The Cops I Know

Tattered Thin Blue Line Flag

During my years as a pastor in San Diego County, I had the privilege of being a law enforcement chaplain for two incredible agencies over the course of nine years. During those years I went through an academy with the officers, trained on the mat, in the classroom and on the range with the officers, spent over 1,000 hours on ride-alongs with the officers, and even spent some time with the detectives who investigate cases. I’ve been to their funerals, I’ve married them and I’ve buried their children, and I have nowhere on planet Earth ever seen the men and women who are their equal.

And so I must speak out during these turbulent days when the irrational hatred of so many is leveled undeservedly at the men and women in blue. Yes, a truly heinous and hideous thing was done under color of law to George Floyd by a bad (and possibly racist) cop, but that now ex-cop is no more representative of the vast majority of cops than a man like Jimmy Swaggart is representative of my profession. I’ve ridden with cops and deputies from all across the spectrum – male and female officers, straight and gay officers, bright-eyed young officers and crusty old officers, antireligious officers, non-religious officers, officers from any number of religions, and even an officer who also happened to be the finest evangelist I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve ridden with black, white, Hispanic and Asian officers, officers who are first- or second-generation Middle Eastern immigrants, officers who are politically liberal andEscondido Patch 2 those who are politically conservative. All are officers from a vast world of differences, but who have the most important things in common, and those things are powerful. So please, let me tell you about the cops I know.

The cops I know do what they do because they’re protectors, and they love law, and they love order, and they love civilization.

The cops I know are heroes, and heroes’ hearts beat within their chests, and have ever since they were young.

The cops I know can all remember their proudest day – the day their shield was pinned on their chest and they took the oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of their State. For some the only prouder day was the day their child was born, and in some rare cases the day they had the privilege of pinning the shield on the chest of their own child who followed in their footsteps.

The cops I know love the Constitution, and are its staunchest supporters.

The cops I know are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated by those they serve, but they serve nonetheless.

The cops I know don’t view policing as a job – they view it as a calling. To some, even a sacred calling.

The cops I know rush into danger without a second thought – not just because they’re trained to, but because it’s in their hearts to do so.

The cops I know don’t want to die for you and me, but won’t hesitate to do so if their sacrifice means we can continue living.

SDSO PatchThe cops I know hope to begin every public encounter with respect.

The cops I know hate bad, lazy and corrupt cops with a vengeance.

The cops I know don’t give a lick about someone’s skin color, sexual orientation, ethnicity or social status. What they do care about is fighting crime, protecting the innocent and getting dangerous people off the street.

The cops I know are crime fighters, and as crime fighters they go where crime is heaviest.

The cops I know train in the arts of violence – not because they love violence, but because they know that for civilization to survive, those who stand for what is good must be better at violence than those who stand for what is evil.

The cops I know are prepared to take human life, but hope they never have to.

The cops I know are warriors who would never back down to anarchists unless ordered to do so by those of lesser spine.

CHP Patch & ShieldThe cops I know are part Jackie Chan, part Wyatt Earp, part Dr. Phil, part Aristotle and part Robin Williams, all within the same shift.

The cops I know can make sailors blush and poets weep.

The cops I know quietly and secretly buy things for the needy and the hurting they encounter on the beat.

The cops I know hold Christmas parties for the victimized kids and families they deal with every year.

The cops I know spend their own time and funds supporting charities for the less fortunate in their communities.

The cops I know have all seen mangled, broken and lifeless bodies.

The cops I know are all familiar with the smell of decaying human flesh.

The cops I know rescue sexually- and physically-abused kids from predators (who are often the kids’ family members), and then go home to their own children and families, pretending they’ve seen nothing that disturbs their soul.

The cops I know ache for the victims of unsolved crimes.

The cops I know never stop thinking of the difficult cases they encounter or are solving.

The cops I know have seen a thousand difficult, horrible things that cannot be unseen.

The cops I know, because of all they’ve seen, have difficulty sleeping.

The cops I know, because of all they’ve seen, sometimes weep in private or scream in anger at the universe.

The cops I know, because of all they’ve seen, sometimes lose hope.

The cops I know, because of all they’ve seen, sometimes become jaded.

The cops I know, because of all they’ve seen, sometimes drink in excess to dull the inner pain.

Anthony Ride Along (2)The cops I know, because of all they’ve seen, often lose their marriages. Not because they want to, but because they try to shield their spouses (and their children) from the avalanche of dark and nightmarish things that plague their working lives, and that shield eventually becomes a wall of separation.

The cops I know are intelligent, remarkable, skilled, dedicated, caring and innovative public servants. In short, they’re the best of us – the very best of us. If we lose faith with them, if we defund them, if we chase them out of town or force them to walk away or take an early retirement, we’ll not only lose what’s best about us, but we’ll lose our civilization in the process.

The cops I know don’t do what they do to be thanked, but rather because their noble hearts are driven to protect and serve whether they are thanked or not. But trust me, right now they need to be thanked, and they need to know that we have their backs as they try to stand up to these forces that would destroy all of civilized life.

The cops I know have never asked for anything, so I’m asking for them: Openly show your support for them, openly thank them, diligently pray for them and be there when they need help.

And to all the cops I know (and don’t know):

Thank you. Be safe, and stay dangerous. Your friends are many.

49 thoughts on “The Cops I Know

  1. Barry, great write up. I have had several family members and friends as police officers and you pretty much covered all the things that happen to them. Just as in any profession, club, gathering, etc. there are a few bad eggs. The important thing is to continue to recognize the good that the other 99% do and work on removing the bad.

