former professor, a retired Ohio State Trooper, gave
a notable speech to a graduating class of future police officers. He explained
why law enforcement is the most important job in the United States. He talked about the
critical services police provide, how they protect our way of life, and the
importance of an unconditional commitment to continued law enforcement
warned the young graduates about the risk of physical injury and death due to
complacency. He also mentioned a second
risk, not physical, but mental too, “You will see so much of the seamy side of life that your
spirit can get injured. If you feel cynicism creeping in, don’t you forget that
you have the most important job in the United
with the darker side of life and experiencing the raw emotions, certain calls
for service can make police work far from pleasant. The law enforcement culture
tends to spin these unfavorable moments into either humor or cynicism. We also
voice our frustration to each other and vent about how backward the criminal
justice system can be or how poor our administrators’ decisions may seem.
cynicism is either coming from an overworked
patrol officer writing reports and running call-to-call or from a detective who
is disgruntled by a justice system that seems to offer every offender a deal.
It could be a union grievance bringing down department moral or an
unappreciative citizen who called your supervisor just to make your life a
little more difficult. The fact is law enforcement officers do not have an easy
job and credit for good work is often nonexistent.
need to remember for every tedious complaint you take, for every painstaking
investigation you submit for charges that fall through the cracks and for every
hour of training you put forth, lives the possibility that you have protected
the life of a citizen, yourself or your partner. It has also made the
communities you serve safer and more secure.
you arrested a drunk driver, intervened in a domestic assault, interdicted a
narcotics transport, or placed a person in crisis on a welfare hold. What we
cannot measure is the differences we make in people’s lives and the crime we
prevent in the daily work we complete.
may never get rich being a police officer and as you know, you get paid not for
what you do but for what you might have to do. I don’t believe many of us got
into this profession for the money. I know this
to be true because I have seen rookies and veterans alike perform amazing acts
of bravery and heroism that is worth more than any dollar amount.
you, your badge may just signify a job. To the people you serve, who call you
in their hour of need you represent a symbol of hope. You represent solidarity
in society and a frontline of government that people believe in based on the
many selfless acts of courage and service your partners have provided in the
past and for the service you may have to provide tomorrow.
you ever been hugged by a citizen or saw tears running down his/her face when
he/she thanked you? Have you ever spent weeks or months on a case to finally to
tell a victim the offender has been identified and arrested? Do you remember
the satisfaction that came with these moments? Maybe you located a missing
child, intervened in a hostage scenario, or used CPR to save a life.
fellow officers, that is your paycheck, that is the juice that makes this job a
passion and that is what makes us proud to serve. Protect your spirit, find
your passion within this career and realize your service is greater than the
many frustrations that accompany this profession.
Jeff Dorfsman is an Investigator with
the Plymouth, Minn. Police and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.