& A Cop
I am A Child of God
“11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me …. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:11,13
When I was a child, the world was unknown to me. I was ignorant to the evil that men do. I was footloose and
carefree. My only concern was not failing in school, being obedient to my parents, playing barefoot outside and wondering when the next time was that we would go to the beach again.
I was an altar-boy for my parish, while in elementary and middle-school. Back then they called it elementary and junior high. I was fearful of God, and being a Roman Catholic, everything bad that happened, happened because I was bad.
As I matured to High School, teachers and priests would jest that the older you get, the closer to the back row/pew you got and by the time you graduated, you were out the back door. Never was this truer until I went to College.
While in College, I probably attended Mass about 5 times in total. I was living up to the jests told in High School. I met my first girlfriend and became promiscuous. As a Roman Catholic, I reasoned with myself that what I was doing “wasn’t that bad.” God would forgive me, all I had to do was go to confession and say an act of contrition and I’d be “good” again.
Fast-forward about 5 years or so, when I was living with my then girlfriend, now my wife. We were living in sin, but I was still a Roman Catholic, although a non-practicing one and still didn’t think that living in sin was that bad. We had our first child when I was 26 but we didn’t marry until 2 years later.
Shortly after (a few years), my wife and I had 3 children, I was struggling to keep a decent job and we were young and dumb, yet we baptized all 3 children into the Roman Catholic Church. At this point in my life, I was struggling with “Religion”, even though I had gone to parochial school my whole childhood and young adult life. I was disenchanted with the Roman Catholic Church for numerous reasons:
- It seemed that a lot of people going to church were going through the motions as if they could save themselves through their actions rather than their Faith, and they seemed less than genuine.
- -Jesus came to do away with Religion and saves by Faith alone.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.””
- Mass seemed like a drudgery rather than a celebration.
- The “Sacraments” were a mystery to me even though I had religion class every day of my youth and through High School.
- The Church prayed to “Saints” for intercession as if God were not Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent; and they celebrated feasts of Saints. Again, Jesus did not say, The Father is very busy, Pray to these other guys for help. No, he said, “No one comes to the Father EXCEPT through ME.”
- The Lord commanded Israel with the “10 Commandments” in which He commanded them not to have ‘graven images’ or to pray to them, yet the Catholic Church has statues of “Saints” all over the place and then they pray to the Saints.
I found those reasons to be hypocritical and I could not, in good conscience, subscribe to that or “Religion” in general. I sought to find God again, although I always believed in Him and had Faith.
It wasn’t until relocating due to my career, that a close friend helped me get back with God and I was born again, but this time by FAITH.
Profession: By Choice or Calling?
When we were children, the world was our oyster. Everyone would ask, what do you want to be when you grow up? As a child, I had no clue. I was happy running barefoot in the street playing football or chase-master (tag). When I really thought about it, I wanted to be many things. A Cowboy, an Astronaut, or President of the United States of America, and we were made to believe we could be any of those things we wanted to, so long as we did good in school and kept our nose clean.
As I got older, I had worked a multitude of various different jobs. From High School graduation, until I was 34 years old, I worked everything from a car-washer at a rent-a-car, shuttle driver, to warehouse delivery driver, warehouse foreman, Tour bus driver, and Blood Bank donor room assistant, just to name a few. Now at this point, one of my brothers had already been a police officer for about 12 years. As far as I could remember he always wanted to be a police officer, although he may say different.
Well, here I was at 34 years old, with no career, a wife, three children, and living in a two bedroom apartment. My pre-college day’s dream of being an Astronaut was over because I didn’t get my degree and I was already too old.
That’s when a good family friend came knocking. He was a Law Enforcement Officer and he told me they were hiring and that I should apply. I told him that I had tried to apply to the Police Department 3 times in the past and failed. He asked me, “Do you have a job?” and I replied that I did. He asked me if I liked what I was doing and of course, I didn’t so I told him so. He then said, “Why don’t you apply, and if you don’t make it, you still have your job.” I thought about it and figured I had nothing to lose, so I told him, “OK, I’ll give it ONE shot!”
Well, that one shot was all I needed, as God had made me ready for it this time and at 34 I became a Law Enforcement Officer. I prayed prior to the selection process and TOLD God, that if it was His will, it will be so. ME! I TOLD God! Who did I think I was? It was and always will be His choice, not mine. I was making myself Big and God small, as we ALL do too often.
Well was this now a profession by choice or by God’s will? Hindsight always being 20/20, I think you can see that I now know that it was a calling based on His will.
Are Police Officers MADE or BORN?
This is a good and valid question. I’ll tell you, again from hindsight, that I’ve come to know some outstanding police officers in my career. Some that you could argue, were born for this. Then there is the slim minority that may have chosen this profession and slipped through the cracks, as they really weren’t cut out for it, but always wanted to be a cop.
As for me, I wouldn’t say that I felt “called” to it, however, it does take a specific type of person to do this job, and so far I’ve done it for over a decade. Unless I’m lying to myself and my colleagues, I think I’m that specific type. There are still days that I pinch myself and ask, “Am I really a COP?!”
Well, I’ll say this, I think those of us called to this line of service to our fellow man, have been MADE this way by God for His purpose, and therefore BORN to do this work, whether we realized it or not.
