As Mayor Pro-tem for the City of Auburn Hills, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to address the men and women in uniform at the Annual Police Department Awards Banquet Dinner. Below are my my remarks.
I’m honored to have the opportunity to share in this important function with you and your families tonight. I’ll work to keep my comments to a minimum. When I tried to think up words that best describe my view of what it means to be a police officer, I came up with the following list:
I’m sure I missed a couple, but I’ll take a couple minutes to share how I correlate each of those to your public servitude.
I don’t think many realize the toll all the training, preparation, long hours, crazy schedules and what the tireless pursuit of “Protect & Serve” actually means from a physical and mental standpoint. Your jobs are not “easy” by any stretch.
I think some people believe cops are a bunch of meatheads. Most don’t realize how smart you have to be to be a cop! I do. Short story. I was a security guard at the Warren Tank Arsenal for a couple summers (when I was a baby). With that and a couple years of college under my belt, I decided to take the police entrance exam. I wanted to be a cop!! I remember chasing a bad guy into a building, turning right, going up stairs, turning again, doubling back, going down several flights turning, turning, up and down, and then I bolted out a back door into the bright sunlight and was asked, “Which direction were you facing when you exited the building?”
Are you kidding me? I don’t know what direction I was heading when I entered the building. What kind of unfair question is that? I wanted to know where the oxygen was. I was exhausted!
Well I flunked – and the citizens of Auburn Hills can sleep better at night knowing my “dream” ended abruptly.
Ironically, I participated in a Webcast today on Crisis Management. Lt. Mike Ceperley, the Emergency Management Coordinator from Northwest Missouri State University said, “There were two types of cops
- those who just knew they were meant to be a police officer, having a selfless desire to serve and help people because they CARED, and
- those who didn’t know what they wanted to do and figured they be a cop.
I like to say Transparent (or Transparency) is the most oft used and ill-defined word in use today, so I will preface my comments on Transparency – being defined as, “Invisible.”
A driver doesn’t get in a car and think about whether the seatbelt will work in a crash. They don’t have to maintain it – so drivers just expect it to work IF they are unfortunate enough to get in a crash.
I liken Public Safety to being Transparent in much the same way.
Citizens do not have to physically see officers running around and being busy – they just expect to be safe. As long as they are not getting mugged, their homes aren’t getting broken into or they are not getting run over by speeding motorists, they ASSUME the police department is doing a good job. They don’t know (or maybe even care) what goes on behind the scenes.
That’s how I define Transparency in the case of policing.
Ethical (or Ethics)
Maybe I’ll just use, “Beyond Reproach.” No matter what, Police Officers must put all others in first position, and themselves – usually last. This probably makes the family sacrifice painful, for which people like me – as a resident and city councilman – are eternally grateful.
My hat is off to all of you – – but especially the wives, husbands and children. Somehow, you find a way to make it work.
With all the media focus on a handful of bad (or very bad) incidents of late, it seems the public’s view of police officers has turned. Cowboys? Lack of Trust? Who knows what’s going through people’s minds quite frankly. But I guarantee people are paying more attention when they see police around. I even overheard a man at a restaurant say, “don’t worry, they’ll just shoot them” when a disturbance was happening outside. Holy cow!
You must all continue to stand tall!
Police Chief Olko described it best at a city council workshop on body cameras a couple weeks ago when she said the difference with our force is the exhaustive training.
That makes sense to me – and I agree.
You, ladies and gentlemen are good – VERY GOOD – at what you do.
The diligence you must possess is amazing. You never know what is going to come at you – case in point – Mississippi last weekend. My fear is that some whack jobs are going to try and be martyrs – nothing to live for – or looking for a pot of gold – – or 5 minutes of fame on You-tube!
I sure hope not….and I’m glad you have to make those decisions and not me. Heck – remember – I don’t even know which direction I’m facing.
So regardless of what you hear about me personally, my opinions, or what I say or don’t, let me close by saying –
I am grateful for all you do; the rest of city council is grateful for all you do; but most importantly, the citizens are grateful for what you do – – whether they SEE you or not!