The profession of police officer has changed greatly since I began my career in March of 1993. When I took my oath to protect and serve, enforcement remained the sole focus. We arrived at calls to protect victims, arrest suspects, and then move on.
Currently, criminal justice partners collaborate with suspects and victims alike to affect change in behavior, hoping that the result positively alters the community. We attend community events to listen to and work with residents and civic leaders as a means of building partnerships that collectively promote a safer and more prosperous place to call home. Modern law enforcement professionals should no longer work as enforcers only but as active and respected members of our community who provide empathetic and selfless service.
Embracing and adapting to change facilitates growth within a police department. Civic leaders, members of the community, and the officers they depend upon must agree to a specific mission in order for a city to thrive. As the mission comes forth and is placed into motion, the decisions and actions of those tasked with its implementation must remain committed to ethical and sound personal character. You cannot pretend to be ethical, as true character always reveals itself. When each individual adheres to a personal ethical commitment, the department as a whole openly reflects the values of its members. The culture of a police department must never stray from daily dedication to the highest standards of devotion, selflessness, and sacrifice in order for daily operations and procedures to prove safe and successful.
When my career of service in the city of Cloquet abruptly ended last month, I intently searched within as I reflected on the past 24 years of walking the thin blue line. Looking back at all of the valuable lessons, connections and sleepless nights, I asked myself, in the end, if I successfully ran the race and made the difference that originally inspired me to wear a badge. Working in law enforcement takes a harsh toll on families, and my family and I lived through the sacrifices that families of police officers make.
While reflecting on my career, I needed to again answer why I worked so hard to live out an ethical and honest life. My wife and children inspired the obvious answer. They understood why I could not always go with them because of service commitments. They recognized the challenges presented by doing the right thing no matter what the situation called for. They learned that this life should never be about what we do for ourselves but what we can do on behalf of others, both on and off duty.
More importantly, I realized that faith, family, and friends ultimately get you through all situations that work and life throw at you. Finally, I came to the conclusion that at the end of a career, no matter how many plaques or commendations you receive for outstanding service in police work, you will be remembered for your commitment to standing up for integrity and justice.
Going forward, my hope remains that our police officers accept new opportunities and changes while conducting themselves as ethical servant leaders within the department and our community. As professionals called upon to do their jobs with compassion, every officer, I hope, will reflect upon the oath he or she took when they began their career and never forget the honor and privilege of wearing a badge marked with the words, "Cloquet Police." I will continue to pray for the strength and fortitude our police officers need to courageously stand up for the very best for our community. "Be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:9).