“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” – Mark Twain
Rarely does a day go by that a video emerges of some fantastic feat performed by a member of American law enforcement. The folks that wear the badge truly are a special breed worthy of gratitude and support.
It is interesting speaking with retirees from this profession. Many have served for decades as public servants and have accomplished incredible things during their careers. But, when they are asked what they remember most, they almost always speak of a day or handful of days that defined the reason why they were born, as Mark Twain so powerfully wrote. Some involve arresting one of society’s really bad guys, or saving someone’s life by providing medical care, or even by interacting with a kid while on patrol. The days are as different as the people in the profession and make for incredible stories.
There is one commonality for each of the days, though. There is a need to prepare for “the day” so that when it comes, we are ready. How many of “the days” have been missed because we were ill-equipped to handle it? How many lives were we in a position to change for the good, but we were unable to because we failed to prepare?
In the video documentary, “Boatlift,” interviews were conducted of boat captains who participated in the evacuation of Manhattan on 9/11. These true American heroes participated in one of the most unbelievable, yet largely unknown, events on one of the darkest days in this great country’s history. One of the captains stated that he never wants to use the phrase “should have” – living a life with no regrets. That is something that we should all strive for. The question is, how do we make this happen?
Making it happen requires intentional action on our part. Of course, our agencies are responsible for providing us with training. When we have the opportunity to attend training through our agency, it is our responsibility to get as much from the training as possible. The reality is, though, that we will never get all the training we need, or think we need, from our agency. We have to be willing to spend “our own time and our own dime” to prepare. And, we have to train in areas that maybe aren’t our favorites. It’s easy to go to the range if you enjoy shooting. It’s not as much fun to practice first aid skills on our own but it is essential. Department policies, laws – not fun at all. But it is vital that we know when we can do something, not just how to do it. Jim Rohn once stated, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” That’s some pretty good advice.
If law enforcement truly is a profession and the folks in it are truly professionals (and we believe both to be true), then we have to constantly prepare for “The Day.” How tragic would it be to discover why we were born but be unable to respond appropriately because we simply did not prepare.