Walking The Point
There are some things that you just can’t do without suffering casualties – very literally and profoundly; and our job is one of them.
You can’t race cars without crashes, you can’t dig mines without cave-ins, and you sure as hell can’t send cops out into the streets of a violent society without violent deaths. Our fallen brothers and sisters knew that and did it anyway – as we all do or have done. Their friends will tell you they did the job because they loved it, and any of us who can’t say that should envy them for it. At least they died as rare and precious people: doing what they loved to do, and doing it for the noblest of reasons. That is something we can never explain outside of our profession.
You see, you can’t be a good cop simply because you couldn’t get another job. You can only be a good cop because you want it. And there is an answer to why they died, something I learned half a world away many years ago as a young Marine, preparing to face an enemy in combat for the first time. It was then that my sergeant explained that, like it or not, there are only three rules in war:
Rule Number One is “YOUNG MEN DIE”
Rule Number Two is ”YOU CAN”T CHANGE RULE NUMBER ONE”
Rule Number Three is “SOMEBODY HAS TO WALK THE POINT”
You see when soldiers advance, knowing the enemy is near, there is always one man way out in front of everyone else. His duty is to look and listen and sense that first contact; to spot the enemy, pinpoint the ambush, fire that first shot, and as a consequence, take those first shots.
It offends the logical mind and denies the instinct for survival. It ages and saddens and wizens, and frequently kills those who take their turn “walking the point.” But it must be done, or there would be no protection for the rest, just more bloodshed, and more grief. For the “Point Man” is there to save lives, even if he gives his own in the process.
Society may not be a company of soldiers, but it certainly has and needs somebody walking the point. Every time you go out of the station door, every time you answer a radio call, every time you stop to check out something suspicious, you are walking the point and you can’t change rule number one.
If I could say something directly to the people in our society, it would be this. I know some of you will remember our fallen brothers and sisters, but that’s not good enough. I want you to honor them for what they did for you – that which they needn’t have done. I’m not just talking about what they did on that day or night, that a “routine” call or traffic stop went horribly bad. I mean what they did for you day after day, in darkness and light, rain or shine, on holidays and on their loved ones’ birthdays, without ever expecting even a “thank you” in return.
They volunteered to “Walk The Point.”
The Final Inspection
The policeman stood and faced his God, which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining, just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now policeman, how shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek? to my church have you been true?"
The policeman squared his shoulders and said, "No Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us that carry badges can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays, and at times my talk was rough,
And sometimes I've been violent, because the streets are awfully tough.
But I never took a penny, that wasn't mine to keep.
Though I worked a lot of overtime when the bills just got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me, I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place among the people here,
They never wanted me around, except to calm their fear.
If you've a place for me here, Lord It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much but if you don't I'll understand."
There was silence all around the throne, where saints have often trod,
As the policeman waited quietly, for the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now policeman, you've borne your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven's streets, you've done your time in Hell"
~ Author Unknown
"When God Made Police Officers"
When the Lord was creating Police Officers, he was into his sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared and said, "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one." And the Lord said, "Have you read the spec on this order? A Police Officer has to be able to run five miles through alleys in the dark, scale walls, enter homes the health inspector wouldn't touch, and not wrinkle his uniform. "He has to be able to sit in an undercover car all day on a stakeout, cover a homicide scene that night, canvass the neighborhood for witnesses, and testify in court the next day. "He has to be in top physical condition at all times, running on black coffee and half-eaten meals. And he has to have six pairs of hands." The angel shook her head slowly and said, "Six pairs of hands... no way." "It's not the hands that are causing me problems, "said the Lord, "it's the three pairs of eyes an Officer has to have." "That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. The Lord nodded. One pair that sees through a bulge in a pocket before he asks: "May I see what's in there, sir?" (When he already knows.) Another pair here in the side of his head for his partner's safety. And another pair of eyes here in front that can look reassuringly at a bleeding victim and say: "You'll be all right ma'am." (When he knows it isn't so.) "Lord," said the angel, touching his sleeve, "rest and work on this tomorrow." "I can't," said the Lord, "I already have a model that can talk a 250 pound drunk into a patrol car without incident and feed a family of five on a civil service paycheck." The angel circled the model of the police officer very slowly, "Can it think?" she asked. "You bet," said the Lord. "It can tell you the elements of a hundred crimes; recite Miranda warnings in its sleep; detain, investigate, search, and arrest a gang member on the street in less time than it takes five learned judges to debate the legality of the stop... and still, it keeps its sense of humor." "This officer also has phenomenal personal control. He can deal with crime scenes painted in hell, coax a confession from a child abuser, comfort a murder victim's family, and then read in the daily paper how law enforcement isn't sensitive to the rights of criminal suspects." Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the police officer. "There's a leak, "she pronounced. "I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model." "That's not a leak," said the Lord, "it's a tear." "What's the tear for?" asked the angel. "It's for bottled-up emotions, for fallen comrades, for commitment to that funny piece of cloth called the American flag, and for justice." "You're a genius," said the angel. The Lord looked somber. "I didn't put it there," he said.
