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Ethics are the bedrock of our profession

Your nametag, department patch and badge are the most important aspects of your uniforms and represent much more than metal and fabric

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Editor’s note: The following graduation speech was delivered by Deputy Chief Benjamin M. Murphy on November 4, 2022, at Session 19’s graduation from the New Britain Police Academy in New Britain, Connecticut.

Friends and family, colleagues and dignitaries, thank you all for coming and showing support for these new officers. I would like to take this opportunity and have a moment of silence for recently fallen officers Sergeant Alex Hamzy and Lieutenant Dustin Demonte of the Bristol Police Department.

Thank you. Session 19, It’s been an honor to watch you grow from a group of new, untrained applicants to certified police officers. I have some sage advice from my years of experience that I feel is beneficial to you as you kick off your career.

I believe it’s ironic yet fitting that I get to speak to you all on graduation day in lieu of Chief Chute. As you recall, I was an instructor on day 1 where we had a robust discussion on the topic of ethics.

What I want all of you to remember from now until the day you hang up your duty belt is that your character and ethical behavior will be observed, judged and discussed for the remainder of your careers.

You will see and experience temptation. Let your hearts guide you. Ethics are the bedrock of our profession.

I implore you to find a mentor, role model, or leader to emulate. You don’t need to search for an athlete or celebrity – you have them among your own families, friends and colleagues.

I look at this crowd and I immediately recognize Chief Brian Gould as a leader. Chief Gould managed an unspeakable tragedy for his officers, their families and community with grace, measured remarks and dignity for all. I personally looked to a former Chief, James Wardwell, who demonstrated consistent kindness, professionalism and a solid moral compass throughout his tenure as my executive officer.

Know that by proxy of your positions, you are a leader in your communities. Leadership is a choice, not a rank.

Your health is your wealth and family is irreplaceable. There’s not a dying person in this world who wishes for more money or regrets spending time with their loved ones. Do not neglect your wellness for overtime. Go to the gym, spend time with your family and endeavor to lead a healthy lifestyle. When you don’t feel like yourself, talk to someone – asking for help is a strength not a weakness.

I want to leave you with this: After celebrating your accomplishments today with your friends and family, go home, hang up your uniforms and take note of your nametag, department patch and badge. These three items are the most important aspects of your uniforms and represent much more than metal and fabric.

Your nametag contains your last name, which was not earned by you. It is a generational gift passed down to you from your family. There is nothing in this world worth compromising it. Always bear that in mind when you are out serving the public. In the years to come, your last name will either be synonymous with good, bad, or not remembered at all …that decision is up to you.

Your department patch is not specific to you but rather the town or city you’ve just sworn an oath to protect. Understand that you will be a walking billboard for your agency and regardless of how much you may downplay your association, you can never divorce yourself from being an officer. Many agencies have been in service for over a century or more. Take pride in your agency and brothers/sisters who share that commonality. Understand that regardless of race, gender, or religion – you are now part of one team. Whether you live there or not, you are interwoven into the fabric of that community and must serve as an example of good.

Last, but most important, your badge. You are now one of 800K plus in this country, including the millions before you, who have the privilege of serving as a police officer. That badge over your heart grants you the right to enforce the law, protect the weak, defend the innocent and even take away a person’s freedom. This awesome responsibility should never be trivialized and always appreciated. Do not tarnish that badge.

As Chief Charles Ramsey said, “Always treat people with dignity and respect, that may be all they have left.”

On that note, I will remind all of you that our ability to serve the public is contingent on their trust and support. Value that. Policing is a noble, selfless and honorable profession – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Session 19, I hope that you lead with integrity, serve with honor and know that you matter.

God bless you.

Ben Murphy is Deputy Chief of Police for the East Windsor (Conn.) Police Department. His professional credentials include completion of several nationally recognized executive leadership programs including; FBI National Academy Session #278; Southern Police Institute Session #79; and the Senior Management Institute for Policing Session #83.

Deputy Chief Murphy has accumulated extensive operational, administrative and tactical command-level leadership experience during his tenure. His supervisory and command experience includes positions in multiple units including patrol, criminal investigations, internal affairs and professional standards. Additionally, his 11 years as a SWAT operator, team leader and commander, prepared him for high-tempo leadership insights, critical thinking, crisis management, and decision-making.