Print Article Rate Comment Reprint Information

The Spiritual Side of Community Policing

Written by McBride, JT

The Spiritual Side of Community Policing

By J.T. McBride

 

From the standpoint of community policing, there is nothing worse to see than a cop with a nasty attitude. A popular college textbook describes the essence of community policing as a mutual trust-building activity leading to the establishment and maintenance of community-based partnerships. If and when it works, the result is a “win-win” outcome for the police and the community. The “heart” of community policing, however, is an understanding of the spiritual nature of life. We are spiritual beings in physical bodies, and fortunately most community policing practitioners tend to understand that concept better than others. 

It usually doesn’t take long for attentive young cops to realize that a big part of the world appears to be controlled by the “Dark Side.” When over-exposed to intense evil, a common response is to step away from organized religion. Street cops tend lose faith in those people and institutions they had previously trusted and may even “pull away” from loved ones for a while. Some continue down the path of spiritual isolation increasing the likelihood that they will eventually succumb to one of the many temptations associated with police work in contemporary society. 

Other young officers witness the same levels of unfairness, violence and tragedy, yet deduce that this degree of human horror cannot simply be random in nature. Logic dictates that a better and kinder force must be in charge because goodness dwells side-by-side with evil in every American community. It just doesn’t get as much attention as is given the Dark Side. Granted, police work mostly involves clients who have elected to follow the Dark Side and/or their unfortunate victims. 

Even so, every town and village and city and county is full of people who have chosen The Light. Therein is the gemstone of community policing: good cops working with good people to build mutual trust and develop partnerships opposing the evil forces of the Dark Side. Trust-building comes easiest to those who walk in the Light because they understand the value of working with community leaders to solve problems instead of just “taking calls.” Their energy is spent developing networks and building trust while they protect and serve the community.

Law enforcement practitioners who walk with the Light know that beyond this world is a special place where all the answers will come. The important recognition that they will see their departed brothers and sisters once again is the major reason police give their Fallen Ones elaborate Viking-like funerals. 

The pageantry and special rituals surrounding these events demonstrate a collective belief not only in the eternal nature of the soul but also in the spiritual nature of law enforcement. This dogma is evidenced each time a bagpiper walks slowly away from a gravesite playing “Amazing Grace” while the legions of officers standing at attention nearby dedicate themselves anew to their profession. 

One great book about the spiritual side of police work, Cary A. Friedman’s Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement, is a great read. It contains many powerful concepts, one of the most powerful being: “The law enforcement officer’s value as a symbol of hope, as an inspiration to the public he serves, is at least as valuable as any actual law enforcement work he performs.” 

So if and when the “job” gets you down, keep this in mind: You are a spiritual being on a spiritual mission, and as such you walk every day with the angels and with The Light. Go forth and build trust with the people whom you serve and work as closely as you can with the pastors, priests, rabbis, and ministers who do their best to keep the Dark Side in check. God bless America and its police and their very special vocation. Thanks to them we all have hope that the Dark Side will never win.  

 

Chief J.T. McBride (Ret.) teaches community policing at Lakeland Community College in Ohio. He can be reached at jmcbride@lakelandcc.edu.

Published in Law and Order, Jul 2013

Rating : 7.0


Comments

Comment on This Article

Spiritual Side of Community Policing

By APD John Landers

Chief McBride's article is very insightful and brings out the rarely looked upon religious side of policing. My law enforcement education was based on the concept that criminal justice practitioners pursue their profession because they truly want to help people. The article outlines the importance for policing professionals to look to their "Higher Being" for purpose and guidance. Without a fundamental foundation in religion, no man has the inner strength to see and experience the horrors that man commits against his fellow man on a daily basis and still see good in people as a whole.

Submitted Aug 18 at 8:28 PM

Spiriual Side of Community Policing

By Chief James T. McBride

I am a Lakeland College Police Officer, and my Chief and advisor and good friend has been Chief McBride. This article catches what he really believes. He always told me that you will have to be firm as a Police Officer, but also
compassionate. He also believed that there is a higher form out there, and that we need to believe in that higher form and know that they are always with us. He has the same beliefs that my Dad did, who was a retired Shaker Hts police Sergeant. As usual, a very well written article, from a man tht is well respected in the law Enforcement Community, and always trying to make it better.

Submitted Aug 17 at 1:56 PM

Spiritual Side Of Comunity Policing

By Chief J.T. McBride

What a moving article. Clearly, the Chief knows what he is talking about. He is admired by many. Thanks for the inspirational piece. Ian W. Freiberg, FOPA Lodge #69.

Submitted Aug 16 at 4:24 PM

Practice what you preach.

