Poem: Tonight's Shift was Hard

A sergeant recounts his emotions after responding to calls where he could not save a life


Calling all police poets! Police1's poetry column highlights some of the inspirational, moving and funny poems authored by our readers. 

This poem is by Sergeant T. Lassiter who wrote it sitting in his patrol car after leaving a scene where he was unsuccessful at saving someone.

"It got me thinking of all the various calls over the years," said Sgt. Lassiter. "Typically, law enforcement are first on scene, even on medical calls. Sometimes dispatch wants the scene cleared and made safe for the ambulance. Honestly, I wrote down my feelings, the words just came out. While I was writing I recalled all the calls just like it. 

"The career I chose is very fulfilling. It's the greatest career in the world. Like many other careers, there are days that take a toll. My career unfortunately deals with life and death. The good days, when you're able to save a life or provide life-changing help to someone, make it worth it. If I can change one life over my career it's worth it."

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Tonight's shift was hard

Over my career, I am no stranger to hard shifts. I've had many good shifts. You become numb over time with all the death, evil and all that goes along with it.

Tonight's shift was hard.

I failed to save one. Could I have gotten there quicker? Could I have done better CPR? The questions you ask yourself as you get back in your patrol car and prepare yourself for the next call. The cries and screams of pleading from family standing over you demanding you save their loved one while you desperately continue chest compressions hoping for a miracle, a breath, movement, or any sign of hope. You watch the last gasp of air as you say their name, begging them to hang on.

Tonight's shift was hard.

The paramedics show up and stop you. "It's over, you tried, but we got it from here." The looks on the family's faces as you exit their home. Their life changed forever. 

Tonight's shift was hard.

Next call, here I come, still thinking about the poor family that lost their loved one. Next call, an unresponsive infant. Again, first on scene. The lifeless body of an innocent baby, barely a pulse. What happened? The baby has a head injury from a low life who took their aggression out on the innocent. Hearing the gasps, seeing the limp body. Pure innocence. Thoughts of dueling out your own justice to the low life that harmed this innocent life. But you can't. Again, the paramedics arrive to take over. 

Tonight's shift was hard.

Now, you sit in an empty and dark parking lot recalling your shift. Thinking of the lives now changed forever. You feel a hint of empathy. STOP, you tell yourself. You must be strong for the next call.

Tonight's shift was hard.

NEXT: Read more police poems here

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