Tag Archives: Police culture

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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Filed under Author L. Scott Silverii, The Blue Blitz

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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Ferguson & Public Engagement | What are they good for?

media

What’s the best time to plant a tree?

– 30 years ago.

What’s the next best time to plant a tree?

– Today

In general, law enforcement has made for horrible horticulturalists. We’ve not tilled the soil of community engagement as a practice. Now we wonder why no one understands us.

When an incident like Ferguson erupts, the pundits hurry to fend off allegations from a civilian population incessantly asking for answers. I’ve had so many tell how they’ve unfriended people on social media streams because of the content post-grand jury decision.

When a public service organization adopts a “No Comment” paradigm over the course of a few centuries, is it any wonder why questions and misinformation arises during societal flash points. While operational confidentiality is vital to an agency’s mission, the majority of daily operations and information processed by law enforcement fail to meet the level of classified materials.

Social media allows public agencies an opportunity to manage their own message. If an agency fails or refuses to engage in the often free mediums available for informing people, then they should expect to face the accusations of pent up frustrations.

This is a great opportunity for Chiefs and Sheriff’s to re-examine their public relations practices. It has to be more substantial than a few handshakes with kids at the high school ball game. An ongoing, open dialogue with the community we swore to serve builds bridges and breaks down walls.

A few suggestions:

  1. Balance the “official” tone of agency social media accounts. If you want the public to relate to the humanity of your officers, then present them as such.
  2. Not every public event has to be public. People distinguish “photo ops” from sincere neighborhood engagements.
  3. Proactively pursue the media for establishing mutual credibility. Yes, mutual.
  4. Ensure the designated “Voice and Face” of your agency is representative not only of the community, but of the vision and ideals for serving the public.
  5. When wrong, say “I’m sorry.”
  6. When right, give credit to the persons responsible. Whether it’s the rookie cop or the shop owner who dialed it in, give legitimate thanks.
  7. Don’t wait until a crisis to introduce yourself to the public you vowed to protect.
  8. Don’t take it person. Negative public comments are born out of the frustrations of not being heard. Re-evaluate practices to ensure you’ve not shut your community out.
  9. When times get tough, don’t be a prick.
  10. In all situations, be yourself – a single human being placed in extraordinary circumstances trying to handle unimaginable calamities. People understand if you trip, and if you do, refer back to #9.

Ferguson & Public Engagement | What are they good for?

Us versus Them | A Ferguson Outcome

If Not Us, Who?

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Filed under Personal Perspective, The Cultural Revolution

“If Not Us, Who?”

“If Not Us, Who?”

My heart weighs heavy in this week before the important decisions contemplated by a civilian grand jury in another state. After nearly 25 years of serving my community and country, I see the potential for an occupationalrevolution. The potential for substantially significant cultural change. While most revolutions are spurned through violence, this cannot be one of them.

Soon, events born in violence will again effect this country. Not just for today, but years to come. Regardless what you think of the decisions made by a civilian body, it’s critical to understand we are a nation of laws. You have the privilege (thank you military) to disagree with them, but not the right to break them.

The cultural evolution of expectations leading us away from the tenets of our founding fathers and the Constitution has left America in a state of moral and ethical conflict between knowing the laws, versus respecting the application of those laws.

Trapped in that conflict is the individual police officer. Empowered by the State to serve and protect, they’re also emasculated by that same State. Policies, regulations and public expectations factor heavily into each individual decision that police officer must make. Whether its writing a parking ticket or taking someone’s life.

The only constant in this equation is that not reacting is not an option for the police officer. An oath was sworn to with right hands raised. While truth, honor and sacrifice may have lost its significance to some, it’s still the reason that police officer leaves his family for duty.

They report for duty knowing that at any moment conflict may arise. It matters not if that conflict involves the braggart who claims to pay their salary, or the kid who marvels at the sun beaming off the rookies badge. The police officer swore to an oath, and no matter how human frailty may creep into that police officer’s singular decision at that one moment in their life, they and every police officer will be judged by that one moment.

When the decision is made to react to that conflict, despite the universal burden of knowing every eye is and will be upon you, a decision is made. It’s an unbelievable responsibility to take another person’s property, their freedom or their life. It’s one the police officer doesn’t take lightly. Most suffer lifetimes over a single or collection of decisions made at that point of conflict.

Yes, my heart is heavy on this eve before these decisions will be rendered. So many innocent people will be cast into a situation originally acted out on a single street in an unfamiliar town in an unknown part of the country.

It’s easy to sit back and criticize those who’ve sworn to protect others. Those officers who wear more scars on the inside than the critics have curses for their efforts, will thanklessly continue to report for their honored duty.

It’s easy to roar like a lion behind the keyboard. But when the time comes to be a lion; honestly, honorably and selflessly be that lion – to quiet accusing words without action or justification and do something for someone unknown for the greater good – will you?

There’s a reason a unified team of lions is called a PRIDE. Stay proud of your service BLUE – If Not Us, Who?

Us versus Them | A Ferguson Outcome

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Us versus Them | A Ferguson Outcome

Chief in Prayer

Us versus Them:

Sunday I shared the burden on my spirit in anticipation of the grand jury decision, “If Not Us, Who?” (https://www.facebook.com/CopsWritingCrime) It wasn’t about an outcome. It was that our nation rallied on either side of the issue based not on facts and evidence, but on historical perspective. Truth is, there’s more than one narrative to American history.

Just before turning off the news, I received a private message. Simply, it read – We Won! In clarity, I saw this wasn’t about black versus white as much as it was us versus them.

Let me be very clear – the “THEM” I refer to are the law enforcement officers believing it was a victory for the policing fraternity. A victory, such as a sporting event, would infer that policing was affirmed as being the better of the two.

Our occupational isolationism manifests itself against the communities we swore to serve. If we can’t share our feelings with the ones we love, then how do we sincerely show empathy to a community? Doubt it? We’re killing ourselves with alcoholism, divorce, domestic violence, PTSD and suicide.

As a Fraternity, we should engage in honest dialogue. Thousands of cops have shared feeling the same way, but are fearful to speak up because of reprisal from the Brotherhood. What type of brother’s keeper allows their peer to suffer in such silence over the cause of public service?

Let’s take this opportunity to examine why we’re fundamentally disconnected from the people we serve. Is it because we’re rooted in the old-school traditions of secrecy? Do we lean on the myth of being special and protected by the sacred canopy of public safety? Lets fix us, so we can competently serve those who most need our help.

In closing, I believe that the “us versus them” paradigm is dangerous for policing a populace. I don’t believe however, that the “us versus them” in policing is negative. The US who seeks a better, more society-linked policing model must no longer tolerate the THEM who still believe the Thin Blue Line is used to separate cops from community.

We do good work, now lets work to do good,
Scott

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Filed under The Blue Blitz, The Cultural Revolution