The daily ritual of holstering a firearm, pinning on a badge, and stepping out the front door into a world of unknowns to go to work was my life for thirty-five years. The weapons changed, the badges changed, the uniforms even changed, but the commitment to serve and protect the citizens of this country from “all enemies, foreign and domestic” never wavered. It has been said that “time changes all things”. In law enforcement that statement is true as it relates to changes in the law, investigative priorities, technology, and the morality of our society. However, I believe that some things never change. Evil and good are universal forces locked in a never-ending battle for the hearts and minds of men. The ramifications of that struggle ensure job security for LEO’s in perpetuity.
My story is not unique in the over all scope of law enforcement. I was fortunate to tread a well-worn path that was illuminated by the lives of good men and women that came before me, walked along side me, and mentored me. I hope that in some small way I have repaid their efforts by passing on some of those life lessons, to a future generation of police officers, FBI Special Agents, and Sheriff’s Deputies.
One of the seminal moments in my early life occurred at Queen Anne Jr/Sr. High School in Seattle, WA. I was sitting in class and it was career day. We didn’t have movies, or DVD’s in those days -we had pamphlets that described a career and had a black and white picture of someone in the career field. Spread out before me on my desk were three pamphlets, “Becoming a Military Officer”, “A Career as an Airline Pilot”, and “FBI Special Agent”. I was reading the FBI agent pamphlet when the classroom phone rang and our teacher took the call and then left the room. Several moments later she returned with tears streaming down her face. She was unable to speak and then blurted out “The President has been assassinated in Dallas Texas”. The day was November 22, 1963. I sat in my chair stunned with the news; silence permeated the classroom as we were left alone with our thoughts. I began to wonder “what if I become an FBI agent, could I ever help keep something like this from happening again.
Congratulations from FBI SAC Jim Freeman for a job well done.
Over my career I saw two types of officers and special agents-warriors and worriers. Warriors are proactive, selfless, and eager to step into harms way to do the right thing. Worriers are paralyzed by analysis wondering “how will this effect my career?” The best leaders I worked with were “servant leaders”. They cared for their subordinates and put their wellfare first. Servant leaders accept blame and give praise.
My best prank? We typed up and circulated a transfer memo on the Chief of Police’s personal stationary. The memo was distributed department wide on a Friday afternoon announcing the immediate transfer of six Lieutenants to new assignments. The memo was read at roll call over the weekend and became gospel! Monday morning saw the lieutenants and two Captains sitting in the COP office embittered, fired up and wanting an explanation. When they realized thay had been pranked they did not handle it well at all!
Proudest moments in my career were pinning badges on both my sons Chris and Brian when they graduated from their respective police academies. Also, watching five young boys in our neighborhood grow up and have successful careers in LE.
One of the principals that I authenticated in my career is that it is an honor to serve along side men and women who are willing to step into harms way. It is a sacred trust to represent those who have worn the badge before you. Never tarnish the badge by your conduct. Your personal integrity is your strongest armor. No one can take it from you, only you can take it off.
Passing the torch to the next generation of LEO’s is your calling. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, “Here am I. Send me”. Isaiah 6:8
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