Why are any of the 800,000 plus police officers in this country still in law enforcement? When we see the turmoil and chaos in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and so many other places, one cannot help but wonder why. True, many have left, but far more have remained.

Minneapolis is a perfect example.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to a couple of Minneapolis officers. I live in Texas, so all of our communication was over the phone, talking or texting.

One of these officers mentioned that the members of Precinct 3 were going to conduct roll call in the parking lot of their precinct. You may recall, Precinct 3 was burned out shortly after the death of George Floyd, and is no longer inhabitable.

When he told me what they were going to do, I asked if I would be permitted to attend. “Sure,” he said. A couple of weeks later, I made the 987 mile trip from Fort Worth to Minneapolis.

On the Wednesday I was there, I spent time at another precinct. A group of chaplains had cooked up some of the best BBQ ever (close to Texas style!), and fed several dozen officers. It was a sheer joy to wander about the department, meeting the guys and gals, laughing with them, listening to their stories.

I conversed for a while with one of the precinct’s ranking officers. In my 35 years as a cop, I could only remember one other supervisor I had ever known who had exuded such professionalism.  This guy looked sharp, and I would later learn that he has the respect of all the officers in his precinct.

On one of the days I was there, I rode around in a Minneapolis police car with an officer. We joined two other officers when lunch time came around. Several Minneapolis citizens came up to these officers and thanked them for their service. The restaurant we chowed down at treated them like kings. I remember thinking how honored I felt to be sitting at the table with these three officers, each of whom care about their department – and their city.

Then, on Friday morning, I joined about 25 Minneapolis officers at Precinct 3. We stood in the parking lot of the building that is now only a mere shell. It was kind of chilly, and I had left my coat in Texas. An officer retrieved his from the car and loaned it to me.

They lined up in military-like formation. I stared carefully at each officer. A solemn, but sad look on most of their faces. They had called this precinct “home,” and now she wasn’t even fit to be occupied.

A longtime sergeant led roll call. He began by first calling roll, with each officer responding with “Here, sir.” (I didn’t hear a single response without a “sir” attached). We were only a few minutes into roll call when two officers were summoned forward and awarded medals for bravery. The sergeant gave a motivating speech, and a chaplain closed in prayer.

I almost felt as if I were on sacred ground.

These officers, each of them qualified for many other jobs outside of law enforcement, had chosen to stay with MPD. While so many across the nation have taken off the badge and called it quits, these brothers and sisters in blue refused to walk away.

They know they are not perfect. They know they have to live with the haunting memory of what happened with George Floyd, an incident that occurred only a few blocks from where we were standing.

Why do they stay? I wondered. True, many have left, as has happened in departments across the country. But still, the majority are still there, finding a way to daily cope with all the turmoil.

BUT STILL: WHY? WHY … DO … THEY … STAY?

That’s when it hit me. They stay for the same reason officers in other departments have stayed (Portland, Seattle, Chicago). They stay because there is something inside of them that does not reside in the hearts of many of our citizens. And what would that be? I suspect that deep inside the heart of these officers there’s a desire to be an Agent of Good.

Furthermore, what sets apart the police officer is his or her willingness to take the risk; to throw themselves into the midst of conflict and chaos, and to be the instrument of good that overcomes the bad. Thus, a police officer will rush to a dangerous scene, whereas an ordinary citizen would flee. After all, deep in his heart there lies a sheepdog that knows the wolf must be confronted.

Why? Because, ultimately, it is what is good for the citizens in the city.

I’m reminded of an incident that happened to me about a month before I retired. A woman walked up to me and said, “Officer, I could never do what you do.” She then turned and walked away.

I had been hearing that for 35 years, but had never inquired as to what that meant.

“Ma’am,” I hollered as she walked away, “People have been telling me that for 35 years. Just what exactly do you mean by that?”

She was puzzled at first, but after a bit of hesitation, said: “Well, you know. Going to all those fights, murders, armed robberies….I could never do that…”

I figured that’s what she meant. With a big ole smile on my face, I set her straight: “Ma’am that’s exactly why I got into police work.”

There are things that need to change in the world of law enforcement. And there are some officers who would be wise to find another career. But for the most part, departments like Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and thousands more, those who go to those scenes that would sicken the average American, have “something extra” that dwells inside them. They know about “The Calling” – to be an Agent of Good.

Jimmy Meeks is a retired Texas police officer who served 35 years. He is the founder of Blue Life Support, an outreach to police. The next Blue Line Support Seminar will be held in Idaho Falls, Idaho on November 8-9 (Monday and half day on Tuesday). Meeks has waived the fee and all officers can attend free. CLICK HERE for more info.

 

 “Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “

We couldn’t agree more.

 


Jimmy enjoys hearing from his readers – EMAIL

Thank you for allowing us to share this article with you.

I want to invite you to the BLUE LIFE SUPPORT SEMINAR in Idaho Falls, Idaho on November 8 – 9 (Monday and half day on Tuesday – seminar ends on Tuesday at noon).

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