Through bad calls, bad deployments, bad days, and bad years, societies’ protectors must bear the burdens and carry the pain that most people will never—ever—understand.
I occasionally joke around with my law enforcement tips, but I’ve carried a gun for a living for over 20 years. That changes a person. I’ve been overseas. I’ve buried friends. I’ve been haunted, and I’ve been hunted. As a result I often pray more earnestly, talk more violently, and strive more diligently to help others in pain.
Protectors, first responders, dispatchers, contractors, veterans, and military warriors, I consider you my family. You are my friends and coworkers, my confidants and mates. I know some of the hurt you’ve experienced. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve suffered too. I’ve faced the fears, the lonely nights, and the uncertain times. I’ve been bored, and I’ve been scared with such intensity that “normal” people would never be able to comprehend such polar extremities. I know you’ve been there too.
I’ve felt numb. I’ve felt dumb, and I’ve felt discouraged and disconnected before. I’ve seen the worst in people, and I’ve seen amazing people.
I’ve intervened to stop evil, and I’ve done, thought about and trained for things that have, at times, made me feel evil. I’ve quietly and anonymously helped others in my law enforcement capacity, and others have done the same for me, just because I was wearing a uniform.
I’ve lamented over the injury and death of small children. I’ve gotten fiercely angry at abusive men, especially sexual predators. I’ve had strangers hug me and others spit on me. I’ve felt the thrill of victory and the overwhelming grief of tragedy and loss.
I’ve worked holidays, weekends and midnight shifts. I’ve been away from my family for several days, weeks, and even months at a time. At one point I didn’t live at home for a year and a half due to military and government service. I’ve missed birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases and family gatherings.
I’ve gone to sniper school, SWAT schools and police academies. I’ve been to shooting schools, driving schools, and knife-fighting courses. I’ve been injured, and I’ve injured people trying to hurt or kill me.
I’ve lost sleep. I’ve had nightmares. I’ve lost friends, and I’ve lost respect for some people. I’ve been un-friended on social media and ridiculed in the comment sections of online newspapers. I’ve been in high-speed chases and in undercover places, and I’ve seen enough death to last several lifetimes, especially from suicide.
So, whether you’re a cop or not; whether you’re a military veteran or not; whether you’re a family member of a protector or someone I’ve put in jail once or a dozen times, know that I will fight for you. I will fight for your freedoms, your liberty, your safety, and your life.
Life can be horrible sometimes. I’ve felt the raging fires of hell before. Anyone in the profession of arms long enough will certainly experience those negative moments. If you’re feeling them now and don’t know where to turn, ask for help. Too many people take their own lives, destroy their own marriages, and engage in dangerous and risky behaviors because their emotional trash bins have gotten too full. Empty it today.
Talk to someone. Talk to me. Take a break. Ask a friend for help. Sometimes being strong means opening yourself up to emotional exposure or risking the possibility of personal embarrassment for a short time, but life is more than this moment. Life is more than your career. If you’re feeling a large or a small but powerful burden, or if you feel like you can’t keep going on, don’t give up hope. And definitely don’t think you have to go through any trial on your own. There are more people rooting for you to succeed than you might think, and I’m one of them.
So, take a break, if needed. Work hard when warranted, and laugh a lot. After all, as you know, laughter is the best medicine.
This article was originally printed in the author’s book, 110 More Police Tips: A Sequel to 101 Police Tips, a humorous collection of silly stories.