Imagine this. 400 miles away someone does something bad and you get abuse for it. You turn the tv on and the news are running a story from 20 years ago and you get abuse for it. You are at work and talking to a member of the public, they have seen these things too and they give you abuse for it. You ask someone to behave themselves and they tell you to F off. You have to remain polite and calm and explain that's not nice.
You walk into a bar and people stop talking. Your 'friends' phone you in a panic at all times of the day and night but then not again for months.
You go to work at all times of the day and night. You work in all weathers. When something bad happens you are expected to be the first there and put things right. You get screamed at by the people you are trying to help, you get punched by people who are out of control, you get investigated by your own. You spend time at work alone, at risk and scared for your own safety.
Everyday you see the sordid underbelly of the world, everyday you hear about perversions that you thought couldn't get any worse. You can find yourself immersed in the foul mucus of blood, guts & death in the middle of your lunch break.
Some of the people you are trying protect hate you, the government you are working for seem to be doing everything they can to destroy everything you love.
You miss the holidays because you are needed at work.
You miss the weekends because you are needed at work.
You miss birthdays because you are needed at work.
You miss school plays because you are needed at work.
You miss your family because you are needed at work.
Your six year old daughter sees the murder of two police officers on the news and gets upset. You hope that its because she cares for humanity and it is a sad story. You don't want to explore why because you fear that she has got upset because she realises that you are the same as they were ... a cop!
You are a cop!
So why do you do it? Why don't you walk away? Why do you put yourself in harms way to protect others or make a wrong right, on or off duty?
I've asked myself this more and more lately. Seeing my daughters reaction tonight made me think. I have to be sure that I'm doing this for the right reasons because it affects more than me!
It's not for the money, the uniform, the long hours and it's far from being an easy life.
It is for the warm, fuzzy feeling inside. As bizarre as its sounds but that's how it works. After 15 years I still look forward to going to work. I relish the challenge that each day brings. I thrive on the stress that a frustrating investigation can bring, a stress that serves to drive you harder to do the best you can. I get excited that around the next corner could be another challenge, problem or person that needs my help.
It's not a job, it's not a career. It's what you become. It's the reason you will put yourself in danger for others. For the majority of us the Americans have hit the nail on the head.
It's to protect and serve.
It's for the excitement, the stories, the adventures, the comedies, the tragedies. Going to work everyday with the feeling that anything could happen and you are right in the middle of it, making a difference and being part of a family that spans the entire country.
My nephew is applying to join the police at the moment and that reminds of conversations I've heard and read over the years. 'The jobs not what it used to be', 'people won't join on those conditions'. As much as it pains me to to disagree but I do.
The 'job' hasn't changed. We are still the first and last line of defence, we are still needed to protect the innocent and vulnerable and to stop the evil in society.
The rules we work by and the equipment we use may have changed but the principle is still the same.
To protect & serve!
This blog post, although a small gesture, is dedicated to every police officer around the world that has lost their life on duty and every police officer that continues in the knowledge they could be next.