The moment police officers became my heroes
Sometimes cops save lives and sometimes cops change lives. That is what happened to me.
Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to be a police officer? I do.
It just so happens it was the same moment that police officers became my heroes.
I have been hesitant to tell this story because it is very personal, but I have decided that the time is right, so here goes.
Many years ago, I was woken from a sound sleep by an angry voice I often heard in my childhood. It was the sound of my father, who would on a nightly basis (before he broke alcohol’s hold on him and became a wonderful person) return home drunk after the bars closed. Occasionally (I called them whiskey nights) he would not only be drunk, but he would be fighting mad with no one but his sleeping wife and children to vent at.
My earliest memory of these events is from when I was around four years old. I remember peeking out, unseen, watching my father release his rage. I was enveloped in fear. There was a cacophony of noises, including threats, shouts, crying, slamming, smashing and crashing that combined to secure the memory forever.
Then amid the madness came a knock at the door. My father opened the door and blocked the entrance to two men dressed in blue with shiny silver badges on their jackets. In contrast to my father, their voices were calming. There was a conversation during which they asked to come inside to make sure everyone was OK.
If my memory is correct the flavor of the exchange that followed was that my father denied the officers entrance assuring them it would take more than two cops to get by him and if they tried, they had better “pack a lunch.” The men in blue said they were coming in to make certain we were all safe. Then there was a commotion at the door, and, in a moment, my father was whisked away. Everything turned peaceful.
My father returned the next day, sober and friendly and he even brought my Mom flowers. I remember being fully aware that those men in blue took away my fear without hurting my father.
From that day forward police officers, all of you, have been my heroes. All I ever wanted to be was a cop and when it happened it was a dream come true.
The perspective of that little boy
After I became a police officer, I was able for the most part to love what I was doing for 33 years. I was living my dream.
There were rough spots, but I never lost the love of climbing into a patrol car. I retained the perspective of that little boy who was now allowed to hang with his heroes. I still have good cops on a pedestal. I have never found a reason to take you off that pedestal. I must admit there have been a few unworthy of the honor of wearing that shiny silver badge, but they are in the minority and eventually, they are identified and shown the exit.
Police officers didn’t just save the little boy in me. I was privileged to be present when a woman who was on fire came running from the house that another person had willfully set fire to and a fellow officer tackled her and rolled on the ground with her until the fire was out.
On another occasion, an officer jumped into a raging river to rescue a driver out of a car as it sank beneath the waves.
I have seen cops breathe life into an 18-month old girl whose airway had closed off from epiglottitis. I even witnessed officers arrive at a domestic disturbance the exact moment before a man was about to kill his wife with a large knife. They kicked in the door to save her.
I could go on and on and on.
You are being watched
There are many watching what you do; some with small eyes, peering around a doorway or huddled behind a couch. Sometimes those little ones are enveloped in fear, and your mere arrival signals that everything will be alright.
Sometimes you save their lives and sometimes you change their lives. That is what happened to me.
On that night, many years ago, I will never know what would have happened if those officers had not arrived; maybe something, maybe nothing. What I do know is that their actions brought peace to my home and gave my life a direction, a purpose and a perspective. That perspective allowed me to see what police officers truly do and always have done. They go where very few would want to and do what very few can and see things no one should have to see. Then they must learn to live with those difficult memories. They turn chaos into order, violence into peace and occasionally save a life.
I cherish my time as a police officer and hope that all of you learn to cherish your time in this noble career as well. I am grateful to have found a calling that allowed me to, as Major Dick Winters of Easy Company said, “serve in a company of heroes.”
You are and always will be my heroes. Please keep fighting the good fight! America needs you now more than ever!