We Are Who We Are Because of You – A Letter to the Public

I write to you, the public at large, for one reason today. We are who we are, because of you. Yesterday, after a crew got done taking a tree down in my yard, the foreman came up to my door and thanked me for what I do. I was leaving for work and thought I would walk out the door, wave, and be on my way. He took me off guard a bit, and I thanked him back. In retrospect, I do not think I should have been surprised. In fact, I find it more and more frequent that people thank me when I am in uniform. Sometimes, it is a quick and quiet thank you, and other times someone stops me to talk, thanks me for what I am doing, and shakes my hand. What the public needs to realize is the profound effect these small acts have on the morale of our police officers. I was able to leave for work yesterday in an elevated mood, happy that something so simple could make me smile. It is the thanks and the waves, the hand shakes and the conversations, that make us proud of what we do. We owe you a bigger “thank you” than you owe us. It is because of you that we are who we are.

However, there will forever be individuals in the public that look down upon the police and wish harm and ill-will towards us. To those of you who fit into this mold, I submit that it is also because of YOU that we are who we are. It is because of you that we refuse to back down. It is because of you that we will continue our fight even when our brothers fall at your hands. It is because of you I wear my vest. It is because of you that I train to the point that I am confident that the day I may be faced in a battle against you, at any given moment, I will be the one going home. You will be taken away and will answer for your wrong-doings. If I happen to fall, I am confident that my brothers and sisters will continue in their noble fight for justice, because of you. It is because of you that the appreciating, law-abiding, honorable public thanks us, for we keep them safe from people who commit society’s most unthinkable wrongs.

It is because of all of you, that we are who we are; Police officers and willing servants to the public.

Allow Your Downfalls to Build Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote last. The job has become busy, consuming a lot of my mind as of late. Something that has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks is our downfalls. We all have type-A personalities, as police officers, and, therefore, tend to take our downfalls and mistakes more personally than others. We are people used to success. We perform in a highly competitive environment and are destined to have downfalls and disappointments during our careers. Today, I want to focus strictly on our mistakes and imperfections.

We all strive for a career that is full of positives, commendations and successes. It would be foolish not to do so. However, we must realize that, even as police officers, we are human and by nature we are imperfect. We must also realize that our superiors better understand this than us, the typical mid-ranking officer. As a newer officer to this profession, this is something I have struggled with in the past. I do not like “not succeeding”, I do not like making mistakes. I tend to make my own mistakes into bigger issues than they really are. I’ll over-think my decisions and the mistakes I’ve made. They tend to stay with me for days, perhaps even weeks. I believe in our profession; I believe that everyone in law enforcement is professional and mature. It is much easier said than done to pass off our mistakes as just that, mistakes. I find it hard sometimes to believe that the mistakes I have made aren’t being looked at by my superiors under a microscope. What I consciously fail to do is realize that I have done more good than I have bad. This, ultimately, has a greater impact than the mistakes I have made. It is one of those situations where I find trouble in following my own advice. It is too easy for us to be hard on ourselves and supportive to others. No one likes being in a tough spot, professionally. What we need to embrace is that, throughout our careers, we will make mistakes, we all have downfalls. There is not any single one of us that is perfect. There are individuals that will be more successful than us, there are individuals who will have different goals with us, there are individuals we won’t see eye-to-eye with. You and I are the only people in charge of our ultimate success, I have said this before. You and I are the only ones who can control our outlook on our own professional lives. You and I are, ultimately, the only ones who can learn from our own mistakes.

We must learn from our mistakes. Failing to retrieve a solid lesson from a mistake made will only lead to further incidents of the same nature. We must take a step back and learn a concrete lesson from all that we do, good or bad. I am a solid believer that every day is a learning lesson and every day is an opportunity to be better than the day before. It must be a consciously made effort to make today better than yesterday, and make tomorrow better than today. The only way to right a mistake is refusing to allow it to happen again. The only way to improve your professional life is to refuse defeat and carry on tomorrow better than your carried on today. Seek advice from supervisors and senior officers, take responsibility for your actions. If you are wrong, admit you are wrong. Hide the ego, remain humble and center yourself on your goals. Refusing to accept a mistake is refusing to accept the fact that we can all do better. Refusing to accept a mistake is refusing to admit your imperfections. Refusing to accept your mistakes is refusing to be professional and refusing to be successful.

Carry on your future days with your held no other way than up. You will continue to make mistakes, the officer to your left and right will continue to make mistakes. What we learn from them and how we continue on in our careers will be the ultimate redemption to our downfalls.