind our badge, behind our shield, we will do everything in our power to make sure our shield against evil is effective and will keep you safe. For those of you that choose to stand in front of the shield, we offer you this:

At no point will our shield be broken. At no point will we lay down our shield at your request. At no point will we pull the shield out from in front of the people we protect, only to protect ourselves. You may make us fall, but ultimately, more warriors, with the same strong shields, will take our place, and will continue the fight. Soon enough you will find that your false shield of crime and wrong-doing, is no match for the shield we carry as police officers. You will find yourself in a losing battle against the strongest shields in existence. You will find no supplies to make your shield greater than ours, for our shields have been forged with the blood and sacrifice of true warriors gone before. Our shields, our badges, are forged with fortitude, bravery, integrity, honor, respect and selfless service. Your shield is without these essential materials. You may hunt for them, you may even find some of them, but they will prove to be unreliable, for without all of these things put together as one, your shield is weak, and will not protect you from the shield of justice. You have an opportunity to lay down your shield and fall behind ours, for your road to guaranteed safety and a life of integrity can only be found behind the badge of a police officer.

This, my friends, is why I wear the badge. If for no other reason, it is for you.

Our Final Salute

Two times in the last 24 hours I have had to update our officer down memorial page. If you keep up on law enforcement news nationwide, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. One of the most touching things I have seen, was NYPD giving their most recent fallen officer, Randolph Holder, the final salute as his body was escorted to the Harlem Medical Center. There is a lot to be said about this final salute officers were giving to their fallen brother as he passed by them. It is truly unfortunate that we must use the phrase “most recent fallen brother”, as it signifies that he is not the first, and most tragically will not be the last.

The public will see this fallen salute as a gathering of mourners to honor their fallen brother as he physically passes them for, possibly, the last time on this physical earth. While this is definitely a piece of the big picture, it is certainly not the only reason we offer up this symbol of thanks.

To us, as law enforcement officers, this final salute means so much more than an act of mourning and saying “goodbye”.

This final salute is us allowing the body of our fallen brother, along with his spirit, know that we honor him, we thank him and we carry on the torch of justice and peace even though he may be physically leaving this earth. We are saying to the world that this man or woman has not died in vain, but, rather, has died doing what we all love to do, serve the public and defend the defenseless. Our final salute is telling our fallen brother that he is not alone in his journey, that he carries the support and the solitude of all those he has left on earth. The final salute is allowing the family to know that they have a sea, a nation, of men and women in blue supporting them throughout the rest of their lives. The final salute allows all to know that our fallen brother is not, and will never be, forgotten.

Our fallen will enter a special place in heaven, where God’s most blessed children reside. Police officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice will wear the badge and the wings of Heaven’s most coveted warriors. These men and women have stood in the face of evil, of difficulty, have fought in this world’s most righteous battles. They have not failed in what they have done. They have not fallen because of their failures. They have fallen in the process of pursuing a justice many refuse to seek.

The most unique aspect and characteristic of a police officer is that they can be scared, and will be scared, in many of the situations they face, yet they continue on a straight a narrow path despite the dangers that lie in front of them. Many would run, hide, and seek safety for themselves in the same situations; however, an officer, knowing the people he defends, will continue towards the threat, knowing this may be his final opportunity to stand for what is right in this world. No one should ever doubt that an officer has fallen doing what he or she loves. If the love for the public, the outright love for total strangers, wasn’t present in the mind of a police officer, he wouldn’t advance towards a threat, he wouldn’t pursue a dangerous suspect, he wouldn’t place himself in harm’s way, every single hour, of every single day.

The work of a police officer is often dull and repetitive, making traffic stops without incident, responding to alarm drops that are often inadvertent mistakes or a technological malfunction, quelling neighborly disturbances, etc. However, we live and we die by the calls that we go into with our heads held high, knowing that what we are about to do could possibly bring a truly bad person to justice, or help save the lives of the strangers we give our undying love and dedication to. While we do not hope for and seek dangerous situations, we will respond none-the-less. We will respond with an appropriate level of fear that will guide our tactics and keep us safe. The final salute is a promise from all officers to uphold this level of professionalism, this level of bravery, this level of outright heroism.

