March 24, 2012
Make all the excuses you want for why you don't do some things. Blame the agency if you'd like. There's not a single police department occupying a coffin.

I have heard any number of excuses for why some people wouldn't or won't do certain things. When it comes to doing things that are unpleasant or not fun, the excuses available seem to triple. Unfortunately, if you're in the profession of law enforcement, sometimes making an excuse instead of doing something FOR YOURSELF can get you killed. "Such as?" you ask.

I can't imagine there is an agency left today that doesn't issue concealable body armor, but PLENTY of them aren't keeping said armor up to date. "Back in the day" there were a LOT of agencies that didn't issue body armor. Like many other cops, I went out and bought my own. Some of my brother (and sister) officers actually criticized me for spending the money. "If my agency won't provide it for me then they can just pay my family if something bad happens to me," was their excuse; their rationalization. Really? Yep; I'm sure that your widow and surviving children will be delighted to stick it to the agency after you're dead because you used the agency's failure as an excuse for your own. If your agency doesn't provide you quality up-to-date body armor, go buy your own: do it for YOURSELF. 

Some agencies are big enough that they have weight rooms, gyms or other exercise areas and equipment at the various district stations for officers to use before or after a shift or on other off-duty time. Some agencies simply aren't big enough to provide such equipment. It wasn't until most recently (since 2005) that I worked for an agency big enough to have an exercise facility. What did I do before then? I either joined a gym and paid out of my own pocket or I exercised as best I could doing calisthenics and cardio on my own. I actually have talked to officers who are overweight and just waiting for a heart attack why they don't exercie and pay attention to their diet. Many of them have voiced the excuse that if their agency mandated them to stay in shape, then the agency would also have to pay for the time and equipment for them to work out. In the meantime, they had no intention of abiding by an agency mandate that the agency didn't provide the means for. Really? Yep. So these cops risk their own lives and hurt their own health in the process of thumbing their nose at an agency mandate. If you're a law enforcement professional then you know, in your brain, heart and soul, that your life may well depend on your physical condition. Whether it's a foot chase, a fight, or a car accident - you'll do better if you're in better shape. Do it for yourself. 

I know officers who come to the range for qualifications and they never bring cleaning equipment to clean their weapon afterward. When asked why not they say that the agency should provide it and since the agency doesn't, then obviously the agency doesn't matter if the gun gets cleaned or not. Some of those cops are the same ones with lint balls clogging their barrels. Those same cops will depend on that weapon in a lethal force situation and if the gun malfunctions (and assuming they survive), they'll blame the agency because it didn't provide the necessary cleaning gear. Your weapon, like your radio, is your lifeline. Keeping it clean can keep you alive. Do it for yourself.

Yes, folks, I know. I'm preaching. Welcome to reality. Everything we need to do the job safely isn't always provided by the agency. We need to procure those things for ourselves. All of the time we need to maintain every tool we use on the job isn't always available on our shift. We need to spend our own personal time to perform that maintenance. Why? Because ultimately it's not the agency that pays if something we depend on; our body, our weapon, some piece of gear fails. Ultimately WE pay and sometimes we pay with our life. Cemeteries are occupied by people who were too busy to exercise. Armories have dirty guns in them taken from the hands of a fallen officer. Repair shops have radios they are fixing; radios that failed an officer and should have been tested before the officer every went on shift.

Invest the dollars. Invest the time. It's your life: Do it for yourself!

About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on,, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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