When you made the brave decision to pursue a career in law enforcement, you did so with the unrelenting desire to serve and protect your community, as the police slogan decrees. However, your burden is much bigger than that. You must serve, you must protect, but now it's your responsibility to dispel the negative preconceptions regarding police officers too.
It's a heavy burden, so I'd understand if you were nervous. The day you put on that uniform and place your gun in your holster, you begin to represent the police force in its entirety. You will be held under intense scrutiny and your every action will be judged. I know, it isn't fair. But you're a part of something so much bigger than yourself now, and you have a job at hand. An important job.
Be cautious, but not overtly reactive. Be methodical in your decision making, but don't hesitate too long. This job can be dangerous, so swift action is sometimes required. But haste does not permit or excuse poor decisions. So think, and think fast. Preforming under great stress and tension is a part of the job description, so proper stress management is a key characteristic to possess.
Do not mistake your badge for power that is not rightfully yours. You have power, but you should always remember that it is not without limits and restrictions. Stay in the confines of protocol and do not ever abuse the power you have been entrusted with. Do not give the critics the fodder they're seeking to grow their case of police misconduct. Respect your power, and know that it was not given easily.
Do not think you have to preform elaborate acts of kindness to be a good cop. Time and time again you see posts of police officers buying struggling mothers a car seat for their children, or changing tires on the side of the expressway with captions such as "we need more cops like this." Just because your acts of kindness do not make viral videos, does not mean they weren't kind. Good cops buy car seats, but they also stop the drunk drivers whose presence on the road threatened your safety. Any cop who preforms their most basic of duties is a good cop whose kindness should be recognized. You serve and you protect, and that's inherently kind.
Take each situation and each suspect as they come, and accommodate your behavior accordingly. Do not assume every suspect is the same, as well as every situation. Be cautious, careful, but never assume.
Do not discharge your weapon unless it is absolutely necessary. This is an important one, especially now. Respect human life, value it, and realize the enormity of your actions. Do not lift your gun lightly, do not pull the trigger carelessly, because the second that bullet is discharged, you cannot take it back. Acknowledge that. Do not allow your gun to be your first option, let it be your last resort. And never mistake a moments freight for a valid threat. Analyze the situation, be smart, be swift, but always, always think. Think about the consequences. Think about what you're taking from a family, from this world, from yourself.
Recognize that there is not a set description on what a criminal should be, or look like. Do not assume criminality based on skin color, religion, or race. Criminals come in a wide variance of forms, so do not rely on a set profile. Do not perpetrate the belief that cops are racist. It's up to you to eradicate those preconceptions, and this is how.
And to you, the blue-eyed boy with the laughter lines and kind heart. My love. A part of me wishes you were pursuing a safer career, like dental hygiene, but an even greater part of me rejoices in the fact that one day you'll protect a city, as you've always protected me. I know you'll be a great police officer, for you possess the compassion, will, strength, and intelligence that makes a great officer. You see the eruption of turmoil in our world and you wish to dispel it; to make the world a better place. And I think you'll do just that. It scares the hell out of me knowing your life may be jeopardized one day, but I know the world needs you. I cannot be selfish with you. I need you, but the world needs you more. Thank you for always being my hero, my protecter, and my best friend.
Stay safe out there, everyone. Let's go out there and prove the world wrong.