I Don’t Just Want This Job, I Need This Job

I use this form of media, this forum, to relieve stress, to give myself an outlet, but to also reach out to those officers who may be feeling the exact same way I do, but just don’t know how to express it.

I’ve come to a point where I have decided that I don’t just want this job, I need this job. This may sound extreme; I will ask you one question, if you were not a police officer what could you see yourself doing successfully? What would you want to do? Is that a realistic goal?

I think this is a unique characteristic of police officers. We find ourselves in a job that turns into such a lifestyle that we believe in. When we believe in something as strong as we believe in policing, we are unable to see ourselves in another profession, in another life-style. I often think to myself what I would do if I were laid off, if I lost my job, or if I made a mistake so great that I was given the all-feared “A or B plan”. It can actually cause tangible stress for me. I have become so mentally dedicated to this life style and this profession that I cannot possibly think of a life beyond policing.

I have come to realize that maybe, just maybe, this is okay. I guarantee some professionals would say that this is an unhealthy mindset. I can see how they would say that, but I will still disagree. What I have come to discover, is that this fear of failing, or the fear of being left out of this job allows me to perform this job to the utmost of my abilities. I have allowed my fear to turn into a positive aspect of my job and life. I do not allow my fear to draw me into a negative mindset, I allow it to aid in my success. If you fear that someday you may find yourself in a situation in which you will be out of your comfort zone of policing, you need to allow that fear to aid in your every single-day success. Ensure that you go into every day determined to succeed and perform. Make those conscious and correct decisions. Do not allow your emotions to get the best of you. Do not hesitate, but do not become too eager. Remain tactical, secure and safe. Use your training, you know you have it.

I know just as well as you do that we all fear losing our job as a police officer. What in the world would, or could, we possibly do without this job? You and I both know that we were born to be police officers. Go into every single work day ensuring that when you leave, you will still be a police officer tomorrow.

Blessed are the peace makers.

A Police Officer’s Stance on Gun Control

It seems that, in the United States, every single time a major event involving a gun occurs, numerous people come out of the wood work to take one side or the other on gun control. I have the unique blessing to sit back and watch this evolve as a police officer. I see valid points for both sides of the fence (although I will refrain from telling you which side I truly belong to; I am sure you can guess, as a fellow police officer).

What I can do is sit here and tell you my stance on gun control, solely through the eyes of a police officer. Now, I do not speak for all police officers, I do not speak for my department, I do not speak for my family. I speak for me and me only. My stance is not dependent on what legislation enacts, it is not dependent on how hard it is to buy a gun at a gun store, it is not dependent on the law. My stance on gun control is completely dependent on those that refuse to follow the law. In my opinion, it does not matter how much gun control exists. People who break the law, will continue to break the law. My stance on gun control lies in how much control I have over my own gun. As a police officer, I will always have the god-given privilege to carry a firearm. Gun control to me is how well I can aim, how well I can concentrate on trigger squeeze, following through, remaining on target until the target is neutralized, and keeping a sense of situational awareness all while ensuring the threat to myself and others is dealt with. Gun control to me is not a political issue. Gun control to me is ensuring that I am trained to the point that, when I need to rely on my gun, I am able to utilize it effectively.

It is an indisputable fact that guns will exist in this world until the day you and I die, despite what anyone in our city’s, state’s or country’s legislature does. It is our responsibility to make sure we have control over our guns as police officers. Train well, train often, train past the fight.

Why is the Thin Blue Line Such a Close Brotherhood?

If I gave you every single answer I have for this question, this article would take months to produce, it would be hundreds of thousands of words long and it would take you hours to read. That is the most beautiful thing about the Thin Blue Line. Everyone has their own opinions and their own reasons why they love being a part of the Thin Blue Line. I can only speak for myself, and will never try to assume I know what the masses are feeling. I do have a feeling, however, that what I think about the job, some others also feel.

I cannot remember a time growing up that I didn’t want to become a police officer. Even extending into my high school, college and Army days, I held on to that dream of becoming a police officer. That feeling never left me. I have a hypothesis about why this happened to me and it may even border the philosophical realm. I believe that true police officers were born with the drive to right wrongs and serve others. I don’t believe someone can be taught the drive to become a police officer. Those that think they can, often find themselves looking for new jobs; that’s if they were able to find a way into the profession to begin with (it happens). Something inside almost all of us just tells us that this is the profession, this is the life-style in which we belong. There’s not much more to that. So how does this play into why the Thin Blue Line is such a close brotherhood? As I stated before, I can only speak for myself. I enjoy knowing that the men and women serving with me, to my left and to my right, hold some of the same drive I know exists within myself. Just by this and this alone, I feel a unique closeness to them that I cannot describe to anyone else, nor can I compare it to any other relationship in my life. I am a strong believer in the “family comes first” motto. In no other profession (besides public service or military) do I believe you can include your co-workers into your true definition of family.

There is, arguably, no one closer to a person than their own family. Family has similar genetic makeup, similar blood, similar character traits.

I will argue until the day has come, that this bodes the same for men and women in law enforcement. We have the same genetic makeup. I am determined that this is the truth. I do not have scientific studies or educational research to prove this fact, but I do not believe, within our industry, this would go over with much argument against it. A police officer must be strong-willed and competitive, refusing to give up, and willing to put himself before others every single day. This is not taught, this is not learned, this is engrained in the body, in the mind and in the spirit of the law enforcement officer. There is something in every single one of us that is genetically the same. Whether it lies in our brains or in our hearts, I am not sure, but it is certainly there.

