Just the other day, I was talking to a friend about my intro blog called Giving Fear the Bird. He made an observation that I think is worth discussing, as I’m sure others had similar thoughts. For those who haven’t read it, the post explains why I’m writing a daily blog: to help people get to know me as a person and to overcome my own fear of what others will think of my content.
My friend noted his surprise at my writing about fear. His initial reaction was based upon an assumption which is totally reasonable; that police officers aren’t afraid. It makes sense, considering when everyone else is running away from danger, cops run toward it. In fact, many officers long for the day they are thrown to the wolves. Many are adrenaline junkies who love to see how close they can get to the fire without getting burned. A little singed hair is always a good time, right!?
I’ve been asked many times if I was ever afraid on the job. I’ve found it somewhat difficult to answer in the past. How do you define fear? There were many times my hair stood up and I went into high alert mode. My eyes sharpened, my muscles prepared for whatever I was about to demand of them, my hands readied for the quick draw (of any tool on my belt, not just the gun).
I don’t remember feeling scared or afraid. I was anxious for what might be coming my way, for what danger loomed inside that dark vehicle or back alley. I was excited to win the encounter. I was prepared. To me, my adversary was woefully disadvantaged. Yes, he had the luxury of making the first move, but I would decide the course of the battle. This is what I was trained for.
To be honest, those are the moments I longed for as an officer. There are many careers out there where you can help people and stand for justice. What separates law enforcement from the rest is the fight, the chase, the adrenaline pumping, high speed, toxic environment. I loved those moments.
Offer a cop the choice of running down a violent criminal or a public speaking gig, 95% of them will pick the bad guy. They are wired and trained in a way that makes them look fearless in the face of physical harm, but they still feel many of the same worries, stresses and fears as everyone else. Paying the bills on time, kids getting through school, fixing a broken marriage, or the failing health of a parent; these are all things cops deal with as much as anyone else.
My friend realized the error of his assumption (that police officers don’t feel fear) before I even pointed it out. He had the presence of mind to follow the logic that, if cops are humans, they must feel fear just like the rest. He may not have ever discovered this false assumption had I not written that blog post. While he had worked things out to the truth before I wrote this post, I wanted to be clear for those who haven't yet.
ALL POLICE OFFICERS FEEL FEAR!
I won’t often claim to speak for every officer, but in this case, I can. Some individual officers may deny it, but only for the same reason that it must be true: they’re human.
The next time you meet a police officer, try to see the human beneath the sometimes cold, professional appearance on display. Appeal to their humanity. Have a real conversation. Ask about their hobbies, their family, their interests. Look hard enough and you will surely debunk all kinds of assumptions you didn't even know you'd made about the police.
Do Good || Be Strong || Fear Nothing