Why do I do this job?
Why should I care if nobody else does?
A month ago these were the questions I asked myself after watching the civil unrest unfold in the Mid-West. I was shocked at the venom that was spewed by people. I was outraged by the negativity.
I wondered if it mattered anymore.
I then started reading the comments on social media and news stories. Some comments were ignorant and downright mean. The comments were from people who have no idea what we do.
I started to wonder how much effort I was going to give at work. I felt like no one supported us and nobody cared. I started to wonder if anything I did as an officer mattered
I started to wonder if any of this was worth it.
Why should I go risk my neck for people who don’t care?
Why should I go that extra mile for strangers, who hated me?
I went back to work a few days after the civil unrest began. I was wondering how people were going to treat me.
I went on my first call and the people were nice to me. Then it happened again on the next call. And again after that. And again.
People were respectful and were happy I was there. They said thank you. They smiled. They told me to have a safe night. They said they appreciated what we do. I started hearing it more than ever. Other officers told me they noticed the same thing.
I noticed there was actual support for us. I saw that people appreciated we were out there. All of this showed me there was a reason to still do my best for these people.
This past weekend, I witnessed the number one reason why we shouldn’t give up on the citizens we serve.
One incident was on Friday and the other was on Saturday night – the “You’re not the enemy” story.
On Friday night, a 9-year-old girl named Lilly handed two officers something that was wrapped in Christmas paper.
They opened it up and saw a United States flag she had made. Lilly told them she made the flag for the officers who had been killed in New York.
This girl did this for officers she didn’t know. She did this for strangers who wore a badge. It was important to her.
There was something about her gesture that was important to me. Her gesture should be important to everyone. It confirmed there was still good in the world and people cared.
This child hadn’t given up on us. That meant her parents hadn’t given up on us either.
This story about Lilly and the flag should matter to all officers. It should also matter to the citizens who support their police officers.
That paper flag is a symbol why we do this job and why it still matters.
And why do I still do this job?
I do this job because you haven’t given up on me.
Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415 (badge415.wordpress.com/). His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. Behindthebadgeoc.com will share some of his columns. You also can follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/badge415.