People always ask little kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The responses often are things like fireman, policeman, doctor, or cowboy. You might remember a friend of your parents asking you the very same question when you were little. I do. I remember answering a policeman, like my Dad.
For me, it was always there. Never a question, always in the background. I knew I would become a police officer. It was simply a matter of time until it happened. Oh, I tried other things but underneath it was always there, I would be a police officer.
Had my family come from a long line of cabinet makers there would probably be sawdust on my clothes. If we had firemen in the line, I would smell of smoke. But I came from a police family.
That isn’t the case for many officers. Some got out of the service and the department looked good to them. I know some that realized that they needed a good health care plan for their kids and police work fit the ticket.
One officer, I knew always said he went downtown to buy a city sticker for his car and got in the wrong line. I don’t know if he ever got that sticker for his car.
EARLY OR LATER, NOW AND THEN
It seems that people either want to be police from early on or decided later in life that the benefits suited them. I don’t know if it makes a difference when it comes to the type of officer they are. I’ve met some lazy, do nothing, third generation police officers and some excellent officers who fell into police work because they needed a job.
I think the factor that makes the difference between poor and excellent quality officers is their sense of honor and pride in their work. Pride doesn’t mean arrogance but rather the individual’s desire to do their best.
One of my partners had been a bus driver before he got hired. He has a great sense of humor and is always cracking a joke, however, his devotion to his work and his skill is always evident. He wore his hat like a bus driver. On the back of his head, like Ralph Kramden. (Some of you younger officers might need to google that.)
I have also known officers who became officers because the pay was good, the pension was good, and health care was provided. Security was there for a family. This too, is a fine reason for becoming a police officer, even though the idea probably only grew once the officer was more mature. People like this tend to understand the moral ideas of honor as well as the responsibility that comes with it.
There are those officers who fell into the job because there was nothing else to do and they had a family member or friend who knew a guy who could help them get work. Those officers often are merely employees with no more honor or pride than an assembly line worker. Clearly, that is not every case, for I’m sure you will find many exceptions in your own experience.
AS THE TWIG IS BENT …
Police work is an occupation, a profession that by its nature requires a code. One that binds an officer to enforce the laws of the land and care for those who need our help. These are lofty ideals. Ideals that often take many years to develop in an individual. Some of us learned this by watching their father on Sunday morning standing in the back of the church and helping with the collection as part of the parish Holy Name Society.
We learned fair play and honesty from our little league coaches. Scouts learned the value of respect and education from their scoutmaster and den mother. Our mothers taught us to respect our parents and teachers. We carried those values when we joined – and still do.
So, when did you decide you wanted to be the police? What was behind your decision to put on the star? Leave a note, let us know.
Stay safe everyone, run low and zigzag.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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