In my 24 year career in law enforcement, I was called many things. The Coach, Boss, The Deacon, Amish, and a few others I’m sure that I do not know about. But for my brief time with you, I want to focus on a role of the first name: The Coach. To say that law enforcement has had a crazy year is an understatement. At times it looks to be open season on law enforcement. It seems no one trusts us. We have several brothers and sisters messing things up for the 99% that do the job correctly, and overall we are facing times that we have not faced since the 1960’s as far as civil unrest is concerned. With that said, here is your halftime speech from The Coach.
We all have chosen this profession for various reasons. For some of us it is a legacy, your family has law enforcement running through its blood. For some it is because we felt a higher calling and perhaps wished to be the peacemaker, the sheep dog, or the one who wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Unfortunately some have entered the profession for the power, the prestige that the position of law enforcement officer might hold in the community.
Whichever motivation describes you, now that you are in law enforcement you have a sworn duty to uphold the laws of your jurisdiction and to protect the citizens that have given you incredible amount of power and authority. Some of you might have caught that. It is the citizens that give you the authority to do what we do. They trust you to do the right thing, to always know the right course.
But the issue is sometimes what we think is the right course of action turns out afterward that it is not the right course, and then we begin to second guess ourselves. We simply cannot do that. Depend on your training, your instinct, and you will prevail. What happens if your training is poor, well then your training staff is on the hook. But if you perform to the ability of your training, then nothing more can be asked of you by the citizenry; remember the ones who gave you the power and authority in the first place.
Another issue that we have seen lately is that of the law enforcement officer who has “turned” so to speak, and done something that is illegal, immoral, and amounts to a betrayal of the public trust. Most of these individuals are the ones we mentioned earlier as entering law enforcement for the power and the prestige. Whether you call it karma, fate, or whatever, these officers usually suffer a downfall.
So what do you do? What do those of us who are in law enforcement do in this time period of severe social angst? To borrow from Curtis Mayfield we “Keep On Keeping On”; that’s what we do. Do you think the sheepdog quits when a wolf gets to a sheep in the flock? No. He hunkers down and gets ready for the next strike. And when that wolf comes back for seconds, the sheepdog is there to get him. We get down and sad when an officer dies as a result of an interaction with a bad guy and we should. But what would that officer want us to do? Would they want us to give-up? Hell no. They would want us to do what we are supposed to do, serve and protect and always do our best to be the public servant we are sworn to be.
There are issues yes and it may not be easy. But in the end, it is up to you to be the best law enforcement professional you can be. It is up to you, not some movement saying that law enforcement is out of control, not some lawyer, not some report, but you to be the best you can be. To be the good law enforcement officer you took an oath to be. Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. Truer words can’t be found to use as a guide.
David A. Crisler Jr. retired from a large metropolitan sheriff’s office in 2014 and is currently the Program Chair for the Homeland Security/Public Safety Program at a large community college. He remains an active trainer within the public safety community, both locally and nationally. He also performs consulting work in various public safety fields, and in his free time spends time with his wife Angela, their five children, and coaches high school football. You can reach him at [email protected]