Our chaplains do not volunteer thousands of hours per month across the Portland tri-county area with their agencies for any recognition. Knowing they are serving the men and women of the local fire, police and emergency call centers with love and care and maybe receiving a smile at the end of a long day or night shift is reward enough.
BUT, every once in a while, one of our own does receive a public acknowledgement, as did our Clackamas Fire chaplain; Kenton Johnson last night Well done Kenton, glad the men and women of Clackamas county know your true heart; as a servant.
- You get to stand on the front lines of making a great society. I bet you never thought you were making a great society but I am here to tell you that you are. You make it every time you finish your day and go home. You do it every time you make a stop on a street and advise someone who is driving badly that it is safer for them and everyone else if they obey the law. You are the reason why many drunk drivers actually get home. You do it every time you make a report, or go to a home to help, or talk to kids on the street. You do it every day on every shift across America. America is one of the safest countries in the world because you are there, every day, seven days a week twenty four hours a day you are there and our world is healthier for it.
- You get to work with a group honest people. Now before you start making a list of the offenders you know. Let me ask you. Of all the people that you know who obeys the law, who is more law abiding that the people you work with? Do you realize that the number of law breaking officers in this country is inconceivably small compared to other countries where police graft is rampant? In many countries around the world seeing a police officer is the equivalent of seeing a robber coming. How fortunate you are that the people you work with don’t snitch your lunch or break into your locker or steal your car and if they do it usually makes national news.
- You get to understand and appreciate what it means to have real support. One of the great things about law enforcement is that you get to work alongside people who will stand by you. They will be there when some nut begins to shoot or threaten you or seeks to harm you. Police officers form a bond that holds them together through thick and thin. They are some of the very few people who actually train how to cover and protect each other in dangerous situations. Support is a real thing in law enforcement and you get to work right in the midst of it. You have heard it before but when everyone else is running out it’s your fellow officer who is running in and usually as fast as they can go.
- You get to do something to improve society. Ask any “new” officer why he became an officer and you will get something like this. “I wanted to help my community.” They say that with real conviction because it is the major motivating cause for men and women going into law enforcement. You may not realize that you are doing this but every night someone doesn’t rob a home is a day credited to you. Multiply that by the thousands of homes in your community and you begin to see how much you mean to our community and its wellbeing.
- You get to change people’s lives from going down to going up. I know there are many who are creating chaos in our society but just think of how many you have had the opportunity to at some ideal moment help them make a decision to walk down a different path. I have noticed that even on the free way folks drive better when they see a police car. They make room for others, they watch their speed, they are careful about not crowding others, in a dozen ways they are better because they see your car.
Disclaimer: I know there are bad cops but they aren’t many and for most of you they aren’t in your class. Thanks for being the kind of officers that I know.
Written by Police Chaplain Chuck Bowman, who is honored to work with police officers