Once completed, I walked him to a cell. While on the way, I told him that we did not really want him there. His parents and family certainly did not want him there. Society, on a greater scale, did not want him there. He could not make any kind of meaningful contribution from a jail cell.
It was then that he threw me a curve ball: would I bring him a Bible to read? I locked the cell and found that the Gideon Bibles were all gone. Later, I went to the Dollar Store and bought a Bible, which I took to him.
My co-workers teased me for being a soft touch. Oh well, I let it go.
I learned about six months later that the subject had turned his life around. He enrolled in the local community college and volunteered his time at a local church to help with youth programs. Did I do that? I wondered. No. He did. Maybe I just gave him the nudge he needed when the timing was right.
You Are Making A Difference
As Dennis Sullivan said: if being a cop is not in your heart, you will probably not be a good one. Alternately, if you are following a calling, if you know with all of your being that you are where you are supposed to be - then you are making a difference. You might not recognize it when it happens. You might not ever know the real impact that you have had on the life of another.
Know this: your impact can be both for the good as well as for the bad. That determination comes from whether you choose to be bitter or better.
Have your actions resulted in your emotional death?
The two individuals that I referenced earlier are known throughout their home state. They are recognized as emotional poison. They nearly got the better of me. But it is not going to happen. I know in my heart that I am on a path set by a higher power, i.e. my God.
The academy where I instruct distributes a book to each recruit. Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin Gilmartin. It is an outstanding read and I cannot recommend it strongly enough for every new cop. It's not bad for us dinosaurs, either (wink).
Gilmartin says very plainly that in every cop career, he is going to get screwed-over by his own agency. He is going to suffer devastating emotional harm at hands of his brothers - whom he trusts the most. It will happen.
The author charges the reader to be prepared for the injury. But, rather than building a wall, make a plan for recovery. The recovery will make you a stronger person and a better cop. The recovery will enable you to better reach the people who most need your help and support.
Isolation will most certainly lead to an untimely emotional death. It will tear you from the support of your family, friends and co-workers. It will leave you nearly paralyzed so that you cannot understand, reach out or help and support people who so desperately need you.
While isolation may gird me from the attacks of others, it stops me from growing. The cost to me will be the greatest cost of all.
This story is not yet complete for me. Each day, I rely on my faith. I listen with both my ears and my heart. I believe that so long as I remain open I will be led to the place(s) where I am meant to be.
No, I am not going to sit around and do nothing.
I have decided that there is no room for hate.
The rewards of reaching out to others are great. I receive many email messages with each new article. Most warm my heart.
There is the new cop in the Great Canadian North. He read something I had written about getting in shape and decided it was time to lose the 50 pounds that had kept him from the academy. He did. He has just finished his schooling and been posted to his first assignment. He wrote me with a note of thanks.
Then, there is the sergeant from Minnesota (they have ALREADY had measurable snow there) who wrote to say that what I had written about computer mounts changed how their agency viewed the whole setup. They have changed out all of their gear and the cops are much safer now.
I was humbled by a note from a deputy chief who said that every time I write about the Brotherhood, he makes sure that every one of his coppers get and read it.
You can make a difference. In fact, unless you have committed emotional suicide, you ARE making a difference.