So Long, Farewell!

From WordPress: “Congratulations on Completing Your 7th Year of Blogging!”

I have been thinking about how quickly the last 10 years of my life have gone by — far too quickly! Ten years ago, my wife, Sabine, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma; this nasty cancer also wiped out her kidneys. Since that time, we have done home hemodialysis and periodic chemo treatments. We have been blessed with a fine medical team at the University of Wisconsin and close friends which have greatly extended both of our lives. For this we are so very thankful.

Along the way, we have had other tragedies — our oldest granddaughter killed in a traffic accident and a son’s suicide. The pain remains still. But we go on in that “sure and certain hope.” God rest their souls and they remain in our hearts.

So here I am, 80 years of age, and thinking that if the next decade goes as fast as the last one, I need to rethink what’s important to me in this life.  Do I want to continue my focus on police?

What I realized is that however noble I may think my focus on police has been, this quest is not how I want to spend my remaining days. I have fought the “good fight.” It is time now time to pass this torch.

I have paid my dues to a craft that I believe is central to our way of life and the preservation of our society. To me, the quality of a nation’s police is a strong indicator of the quality of that nation; it is an indicator of how well a nation actually practices what it preaches. I rest having said and written what I thought I needed to say.

I have had a fulfilled life as a marine, father, husband, police officer, and pastor. I have come to understand that the leadership I professed matters whether it be in a military unit, a police department, or within a church community.

I wrote my first book on policing, How to Rate Your Local Police  in 1983, Arrested Development in 2012, and in 2011,I started writing this blog. During the past seven years I published over 1,200 posts on various policing topics and what I believe police must do to rebuild trust and support.

This blog has been viewed over 500,000 times and over 3,000 of you follow this blog. For this I am extremely thankful.

I also taught policing and criminal justice at the college level for three years; an experience that led me to question today how higher education was preparing prospective police officers for service — that’s another story I will most likely report here next year.

It has now been nearly a 60-year journey taking me in and out of policing . I now have to accept that the reformation I hoped to see among our nation’s police will likely occur (if it ever will) only after my departure.

Nevertheless, I do hope that this blog would continue to serve as a resource; a place where others can learn what I came to learn along the way.

I now intend to focus on a less-developed part of my life – poetry. I am the grandson of an accomplished poet and feel a need to pursue this part of my life. I hope to put more energy there and add to my previous efforts (The Sabine Poems: Story of a Courtship, Segments, and Restoration Point).

I will continue as pastor to the loving congregation of St. Peter’s Church in North Lake as long as I am physically able, and I have my bishop’s permission.

Sabine and I will work to maintain our rural and wooded residence on the un-glaciated terrain near Blue Mounds. This is the place Sabine wishes to spend her last days and I am committed to making that happen.

I want to deeply thank all of you who have walked with me so far on my journey, who have followed this blog, challenge me, and continue to work, either as a police officer or community activist, to improve our nation’s police.

To you I say, “Carry on” and Auf Weidersehen!

  • A local news update can be found HERE.

P.s. I recently saw a production of Eugene Ionesco’s play “Exit the King” last month. I was deeply moved by it and the last scene between the king and his wife who is helping him to let go… and to, ultimately, die.

________________________

FINAL SCENE FROM EUGENE IONESCO’S “EXIT THE KING”

KING: I no longer know what was there all around me. I know I was part of a world, and this world was all about me. I know it was me and what else was there, what else? 

QUEEN MARGUERITE: There are still some cords that bind you which I haven’t yet untied. Or which I haven’t cut. There are still some hands that cling to you and hold you back. (Moving around the KING, MARGUERITE cuts the spacer as though she had a pair of invisible scissors in her hand.) 

KING: Me. Me. Me. 

MARGUERITE: This you is not the real you. It’s an odd collection of bits and pieces, horrid things that live on you like parasites. The mistletoe that grows on the bough is not the bough, the ivy that climbs the wall is not the wall. You’re sagging under the load, your shoulders are bent, that’s what makes you feel so old. And it’s that ball and chain dragging at your feet which make it so difficult to walk, 

(MARGUERITE leans down and removes an invisible ball and chain from the King’s feet, then as she gets up she looks as though she were making a great effort to lift the weight.)