By Sgt. Matthew Tartaglia

I am slightly biased in writing this, as Chief McBride is a good friend of mine and a the true definition of a Police Officer. I have read nearly every article that he has written and as always, he speaks the truth and always writes what came naturally to him as a police officer. His success in law enforcement can be attributed to a career of following exactly what he says, "you are a spiritual being on a spiritual mission, and as such you walk every day with the angels". Through a lifetime of difficult situations, both on and off the job, Chief McBride has kept his faith strong. This deep faith has kept his attitude positive and encouraged him to share his knowledge with others, rather than give in to the "dark side". As always, I look forward to Chief McBride's writings as they are inspiring and give you a chance to put all of your experiences into perspective. Thank you Chief...

Submitted Aug 16 at 4:04 PM

Positivity!

By Rick Porrello

It's sad that so many of us do not rely on our faith unless it is in response to the pain of a tragedy.

Submitted Aug 15 at 9:12 PM

Spiritual Side of Community Policing

By Cary A. Friedman

An excellent treatment of an important -- and often overlooked -- topic. A career in law enforcement presents significant challenges to the human spirit, and the pressures of the career deplete an officer’s spirituality in a way that is unique to law enforcement. Without an effective way to replenish that supply of spirituality, officers can end up 'spiritually bankrupt' … and that’s when they hurt themselves, the people around them, and the honor of the profession. "Officer safety" demands that we teach them how to nourish their spirits and replenish their reservoirs of idealism and spirituality. Thanks for shining a spotlight on this critical subject!

Submitted Aug 15 at 2:12 PM

Spiritual Side of Community Policing

By Chief James T. McBride

This article is insightful and a criticial "read" for any law enforcement professional who's a proponent of community policing and ethical interaction with the community s/he serves. Whether you name this philosophy "spiritual", "mindfulness" or "ethical", the results are the same: consideration of others, adherence to the original concept of community policing and service within the realm of Modern Law Enforcement. Well done, Chief. -Professor Katherine Steinbeck

Submitted Aug 15 at 8:18 AM

SPIRITUAL SIDE OF COMPOL

By BY: LIZ CHENOCK

YOU DID A WONDERFUL JOB IN STATING THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR SOCIETY. WHEN COPS ARE DEALING WITH THE " DARK SIDE ", IT CAN HAVE SUCH AN AFFECT ON THEM AND CAUSE THE POLICE OFFICERS TO ACT IN A WAY WHICH THEY HAVE LOST ALL HOPE IN. NO ONE LIKES TO SEE BAD THINGS THAT ARE GOING ON IN THE WORLD, BUT WE HAVE TO HAVE FAITH THAT POLICE OFFICERS IN TODAYS WORLD, WILL NOT LOSE THEIR FAITH , AND ALSO TAKE IT ONTO THE PUBLIC. THIS JOB CAN CLEARLY MAKE YOU CHANGE YOUR VIEWS ON A SOCIETY, BUT NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE THAT. AS LONG AS YOU HAVE YOUR FAITH, AND REMEMBER YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD, I KNOW THAT IT CAN ONLY MAKE YOU STRONGER AS A POLICE OFFICER, AND AS A PERSON IN A SPIRITUAL WAY. ALWAYS KEEP A GOOD ATTITUDE, STAY POSITIVE, KEEP THE GOOD VIBES, AND THE GOOD VIBES WILL BE RETURNED.

Submitted Aug 14 at 3:31 PM

Spiritual Side of Community Policing

By Ptl. Teresa Ackerman

Chief, I thought you did a wonderful job explaining the importance of a police officer approaching their job with a 'positive' attitude. Sometimes it may be difficult to maintain a positive attitude with a lot of the negative things that we as law enforcement officers have to deal with. Our health and our families are the ones who suffer from that negativity. Your article really reinforced my reason for maintaining a 'positive' attitude. Thank you!

Submitted Aug 14 at 1:07 PM

Spirtual Side of Community Policing

By Chief Dave Maggard - Irvine Police, CA

Great article discussing an important topic.
I'll be exploring this more in my own Department.
Well done and thank you.

Submitted Aug 14 at 12:01 PM

Spiritual side of community policing

By Chief J.T. McBride

Chief, nice article. You captured the most important aspect of our work. Well done.

Submitted Aug 14 at 6:50 AM

Spiritual side of community

By Susan Bookshar

Think Jim really wrote a beautiful recap of how the spiritual aspect of a police officer is essential in the hardships they encounter in the job. Beautifully explained and a truly heartfelt article. Loved it!

Submitted Aug 14 at 5:53 AM
 
Close ...