Driving back from vacation with my family last summer I had a strange conversation with my wife. For the first time in my 28-year law enforcement career I wasn’t sure if I still liked being a cop. Let me give you a little context to help you understand exactly what was going through my mind when the uncertainty struck me.
We were heading up to Minnesota where my son’s soccer team was scheduled to play in the USA Cup. A few days before leaving there was an officer involved shooting in a suburb of St. Paul, MN.
As has happened several times in other cities around the country, the main stream media and some cop haters decided that this was a bad shoot without having any context of what exactly happened and certainly before any type of investigation could possibly have been completed. Because protests were planned near the hotel we were going to stay at we ended up changing some of our plans at the last minute because I wasn’t about to put my family in harm’s way. While the soccer tournament went off without a hitch, and my son’s team won their division in the USA Cup, the protests and general atmosphere created a lot of stress for me. We ended up going further north in Minnesota to get out of dodge and do some fishing for a few days after the tournament was over.
I realized the stress wasn’t confined to a location but it was stress that I carried with me because of all the negative attention this noble and honorable profession was getting.
So that takes me back to the conversation we were having on the drive back. I’ve devoted my entire adult life to serving and protecting those in my community and those who wear the badge anywhere in this great country. Suddenly my entire adult life was being called into question by a small but loud group of people who were getting a lot more than their 15 minutes of fame.
I was still in a bit of funk when I went back to work. Then came National Night Out. I lost count of how many people from my community came up to me and the other officers to thank us for our service and for keeping them safe. About half way through the evening this woman came up to me and asked me if I remembered her. Sadly for me I didn’t, even after she told me her name. Then she introduced me to her young daughter. The adorable little blond girl was smiling ear-to-ear which brought an instant smile to my face. The woman then said to her daughter “this is the officer that saved your life.” I was a little stunned since I couldn’t remember ever meeting the woman, let alone her daughter, ever before. Apparently, some years ago the women and her young daughter were involved in a bad car crash. She told me that her daughter was on the side of the car that got t-boned and I was the first officer at the scene and pulled her daughter out of the car to safety.
Here it is January of 2017 and I’ve been replaying that conversation in my head since August. For the life of me I can’t remember the crash she’s talking about. Oh! I found the police report! But, I have absolutely no memory of the crash or pulling her daughter to safety.
It makes me wonder how many other times I’ve helped in some way, big or small, and I just don’t remember.
Months earlier during the car ride back from Minnesota, we talked about looking for the good and the positive to get through the darker days. It’s easy to focus on the negative-especially when the media saturates the news feeds with it. But each of us needs to do a better job focusing on the positive impact we’ve had on those we are charged with serving. Like the old saying goes, haters are going to hate. I’ve decided on a new saying… Go hate on somebody else. Your 15 minutes are over.