The final salute is our acknowledgement of the sad fact that you are physically gone, but that you will NEVER be forgotten.

To you, my fallen brothers and sisters, rest easy on the peaceful streets of heaven, as you continue your unwavering and never-ending beat, for you have already served your time in hell.

No One Can Tell You Who You Are or How Successful You Can Be, Besides Yourself

Success can often give the illusion of something that is out of our control in this profession, something that is controlled by everyone but ourselves. I will make the attempt to argue otherwise.

I’ve brought it up in past articles that our advancement and relative success in this profession can often be influenced (not controlled) by outside forces such as departmental availability of funds, room for advancement, department size, etc. I still believe this to be true, as these are things we cannot ultimately control. There are many things in this profession that we cannot control and that falls into the reality of the job and another topic in and of itself. The only thing we have complete control over is ourselves. Our profession and workplace can be inundated with individuals who may be content and stagnant, perhaps even slightly disgruntled (read “very disgruntled”). It is our responsibility to sort the good from the bad and surround ourselves by the people who are going to aid in our own ultimate success.

Success in this profession is relative. It is relative in the sense that what one person considers advancement and success may not be the same for you or me. We all have our own goals and aspirations and we cannot assume that, just because we want to achieve a certain goal, everyone else is striving for that same goal. We are all like-minded individuals in this profession but we all hold on to our own individual characteristics and goals. It’s what makes this profession as unique as it is.

Recent events in my own professional life have brought me to the realization that we are too often willing to believe the negative rumors than the positive facts. Without going into too much detail, I was recently expecting one thing to happen in my own professional advancement, when the opposite seemed to become the immediate reality. I was assured that the original, intended outcome would still be the eventual outcome, but just at a date further along down the road. As an immediate response I became disappointed and slightly demoralized. I think this was a natural and appropriate reaction. I allowed my own negative thoughts to permeate my mind and become a sense of reality. I allowed negativity to manifest into reality. I figured that my original goal would not happen altogether. In seeking input from coworkers and supervisors, I was given a mixed reaction, ranging from “it’s never going to happen” to “it will definitely happen, just give it some time”. I found myself latching onto the individuals who said that “It’s never going to happen”. I was doing this without much conscious thought. I allowed the positive input to flow in one ear and out the other, while the negative input went in one ear and stuck in my thoughts like tough glue.

It wasn’t until yesterday morning that I woke up and asked myself why the negative input would stick with me and the positive input was bouncing off of me like rubber.

The fact of the matter is that the positivity that was given to me was from people who are credible and reliable sources of information. The negative information stemmed from rumors, past disappointment and assumptions that bad situations can only get worse. The responsibility to sort out which I am going to believe lies with no one but myself. I am responsible for my own peace of mind, my own well-being and my own success. Like I said before, negativity will manifest itself into reality. Why can’t positivity manifest itself into reality as well?

It can, and it will.

I believe it to be our human nature to believe the bad over the good. In our profession we see a lot of “bad”, if you will. Yesterday, a coworker asked me how it is, in my writing, that I am so often able to just pass off the disgruntled officers in our profession and focus so much on the good. My answer to him was that I force myself to consider the negativity a non-factor. I am not perfect at this, as I found myself in a situation where all I was believing was the negative. It is a constant battle for me, it is also a constant battle for you. We are battle proven in the field, why can we not be battle proven in our own thoughts and minds?

We have a huge choice to make every single day. We can allow ourselves to be brought down by negative thoughts and rumors or we can allow ourselves to thrive on the successful and positive thoughts of others. Never allow the responsibility of your own success to lie in anyone’s hands but your own. Realize that we work in an extremely competitive and volatile profession, where advancement and success will not always come easy. Many factors come into play in our own personal and professional success, the largest of which is your own effort and mindset towards your end goal. Ultimately your own positive thoughts will manifest their way into reality. Coworkers will rely on you for your positive attitude and it will all continue to build from there. No one, in their right mind, looks down upon a positive person. If you take a step back and look at your workplace, you will realize that the people you consider successful are also positive people who don’t allow themselves to be wrapped up in negative rumors and thoughts.

I challenge you to become the model of positivity in your department. If you allow yourself to be a positive cop, you can only become a successful cop.