I Am Not Gone
I am not gone, I am changed.
Have faith and please believe me,
God did not take me away from you.
He split the skies and received me.
Now I’m an echo in your laughter,
A reflection in your tears.
An extra thread of strength,
To help over come your fears.
I’m an added ray of sunshine,
More joy for you to share.
A fragrance of the life you live,
Where ever you are, I am there.
Cop On The "Take"
First he takes ... the oath. Now look at what else he takes:
He takes ... it in stride when people call him pig.
He takes ... his lousy pay check realizing he'll never be rich.
He takes ... a second job sometimes to make ends meet and support his family.
He takes ... time to stop and talk to children.
He takes ... your verbal abuse while giving you a ticket you really deserved.
He takes ... on creeps you would be afraid to even look at.
He takes ... time away from his family to keep you safe.
He takes ... your injured child to the hospital.
He takes ... the graveyard shift without complaint because it's his turn.
He takes ... his life into his hands daily.
He takes ... you home when your car breaks down.
He takes ... time to explain why both your headlights have to work.
He takes ... the job no one else wants -- telling you a loved one has died.
He takes ... criminals to jail.
He takes ... in sights that would make you cry.
Sometimes he cries too, but he takes it anyway because someone has to.
He takes ... memories to bed each night that you couldn't bear for even one day.
He takes ... time to explain to his family why he can't make the ball game his child
is in and why he has to work on the holiday when other parents are off.
Sometimes ... he takes a bullet.
And yes, occasionally he may take a free cup of coffee.
If he is lucky ... he takes retirement.
Then one day he pays for all he has taken ... and hopefully.., God takes him.
Sgt. Joe Friday Speech
The Twenty-one Gun Salute
The firing of three volleys of seven firearms by the Honor Guard at the funeral or Memorial Service for a fallen law enforcement officer is the highest honored salute that can be bestowed upon an officer for their service and sacrifice. This is sometimes referred to as "A 21 Gun Salute."
The Three Volleys comes from the Civil War when the battlefield would become cluttered with the dead and filled with the "crying out" of wounded. At such a time, both sides would agree to a cease-fire so that they could care for their own. Once accomplished, each side would fire three rifle shots to signal that the wounded and dead had been cared for.
The Seven Firearms comes from an ancient superstition and belief that odd numbers are considered lucky, with the number seven said to have the highest mystical power. Therefore, the rendering of seven firearms is considered a mystical salute.
The placing of three spent shell casings into the folded American Flag is proof, for now and forevermore, that the Honoree and Our Flag have been properly cared for and honored.
To Learn More About The Folding of The American Flag Click Here
The Origin of Taps
Taps was first heard in 1862 during the Civil War. Union Captain Robert Ellicombe was fighting with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia, while the Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the battlefield. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his own life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the wounded soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was a Confederate soldier, but that the soldier had already died. The Captain then lit a lantern, caught his breath suddenly, and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the dead soldier. It was his son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out and, without telling his father, had enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, the heartbroken father asked permission from his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was partially granted. He had asked to have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for the son’s funeral. That request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. Out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of his dead son’s uniform. This wish was granted. This music was the haunting melody we now know as "Taps".
To Learn More About The History Of Taps Click Here