The 5 Steps

Behind The Badge

This is a week that has some significance to nearly everyone I know. My wife works at a high school and as the school year winds down, kids get wound up. So to all of those educators out there, you have my respect and my thanks.

The Spurs are making their perennial playoff run and no matter where you look you see silver and black.

The Jourdanton Squaws softball team is DEEP into the playoffs and are making Jourdanton proud, and parents and supporters are holding them up as the stellar student athlete’s that they are!

And on top of all of this, one other celebration is happening this week. “Police Week” is always celebrated in the week in which May 15th (Peace Officer Memorial Day) falls. While our officers went to Austin this year to be a part of the ceremony held at the State Capitol, while you read this over 20,000 officers from around the nation are in Washington D.C. for the national events that occur there each year at this time.

Primarily, Police Week is geared toward remembering the 21,000 names that are on the Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in Washington, and as an officer that has participated in those events I wanted to take a moment to explain why it is so much more than just a memorial to many of us.

The important thing to know about Police Week is that while it has its somber moments, it is an exciting event that any officer is honored to participate in. I can tell you that there is no way you can gather 20,000-30,000 police officers from around the nation together in one city, especially a city like Washington D.C. and not make some great memories. I was recently telling a friend about a place that they set up on the outskirts of Washington D.C. It’s been established as a rest and relaxation spot for visiting officers and it is referred to as “Tent City” (due to the fact that there are no buildings, just HUGE open-air tents). It is about the size of a city block and it’s here that officers can grab a bite to eat, have a beer, socialize with fellow officers and let their hair down away from the formal events being held around the city. And it was here just a couple night ago that several members of the Pipe and Drum bands from various agencies came after competing with each other earlier in the day. In this impromptu meeting officers grabbed their bagpipes and drums and played to the cheers and applause of fellow cops who were gathered nearby. There was no press there. There was no trophy to be won. There was just officers from cities and counties all over the country who decided to have a little fun together.

These are the types of encounters that lead to friendships that last for lifetimes. When I was in D.C. I met a countless number of officers who ALL greeted me and my colleagues with a smile and a sense of brotherhood. Among those who I had the privilege of becoming friends with was an elected Sheriff from a large county in Florida, a Captain from the Capitol (D.C.) Police Department and several members of the NYPD, and in each of these meetings I made a friend, who even today, I can call if I need assistance with any matter, professional or personal.

What I hope that the public takes away from this week and the numerous police festivities around the country is that while we mourn our losses every year, we also celebrate our accomplishments and encourage each other to go back to our cities and towns and return to work with a renewed sense of purpose.

In his recent retirement speech, New York Yankees great, Derek Jeter, listed his 5 steps to success:

“Get up every day.

Put on your uniform.

Go to work.

Do your best.

Don’t make any excuses.”

When I read that I couldn’t help but think that those very directives apply to police officers every bit as much as they do to baseball players.

So while we will never forget those who paid the ultimate price in their service to society, I hope that we won’t lose focus on those nearly 1,000,000 men and women behind the badge, who are continually working to insure that our profession is one that is respected and honored…and who everyday get up, put on their uniform, go to work, do their best, and don’t make excuses.

These men and women are my heroes and I am honored to work among them.

In service,

Eric Kaiser

Eric Kaiser is the Chief of the Jourdanton (TX) Police Department and a Master Texas Peace Officer.