We Can Be Our Own Worst Critic

I’ve noticed that when one of my partners is in a tough situation I can give him the most uplifting and positive advice. When I am in a tough spot, that same officer is going to give uplifting and positive advice right back in my direction.

there seems to be a common aspect to this exchange though. We both realize that the other isn’t going to take our advice. We even vocalize it, saying, “I know you’re not going to stop worrying about this, but…”. It’s a fact of life; we can dish it out, but we can’t receive it. I’m not talking about criticism, I’m talking about advice.

As officers, we are our own worst critic. It’s an undeniable truth. We sit here and we will “Monday morning quarterback” ourselves until the day is dark. We are the worst at expressing our feelings, we are the worst at taking advice when we are in a position of self-doubt. I can’t even count, in my very short career, how many times someone has given me advice that has proven to be 100% correct; however, I refuse to believe it as such.  Yet, I can give solid advice to them, without fail. They will inevitably fail to put their trust in my advice, as it, also, proves to be true.

I am not sure what the solution to this problem is. I wish I did, for it would put an end to a lot of inner turmoil. It is possible that the first step to solving this issue is realizing that we are our own worst critic.

If we realize this and allow it to enter our conscious thought, we may begin a path to combat the refusal to follow the advice of the people with whom we work so close. In the end, who knows a cop better than a cop himself?

Letting Negativity Manifest Into Reality

Once again, I find myself in a situation where I must follow my own advice, but struggle with actually committing to it.

Today, I struggle, as an officer, with allowing my own negativity to manifest into reality. This is something I think a lot of people struggle with but fail to actually realize, especially in our profession. It is possible to allow your own negative thoughts, negative emotions and general negativity to manifest its way into a reality of sorts. 

Some people may say that allowing yourself to always be positive will only lead to disappointment. I can see how this may be true, to an extent. Generally, a positive person is going to be a happy and successful person. Yes, disappointment will happen, it’s a reality of life. We must make a conscious effort to make sure disappointment does not lead to general negativity. This is definitely something that is hard to put into words. I am going to make my best effort to explain. 

A positive person will experience disappointment. A negative person will breed disappointment. If you force yourself to remain positive, disappointment will easily be overcome. If you allow yourself to remain negative, disappointment will only seem common-place and you will expect it. This being said, everything relatively disappointing, that happens in your life, will only feed into your negativity. This will become a cycle that is hard to stop. Disappointment will only go to certify your negativity and negativity will cause for more disappointment. A negative officer is an ineffective officer. An ineffective officer is a dangerous officer. A dangerous officer is destined for failure. 

A generally positive officer will be more adept to curb disappointment and learn from it. Disappointment is, after all, relative. What may be a large disappointment to one person may not be as big of a deal to another. Allowing negativity to permeate your thoughts will only allow it to manifest itself into a reality. 

We all struggle with our daily obstacles. It is hard to explain to one person what another is feeling. What you experience stress over may be a common experience to another. What we all must realize, is that remaining positive, even when it seems hard, is essential to success. Nothing in life is going to flow smoothly; we must take our experiences and use them to our advantage. Learn from these experiences every single day. We, as officers, are creatures of success. Do not allow negativity to manifest itself into your reality. 


Train to Fight, Train Past the Fight, Train for the Fight (Video)

Training is a huge thing for me as a police officer. Too many departments lack the funds and the availability of instructors to properly train their officers on up-and-coming tactics and threats to our safety. I always encourage taking any training opportunity, even if it means you may have to use your own time, as long as your department allows. The more well-rounded you can become in your training, the safer you are on the street and the easier you can adapt to a wide variety of situations. In time you will prove to be a valuable asset to your department. You will be heavily relied upon. You can improve your department from the inside by becoming the source of good training. The most important point I want to make is to take training seriously. Sometimes it can be long, boring and seem like menial tasks, but I assure you, the better you become in every area of training, the better officer you will be. That being said, I would like to look into three different aspects of training I have gathered through speaking with different individuals along with spending time in the Army. We must train to fight, train past the fight and train for the fight.

