"Shots fired, shots fired," my police radio screamed.
Okay, not really, but I did want to get your attention. Sure, some days this is true. But more often than not it's filled with mundane routine tasks - is there such a thing as "routine" anymore?
More than likely though the day is filled with community service calls: “I'm locked out of my car”; “my dog ran away”; “I want to park on the street overnight”; or the awe inspiring.... “I saw a car parked out in front of my neighbor's house for about 5 hours, I found it suspicious.” Yes ma'am, is it still there? “No it left about an hour ago, I just wanted to report it.”
These are the things that all police officers face daily. I know, not much for the big screen or film at 11. The truth is, we police officers face the very real possibility of death or injury every day of our career; whether in gun fights, making arrests or car accidents. While these are risks, we don't think of them.
You may have heard a lot about Officer Survival Training in Law Enforcement, or read related articles about them, and yes, while we are taught these skills, we try not to don't dwell on them.
You may wonder, what do cops think about while we are out driving around?
Pretty much the same thing everyone else does; bills that need to be paid; what are we going to do on the weekend - by the way, a weekend is any day of the week we are actually off. Personally, I have had some great Tuesday and Thursday weekends! Yes, that makes Wednesday both your Monday and Friday!
So it's the same thing that every person thinks about as they commute to or work their 8, 10 or 12-hour shifts. The difference you might ask? What makes this all worthwhile for the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), what puts a smile on their face, even if you can't see it....
Well for me and many like I that wear the badge, it's the thanks, especially when it's the Kids! Sometimes by words or deeds, others by a big wave and smile.
I am lucky enough now to work in an area where there is a mutual respect. No, it's more than that, there is a mutual "like": a bond between the police and the citizens they are sworn to protect.
Think about that, "Sworn", how many professions require you to take an oath, to "swear" to do something? Sure some do, but then add to that the possibility of being killed or injured to uphold that oath? The field suddenly gets smaller.
Folks here in the community where I currently work like the police and we like them! They wave, bake cookies, and bring in cakes. Recently, a family brought in several boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the station with a note saying: “No reason, just Thanks!!”
People from 7 to 70 turn to look wave or yell out “Hi Officer!” And Mothers are the best! Especially when they are walking with their children as they wave the most! They know that no matter what, if it's day or night if needed we officers in uniform are going to drop everything, even if concerned for our own safety, to protect her, her children, her family. Talk about a mama bear, she not only has her own claws, but she brings every cop in a Tri-County area with her!
And the kids, we love the kids... whether its 5th graders smiling and waving as if we were a local sports legends, or parents bringing their children to the department to meet us and say hi. Our interaction with the kids is tremendous on both sides. The community and the Police Department work together to build and cement these bonds.
So what does all this really mean?
Think about it, when you're driving in traffic and you slow down stop to let someone in front of you, does that person wave an acknowledgment and give you thanks, or do they just pull in and ignore you? How does that make you feel? Admit it, you either get a secret smile or you feel sorta bummed and unappreciated. It does affect you, even if a little.
So wave on - we wave back! And remember we are as much a part of your community as your neighbor, we just happen to have pretty lights on our cars.
Al Hobbs is a Law Enforcement Correspondent for DrydenWire and writes on a wide-range of topics on Law Enforcement, but focuses mostly on the human element of being a cop in his weekly segment titled: "Behind The Badge". Al brings a unique writing style that allows him to connect with his readers. You can read his introduction to DrydenWire here.
Al is a retired police detective from the metro Chicago area. He has been a Law Enforcement Officer at the City, County, State and Federal level in excess of 35 years. His career has taken him all over the nation and the world. Al has been involved in all aspects of criminal investigation as well as general police duties. He is once again on the street as an active LEO for a North Shore community, just North of Chicago in Illinois.