Like Andy Taylor, good police officers today exhibit a tender side of blue which is the heart and soul of the person behind the badge. The best police officers treat suspects just like they would treat their own mother until the suspect forces the officer to act otherwise.
On Christmas Eve, when some people are warm and toasty by the yule log, a police officer may be wet and cold trying to apprehend those who would perpetrate horrible acts and cause people harm. Why would a person wear a badge and subject themself to shift work, unknown dangers, and often the worst side of mankind? The job can go from slow-paced to rocket-paced in seconds and officers are expected to make splitsecond decisions that are perfect.
A successful officer can run through the sewers of life and not come out smelling rotten. He or she can pursue fiends without becoming one. Police officers are taught ethics, but the best police officers have integrity in their DNA.
A police officer’s badge represents the citizens, community, and elected officials they serve. It also represents the honor of every police officer that has ever worn a badge of authority. Good police officers understand the importance of public relations, effective two-way communications, and good listening skills.
The badge of authority is simply scrap-metal without compassion and consideration for others. A law enforcement officer’s badge shows authority, but the most meaningful thing about a police officer’s badge is that it is worn over the heart because real policing comes from the heart.
The news media and the public rarely know about officers that take money out of their own pocket to pay lodging for victims of domestic violence, Christmas presents for underprivileged children or vehicle repairs for stranded motorists. What we hear every 53 hours is a story about a police officer being killed giving his or her all trying to maintain order or keep the peace.
Police officers are a very important part of our culture. With thugs and predators left unchecked, how long would it take before people couldn’t go to work, school, church, or out to play? How long before our society would be in complete chaos?
The life of a police officer is unlike the fictional life of a character on a TV show. A police officer’s life can be more complicated than Andy Griffith portrayed because common sense isn’t common among many real life people.
The effective police officer simply does things right rather than worrying about doing the right thing. A police officer has a very distinctive and essential place in our society. It is not 1960 anymore. Law enforcement is a special mission; it is a vital and unique calling.
Charlie Sewell is the Powder Springs chief of police. His column runs monthly in the Marietta Daily Journal.