Today I walked away from a full-time career I spent years building. Why would somebody give up a solid paycheck, benefits most would dream of, financial security and one hell of a retirement plan? I don’t know either, but it just feels right. Go ahead and grab a cup of coffee or a cold one. This is my story.
I’m Dave. And I was a police officer for 13 years.
Up until this point I have never made much of my “day job” known (especially on this blog), as judgement can all too often be thrown around like a pigskin (yeah, it’s a pun) at a Packers vs. Bears game. The job isn’t just chasing speeders and eating donuts. But the occasional glazed isn’t that bad. SHHHH! Throughout the years of my career, I have taken great pride in the profession and have shunned off much of the macho, manly egos that have surrounded me on a day to day basis. I have never been about that kind of crap when it comes to the job and as a whole, I have managed to maintain much faith in the general human population, believe it or not.
It wasn’t until I was 17, when I was stopped twice in the same week by the SAME cop (both times in my Boy Scout uniform) and was given LARGE speeding tickets which eventually cost me my driver’s license… that I knew I wanted to be a cop. Damn the luck. There I was, looking good for the ladies, donning my Eagle Scout badge, blasting Metallica’s “And Justice For All”, all awhile completely clueless to the fact that I was doing 60 in 35. Then one day later, 50 in a 25 zone. Trust me, I haven’t forgotten the deputy’s face. Breaking the news to my Dad was awful. And then to tell him my license was suspended… I felt like the world was coming to an end. But I admired and respected the officer for his professionalism.
Let’s not be mistaken. The Boy Scout uniform was merely a fluffy illusion. Throughout my high school days I was never interested in attending classes on a regular basis, becoming involved with school sports or feeling that I need to belong to a clique. Most of my time was spent as a gear-head, racing motocross, working on my ’79 Trans Am in the garage, hanging out with my friends in parking lots and running from the cops. On more than one occasion, I sucessfully took off from the Wisconsin State Patrol and avoided jail. Grades weren’t important to me either, but I somehow manage to graduate at the last possible chance. But through it all, my parents kept faith in me and were pleasantly surprised when I decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Most of the experiences that I’ve gained while doing the cop gig have helped me develop who I am today. Confidence, interpersonal skills, patience, and resilience. Working in law enforcement has been interesting to say the least. I look fondly on most of my career, but I can clearly acknowledge those specific moments over the years that have changed my life altogether.
I’ve seen the worst of the worst, and yet the best the world has to offer, all wrapped up in this crazy package. It’s been hard to seperate myself from the emotion that creeps up into the job, sometimes on a daily basis. But I’ve always been able to work through the negativity with maturity, communication and resolve. I always seem to rise above the challenges that I have been presented with, to use in a more positive way in my life. Of all the things I have been witness to, I still wrestle with the thought that there may have been a greater plan for it all. What that is, I have yet to figure out. All I know is that my time doing this job, has made me value those things in my life which others never have a chance to experience.
You see, I’ve spent my time in the fire. It’s odd, because when I hear other folks complain about their jobs, stress and time away from family, I can’t help but think that I have co-authored the book. Sure there have been some awesome experiences along the way as well. But now it’s my time to re-invent myself and start a new life for my family.