Anyone old enough to remember the Hill Street Blues series will remember Sgt. Esterhaus’s closing to the shift briefing…hey let’s be careful out there! This was the last thing said before the shift hit the streets.
I attended shift briefings throughout my career. Some were worth it but frankly, many were nothing but the typical conversation you would hear at the bar or barber shop.
I was in Laredo Texas teaching a class when the Lieutenant asked if he could use the training room for his shift briefing. I gave the class a break and stood in the room but what I saw was not the typical shift briefing.
After greeting each officer, the Lieutenant called the meeting to order. He discussed the issues of the day, BOLO’s, close patrol requests, intelligence from an arrest that had been made the day before and he took a few minutes to discuss a recent court ruling.
I was blown away by the passion he displayed for his troops. He spoke to them as if they were his siblings. He maximized the time with information, education, and support. I thought,
I had never seen a briefing like that and I never had a leader like that but what I saw at the end of the briefing leaves me affected to this day.
Just before releasing the officers to the streets, that by the way are more dangerous today than ever, the Lieutenant prayed for the safety of the entire shift.
What a leader…What a man…
The reason I tell you this story is because we are approaching, what has historically been a very dangerous season for law enforcement…the holidays. In November 2022, seven police officers lost their lives in the line of duty. One officer was murdered by gunfire, one died of a heart attack, two COVID, and three killed in vehicle related events. In December 2022, seventeen officers lost their lives in the line of duty. One officer died from an animal attack, one died of COVID, six officers were murdered by gunfire, and nine officers lost their lives in vehicle related events.
Could any of those deaths have been prevented?
I want to challenge the profession! I want to challenge each individual law enforcement professional.
I want to challenge everyone to be especially vigilant this time of year. Law Enforcement views the holidays as the time of the year that brings out the worst in people. Thefts, burglary, robbery, domestic calls, impaired drivers, and the list goes on.
Meanwhile, their children view the season as one of great excitement and wonder. Their experiences involve attending family events, spending time with family and friends, eating food, watching football, and of course wondering what gifts Santa will bring them.
However, this year there will be an empty seat at the Thanksgiving table for seven families.
Christmas will not be a time of love and joy for seventeen families this year.
I know what it is like to wake up without parents on Christmas morning. I was always so jealous of my friends that woke up on Christmas morning to a house full of love, joy, excitement, and family, none of which I experienced.
My friends, twenty-four families will be trying to make the best of the holidays this year without their beloved law enforcement officer.
Let’s make a commitment to each other that we will be vigilant in dealing with suspects, responding to calls, working on the side of the road, and end 2023 without another family losing their law enforcement officer.
The prayer by that Laredo Police Lieutenant affects me today. He prayed for the safety of his people before they took to the street and I believe that he felt some authority over those men and women, and that authority allowed him to intercede for his people.
Im am going to model that intercession and make this commitment to you.
I will pray for each of you.
I pray for your health, judgement, critical thinking, and protection.
Greatest God, protect these men and women as they protect our communities!
Until next time, keep the dirty side down, and let’s be careful out there.