A ton weight, they must weigh at least a ton. 

(She pretends to be throwing them in the direction of the audience; then? freed of the weight, she straightens up.) 

That’s better! How did you manage to trail them around all your life? 

The KING tries to straighten up. 

And I used to wonder why you were so round-shouldered! It’s because of that sack! 

(MARGUERITE pretends to be taking a sack from the King’s shoulders and throws it away.) 

And that heavy pack. 

(MARGUERITE goes through the same motions for the pack.) 

And that spare pair of army boots. 

KING (with a sort of grunt): No. 

MARGUERITE: Don’t get so excited! You won’t need an extra pair of boots any more. Or that rifle, or that machine gun. 

(The same procedure as for the pack.) 

Or that tool box. (Same procedure: protestations from the KING.) 

He seems quite attached to it! A nasty rusty old saber. 

(She takes it off him, although the KING tries grumpily to stop her.) 

Leave it all to me and be a good boy. (She taps on the King’s hand.) 

You don’t need self-defense any more. No one wants to hurt you now. All those thorns and splinters in your cloak, those creepers and seaweed and slimy wet leaves. How they stick to you! I’ll pick them off, I’ll pull them away. What dirty marks they make! 

(She goes through the motions of picking and pulling them off.) 

The dreamer comes out of his dream. There you are! Now I’ve got rid of all those messy little things that worried you. Now your cloak’s more beautiful, we’ve cleaned you up. You look much better for it. Now have a little walk. Give me your hand, give me your hand then! Don’t be afraid any more, let yourself go! I’ll see you don’t fall. You don’t dare! 

KING (in a kind of stammer): Me. 

MARGUERITE: Oh no! He imagines he’s everything! He thinks his existence is all existence. I’ll have to drive that out of his head! 

(Then, as if to encourage him:) 

Nothing will be forgotten. It’s all quite safe in a mind that needs no memories. A grain of salt that dissolves in water doesn’t disappear: it makes the water salty. Ah, that’s it! Straighten up! Now you’re not round-shouldered, no more pains in your back, no more stiffness! Wasn’t it a heavy weight to bear? Now you feel better. You can go forward now, go on! Come along, give me your hand! 

(The King’s shoulders are slowly rounding again.)

Don’t hunch your shoulders, you’ve no more loads to bear. . . . Oh, those conditioned reflexes, so hard to shake off! . . . You’ve no more weight on your shoulders, I tell you. Stand up straight! 

(She helps him to straighten up.) Your hand! . . . (The KING is undecided.)

How disobedient he is! Don’t clench your fists like that! Open your fingers out! What are you holding? (She unclenches his fingers.) He’s holding the whole kingdom in his hand. In miniature: on microfilm . . . in tiny grains. 

(To the KING:) That grain won’t grow again, it’s bad seed! They’re all moldy! Drop them! Unclasp your fingers! I order you to loosen those fingers! Let go of the plains, let go of the mountains! Like this. They were only dust. 

(She takes him by the hand and drags him away, in spite of some slight resistance still from the KING.) 

Come along! Still trying to resist! Where does he find all this will power? No, don’t try to lie down! Don’t sit down either! No reason why you should stumble. I’ll guide you, don’t be frightened! 

(She guides him across the stage, holding him by the hand.) 

You can do it now, can’t you? It’s easy, isn’t it? I’ve had a gentle slope made for you. It gets steeper later on, but that doesn’t matter. You’ll have your strength back by then. Don’t turn your head to see what you’ll never see again, think hard, concentrate on your heart, keep right on, you must!

…………

The KING is motionless, still as a statue. 

There you are, you see! Now you’ve lost the power of speech, there’s no need for your heart to beat, no more need to breathe. It was a lot of fuss about nothing, wasn’t it? Now you can take your place...

 

24 Comments

  1. Chief,

    My best to you and the Missus. I’ll keep both of you in my prayers.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your books (donating my copies to the police academy library) and certainly your posts for the last several years.

    Thank you for your insight and reflections but most of all thank you for your commitment to what I consider to be among the noblest of professions.

