Looking Back: A Few Thoughts on Retiring

Dec 5, 2016

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I wrote this blog right about the time I retired from the police department. Have you ever wondered if you accomplished anything in your career?

After almost 30 years as a police officer, I am retiring. I have had a wonderful career. I have worked with some incredible people and gotten to be a part of things that most people only see on television. After my retirement was announced, so many friends, and even people in the police department that I don’t know, have wished me well and spoken some very kind words.

I am so blessed. I’m still married to my college sweetheart. Somehow, she has put up with me through the ups and downs of a career in Law Enforcement. My two daughters are beautiful women that are serving the Lord and I think they actually still like me! They both married great guys that I am very proud of.

One of the things I can’t help but wonder, though, was, “Have I really accomplished anything meaningful in my career?”

I was a Street Cop my entire career. It is not like I was working on the cure for cancer. I have worked wrecks in the rain, refereed family fights, locked up drunks, and tracked down and arrested some violent felons.

I have notified parents that their child was killed in a car wreck.

I have talked people out of killing themselves.

I have sat with police officers and comforted them as they were going through a divorce. Sometimes, I even got to pray with them.

A few days ago, I saw an officer that I had not seen in a while. I helped train him about 15 years ago. He is a good officer and is having a great career. As we chatted, he said something that really impacted me. He said, “You probably don’t remember this, but you said something that made all the difference early in my career.” He went on to recount a domestic call that he and I had handled right after he had joined the department. It was at a run down motel in the little town of Buford. A crack head had beaten his girlfriend up. When this young officer and I went to arrest the crack head, we found ourselves in a knock down, drag out fight on the second floor landing of this nasty motel.

The crack head was muscular, motivated, fueled by cocaine, and really did not want to go back to jail. He was punching and throwing knees at us and trying to get away. At one point in the struggle, he even grabbed at my holstered pistol. Eventually, the two of us were able to overcome his resistance and get him handcuffed. The young officer had acquitted himself well. This was his first fight and he jumped right in and helped me subdue this guy who had a long criminal history of assault, battery, and resisting arrest.

At the end of the shift, I told the Sergeant, in front of all the other officers on the shift, that the Rookie had performed really well on that call. When I saw this same officer a few days before my retirement, 15 years later, he told me, “You have no idea how much that meant to me. I really looked up to you and the other veteran officers. I was still not sure I was even cut out to be a cop. When you told Sarge that I had done a good job on that fight, I knew that I was going to make it. It was like a weight off of my shoulders because I knew that you had accepted me and believed in me.”

Maybe it is not always “The Big Thing” that we accomplish in our lives. It might be as simple as saying something that helps someone get over a hurdle. Maybe in the Big Scheme of things, the “what” is not as important as the “who.” The “whats” that we accomplish are often the things that we remember, but given a choice, I’ll take the “who” any day of the week.

After I retired from the police department, my wife, Annie, and I moved to Brazil to help pastor a church and work with several other churches. We are training leaders and helping plant churches. Would you consider joining our team? Your gifts are tax-deductible and really help us have an impact. Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

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