1st Peter 4:10 says “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”.
What a great statement to apply to those of us who serve in law enforcement. Often times a new police recruit is asked: “Why do you want to be a police officer”? The standard answer is usually “to make a difference in my community” or “to protect and serve”. So much attention is paid to the protection aspect of police work that often times the servant portion is ignored or belittled. In a job where the employee is second-guessed and has their split-second decision dissected, the servant role can be a welcome change.
It’s always been of my opinion that more emphasis needs to be placed on the “serve” aspect of Protect and Serve in law enforcement. I find more gratitude in getting a thank you from a motorist that one of my officers helped changed a flat tire or took it upon themselves to buy a package of diapers for a mother whose car broke down on the way to the store. What’s more valuable to the department? An officer who wrote fifty tickets for the month or the officer who purchased a new air conditioner for the elderly woman who was suffering in 100-degree heat? The tickets generate the revenue, the actions of the officers define the department.
Different officers serve their communities in different ways. Many police officers volunteer in different capacities outside of their job. You’ll see many men and women volunteering at little league or Boys Club activities. Some continue their volunteerism by working in different capacities in the church they attend. Most officers feel that these duties are simply an extension of their role as a police officer. A servant mentality follows them wherever they go.
Two of our favorite times of year as a department involve volunteering our time for Hackett Helping Hands and the Make a wish foundation. We look forward to these events because for a few weeks it is our primary focus. Making sure children have toys during Christmas and families have food on the table are a welcome change. Often times officers see the worst in people. Giving back gives the officers a different viewpoint. Many of the people we help are the same people we may have arrested or given a ticket to. Bad life decisions shouldn’t deter the will to help.
Serving is often instilled at a young age. Often times it’s not intentional. My inspiration came from my father. After working all day in the forests of south Arkansas in the blistering heat of summer, he still took the time to coach little league baseball. Often times he would carry kids who didn’t have a ride to and from practice as well as to the games. He didn’t have to. He could have easily just let them miss a practice or games. He knew that many of their financial situations didn’t allow those kids parents to travel to practice or go to games so he took it upon himself.
To those considering law enforcement as a career, a servant’s heart is a necessity. It’s not all about arrests and numbers. Throughout my career, I’ve worked some exciting cases that resulted in the seizure of large amounts of cash and vehicles. It was an adrenaline rush that I miss at times. Nothing, however, compares to being fortunate enough to give back. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with this job. There’s also a lot of power that comes with it. Power to help those less fortunate. So, to those new recruits heading out to the police academy; pack your duty gear and your running shoes, but don’t forget your servant’s heart.