It Is You.
by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Waco Police Department
As we enter Police Memorial Week here in Central Texas, our hearts are heavily burdened with sadness at yet another loss for our brothers and sisters in Killeen. We can only imagine the sadness our friends are experiencing and send them our deepest and most sincere thoughts and prayers.
The unfortunate reality is that far too many officers are losing their lives in the line of duty. So far in 2014, communities in just the United States alone have lost forty-one Police Officers due to various events. We know that every day we go to work may be our final roll call. But I often wonder…do people realize what it is we are dying for? Have you ever really stopped and thought …why did that officer die?
Let me try to explain what it is that causes us to put ourselves in harm’s way. What it is that makes us run to the sound of gunfire when common sense tells you to run away; what it is that causes us to go down a darkened hallway looking for the deranged individual that just killed his family, or even something that is as simple as stopping a car for a traffic violation at 2:00 in the morning…on a lonely road…not knowing the man in the car had just picked up his monthly supply of meth and knows if he gets arrested he is a three-time loser and goes back to prison forever.
It’s you…our community, our friends and our neighbors. It’s YOU!!! Whether you like us or not, if we know you or not, or even if we have arrested you before; it makes no difference to us as we are tasked with keeping all safe. It is you that we stand watch for every day we wear the badge. It really is just that simple.
We don’t do it for the money, the glory or the occasional free cup of coffee and we certainly don’t do it to be called heroes or to make the local headlines; we simply do it because we believe in right and wrong. We believe that without someone to stand up to the bullies, punks, thugs, and killers in our world, there would be chaos.
No…we are not perfect, not always charming and sometimes not even friendly…but we are always there. We really are just a phone call away and ready to come running in the blink of an eye. I still say this after thirty-four years of policing…Law Enforcement is a noble profession and one I’m proud to be a part of.
We lose sometimes and that’s the most terrible part of this job. That is the one thing that makes this job almost unbearable. For some living in the aftermath, it will be the final straw. Knowing that some heartless, cowardly dirtbag was able to take one of us down leaves us with an incredible feeling of loss that unless you wear the badge or love one of us that does, is difficult to comprehend.
The feeling we get when an “Officer Down” call is dispatched is indescribable and haunts our nightmares continuously. But what is important to know is that we learn. We learn how to get better, we learn how to adjust and we learn how to heal…heal but not forget. And though it is hard to see at times…not one of us goes in vain as we all believe there is a lesson in everything. It’s unbelievable how those blue guardian angels whisper in our ear day in and day out…that doesn’t look right, or that car is out of place, or stay back and watch this guy a few minutes. More often than not they are absolutely right and we live to see another day.
It is paramount that we share our tears with our brothers and sisters in blue but more important than that is the fact that we will rise. We will be back at work tomorrow protecting those that expect it of us and even those that don’t invite it…we will keep watch over our responsibilities and do our best to keep the wolves at bay. And know this…we will never forget those that gave the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in the line of duty as we recognize this…John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
It is a sad time for our friends in Killeen and around the country for those communities that have lost officers in the line of duty. We mourn with you and pray for your healing. We stand together as the first line of defense for our communities and do so proudly.
To our citizens…it truly is you that we serve. Sometimes with the ultimate sacrifice.
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Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton
Waco Police Department