This job needs people of integrity (although not always perceived through the mainstream media), fortitude, humility, and compassion. There are things you see and experience in this job that you think, NO PERSON should have to see. Some things stay with you. Some things CHANGE you. Then there are times that you think, some of these things have ruined you.
The negativity of this job can be a heavy cross to bear. There are times when you see so much evil and hate in this world, especially close-up in this line of work, that your heart gets hardened. No amount of a selection process, no amount of academy or training can prepare you for what you will see and encounter in this career as a whole, or how the total amount of the experiences will affect you later in life. Imagine having to perform CPR on a child the same age as you have at home. That can mess with your emotions and your head and stays with you. Police suicide nationwide is on the rise and yet it gets no media attention or otherwise.
There are times, which after being surrounded by negativity in the job, the media and society, towards this profession that you start to lose hope in humanity. You get frustrated and something as simple as driving in the left lane of a highway and having someone pull in front of you, only to drive slower than the vehicle that was in front of them to begin with, frustrates you. The frustration stems from a “perception” that they don’t know how to drive or are just oblivious, yet we have no idea what’s going on with them. They could be older and just out for a drive, or they could have a lot on their mind like personal adversity such as a parent or child in the hospital, etc. Yes, there are rules of the road, and the majority are there for safety, while others are there for traffic flow. Being a Christian means having compassion for the other driver rather than being selfish because of perceived selfishness of the other driver. For that, I am just as guilty as anyone else, even though I am held to a higher standard.
Conversely, being the driver that is in the left lane when someone comes up and tailgates you, the sympathetic and appropriate thing to do would be to move to the right. I see it all too often that the driver going slower refuses to move to the right and then speeds up when the impatient driver goes to pass them on the right. That’s the “shake my head” moment.
Don’t try to be the police if you haven’t gone through the stringent selection process, background check and training that subjects you to the wonderful pain and suffering of pepper spray, tasers, gas chambers and physical fitness as well as the criminal law classes. Don’t take it upon yourself to “regulate” traffic. Just politely move out of the way because maybe the impatient driver has to use the bathroom, or their child was hurt or in a fight at school, or they’re on drugs and can be potentially violent. I’ve even heard “I pay my taxes just like the next guy, why should I have to move over.” Well, who’s to say the person trying to pass in the “passing lane” didn’t pay their taxes too? Just move over. Why risk road rage or an altercation due to PRIDE? Pride is a sin, and it’s an ugly one at that. Be Polite, not the Police. Be compassionate.
It was on my morning drive to work that I heard “Give Me Your Eyes, Lord” By Brandon Heath, where he sings “… give me your Love for Humanity …”. That’s when it hit me. When I’m having a bad day, being mired in negativity and dealing with criminals or unsightly things, I have to remember the compassionate part of my job. I need to remember to sympathize with the people that I deal with, whether it’s an in-custody, a victim or the general public on the road. I’ve learned that the vast majority of people that I come in contact with, did not come from the same upbringing I was fortunate enough to have and if they’re in trouble it’s usually because of bad judgment. Not only that, but I have no idea what’s going on in their mind or life and I need to be more compassionate.
It’s a fine line being a Police Officer, holding the power to take life and rights away, while also remembering my oath to defend that same person’s rights. If you wanted to know what the thin blue line is, there you go. It’s being a sheepdog and ensuring we don’t step over the line and become the monsters we’ve sworn to defeat. With great power and authority comes great responsibility. Police Officers have to always be on guard and suspicious of everyone while striving to be Christ-like.
“3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
Policing is still a noble profession, regardless of how the mainstream media portrays us. Police are what Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates would have called Guardians in Greece. Guardians had to be educated and skilled in battle. They needed both to be considered a Guardian and in those times philosophy was the flavor of the day (along with mathematics). They were considered “warrior-philosophers”.
The same is true today. Police are not robots and robots cannot do the job otherwise everything would be black and white. You’re one mile over the speed limit, ticket! There would be no officer “discretion”. There would be no gray area. Police need to be educated (in criminal law and it helps to have some secondary education) and skilled in combat (with firearms as well as hand-to-hand) to be able to do the job efficiently and still go home to their families at night, while ensuring the rights of all are protected. All this comes at a cost when you try to be Christ-like. Christ never raised a hand to anyone, ever. He loved those that “hated” him and died for EVERYONE. Trying to be Christ-like while having to use force to overcome a violent offender that needs to be taken into custody, and having compassion for that person, keeping in mind I have no idea what’s going on in their personal life, can be considered ironical to some, but that’s the job.
Here’s a video of Police protecting the publics 1st amendment right to assemble. It gets out of hand when protesters become more than vocal. The commentary is definitely biased, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s a long video and I recommend fast forwarding it to the 39:30 mark to watch the “protest” escalate. If you watch to the 47:30 mark, you will see the police show great restraint when being faced with a potentially dangerous situation with “silly string”, which is flammable. The Police show great restraint by not using force until absolutely necessary, when the crowd attempts to force their way through a Police line, against lawful orders to go a different direction.
Before I put on my uniform, I try to remember to put on the armor of God first. Duty belt (truth), ballistic vest (breastplate), duty boots (readiness from the Gospel), badge (shield of faith), hat (helmet of salvation), and the bible (sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God).
“… the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Chew on that for a minute. Now, do you want to go on a ride-along?
-There, but for the Grace of God, go I.
To all my brothers and sisters in blue, stay safe
To all First Responders and our Military Service men and women,
Thank you for your Service.