“Follow King four,” my training officer said. He had a real sense of urgency and I was just trying to figure out where the rollercoaster was going - not to mention where in the world King Four was. (He had, unbeknownst to me, responded to our location to back us up!)
I began driving in the direction in which we were facing. “Where are you going?!” my training officer yelled. “Follow King Four, he’s going the other way!” I got the cruiser turned around and he then told me that there was a more serious call, that someone had been shot. Far more important than our traffic stop. So, it was a ‘priority’ response – lights and sirens. Since King Four was well on his way, my training officer gave me the location. Again, I missed it on the radio! Strike two!
About half-way there my training officer, calmly but very firmly said, “just where are you going? Didn’t you hear the (expletive) dispatcher?” Apparently, we were told we weren’t needed as the first officer on the scene determined it was not the urgent call we thought it to be.
Again, I missed it on the radio! He reached over and turned off the lights and sirens. “Go to the 7-11 just ahead.” My training officer’s voice dripped with fury. Strike Three!
Now, we always pulled behind the 7-11, and then parked our cruiser on the side facing the entrance to the parking lot in case we needed to get out fast. As I pulled around the rear of the store, I completely missed that there was a huge sink-hole. I bottomed out my training officer’s brand new cruiser. Gulp. Strike four! I parked the cruiser at our usual spot.
While this was not the only night or shift that I made some dumb rookie mistakes, the good news is that I didn’t have a lot of shifts like the one I just described. And more, even though, I thought on that night that I might flunk out of the field training program, I made it through - largely thanks to having such a great field training officer. A great “10-78” - much needed back up.
Situational Awareness .... or lack thereof ...
You see, on that shift, I was not being as situationally aware as I needed to be. Although I was taught the importance of back up, I didn’t have it in the forefront of my thoughts. The importance of having and of being a good partner – providing back up was forever etched in my mind.
It wasn’t until a bit later in my career that I really understood the need I had for Spiritual back up; and that the ultimate Peace Officer, Jesus Christ, was just that back up. My career and life has been all the better for it.
And now, twenty plus years later from that ‘four strike’ night, I want to share with you brave folks who “protect and serve” us that there is that ultimate back up for you too. You see, as peace officers you always take care of others. When a problem occurs, everyone looks to you, the officer, to "take charge," to "solve the problem." Some say the cop is never off duty. It is taken for granted that you don’t need to be cared for. Regular folk just aren’t situationally aware of what a peace officer deals with day-in and day-out.
But, even if you officers were (as I felt as a rookie) “ten feet tall and bullet proof,” in the face of all our responsibilities and our failure to live up to God’s high standard, how do we face God’s facts and find hope and peace? It is only through the ultimate Peace Officer, Jesus, and what He accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection. And peace officers need this peace just like everyone else.
And so, as Thanksgiving approaches, I (and those who seek to ‘serve you who protect and serve us’) “give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope ...” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)
I want to encourage you to use your spiritual backup – let your Chaplain be a sounding board for you. Give him a little room to bring to bear God’s word on whatever it is you are facing and then “test everything [and] hold fast [to] what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV)