Last Sunday, I went to early church with my wife. She went in ahead of me. There were about 500 cars in the lot.
While I sat there for a few minutes, I was approached by a young cop in a short sleeve shirt (it was cold outside). He explained that he was looking for people who had left valuable packages on their car seat while in church.
He was leaving them notes to remind them to put their packages out of sight, so that they woudn’t return to a broken window at the end of Mass.
I was taken aback with his effort and told him so. Whether it was the chief’s idea or his own, he was the one freezing his butt off. Kudos to him!
I sat there thinking: what kind of cop do I choose to be?
I want to be the cop in the restaurant who finishes his meal, sees youngsters with their parents and fishes a junior badge from my pocket for each one, encouraging their good behavior.
On a slow day, I want to take my patrol car by the school playground at recess so that all the kids can see it from the inside.
I want to talk to elementary school classes about the value of good behavior and doing good deeds for each other.
Can I always do this “feel good” stuff? No. Time and emergencies don’t permit.
I learned this lesson in a class many years ago: A citizen’s sense of a cop being positive or negative in most situations will be dependent on one second or less of conversation.
How often can I NOT afford to spend that one second? Rarely.
A few years ago, I attended the joint funeral of two Detroit officers: Fettig and Bowen. The funeral procession from the church to the cemetery stretched about five miles in length. It consisted entirely of cop cars with their emergency lights operating.
Average citizens, stopped their cars on busy Detroit streets, many of them in the rain, and most at attention, as the procession passed by.
A LONG TIME AGO IN A PLACE FAR AWAY
In 2003, I was at the funeral for my friend Tye Pratt of the Omaha Police Department. Nearly 5,000 people attended the funeral, that day. The funeral procession route was lined with average citizens. Most of them were holding an American flag and standing at attention.
We earn that kind of respect (or tear it down) collectively.
CITIZENS MOURNING THE LOSS OF
AN OFFICER WHOM THEY RESPECTED
AND CARED FOR.
Where are you on that scale?
IF BEING A COP IS IN YOUR HEART, I hope you can be part of the Police Week experience in Washington D.C. this May. It is a time and place to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. Please try to be there – or at least say a prayer for those who are.
The attitude of the citizenry toward our fallen is direct reflection of the way they’ve been treated by those of us who are still working. Think of what you do each day – in the smallest measure – as a show of respect to those citizens.
THINK BACK …
Remember how you felt when The Badge was first pinned on your chest?
Try to keep that memory in mind as you protect and serve the citizens in your community.
You’ll be a better cop for it.
At the bottom line, it comes down to saving just ONE life.
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