It's 2:30 in the morning and I can't sleep, so I thought I'd do some writing. I have been thinking about many of the events in my own life that have led me to the decision, the desire even, to enter law enforcement. It started during my teenage years back in Michigan. At that time, I was pretty reckless with respect to who I called my friends and what I did for my free time.
I won't say what exactly I did, but rest assured I thank my higher power that I never got a criminal record from some of the stupid things I did back then. I started viewing some of those people I called "friend" with a very skeptical approach in a short period, though - by the time I hit 18, one of these people ended up in prison for his involvement with a drive-by shooting, another gone to Florida (with the Department of Justice wanting to talk to him for who knows what reasons), and another following directly in his mother's footsteps (drug use, in and out of the local corrections system, numerous other petty but stupid and likely unlawful things). I ended up cutting off all contact with them right before I left behind my hometown for good.
I spent a few years going back and forth between shelters, crashing out on endless numbers of couches and associating myself with people who had an addiction of some sort (although I didn't recognize what those addictions were at the time). My last straw came when I went into the Job Corps program - there, I encountered kids who had spent years involved with gangs, illegal drugs, failed school systems and abusive families. My mentor at the time, a man named Craig, saw right through them whenever they sucked up to him. I used to have many talks with him, often expressing a desire to try and prevent others from doing the same things those kids were doing and the ones I made at one point or another. I entered GRCC after I came to the conclusion that I wanted to join up with a police department to try and make my community a safer place for everyone to live in. It didn't last long there - I dropped out of GRCC within a year and spent a few months on the streets after I was laid off from my job, which at that point was from paycheck to paycheck.
I ended up leaving Michigan behind for good in the fall of 2009, and after a brief stay in North Carolina, I ended up in Colorado somehow in early 2010, where I ended up going back to college at PPCC to try and finish off that quest to get into law enforcement. I think that, given the sheer amount of dark things I was a witness to for almost 8 years, I view a career in law enforcement as not only a form of redemption for my own past, but also as a way to show to others that they too can somehow move beyond the mistakes they make in life. At this point in life, the one thing that motivates me is the intense desire to do some good in the world, and even if I only help a few people out once in a while, I'll be happy with that.
I admit I don't like that many view the badge and the gun as a form of power. I hate that mind-frame. To me, wearing the badge is a privilege to be fought for, and not a right just for anyone. It should be viewed as an honor, a duty to be taken on with the utmost respect and professionalism. And even though I am but a mere student pursuing a degree, I admit it kills me when the public views police officers as simple-minded and stupid individuals who only care about arrests and tickets, when the truth is that police officers commit a lot of their time and effort to not only ensuring that crime is kept at bay from the public at large, along with participating in numerous volunteer causes that help others in numerous ways...whether it's the Shop With A Cop program here in Colorado Springs that pairs a police officer with a child who would otherwise not even get a single thing for Christmas, or even the Special Olympics, where the mere presence of an officer brings a large smile to adults and youths who face insurmountable challenges in their respective lives. And regardless of what I hear or am told, I firmly believe that all police officers are a family, sworn and serve not only the public but also each other - I hear and read countless stories in which an officer was senselessly lost to tragic circumstances and left a family behind...only for his or her fellow officers to step up and make sure the spouse and children of the fallen officer are taken care of. Many officers I have met and call a friend today are the type who would give you the shirt off of their back if they knew it would make a huge and positive impact in your life. Over the course of my dealings and interactions with numerous officers I have met over the last few years, I have come to believe that many police officers are the ultimate example of honor, courage, duty, integrity and compassion. Those are qualities I now respect to the highest degree possible, and they are qualities I believe should be present in all law enforcement agencies. They are what drives me even more to want to be in law enforcement, and come hell or high water, I'll get in somehow.
Having said all of that, what drove all of you to enter law enforcement? I'm very interested to hear your stories, your thoughts even.