Train to fight

Training to fight, in my eyes, means that we must take training seriously. Orient your mind, the best you can, to put yourself in a real-life scenario that your training is providing. The more serious you can become about training, the better result you will get out of it. If you are able to put yourself into an atmosphere where training is as life-like as possible, you will be more adapted to react appropriately when the situation isn’t training at all. As I said before, training can become long and boring, but we must combat that attitude and become interested in our training. Our training is the only practice we have before things get serious out on the streets.

Training to fight also involves our physical fitness. We must maintain our health. We can be a well-trained officer, tactically sound and proficient, but without the literal body structure to uphold the physically demanding tasks our job requires, our training will not be able to take full effect on our bodies. Create a sound infrastructure to build your training upon. Condition your body towards the purposes of your job. Endurance, muscular and cardiovascular, are essential in this line of work.

Bring both your physical fitness and your technical training together as one and you will be the most effective officer you can be.

Train Past the Fight

Training past the fight is something I obtained from Patrick McNamara, a world-class tactics and physical fitness instructor. Patrick is all about training past the fight. Training past the fight entails that we orient our minds to the fact that, although the first threat may be neutralized (and that may be the only threat that the training provides at the time), there may exist additional threats. If we condition ourselves to only believe one threat exists or that only the multiple threats, known to us at the time, exist and are neutralized, we leave ourselves vulnerable to additional threat. I have always been taught where there is one, there are two, where there are two, there are three. This is, in my opinion, a great way to keep in mind that we must train past the fight. As Patrick McNamara has said in an online interview with me, if the drill calls for 3 shots, have 4. If the drill calls for 6 shots, be prepared to shoot 7. Always be prepared to re-engage. Never leave yourself down in a fight. Constantly, even when the threat is neutralized, maintain the advantage. Always remember your training and continue the fight as if the fight never stops.

When we are training, we are in a controlled environment where time-outs are allowed and after completing multiple iterations of a drill, we will go into the next knowing when to stop. The operational environment in which we work does not provide for a definitive end to a threat. The threat is ongoing. We must fight the urge in training to allow our minds to stop. While the drill may physically require our bodies to stop shooting, searching, or detaining, it does not require that our minds stop negotiating the next potential threat.

Train for the fight

Training for the fight may seem similar to training to fight. However, there are differences. While training to fight more so relies upon our ability to orient our minds in training to link us with a real-life scenario, training for the fight relies upon our ability to train effectively and train for tactics that are relevant to our specific operational area and environment. It is imperative that we train for the most relevant aspect of our daily jobs. Training in woodland search and recovery of a suspect would be ineffective for those serving in a non-wooded, barren community. Training on urban pursuit tactics would bode ineffective for those officers serving in undeveloped, rural counties. While it would be nice to learn multi-jurisdictional tactics, it is simply too difficult, both with time and available funds, to train officers on every single operating environment. Training for the fight is training for what you do, training for what you may be called on to do. There are some training programs that span all law enforcement agencies nationwide, such as firearms training, combat life saving training, narcotics training, etc. Then there are training programs that are specifically tailored to departments operating in certain environments. It is imperative that we can effectively pick and choose the training programs that will directly affect our operations within the communities or capacities we serve.

Training for the fight also means to prepare yourself to the best of your ability to utilize the training you have been given. While a specific course may span 8, 16, 24 or even 60 hours plus, we must take these skills back to our departments and continue to train on them. This is solely the officer’s responsibility. We have been given the training, it is our job to make sure we stay on top of that training.

In conclusion, there are many different schools of thought on training when it concerns law enforcement. Our departments’ biggest issue is funding. Often, the first thing to go, when budget is tight, is training. There is no reason we can’t, as the individual officer, take on the responsibility of training ourselves. Informal training is available, as is online training. Take the opportunities you can to better your own tactics. We owe it to the public, we owe it to our families, we owe it to ourselves.

Heroin – A Message to Police, The Public, The Addicts and The Dealers Alike

I have always wanted to write on the topic of Heroin. The issue was, what in the world could I possibly write, without going on for pages and pages? It’s impossible. Why? Because Heroin has become this country’s biggest epidemic.

If you have found yourself in a position where you’ve never encountered a Heroin addict, whether on the street, or through the job, consider yourself completely blessed. Seeing that the largest audience of LEO USA’s website and Facebook page are in the field of law enforcement, I highly doubt any of us have gone without making contact with a family or individual affected by the Heroin epidemic. I won’t get into the rhyme and reason behind Heroin addiction. We all know its onset can be for a few different reasons. What I do want to look into is why it is such an epidemic and what it is doing to this country.

