Lessons Learned - UNITED WE STAND

By Christoper Scilingo

Am I my brother’s and sister’s keeper? All law enforcement officers should ask themselves this question, and they should ask it often.  They should continually evaluate whether or not we are genuinely looking out for each other and keeping our promises to one another.

However, let me wake everyone up with the truth. Far too many times we see officers trying to break each other down rather than build them up.  We see the assassins out there, secretly destroying a good officer’s character.  You know, the dry-rats, the ones who talk trash, point fingers and throw officers under the bus.  These rodent-like creatures speak with a particularly raised voice while being conveniently down the hall from the boss’ office when the boss’ door is wide open. Or they’ll go around telling key information to courier pigeons, fellow officers who cannot stop gossiping if their life depended on it, knowing they’ll sprint to the boss’ office and deliver the message.

When we see this happening in our profession, we must consider if we have forgotten the perils and risks that our chosen professions expose us to.  Are we concentrating too much on the bullshit and not the reasons why we chose a career in law enforcement? Being kind to each other is possible. We see it all the time when we pay respect to a fallen officer, standing shoulder-to-shoulder when the brother/sisterhood and love is so abundant that you can’t escape it.  But why does it take the death of an officer to produce that bond and feeling of belonging to the BLUE family? Why can’t we as law enforcement officers treat each other well and care for each other and support each other regularly? We can! Try and forget for a minute what that other officer has; why did they get that good assignment? Why do they get to drive the new squad car? Why do the bosses favor that officer and not me?

Erase the words, “what about” from your mind.  Stop saying, “well what about that officer” when you're singled out by a supervisor or peer.  Don’t worry about what that other officer is doing; worry about yourself; unless that other officer is messing up.  If you see another officer messing up, or an officer lacks experience in an area, then help them.  Stop waiting for them to slip up and make a mistake just so you can trash talk them in the locker room or worse, dry-rat them out to a supervisor.  Also, if you’re going to speak negatively about another officer, at least do it while they’re present and give him or her opportunity to defend themselves.  Maybe there is a good reason why he or she made that call or why they handled that incident the way they did.  Most of the time, the big trash talkers of a department weren’t even there; they just stir the pot and spread the rumors. Have the courage to say it in their presence or don’t say it at all.

We need to stop standing around with a few cups of coffee and smack talking all the other officers who aren’t present.  Here’s a thought: Engage in meaningful conversations with the ones who are present.  “How are your kids?” “How’s the family?” “How are you holding up?” Those are some meaningful questions that show you care and want to be engaged in each other’s lives. After all, there may come a time when we will need to watch each other’s backs while on the job.  You wouldn’t slander, discredit, or disgrace another officer while you’re applying a tourniquet to them or plugging out their wound while telling them to hold on and that help is on the way.  So why talk like that about each other when the times are good?

Let us make it a point to treat our brother/sister law enforcement officers with the love and respect that we want in return from them.  Let us live up to the meaning of, “The thin blue line.” Let us show that we are a BLUE family.

Lastly, I know there are a lot of good officers out there who truly understand their roles and have a love for our profession and those who wear the uniform. I tip my hat to you and offer my most sincere admiration. Perhaps the negativity is what’s occupying most of our attention. Therefore, let’s work together to turn things around. Let’s commit to making our profession the best it can be. After all, nobody took this job to harass and break each other down. They chose this career for their esteem and respect for the professions and for those who risk greatly keeping our communities safe and secure. Let’s all commit to telling the dry-rats, the pot stirrers, and the cynical ones that the days of treating each other like garbage are over.