I’ve recently been conducting background investigations for police officer applicants at the police department where I was once an employee.
As I sifted through the pages of a background packet that was filled out by an eager applicant, he was only a name to me. But as I began talking to his friends and family, interviewing former employers, teachers, and coaches, the name started taking on a face.
I sat down with him and he took on a personality. I saw him as less of an interviewee and more of a husband and father. He became a very real person to me. Because before he is an applicant, an interviewee, a future police officer…
he is a person.
I’ve always thought it must take such courage to become a police officer. The amount of courage it must take today boggles my mind. Why would anyone willingly choose to step into such a mess?
As an officer, you work long hours during a crappy shift. You eat a lonely dinner of fast food in your patrol car that grew cold and stale two hours ago because of a call you received while in the drive through. You don’t even think about eating with your buddies in public anymore.
You get nasty looks from a passerby when you make eye contact and less-than-nice hand gestures from the occupants in the car next to yours at the red light. You can still feel the wetness of the spit from your last arrestee on the collar of your shirt.
Your head is on a constant swivel everywhere you go because your uniform no longer commands respect, but places a bulls eye on your chest.
You aren’t a person to them. You’re a uniform.
You represent a collection of all the hate and contempt they have for life because their life sucks.
It’s a dark world. It’s a very, very difficult time for police officers to put that uniform on, drum up their courage, and diligently protect and serve a collective people who not only don’t support them, but who actively speak out and act out against them.
I don’t know why you continue to protect and serve. I don’t know where you are finding the courage. But please keep looking past the words of the judgmental, the stares of the mean-spirited, and the hands of the misguided.
This world is scary, but it would be scarier without you. I’m glad to know you have my back. I will always have yours.