I often joke at work that if a zombie apocalypse ever occurred, the zombies would resemble someone who is high on Heroin. It is simply amazing to see someone high on Heroin, able to nod in and out of an apparent sleep, while still being able to respond to directed questions and retain their balance, despite swaying back and forth, side to side. We all know what this looks like. And then comes the withdrawal. I’ve heard many Heroin addicts say that withdrawing is some of the most miserable pain they have ever felt. Heroin is an extremely powerful drug, extremely addictive and most definitely lethal.

This baffles me that somewhat decent people decided, at some point, to put poison into their bodies, that will throw them into a cycle of addiction and, inevitably, crime. They are lucky to end up in jail before they end up dead from an overdose. It is truly a game of Russian Roulette with a needle or straw.

The innocent communities in which these individuals live are inevitably affected by Heroin as well. Often, Heroin addicts find themselves short on money due to their addiction. They have lost jobs, lost family support, lost government support. This will lead to the individual needing to victimize hard-working people to achieve their next “fix”. This comes in the form of petty theft, motor vehicle theft, robbery, aggravated robbery, burglaries and, in some extreme instances, murder. Let us now attempt to say this drug is not a national epidemic, when innocent people are being victimized due to someone else’s addiction.

Let us stray from the actual throws of the addiction and center our conversation from the perspective of law enforcement.

Law enforcement agencies are spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars on combatting the Heroin epidemic in this country. Despite our ever-adapting tactics and strategies to curb this cycle of addiction and crime, we find ourselves in a never-ending battle of cat and mouse. We must enlist the trust and the efforts of the public to combat this cycle. We would never ask you to become the police and try to solve these crimes and take direct involvement in the Heroin epidemic. However, law enforcement agencies are constantly coming up with new ways for citizens to get indirectly involved in this fight. A large effort has been put into drug activity tip lines. It is imperative that the public understands that these avenues help law enforcement stay one step ahead of the criminals. Your family may not have been affected by Heroin, however, your community most certainly has. Every community has. It is time to become a collective team against a substance destroying this country from the inside out.

To the individuals affected by Heroin addiction, it is never too late to kick the habit. Much easier said than done, I know. I said it before, every single time you put the poison into your body, you are flirting with death. What little you know about Heroin. What even less you know about what is in the Heroin you are purchasing. What even LESS you know about the people you are buying the Heroin from and how dangerous these people are. You are putting your life at risk, in so many different ways, every single time you start the process of finding, buying and using this drug. Law enforcement isn’t here to take you down as the “big fish” per say. You have committed a crime and you will answer for that crime. However, in these instances, you are able to help combat the problem that has led you into a life of complete disaster. Allow us to work with you and find the people who are essentially feeding you death and depression. The road to your own personal redemption is always available, every moment of every day. We won’t try to understand what it feels like to be in the throes of a Heroin addiction, but I can promise you we have seen the result. We have seen the bodies, we have seen the families, we have seen the community. If you think it doesn’t effect us, you’re wrong, it does. Not only does it consume a large amount of our work time and effort (something we are proud to donate to the public) but it consumes a lot of our mental and emotional capacity. We are human, and we don’t like seeing other humans hurt. Allow us to help you. Allow yourself to help you.

To the “Big Fish”, the dealers, the manufacturers, I assure you our team is much larger than yours. Our resolve is much stronger than yours, our tactics are better than yours. There comes a time where we must say we will not back down without a fight. I officially welcome you to the fight. You prey on the physically weak and the weak-minded. We are here to ensure you do this no longer. Our laws are becoming more stringent, our tactics are becoming more refined. It is only a matter of time before you find yourself behind steel bars, searching for a lawyer who will represent one of society’s worst. What you are doing is essentially slow, premeditated murder. We do not take this lightly, we take it personally. We will fight this fight until each of us retire, and then our younger brothers and sisters will take on our fight, with the same ferocity that we left with them. One by one we will take on this fight. You may get away once or twice, maybe even three times. It is essential you know that, just because you got away, this does not mean we forgot about you. It’s okay, we are out and about every single day, just as you are. We see you, we know what you’re doing, and we will catch you. Tonight you may rest easy, without us knocking on the door. You will not be promised that same peace of mind tomorrow, or any day in the future. For the acts you do, the business in which you practice, you are inevitably limiting your days of freedom. Come to terms with that, because sooner, much rather than later, you will be looking on society from the inside out and not the outside in. We are Wolfhunters, and you are the wolf.

