Most of us have received many gifts over our lifetime. Recall the wedding present which remained untouched for many years until you finally got rid of it? There was the toy you really wanted for Christmas when you were ten. You couldn’t contain your excitement.
At the moment, I am recalling the truly important gifts in life: Parents who provided steady guidance, an unwavering faith in God and a patriotic love for Country. There are those gifts which I cherish: my wife (who God most certainly sent), my children and their families and my extended family and friends.
The gift of “The Brotherhood” is like none other.
MEMORIES CAN SOMETIMES GUIDE THE FUTURE
The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California last year was made real and imminent as I watched it unfold on TV. Two very evil people harmed many of our fellow citizens.
I chose to focus on the heroism of my Brothers in Blue that day. They functioned like a well-oiled machine. The untrained observer might think these cops were following a script which had been rehearsed dozens of times. You and I know the truth: it was a testament to their training and their gut-level commitment to protecting the community. Each one frightened, yet they carried-on, undaunted.
Civilians called them “heroes” – and they were. They would likely eschew the description saying, “I was just doing my job.”
Those events drew me back to a specific point in time in my past. I was in the academy. The instructor bluntly told us:
“Your presence in this academy is a gift to you. You recruits are receiving knowledge, experience, coaching and mentoring on laws, methods and techniques that can be used to protect and serve your communities. From now on, MORE will be expected of you than the average citizen. You must always be prepared to step forward when the need arises. You are becoming part of a very SPECIAL group of people in our nation. Respect and cherish this gift.
He closed with this thought, “If you encounter a fellow citizen in need – whether a car wreck or someone hungry in need of a meal, you must ask yourself these two questions: If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”
I want to affirm and encourage each of you – my Brothers and Sisters in Blue – to remember that precious gift. You ARE special. You are one of those to whom society will turn in times of uncertainty and danger.
Remember the San Bernardino cop who said at the height of the mayhem, “Calm down. I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure.” It was Det. Jorge Lozano. Ten years from now, we may not recall his name, but you can bet we will remember what he said when the chips were down.
A person would have to have been under a rock for the past few years to have missed the naysayers, the rabble-rousers and those who attempt to detract from our Brothers in their noble mission. Unfortunately, too often, those negative messages come from unlikely sources: elected community prosecutors, a former U.S. Attorney General – even from the former Commander-in-Chief in the White House.
How sad – and shameful.
When folks commence to running their mouths with that hateful bullshit, I am called to remember a phrase taught to me by my father: “If I want to listen to an asshole, I’ll fart.”
Mom had her opinions, too. She said, “There are three types of very special people in our society: Teachers, Preachers and Cops.” She taught me to always remember that those people are doing God’s work. They are a “cut above” the rest. Amen.
Is every one of us perfect? No. Those who behave poorly do not represent the group in its entirety. Remember than even among Jesus’s group of twelve disciples Judas who sold-out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He did not diminish the goodness of those remaining.
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
We have been taught, nurtured, mentored … and occasionally kicked in the butt. We have been loved by our Brothers and hated by the moron who recently received a traffic ticket from us. We are cops. We are proud. We are strong. We have been given a gift that is given to very few in our society. Remember: to those to whom much is given, much is expected. Good citizens throughout our land are counting on us:
- To protect them
- To teach them
- To lead the way when they are afraid
- To be their beacon of bravery and courage
- To love the good people among us
Are you taking (and showing) pride in your beliefs and your commitment to ethical behavior? Do others know you are a cop because of the way you speak, the way you hold yourself and the pride in America that emanates from your conduct? Careful: this attitude is not haughty, arrogant, conceited or condescending. It is open, honest and fair. It exudes confidence and strength.
Are you always prepared? Once again, America is at war. It is critical that you carry your weapon(s) of choice, sufficient ammunition and other necessary tools when you are in public. No exceptions.
Don’t delude yourself with excuses like: “I’m off-duty,” or “I’m retired,” or “I’m on vacation,” or “It won’t happen here.” Best I recall, our oath of service to our country had no expiration date or exceptions.
Encourage strength and confidence in every good person in your circle of friends and associates. Have you discussed security with the leaders in your church? Do you personally know of the security plan in your children’s school(s)? Are you engaged with your neighbors? As the events in Paris demonstrate, we cannot allow ourselves to slip into Condition White – even at a rock ‘n roll concert or other social setting.
A BEACON OF STRENGTH
Think of the beacon from a seaside lighthouse at night during a bad storm. There is a storm upon the United States today. We cops are called to be a beacon to our fellow citizens – now, more than ever.
Think of the strength which comes to mind when you think of childhood heroes: Roy Rogers, Superman, Neil Armstrong or Rob O’Neill (Bin Laden’s killer). We are American cops; we cower or hide in fear to no one.
Be Patient. Encourage others to face the terrorist enemies of this war with resolve and determination. If a fellow citizen seeks your counsel on the issue of gun ownership, patiently show them the way. You were a first-time gun owner / handler once, too.
Care for, love and respect your fellow Americans. Make your concern for them your calling card. Cause our enemies fear us all.
Be Prepared. Be Strong. Be staunch.
America’s future depends on it.
Remember: it all comes down to saving just ONE life