    Always,

    Ian S. Lovestock (Deputy Chief, retired)

    Bexar County Sheriff’s Office

    San Antonio, Texas

    Like

  2. Sorry to see you move on to other things. You have been an inspiration to me and I’m sure many in this truly honorable profession. Thank you for all you’ve given over the years. I wish you all the best as you focus on poetry and much quality time with your beloved wife. Happy that you can finally focus on something so important to you. Godspeed!

    Like

  3. Chief,

    Wishing you and Sabine good health and happiness. Your impact on policing and myself through your writing is a gift that has contributed to help me carry on the critical work of improving policing that LEAP. I will miss seeing your emails but I look forward to reading your poetry.

    Diane

    Like

  4. Chief,
    Thank you for your many years of dedicated service, your innovative thinking, your willingness to challenge the status quo and for the passion to stand up for what you believe. I have followed your blog now for several years and have read your book, Arrested Development. While I have not always agreed with you, I have always respected your insight and wisdom. You have caused me to think, re-think and challenge my own believes and assumptions.

    I am grateful for your commitment to our profession and wish you well on the next chapter of your life. I hope you know and can recognize there is change occurring across this country in policing. The change will make our profession more professional, more empathetic and more in-tune with society’s expectations. I don’t know if either one of us will see the end result of the change, but I know it is happening.

    Best,
    Jeff Spivey
    Chief of Police

    Like

  5. Best of luck as you move forward. While i didn’t always agree with your position, I respect you for speaking up. Decision are made by those who show up, and you spent your life showing up. As I enter the final 2 months of my career, I can also relate to the Kings play. Giving up the good fight is not easy, we just hope we left it a little better than how we found it, whether that be a city, a department, or even just one person. I’m sure you did…..

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    1. Thanks, I value your comments — you don’t have to agree with me — just consider the possibility! I am moved to reply with Teddy Roosevelt’s, “The Man in the Arena” (1910). You most certainly will be able to relate, Major!

      “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

      My dearest friend and colleague, Chief David Gorski, alerted me to this years ago — I had it on the wall of my office!

      Like

  6. Sorry to see you leave since we need you now more than ever considering the fact that the FBI screw the country over by releasing the emails regarding the Hillary Clinton emails. It shows how the police need to be above politics and be an impartial force to advance the cause of justice.

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  7. David,
    Thanks for your insight and attention to policing issues throughout the years, I miss our conversations. Even though I rarely agreed with your point-of-view they caused me to think much deeper about the role of our police and the possibilities (and lack thereof) for improvement.

    All the Best,
    Patrick

    Like

    1. Thanks, Gary, much appreciated! I pray someone will pick up the torch and carry it forward! Above all things, we need police who can critically think and keep the big picture (our Constitution) in sight. And thanks for all you’ve done and do!

      Like

  8. Chief Couper,

    I have not known you that long, but I am glad and grateful to have made your acquaintance. As I have become more interested in policing and the fundamental changes it so desperately needs, nowhere have I found a moral, innovative, and compassionate voice within the establishment like the one I heard from you. I have been enlightened by your blog and books and hope that I can help others achieve the same.

    Not only have you provided a powerful voice and leadership, you have the rare ability to listen and to commiserate. You understand the impact even a casual interface with police can have on a person (good or bad), and the fragile balance that allows the job “officer” to exist, a balance that has never been easy, but lies in great peril at the moment.

    You have dared to imagine what police could be, dared to speak those ideas, and dared to live them. I admire your courage and the long hard road you have traveled. You certainly have run the race to exhaustion–I hope rest and the beautiful Wisconsin countryside will rejuvenate you both.

    I have no doubt that the energy, courage, wisdom and imagination that you brought to your vocation will combine into a new and powerful poetic voice. I look forward to experiencing it.

    Thank you again for your exceptional work. Should you find anyone deserving of your mantle that is worth following, please do recommend him or her.

    John Nelson

    Like

  9. David:  Farewell, Comrade in Arms.  I followed the same path as you, in your footsteps at times – practicing and prothelizing on policing with the community, working as consultant, writing a memoir and publishing a blog.  Gave it all up, including volunteer on committees and boards three years ago.  I'm 85 now.  Just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed and appreciated your insights on progressive policing.    Your theme of arrested development right on the mark, but sadly, we may be slipping back in recent years.  Your legacy as an outstanding leader in policing will linger on for many more years.  Sincerely,  Bob Lunney

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