It has been a long, long time since I have written anything at all regarding law enforcement. The computer has been screaming at me to write something, anything! It’s taken me some time to figure out what it is I need to say. What can I write that will help? The truth of the matter is that there is honestly nothing I can write, nothing I can say that will solve today’s issues between a small minority of the public and law enforcement. I will never make overt attempts to sway public opinion. My solution to the problem is to simply DO MY JOB. As much as I want to make a difference in a person’s opinion by means of debate, I know it will be a futile attempt. I am relatively new to this lifestyle and this profession. I count that as a blessing because it gives me a fresh, unadulterated view on our current environment. It allows me to be honest with myself and with others. That being said, I hope a little bit of honesty will go a long way.
The night of the Dallas, Texas massacre on law enforcement, I was out on patrol. I have made it a habit that, while on duty, my phone is put to the side. This allows me to concentrate on my surroundings and maintain a level of safety that “eyes on the phone” cannot provide. The news of Dallas did not come from my phone, but from my fellow officers. The details were few. I cannot describe the feeling that overcame me that night, even with the minimal idea of what was truly going on down south. It was a feeling of true fear. As an officer, I was scared. There is no other way to put it. I did not like this feeling, I never will. Simply put, that night, the idea of law enforcement changed for me forever. I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me second guess my career choice. I was forced into an immediate period of self reflection and evaluation. I was out on the job, as fellow officers were being murdered. I was not a simple spectator to these events, I was a member of the profession that was, and currently is, being directly targeted. I had to make a decision right then and right there. Do I ride out my shift, doing the minimum and re-evaluate at home, with the family, or do I continue on as I had previously done, with a new sense of what it means to be a police officer?
The decision I made was quick and clear; but not in the absence of complete fear. I will continue on as I did in the beginning, there is no other option. Family will inevitably ask “why?” and they will not understand the answer. They know I am scared, they can see it on my face, hear it in my voice; my wife can feel it when I leave for the day and she can feel the weight lifted when the sound of velcro is being stripped off my chest after a 12 hour shift. She doesn’t need to know what happened during the previous 12 hours, there is nothing much to be said. She knows I am home and that is all that matters in that very moment. Ask me today why I do what I do and I will have a hard time putting an answer into words. Simply put, the fear of my own safety drives my motivation to be a better officer, if not for myself, for the men and women to my left and to my right. Knowing that I am scared allows me to know that everyone else in my job is scared. This is not an adverse relationship between variables; the stronger my fear, the stronger my drive, the more aware I am. Fear is what drives us in this job. If I feel fear, even as I wear a vest and carry a gun, how fearful must the public be? It is in this fear that I can associate with the public, that I can gain common ground, that I can create a positive contact in a negative situation.
I can remember being young, assuming and simply knowing that when a police officer was present, everything was OKAY. In my times of fear, I wanted the police there, they made everything safe.
I am not alone in my sentiments and in my feelings, which is the very reason I say that in my fear, because I am scared, I will not back down.