  2. We believe most people become police because of a calling. They care. And we thank them for what they do. And in today’s society, with all the media damage, they truly must care. It’s the few, as in any profession, that need to find a different career. The rest, caring, there for the people, watching to protect.

  3. Thank you Barry! I wonder if the Romans realized that their civilization was falling. Or did they keep thinking, “This will pass,” while they watched and did not prevent the fall.

  4. I was called a liar by a white church friend for sharing that in my many years of experiences with law enforcement (wife, volunteer, etc.), I found what you found. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  5. Great write-up Barry!! Sharing with my police friends. We need to appreciate the good more than the hate for the bad. That’s what’s been sadly forgotten. Appreciate you! God Bless.

  6. Great tribute to our police men and women. I hope a lot of people in law enforcement get a chance to read this, and know that there are many of us out there who support and appreciate them.

    Debbie

    • Thanks Debbie. Please feel free to share it with every officer you know. I’ve already heard from so many about how it’s really helped them during these times!

  7. Barry, thank you for relating your thoughts and experiences.

    While reading, there were two mental images in particular that stuck in my mind and while not glossing over the other thoughts that you related so well. On the children: I recalled the number of times of having responded to a DV (domestic violence) call, almost always after midnight, entering the home with the TV on, kids asleep on the couch, and walking on beer cans to contact the parents. Then, arriving at my home after shift while my wife and kids were still asleep. Then, take several moments to stand in the doorways to their/our bedrooms and just watch/listen to all of them blissfully sleep before hitting the hay myself.

    And as you said: Being able to pin the badge on my son.

    Again, thank you and to those of the supportive comments. May God bless.

    • Yes, I remember those only too well, and so often thanking my wife for being such a solid and wonderful person after seeing such broken and shattered homes and families. By your words I’m guessing that you’re retired, and I hope you’re enjoying these years – thank you for manning the thin blue line, and for wading in the muck so that the rest of us can assume life is much better than it probably is. And I hope you get to enjoy many years of proud fatherhood watching your son carry on the legacy. God bless LP.

  8. You nailed it. Thank you for so eloquently saying what we know and feel and sharing with everyone.

  9. Thank you for sending this lovely tribute to our warriors in blue. I taught my children to respect and honor police for their tireless effort to make this a better world. There must be a guardian to protect and defend those who cannot defend themselves and our blue warriors are always there to do so. In just about every place I have lived there was a policeman who lived in the area and it made me feel safe to know we had a friend in the neighborhood who was always there if needed. I will always admire them and they can always count on me to defend their name. Yes, there are bad apples in every profession but we should never judge a profession by the actions of a few.
    Thank you again for sharing,
    Dottie Kiermaier

  10. Thank you Barry 🙏You speak the truth. There are those who know that your words paint an accurate picture of law enforcement in general. There are others, who don’t wish to know the truth.
    I pray God pierces the hearts of the hateful with Love 💝. And, I pray for the safety of all our 💙Peacemakers.

  11. Thanks, Barry. I have posted it to Facebook. It is a great tribute to our police . They do not get paid enough for the risk they have each day. May God protect them .

  12. Thank you for your wise words. Living the life of a law enforcement officer you do see the worst of the worse and it can take a toll on the strongest of people. It is becoming very difficult to watch the news and hearing the Monday morning quarterbacking day after day. Because I went into law enforcement with a strong belief in the greater good and a love for Jesus Christ I think I have been able to understand my role over the years. I pray earnestly for my brothers and sisters who pin on the badge and that have taken an oath to protect and serve.

  13. Beautifully stated and full of truth.
    What I can’t understand is how uninformed the public is about Floyd’s rap sheet and that he was so crazy and out of control that he would kill anyone he could in that moment of his rage. My heart goes out to all the good men in that police uniform who are misjudged because of their difficult decisions to restrain the violent offenders!

  14. An awesome tribute to our men and women in Blue. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. Over the years I have the pleasure of knowing many people in law enforcement! Made friends with many of them. I just can’t understand the hate they are now having to live with. Thank you Barry.

  15. Barry, your article was right on the money. I retired after 31 years in law enforcement. Your comments brought back vivid memories from my career. I now have a son, son in law, a niece and two nephews in the profession. The lack of support from our elected officials, media and many of the public has them feeling abandoned. I immediately forwarded your article to them to let them know that there are some out there that know the truth and Are still supporting them. Thank you.

  16. The sad thing is that education and law enforcement, along with politics, have been under constant changes, and not for what really works. Good teachers who want to make a difference, good police that want to protect, and many in politics who want to uphold the constitution, are finding is harder and harder. The difficulty is those who really care need to be there, but they’re careers and lives are on the line. Sad. America could be so great.

  17. Thank you Barry
    Your article was definitely right on the money. I’ve lived the law enforcement life. As The wife of a law enforcement officer for 36 years and As the proud mother of two law enforcement officers. Thank you for lifting our spirits. The last few weeks have really taken a toll on all law enforcement families. Thank you for praying for the law enforcement family. God bless you and yours
    Pamela Brust

    • Thank you, Pam, for all that you’ve given. Your husband was so instrumental in the early years of my chaplaincy. I pray his and your retirement is as great a blessing as you deserve.

  18. Barry

    What a very moving video. I am a law enforcement trainer employed by the North Carolina Department of Justice. Your video would make an excellent addition to my classroom presentations on “Equality in Policing” and similar subject matter. May I have your permission to download and use the video for non-profit educational training of law enforcement officers in North Carolina. I will ensure that you receive full credit for your beautiful work.

    Respectfully,

    R. Baric
    Instructor Developer
    N.C. Department of Justice

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