The pursuit is on.

As Dissent for Law Enforcement Grows, So Does Support – It is We Who See You

It is unfortunate that the negativity associated with law enforcement gets most of the press today. We see the dissent for law enforcement taking the foreground in our news feeds, news websites and newspapers. What the public may not see on a daily basis, is the support for law enforcement growing as well. It is unfair to give only one side of the fence all the publicity. However, it seems as though the opposing team is the one making the most (and often inappropriate) noise.

It is imperative that those who oppose law enforcement know that there is an ever-growing opponent in those that support our men and women in blue. Just a few days ago I was buying coffee with a partner at Starbucks. A man in line insisted that he pay for our drinks. We, of course, insisted that he not spend his money on us, but that his support was appreciated. There is a big difference between those that show hate towards law enforcement and those that show support. Hate often comes in loud, inappropriate, overt acts of violence and protest, while support comes in small quiet acts of kindness.

While the opponents may be physically and audibly louder than the supporters, the quiet acts of kindness speak much louder lessons.

To those that oppose us, I ensure you that we are not wavered by your negative acts. We will not back down, we will not stop providing for the public, the public that you belong to. We will not stop serving you as we have sworn to do, despite your negativity thrown recklessly in our direction. Your non-support only goes to strengthen our unity, our resolve and our steadfast determination to serve justice when an injustice has been committed.

To those that support us, we often hear the phrase from your direction that “we see you”. Well I promise you and ensure you that it is we who see you. We see you day and night, with your kind waves of appreciation, your looks of fondness. We see it in your children as you embrace the fact that they want to talk to us, wave to us and refuse to pull them away from us and teach them hate. We see it when we step up to the cash register, only to figure out that our drink or meal has already been paid for and you have already disappeared, not wishing to be noticed, but only wishing to have taken part in an extremely kind act. We see it in the hugs, the posters, the blue porch lights, the FOP bumper stickers and the handshakes of appreciation. We see it in your regard for the law and your determination to take responsibility for your mistakes. We all, inevitably, make mistakes. We see your support in your understanding that we are human. I assure you, we understand you are human too. We see support in your compliance and in your respect.

There will come a time, and it is not too far away, where the support of our police men and women in this country will become far louder, metaphorically, than the dissent. We are very aware that the support for law enforcement is not the minority in this country. You are the silent majority.

We see you out there and, on behalf of all badge bearers, we thank you.

Faith and Law Enforcement Go Hand-in-Hand

Never fear, I am not here to push religion on anyone. I do not believe in pushing my faith or religion on any other person than myself. I honor different beliefs, it is what this job has taught me to do. This article isn’t about religion, it is about having faith. I am going to make an attempt to explain how faith plays a role into our profession, in a separate context from religion.

Almost everyone, when faith is brought into a conversation, will automatically orient their minds and associate the conversation with religion. In law enforcement, however, faith takes on multiple definitions. In my best words, faith can be synonymous with “belief” and “trust”. I now ask you to associate the word “faith” with these two words and ideas. Take some time to think to yourself how you would further define “belief” and “trust”.

In this profession we must have faith. It is a necessity in order for us to get through every day. Keeping in mind that faith can be defined as “belief” and “trust”, I believe you will see how it plays a role in our lives and in our work.

During a traffic stop, we must have faith that our training has taught us to approach the vehicle from the right direction, to respond to any adverse behavior a driver or passenger may engage in, to react with respect and within the law and to apply justice accordingly.

During a domestic disturbance call, we must have faith that our emotions will not overtake our sound judgment. We must have faith that individuals are telling the truth while having faith that our minds and experience can discern when half-truths are present.

We must have faith in our families, our wives, husbands, children and parents. We must have faith that they will support us in everything we do, in everything we see, in our reactions, in our sadness, in our happiness, in our protective nature and in our, sometimes, madness.