We bleed similar blood. This is more of a philosophical stand point than any. I do not mean physically that we are all O Positive blood type. What I mean is that our morals, our beliefs, the fuel that gets us out of bed every single day is made of similar content. When we literally bleed, all other LEO’s metaphorically bleed with us. When one of us literally falls, all LEO’s metaphorically fall with us. We feel each other’s pain, we cry with each other, we laugh with each other, we fight with each other, but never against. We have empathy, we refuse apathy and we will grind and toil until covered in mud and blood, with the objective completed. When we stand back up and I look at you, and you at me, we both know that each other is the reason we fight so hard for the finish line. What makes your blood boil, inevitably makes my blood boil. I would trade my blood for yours, and you would trade yours for mine. With a work environment like that, how could you not call us family?

Police officers within the Thin Blue Line have similar character traits, just as literal family has. We live our lives of honesty, duty, respect, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage all while expecting nothing in return but the cooperation of our society. Inevitably, and unfortunately this cooperation sometimes becomes lost in translation. Despite this fact, we will continue to serve, without prejudice but with justice. While dressed in plain clothes, I can spot an officer and he can spot me, but the public may not be able to do so as easily. It is in the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we sit, the way we converse, the way we keep our heads up and on a swivel and the way we treat people with respect, until respect has been lost. We are family oriented individuals, working long hours and holidays to provide for the people we love the most. We will step in for the Thin Blue Line when another officer is struggling with family issues. Inevitably, his/her family is also my family. My family is also their family.

So why is the Thin Blue Line such a close brotherhood? If presented in front of a court, with proper jurisdiction, the ruling would be that, with proof beyond a reasonable doubt, our Thin Blue Line is such a close brotherhood because we fall under the definition of family, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and best friends.

You, Wolf Hunter, are in Ultimate Control

The headline of this article can be slightly misleading. I have written in articles past that we are creatures of control and ultimately cannot control every aspect of our profession or our lives. I still believe this holds true. I will still say to people that there are some things you cannot control. What we, as wolf hunters, have ultimate control over, is ourselves. In this lies the content and the heart of today’s entry.

There are so many different variables ¸in our day-to-day operation as police officers. We simply cannot control them all. Variables lie within our administrations, our supervisors, our department budget, the criminals on the street, the weather, our available equipment, etc. The only thing that we can be sure, on a consistent basis, we have control over is ourselves. If you take an honest look at yourself, as I have done with myself multiple times, it is easily seen that having complete and total control over yourself is much easier said than done. Let us look into a few different areas in which you, as a police officer, have ultimate control, or maybe a lack of control.

Health and fitness is something in our profession that we absolutely, positively, must have control over. It has more of an impact on the job than most officers choose to believe. Some officers have lost control of it to a point that they refuse to admit that they have become unhealthy. It has the obvious benefits that we all already know. If you’re fit, you can fight. But what about this…if you’re fit, the general public will look more positively on you. Your health and fitness may lead to de-escalation in some situations. I know I’d rather fight an unhealthy, unfit cop than one that is clearly in shape. The daily job is filled with times in which you are sitting, in a vehicle, for hours. This, just in the nature of what it is, can cause health problems. We need to work to reverse these negative health effects by keeping ourselves healthy and fit. Physical health is not the only aspect of our health we need to keep control over. We also need to have ultimate control over our mental health. In a past article, titled “Become Disconnected, to Stay Connected”, I mention that putting aside outside distractions will help you, as an officer, relax and decompress. We must make sure we are allowing ourselves an outlet for the stresses we have as officers day in and day out. If we do not allow this to happen, our mental health may be compromised. If our mental health is compromised, it can quickly spiral out of control, leading to anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress. We need to remain fully conscious of our health at all times. If we see it slipping, we must regain control of it. No one is more responsible for our own personal health than ourselves.

Slightly on par with our mental health is our attitude. We are in ultimate control of our own attitude. We are not entitled to proper treatment, we are not entitled to any certain position, we are not entitled to anything in this job. We entered this profession knowing very well that it is not the most glorious profession in the world. You came into the job with a good attitude, so where has that good attitude gone? I see a lot of disgruntled officers, placing blame for their woes on every single person or group BUT themselves. We work in an extremely competitive environment, where no officer is ever guaranteed to always succeed in doing what they want to do. You want K-9? Earn it, or someone else will. You want to be a detective? Earn it, because I guarantee someone else will. Nothing is owed in this profession. The only thing that is owed, that is expected, is for you, as the individual officer, to come into work every single day and do the best you can with the best attitude possible. You may not be the most skilled officer, but an average officer with an amazing attitude is worth much more to a department than an experienced and skilled officer with a terrible attitude. It should be the case with every officer that no other person besides yourself can improve or destroy your attitude. Own your attitude toward this profession and life-style and you will succeed. Perhaps you will set a trend.

You, officer, also have ultimate control over your decisions. Do what is right all of the time. In today’s operating environment we do not have room to consciously make wrong decisions. Mistakes will be made, there is absolutely no doubt about that. Mistakes are there for a reason, for us to learn. I am talking about conscious and thought out decisions. No one is responsible or under control of your decisions, but yourself. Go into every work day with the solid intention to make the right decisions and you will ultimately succeed.

Speaking of success, this is another area in which we have ultimate control. You have the opportunity to set yourself up for success every single day. In and out of the job, successes are made. Success is what you, as an individual, make it. Your successes may not be successes to anyone else, but they are to you. And that is most important. Disregard individuals who downplay your successes, no matter how minor they may seem to others. Allow yourself one success every day. Do you keep forgetting to approach a stopped vehicle from the “correct” side? Make it your point that day to do it correctly and succeed. Haven’t been taking care of your physical fitness? Make it a goal to get into the gym that day…you have just succeeded. What may be one person’s daily routine, is your ultimate success for that day. Make it so. The only person that needs to qualify something as a success is you.

The only person that is in ultimate control is you, wolf hunter.

Hunt on.