15 May 2013

Your Cause Must be Greater Than Your Circumstances

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A Simple Welcome

I recently attended a meeting for the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Research Advisory Committee (RAC) co-chaired by Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

He personally greeted the attendees to his wonderfully historic city and to the landmark site of the meeting. He briefly spoke about the events leading up to and following the bombing attacks during the marathon.

I had watched the news the day before our meeting to know that Commissioner Davis was in Washington DC testifying to events related to the bombing, but there he sat among his peers the next morning.

A Simple Quote

I then recalled a quote shared by my agency’s chaplain, Pastor Ronnie Melancon. His comment, “Your cause must be greater than your circumstances” describes Commissioner David precisely.

The sudden shock, the gripping terror, the future fear, the investigative anticipation and the relief upon apprehension, rested squarely and heavily upon this one man’s shoulders.

Yet, never once did he consider cancelling the RAC meeting. Of course, every member would have completely understood had he chosen to do so. But Commissioner Davis, like so many committed public servants truly understands that your cause must be greater than your circumstance.

A Simple Observation

Walking the streets of Boston, I made a point of visiting the makeshift memorial site consisting of thousands of items from running shoes, “B” baseball caps, flowers and race bib numbers. Most retail stores carried the “Boston Strong” t-shirts and donation sites for the victims.

Surrounded by one of America’s most historic and culturally diverse communities, were constant reassurances that the people of Boston also understood that, your cause must be greater than your circumstances.

This point is used as an illustration for what I see as special in the culture of law enforcement. There is a high majority of officers who regularly place their cause over and above their circumstances.

A Simple Request

Fulfilling this charge does not require you to be the long-serving Chief of Police for the city of Boston, or to even hold any position of rank within your agency’s hierarchy.

Whether you are the newest jailer on the block or the next in line for Deputy Chief, all it takes is a commitment. A moment by moment, day by day, year by year, career long commitment for doing the right thing.

There are times when the shift runs long, or the politics pinch the joy from policing. There are birthdays and holidays, and nothing special days demanding your presence if for nothing more than surrendering to the doldrums of the daily mundane.

Yet your “cause;” the sworn oath to properly serve the public becomes your automatic response despite the injuries, illnesses and aching’s of too much time and not enough particular attention paid to your personal condition.

Your circumstances might be high-risk, low pay, absent morale, strained esprit de corps, promotion, demotion, or detachment from social, communal and familial anchors. The disassociation from why you became a cop in the first place. Or, the regrets over what might have beens or coulda / shoulda beens.

Your circumstances, like last week’s major source of organizational stress over something you cannot recall at this moment is; temporary.

A Simple Reminder

As I am always reminded when confronted by someone, pushing something, yet having nothing to do with the vision of my organization, “This too shall pass.” I focus on my chaplain’s words, “Your cause must be greater than your circumstances.”

This does not mean it is an easy effort, or that the crisis of the moment does not affect your cause or career, but it is important for remaining focused and central to the oath of public service.

A Simply Outstanding Effort

Whether it is Commissioner Davis maintaining a reassuring presence during one of the most vicious attacks against innocent men, women and children, or the motor officer wishing that chronic traffic violator a nice day after operating on about two hours of sleep, what makes this fraternity special is just that.

Our collective cause always outweighs our individual circumstances. Proud of you Blue!

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