I am at a loss for words to introduce one of my close friends who has volunteered to share about their experiences in the law enforcement community and how it has changed them and made them the person they are today. In the wake of the current society we live in, this post is being kept anonymous. I am honored that my friend wants to share a glimpse into their life and mind. Even in opposition they are still standing on the line… To honor those who protect our community, risk their lives, and sometimes don’t return home. National Police week is from May 15-21. Find out more information about the events in Washington DC.
“There is a saying among members of the law enforcement community, I’ve seen it on t-shirts, patches, and numerous other pieces of clothing. This saying goes something like this, “I hunt the evil you pretend doesn’t exist.” It’s a crass statement to say the least, full of generalities, and a noble yet “holier than thou” mentality. Unfortunately, in a lot of ways its true.
I’m a law enforcement officer, cop, bobby, pig, and a list of other horrible words no one would want to be named. Needless to say I’ve been called it all and worse. I’m hated, loved, admired, respected, vilified, despised, spit on, punched, and kicked but I am also a man. Flesh, blood, bones, muscle, ears, eyes, nose, and heart. I love what I do, I love who I am. For a lot of cops these two things – what you do and who you are- are one in the same. Accountants stop being accountants when they “clock out,” telemarketers stop selling garbage when they put down the phone. Cops don’t stop being cops. I’m a cop right now as I sit on my couch typing. One minute I’m thinking of cases I have to solve, and the next I’m thinking of exit strategies for my family if someone tried to break into our home. Perhaps that is something the majority of America hasn’t and doesn’t have to think about. Perhaps the reason for that lack of attention is because of law enforcement officers like me. I hope so.
I’ll never pretend to be nobler, better, stronger, or faster than the rest of society but hopefully in the moment I need it most, when I’m fighting for my life and the life of my partner I am those things.
I hunt men. The criminals, gangsters, thugs, rapists, murderers, speeders, red light runners, and improper parkers. It isn’t a matter of killing your query, it’s a matter of catching them, and convincing them to admit their wrong doing. It is a most dangerous game, they hate us and we just want to catch them. Are we catching them to prevent further crimes? Sometimes, or just to get the case off our plate. Either way I give that case and that victim everything I have. We pour ourselves into our victims, sometimes that ends well; other times you see the woman beaten by her husband paying his bond a couple days after he hurt her. It’s a crap shoot, but it’s what we do.
I’ve comforted mothers when their children go missing. I’ve clamped down on a man’s arm to prevent him from bleeding out from a wound the size of a baseball. I’ve notified family that their loved one isn’t coming home. I’ve seen people robbed, beaten, stabbed, and shot. I’ve seen the effects of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault. I’ve asked a woman old enough to be my mother to intricately describe the nature of how she was raped. I know the smell of dead human being, it smells like nothing else in the world and you can never forget it. It stays in your uniform and nose forever. Nothing can prepare you for the sight of a grown man who has placed a rifle in his mouth and blown his own head off, thus painting the wall behind him with blood, bone and brain. Or the impact of looking down next to your boot and seeing half a human brain laying on the floor twelve feet from where it belongs.
All of these things change you as a human being. My wife knows if I’ve had a tough day and sometimes doesn’t ask about it until I offer details. When I talk to people about work I censor it, either to protect them or myself from having to relive it. Needless to say the effects are extensive and can eat you alive if you let them and don’t eventually let the stress out.
I say all of this to you to give you some understanding on why many law enforcement officers are direct and to the point. We have a million scenarios running through our heads every time we talk to someone. We are thinking about weapons, where are their hands, who is behind me, and is this person going to kill me. Will my wife receive a late night knock on the door from a member of the department with a chaplain alongside? Will she receive a crisply folded American flag and the thanks from a grateful nation while hearing the roar of a twenty-one-gun salute and the sorrowful tune of taps from a bagpipe? Every day I go to work could be my last, so if I seem a little cold when I talk to you, I just want to go home to my wife and hold her, and I’m not sorry for that.”
Thank you to the officers and their loved ones for continuing to protect our towns.