Unless you’ve lived under a rock, it’s hard to not notice how disenfranchised police officers have become. For those that wear a shield, it’s becoming impossible to tell whether the enemy is advancing from the front or the rear. It’s always been cool to ‘f*** the police’, long before NWA was singing it. However, with how political this profession has become, the enemy who wears the uniform is the threat you never see coming. This has resulted in the demoralizing of the ranks. But I’m here to tell you that we, as police officers, are still blessed to be so. Why? Glad you asked.
NY Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio was once quoted as saying, “I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee”. In fact, the sign bearing that quote famously hung in the hallway of the old Yankee Stadium connecting the Yankee clubhouse to their dugout.
The notion was simple: Being a Yankee, to DiMaggio, was a blessing on top of a blessing. Having already been given the opportunity to play major league baseball, he was now given the additional gift of playing for the best franchise in the game. Clearly, in DiMaggio’s eyes, while everyone who plays the game is blessed, not all are given the fulfillment that being a Yankee provided him.
Not every adult is given the gift of a career. Yes, hard work accounts for a lot of it. No argument there. However, I know a lot of good people who have metaphorically swam upstream for their entire life without ever finding a professional home. Of those blessed with a career, an even smaller percentage experience a career that provides them fulfillment; a chance to do what every adult dreams of: leaving this world a little better because of our work.
Now I know the skeptics will say that money is the motivator. While it’s true that most police jobs offer some form of financial stability and, in most cases, a pension, I’d like to ask you what amount of money would make it OK for YOU to die for someone else? What dollar figure would you accept if I told you, in a few years or even days, you could die on behalf of someone you never met while enforcing a law you had no part in creating, all the while being demonized by the community you’re serving? In February of 2016, Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon was shot and killed one day after being sworn in. One day. Think about that.
So, for those who like to dismiss the level of sacrifice that it takes to be a police officer, or any civil servant, by referencing a paycheck, please spare me. Being a civil servant, much like being a soldier, is a calling. It takes a certain kind of belief structure and moral code to voluntarily sign your life away on behalf of something bigger than yourself. Hell, if you think about it, a police officer is essentially a soldier who never serves during ‘peace time’. So why do it?
With over 320 million people in the United States, only 850,000 are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a police officer. For every one position, statistically, there are likely 20 or more applicants. So, again, work doesn’t always guarantee success. A career in law enforcement has been and always will be a blessing. Being a police officer enables you to impact people’s lives on levels that you simply can’t reach in virtually every other profession. We are guardians. We are social workers. We are the calm in the storm. Let’s be honest, more often than not, if the police are around, something has gone drastically wrong on some level. I mean, maybe where you live, the cops are called to ‘Thank You’ parties, but as for the rest of planet earth, for someone to call 911 and ask for the police, there’s a task that needs to be done that no one else involved is equipped for.
Ralph Waldo Emerson famously defined what it means to be successful. His definition closes with:
“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
I challenge you to find a profession that offers the individual more daily opportunities at success than being a police officer? No matter how exhausting holding the line has become, I am here to tell you that I am still thankful. No matter how demonized law enforcement has become, I am here to tell you that being on this side of right is something I am extremely proud of; and that, often times, those who hate us are more validation of our worth than are those who love us. I still drive to work every day thanking God that I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve my community in this capacity. I take pride in the fact that my existence, while a mere blip on the radar screen, will have served something greater than myself, regardless of what that costs me. These are things that not everyone can lay their head on a pillow and confidently know.
You can say what you want about being a police officer. As a citizen and a civilian, you can live your life raging against the machine; being as independent and isolated as you want to be. However, should you find yourself thrust into a chaotic situation where perhaps your own life/death hangs in the balance, you are guaranteed to find a deep appreciation for two things: prayer and police officers. And I am here to tell you that I thank the Good Lord for making me a police officer. Today and always.