“Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”
– William J. Bennett
In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997
We recently posted 4 stresses that police officers deal with and how important it is for those that know, respect and love them to understand those stresses. Given all of the dangers and stresses, what is it that drives officers to continue on? In other words: Why would someone ever want to be a cop? The life of a cop isn’t all about being focused on the stresses but embracing the many joys that can be embraced:
DAILY OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Let’s get something out of the way here: Yes, it is absolutely awesome to drive fast and chase the bad guy. Still, that’s not the answer most potential cops give in their oral board interviews for why they want the job. More often, the would-be police officer replies “because I want to help people.” Yes, it’s cliché, but it is still true. Beneath the harder exteriors, the best among law enforcement officers maintain a sincere and significant desire to help those who need it. Each day presents opportunities for officers to truly serve and protect if we look for it. Every tour of duty finds us willing to do the difficult things that many others are unwilling or unable to do because every criminal that is arrested is another person, seen or unseen, that is somehow helped.
The daily grind of cop life makes seeing the results of our efforts difficult but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Brothers and sisters, let’s not lose the forest through the trees. There is indeed a thin blue line separating a world of chaos from a world where evil is restrained. Treasure the moments where you help someone in immediate need and you can see the effects in the moment and trust that every other moment isn’t being wasted but that the results of your efforts, no matter how small, are significant and will matter to someone, even if you never see them.
LIFE IN A BROTHERHOOD
No one can understand the humor, frustration and every other experience of a cop like another cop. In a world where people often find themselves feeling alone and feeling misunderstood, it is a joy and honor to be counted among the brotherhood of law enforcement. Yes, there are corrupt cops. Yes, there are cops that don’t look out for their fellow officers. However, no job is devoid of individuals who disgrace the job or office and law enforcement actually have very few among us that disgrace the badge and our oath.
Putting the negative press of social media aside, we know the fun of having a shift of guys/gals that come together in ways that accomplish great work that serves their communities. We know what it’s like to work with partners who know our next move and vice-versa. We know what it’s like to share painful, tragic memories and what it’s like to laugh till you cry about the most mundane of things. We know all about “gallows humor” and we know all about hunting down someone that absolutely needs to be caught before he hurts another person. We experience the entire spectrum of the human experience from a unique perspective and find that our greatest strengths come from doing this job…together.
Sometimes there’s justice. Sometimes there’s just us.
FRONT ROW TO THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
Most people can hardly believe the stories cops tell about what they see on a daily basis. After years of service, you’ll still hear cops saying “you just can’t make this stuff up.” The front lines of police work is worth every penny in the price of admission and is a show you can’t see anywhere else. There are definitely moments you want to bang your head off the dash of a scout car, like when Facebook went down in August of 2014 and people called 911 to get to the bottom of it and see if the police could fix it. People call the police when they don’t get cheese on their burgers or when they believe they’ve been abducted by aliens. If you can think of a random odd scenario, chances are it has probably happened and a cop has responded to it.
Then, there are unbelievable accident scenes (the miracle ones where no one is hurt), crazy reasons why one family member stabs another one, an entire list of dumb criminals and their idiotic antics that could fill an entire volume of books. The possibilities are endless and are a source of amazement for cops and non-cops alike. Trust us when we say that some of the most interesting (and disturbing) things we see never make the 11 o’clock news or the papers and yes, it happens in your city too, small or large.
Rather than be forced to exist in a 64 sq ft. cubicle, most policemen are thankful for their “mobile offices” and the chance to respond to any variety of calls in a day. It’s this ever-changing environment that helps us look forward to the day and make for a satisfying career. Sure, there are days where nothing happens; there are days that you are busy with the most mundane of tasks, but one thing you can count on is that it’s not always either of those things.
If variety is the spice of life then experienced cops are very well seasoned. There are few jobs out there where you get the thrill of going from 0-100 in a matter of moments. Is it dangerous-yes. Can it bring stress-guaranteed. Is it something that most cops wouldn’t trade anything for: absolutely. Variety is one of the great reasons we love the job and keep coming back for more. We welcome the challenges that come with a job where you can never predict what you’ll have to face next. We do that not only because it’s fun but because it gives us a sense of joy to do so on behalf of those we serve.