Category Archives: The Blue Blitz

Why are police funerals good for the profession?

angel over blue line

Last month I visited the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC. I stood over the granite wall with the carvings of more than 20,000 names of officers killed for no other reason than reporting for duty.

I knelt at panel 38-E:25 and ran my fingers over his name – Octavio Rafael Gonzales. The feigned smile exchanged the grief I’ve carried over the years for a public show of respect. On the very next panel, number 36-E: 27 – Timothy Bergeron elicited the same response.

All three of us attended the Academy together many years prior, and yet there I stood. The significance of the memorial is not lost on me, or the millions of Americans visiting the memorial.

While I recalled the sadness of each friend’s ceremony, I also understand why the ceremony that followed was greater in preparation, tradition and attendance than the majority of all funerals most any civilian will attend. It has to be for the good of the profession.

Law enforcement requires a unique fitting in period, or more formally called “occupational socialization.” To enter into and continue in this fraternity, it is vital that the individual officer drop previous characteristics making them unique for the sake of operating within the homogeneous community of policing. Within the standard operating organization of policies and procedures; long-haired, freaky people need not apply.

The job is referred to as having a “mystique veiled by a sacred canopy.” The symbolism, pageantry and tradition make our calling noble. It is vital to maintaining the highest levels of loyalty that we see this low-wage earning, long-hour working and risk-taking job as a “calling.” These badges of honor endear us to the service of policing.

Why is a police officer’s line of duty death and funeral so impacting of an agency, a community, and a nation? Are there websites, ceremonies and engraved walls dedicated for fallen teachers, bus drivers or public works employees?

These acts of respect are symbolic insurances to officers, that if I also lay my life down in the service to others, that I will too be memorialized by pageantry and procession. Ceremonial symbolism comforts us to know that if our life is lost in the line of duty, we will be honored not for the way we died, but for how we lived. It is our reassurance policy that in our passing, our families will be cared for and we will be missed.

While the death of an officer is tragic, the tradition of ceremony allows officers to gather within a circle of fraternal isolation. Although the outside world may be watching, they are ritualistically excluded beyond the immediate family of the officer lost.

The collection of individual officers adorned in their most formal dress blues are allowed to not only share each other’s grief, but to mourn what may become our own departure. Whether you knew these officers or not, you see yourself in that casket escorted by the hundreds of police motorcycles and cruisers. You see your wife, kids, family and friends weeping over the casket as it’s closed and the folded American flag is handed to your child as she stands at attention trying to be brave.

Police funerals still touch the psyche of an American public. It reminds them of the frailty between good and evil. The institution of policing is held in societal esteem where good guys are not supposed to lose, much less die. The police funeral also remains a part of the acclimation process into American culture. Somber processions creep past businesses and schools as citizens and students stand at staunch attention in either instructed salutes or flag waving.

Yes, oddly enough police funerals are good for the profession. It reminds cops just how thin that thin blue line really is. It is a vivid reminder that instant, sudden or violent departure preparation remains a part of your calling. While it is a prelude to your own death, it delivers on the promise of brotherhood. After all, establishing close personal relationships among peers is one of the most desired accomplishments among officers.
To be wanted. To be accepted. To be respected. To be missed.

My mom passed away over 15 years ago, and I have never returned to the cemetery where her body is buried. I know the spirit who made her the wonderful person she was is not trapped in the mausoleum. Conversely, I return to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in Washington D.C. every chance I get to rest my hands over the granite walls and engraved names of my brothers who are heroes not because they died, but because of the way they lived.

It is through the mourning of death that cops celebrate the charity of life in a profession often plagued by violence and loss. Maybe we attend to mourn the officer. Maybe we attend to mourn for ourselves, or maybe we attend to mourn for a lost society. Whichever the reason for attending, ceremonial police funerals are good for the profession.

R.I.P Blue

Please support the NLEOMF by purchasing your copy of 10-CODE: Written by Cops Honoring the Ultimate Sacrifice

All money from every book benefits the police memorial

Why are police funerals good for the profession?

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What would you do: Police scenarios

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WWYD:
Scenario –
It’s 1:30am – you’re dispatched to an elderly person’s home because the medic alert button was activated. Fire and EMT meets you there. No one responds to knocks on the doors and windows.

What would you do: Police scenarios

Reply here or join us on Facebook at Chief Scott Silverii’s CopsWritingCrime

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TPD Celebrated 3rd Annual Blue Summit

“We are a shining example to the nation that you can combine compassion and policing to achieve great things.” Those are the words heard by Thibodaux Police Department personnel as Thibodaux Chief of Police Scott Silverii spoke at Blue Summit, the agency’s annual departmental meeting. The entire department gathers once a year to share a meal, receive awards, and hear from Mayor Eschete and Chief Silverii, who recap the previous year and share a vision for the next.

Chief“We’re going to continue to follow the course that has proven itself over the last four years” said Chief Silverii as he complimented the Officers for their hard work that resulted in a record low crime rate; citing the 45.25% reduction in criminal damage to property and the 40% reduction in burglaries. Chief Silverii also highlighted the importance of compassion in police work, touching on the department’s 64% verbal warning rate on all traffic stops.

“I love this department. I love being the Chief of Police in Thibodaux. I understand the significance of the past Chief’s before me, and the significance of those that will come after me,” said Chief Silverii as he spoke about the importance of legacy at the Thibodaux Police Department.

The department’s award recipients were received with standing ovations and loud cheers from their peers, who were clearly excited for the winners. Congratulations to the following award recipients:

  • Golden Team Award – Lt. Kevin Brooks, Sgt. Pablo Garcia, Officer Adrian Buchanan, Officer Jonathan Fryer, and Communications Officer Tremaine Rhodes.

