You've Already Learned To Do This
As demanded for survival, we have learned to be hyper-vigilant to threats on the street. We are always thinking about someone's angle when dealing with folks in our jobs. We know how to do that. I want to encourage you to apply that skill in a new way. Look around at the people you work with. Whether in the locker room, at roll call, over coffee, it doesn't matter. Essentially, tune in to the folks around you. Look for clues that may reveal they have a need which you can meet. Maybe it's a ride to the airport, fixing a piece of gear, a few bucks to tide them over, or just knowing that someone cares. This season provides the freedom to act on the brotherly love that we might otherwise be embarrassed to show.
Over the years, I've found places to look for clues.
- Is there anyone on the crew who does not have any family members in the local area? Will they be spending Christmas alone? Might they be skipping a traditional celebration that is so much better in the company of others?
- Look at overtime or detail sign-up sheets. Is there anyone whose name is on or near the top of all of the extra jobs through the holiday season?
- Think about the banter before roll call starts. Is there anyone who becomes uncharacteristically quiet when the subject turns to holiday-related activities?
- Is there anyone on your crew whose overall demeanor has changed as the holiday season gets underway?
- Think about pre-roll call banter again. Is there anyone who didn't have a place or people to share Thanksgiving with?
In police work, we call these clues. We're accustomed to seeking them out when hunting down the bad guys. We simply need to apply a known skill to a new set of circumstances. Cops are not immune to emotional pain and like every human being, there will be external signs.
It Is The Little Stuff
So, now you have decided to DO Christmas. You have recognized at least one person (maybe more) that could use a boost. Now, you want to know what to do. Here are a few very simple ideas.
- Invite a brother to share one some of life's simple pleasures: ask them to dinner at your house, tell them they would be welcome to join you for your kid's Christmas concert at school or if you have a church event (potluck, etc.) gently offer an invitation for them to join you.
- Go to your local academy (call first; don't just show up). Maybe take one of your coworkers. Make a holiday event of it. Take some patches or other cop stuff and welcome the recruits to the family.
- Take some home-made treats to roll call with holiday greetings from your entire family.
Years ago, my wife's family had a Christmas Eve tradition to gather the entire clan. A fantastic array of Polish food was put before the group. Gifts were exchanged. It was the family highlight of the year. One year, I recall that there were at least 40 people attending in one member's relatively small home. In 38 years of marriage, the group size has dwindled for a bunch of reasons. With my wife's blessing, I extended an invitation to those members of my work crew that otherwise would be alone for the holiday, asking them to join us. As I recall, about six of them showed up. We had a blast!
A few of them had tears in their eyes as they left that Christmas Eve night offering their heartfelt thanks to my wife. It was an event that was talked about for months. In the years that followed, the group of brothers and sisters grew. My wife was thrilled. It wasn't anything big but it was a way to communicate a sincere concern and expression of love at this most joyful time of year.
Don't Let A Brother Stand Outside Looking In
The holiday season can be a very tough time of year for many. We all know that this is the time of year when people and families come unglued. We've been sent on those calls. Death, destruction, abuse and all kinds of negative stuff happens with much greater frequency. It's tough to peacefully watch your neighbor eating cake when you're starving.