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.