Golden Team

  • Blue Valor – Officer Allie Faucheux

Blue Valor

  • Chief’s Employee of the Year – Animal Control Officer Kamie Burgos

Employee of the Year

  • Chief’s Officer of the Year – Officer Paul Thibodaux

Officer of the Year

Chief Silverii and the Thibodaux Police Department would like to thank all of our sponsors that helped make Blue Summit such a wonderful event. A big thanks to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #52, House of Prayer in Thibodaux, TPD Jr. Police, the Sons of Chief Earl Melancon Sr. (Ret.), Mayor Tommy Eschete, MandyLens Photography, Room Solutions, Malik Hossel of Wendy’s fast food restaurants in Thibodaux, Dr. David Elias, Spahrs Seafood, Walmart, L&N, Gary’s, Rob’s Donuts, along with Clayton Dempster and Julius Clement.

TPD Celebrated 3rd Annual Blue Summit

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To my civilian friends: I’m sorry

To my civilian friends: I’m sorry. 
I’m sorry you have to worry about my brother & sister law enforcement officers and me. 
I’m sorry the murder of two more of this nation’s finest has you scared and fearful for the future. 
I’m sorry that your friends, family, or spouse has to return to duty without the national support for the singular profession authorized to protect & serve you. 
I’m sorry that others whose agendas benefit from the desecration of the American symbol of order and civility have voices resonating louder than yours.
I’m not sorry that despite the fact one of us will die every 58 hours, the other 800,000 of us will never fail to report for duty. 
I’m not sorry that despite celebrities and athletes dishonoring the profession standing ready to protect, we will be there every time they call. 
I’m not sorry that despite a minuscule percentage of our total number of officers do bad things, that the rest of us serve with sacrificial honor. 
I’m also not sorry for the profession I, along with almost one million others have chosen. 
Mostly, I’m sorry I had to write this apology to my civilian friends. 
To my band of brothers & sisters – watch each other’s 6 like never before. 
God Bless the Blue. 

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Crucibles of Leadership (part 4)

The Essentials of Leadership

In our interviews, we heard many other stories of crucible experiences. Take Jack Coleman, 78-year-old former president of Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He told us of one day, during the Vietnam War, when he heard that a group of students was planning to pull down the American flag and burn it—and that former members of the school’s football team were going to make sure the students didn’t succeed.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Coleman had the idea to preempt the violence by suggesting that the protesting students take down the flag, wash it, and then put it back up—a crucible moment that even now elicits tremendous emotion in Coleman as he describes that day.

There’s also Common Cause founder John W. Gardner, who died earlier this year at 89. He identified his arduous training as a Marine during World War II as the crucible in which his leadership abilities emerged. Architect Frank Gehry spoke of the biases he experienced as a Jew in college.

Jeff Wilke, a general manager at a major manufacturer, told us of the day he learned that an employee had been killed in his plant—an experience that taught him that leadership was about much more than making quarterly numbers.

So, what allowed these people to not only cope with these difficult situations but also learn from them? We believe that great leaders possess four essential skills, and, we were surprised to learn, these happen to be the same skills that allow a person to find meaning in what could be a debilitating experience. First is the ability to engage others in shared meaning.

Consider Sidney Harman, who dived into a chaotic work environment to mobilize employees around an entirely new approach to management. Second is a distinctive and compelling voice. Look at Jack Coleman’s ability to defuse a potentially violent situation with only his words. Third is a sense of integrity (including a strong set of values). Here, we point again to Coleman, whose values prevailed even during the emotionally charged clash between peace demonstrators and the angry (and strong) former football team members.

But by far the most critical skill of the four is what we call “adaptive capacity.” This is, in essence, applied creativity—an almost magical ability to transcend adversity, with all its attendant stresses, and to emerge stronger than before. It’s composed of two primary qualities: the ability to grasp context, and hardiness.

The ability to grasp context implies an ability to weigh a welter of factors, ranging from how very different groups of people will interpret a gesture to being able to put a situation in perspective. Without this, leaders are utterly lost, because they cannot connect with their constituents. M . Douglas Ivester, who succeeded Roberto Goizueta at Coca-Cola, exhibited a woeful inability to grasp context, lasting just 28 months on the job.

For example, he demoted his highest-ranked African-American employee even as the company was losing a $200 million class-action suit brought by black employees—and this in Atlanta, a city with a powerful African-American majority. Contrast Ivester with Vernon Jordan. Jordan realized his boss’s time was up—not just his time in power, but the era that formed him. And so Jordan was able to see past the insults and recognize his boss’s bitterness for what it was—desperate lashing out.

Hardiness is just what it sounds like—the perseverance and toughness that enable people to emerge from devastating circumstances without losing hope. Look at Michael Klein, who experienced failure but didn’t let it defeat him. He found himself with a single asset—a tiny software company he’d acquired.

Klein built it into Transoft Networks, which Hewlett-Packard acquired in 1999. Consider, too, Mickie Siebert, who used her sense of humor to curtail offensive conversations. Or Sidney Rittenberg’s strength during his imprisonment. He drew on his personal memories and inner strength to emerge from his lengthy prison term without bitterness.

It is the combination of hardiness and ability to grasp context that, above all, allows a person to not only survive an ordeal, but to learn from it, and to emerge stronger, more engaged, and more committed than ever. These attributes allow leaders to grow from their crucibles, instead of being destroyed by them—to find opportunity where others might find only despair. This is the stuff of true leadership.

Crucibles of Leadership (part 4)

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