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Dying With Your Boots Strapped On

By Garth Baker

When a new police officer comes aboard he/she is scared to death with the academy’s stories of death and permanent disfigurement. They are put through scenario after scenario where they are killed, time and time again. The new recruit is put in the worst-case scenario and just when it looks like they have solved the scenario without being killed, here it comes out of nowhere and BAM they are plucked from the earth. It is through this training they gain the instincts and forethought for recognizing when a situation is about to go bad. Once a recruit hits the street they get a new description, the new office. Now the new officer hits the streets to go through the next phase of training, the field training program or OJT (on the job training).  This is where you step from the scenario-based training into the reality of “This could be the day you don’t make it home.”  After a grueling field training program, you graduate to that of a probationary officer, to later become a non- probationary employee on patrol. As time goes by, the thoughts of “Today could be the day I get plucked from earth,” turn to “What time do I get off?”  Essentially your job becomes a job; and then it happens: you’re faced with a life and death situation. One which leaves the officer making a split-second decision to take the life of another human or have his or her life taken. During those split seconds of split seconds, all the training starts to kick in and every possible avenue goes through the officer’s mind, leading them to the final thought of “shoot or be shot,” or even more heroically, “try something crazy,” which, if it goes wrong, will leave them suffering a possible life-threatening injury. No matter how it ends, the officer must go home at the end of the day to live another day to protect those he or she doesn’t know.  But should that officer be met with an untimely death, they know they have served with honor and perished so that someone else could live.  When an officer is killed in the line of duty, the ripples of sorrow travel across the country and all officers feel as if they too suffered the devastating lethal injury. But although saddened, every officer understands the honor of dying with your boots strapped on. As crazy as it seems, I know I can speak for every officer out there when I say if you’re going to fall victim to an untimely death, the greatest way to go out untimely is while your boots are strapped on. The officer who suffers this untimely death, if they were here today, would tell you they perished so that others can enjoy life without terror or fear of being a victim. So next time you decide to see the bad in the police try to remember they will come when you call and die for you so you can live.

Let’s see the good rather than the bad and keep in mind that generally speaking, you only see an officer when something has gone wrong.

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