We must have faith in the public, that they will put their faith in us, to protect them, serve them and come to their aid when in need, without prejudice or bias.

We must have faith in our departments, that they will train us to their allowed and available capacity and that they will back us up when we find ourselves on the defensive, as long as we have acted within the law, which we most definitely do.

We must have faith in our partners, in our sisters and brothers in blue, that when we call for assistance they will never be too far away with the same zest for justice you have every day. We must have faith that they will come to our assistance when we find ourselves down on life. We must have faith that they won’t judge us in our weaknesses, but will take every available opportunity to strengthen our morale.

We must have faith that we have guardian angels watching our every move. We must have faith that when our time has come, we have given 110% to our lives, to our families, to the public and to our steadfast convictions.

Most importantly, we must have faith in ourselves. It is imperative, that before you place faith in anything else, you place rock-solid faith in yourself and your morals. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is a reason we wear the badge. There is a reason you took this job. There is a reason you live the lifestyle you live. Have faith in yourself, never doubt your profession. We have hearts of lions, intentions of saints, blood of true warriors. Often, the first thing that is lost in the job, is the faith in ourselves to succeed. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by outside influences. Do not quit, do not give up, it is not in your nature. Have faith that you are living a life of honor and integrity. Have faith that you are doing the right thing, day in and day out. Have faith in your will to live, your will to survive, your will to overcome evil.

Have faith in the Thin Blue Line, for it has faith in you.

Follow Your Instinct, Trust Your Gut

We all know what it is like, one second things seem to be calm and going well and then within a split second everything seems to hit the fan at once. I have referenced in past articles that training will, hopefully, take control in these instances. There are instances, however, in which hesitation may occur. I need not go into hesitation within this article, for that has previously been covered. What I am seeking to reach at a more in-depth level is instinct and the “gut feeling” we all know too well.

Instinct and the “gut feeling” goes beyond training and hesitation. While the gut feeling you get in certain situations, that may be the basis of a split second decision, may be formed and molded by training, it is largely based upon our root instincts, morals, physiology, psychology and biology. As intelligent mammals, we have a natural process that cannot be un-programmed (for lack of a better phrase). It is important that we understand where our instincts and gut feelings come from. It is a largely formed opinion that instincts come from an ingrained “will to live”. Almost all animals have this base instinct. As police officers we are frequently approached with situations that will tap into that will to live, our natural process. This natural instinct and gut feeling may also be based upon our fight or flight mentality which has also been previously touched on.

What is important to note, is that our instincts have been continually formed since the day we were born. As police officers, it is safe to say our morals and instincts have been formed on solid ground. That is why, in this profession, it is important to trust your instincts. How often have we hesitated, second-guessed ourselves, made a decision and then come to find out we should have followed our “gut feeling”? How often do we go into a situation, no matter the capacity in which you serve in law enforcement (corrections, probation, parole, patrol, traffic, investigations, etc.), and you get the feeling that something is just not right. This is the gut feeling I speak of. Your natural instincts (a cognitive process) are signaling your body to start a physical process or symptom that takes the form of the “gut feeling”.

It is literally a feeling.

Our brains are naturally preparing us to enter into fight or flight scenario. Our brains are serving as a natural alarm to danger. It is vital we allow our instincts to create the gut feeling. Take solid notice of this natural alarm and subsequently allow your training to enter into your operation. At some point, everything begins to flow in a complete continuum, allowing you to make sound decisions.

Second-guessing your instincts or gut feelings is a process that must be overcome. You have to trust yourself. Do not allow outside influences take control. It is far too easy for us to second-guess what we are about to do. Realize that no one, but you, is in the exact situation you find yourself. You must ensure your safety, along with the safety of your brothers and sisters. Your instincts, along with your training, will surely lead you to success.

Yes, there are times where we have a gut feeling that something is not right, when, in fact, all is secure and well. The fact of the matter is that following your instincts, even in these situations where it may be slightly wrong, will no more damage your safety than disregarding it all together.

I am not suggesting that police become over zealous or go into every situation with service weapons at the low or high ready. I am simply suggesting that you put full trust and faith in yourself. You ensured your safety up to this point in your career, there is no reason to doubt yourself now.