Reflecting and life’s journey and those years spent in the ranks as a police officer and chief.
“Assuredly, a most noble calling.”
Since I retired, I have intentionally and unintentionally entered into other professions – namely theology and medicine. When I retired, I went off to seminary, was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church, and have served as a pastor/priest during the past two decades.
I have unintentionally been dragged into the field of medicine with my wife’s cancer diagnosis (multiple myeloma, a terminal blood disease). This cancer also wiped out her kidneys and has required her to dialyze five days a week). As her caregiver, I have been the medical technician who monitors her home hemodialysis for the past decade. It as been time well spent.
In both of these fields there is a commitment to continuous improvement – finding better ways to do things, solving problems, and intellectually engaging in the critical issues both theology and medicine face. I have to say it has been refreshing (in spite of emotionality surrounding my wife’s disease and my fear of losing her).
My brand and practice of Christianity allows me to both think and question; to engage in, and respond spiritually to those deep human emotions I just mentioned – fear and loss. And as a caregiver, I find our doctors and nurses willing and able to engage with both our minds and hearts.
While I am frequently asked about the difference between being a cop and pastor, I must tell you that I find little difference in the big picture of practicing either policing, spirituality or medicine.
But what I find myself most worried about is that which I have mentioned in other posts on this blog – the lack of intellectual engagement and discussion in policing and the unwillingness to find benefit in research and developing safe and effective (evidence-based) policing practices. I would especially note here the lack of consideration and worthiness of the opinions and concerns of the customer/client/citizen; those who are the recipients of police activity. Add to this the unwillingness to recognize, admit error, and learn from mistakes leads to a kind of toxicity among those whom police primarily “serve.”.
I have often sat in a clergy meeting or a patient support group and wished the kind and character of these discussions that happen there could somehow be part and parcel of police staff meetings and briefing sessions.
Perhaps I dream too much, but that dream has grown and developed during the years I wore a badge. Until the day I die, I will continue to hold steadfast the opinion that high-quality police are not only important but essential in maintaining a society which professes the values we do. Police have the unique ability to uphold, and hold visibly sacred, those values which we profess in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. It is who we are as a people.
Assuredly, policing remains a most noble calling and necessary in nation which wishes to be free, just, democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-religious.