Original article HERE
I have been a cop almost 25 years; so much has changed since I started doing this job. Police officers have learned to do things so much better: We connect, we engage, we support the communities we serve. Today we deal with complex issues and things that we never could have imagined in 1992.
It’s not all about “enforcement” and “cops and robbers” anymore, it’s about so much more.
With the advent of technology, I am able to engage and to be there for my community like never before. Local moms, business owners and students have my cell phone number and know I am just a text message away. I mentor and encourage them, I help them find jobs and to be able to play sports. They, in turn, help me to make my community a better place. We take “selfies,” follow each other on Instagram. Together we make a huge difference in the world.
I love my community; this is the best job in the world because I get to make an impact in people’s lives.
Do some people hate me? Yes, they have called me pig, racist, and have told me they wished I would die. I am not going to lie — those words hurt, although I try not to show it. Actually, I use that hatred to focus on doing good things.
You know what the highlight of my career is at the moment? It’s not some big arrest or car chase; it’s getting soccer fields built at one of our parks so the neighborhood kids have a safe place to play. I never imagined I would be doing these things as a cop, but here I am doing them and I believed in my community.
I came home from a great day at work on Thursday evening, turned on the news and saw what was happening. It was like someone punched me in the stomach. Then I made the mistake of looking at social media and all I saw was hate from both sides.
I could not believe what was going on. Everything that I and so many other cops had worked so hard to achieve was being destroyed. Was anything I ever did worth it? Why was this happening, why does everybody have so much hate! It was hurting me so much to see this happening. Why could I not stop the pain I felt? I was watching my country and community go down the drain.
I gave up, I stopped caring and you know what? It didn’t hurt as badly anymore. I started to plan how I could just work my shift while disconnecting myself from everyone in the community. I am eligible to retire in a little over a year. I could just go to work, handle my calls and then go home, not worrying about anyone other than myself and other officers until that time came.
I came into work Monday morning still numb from what was going on. The station was somber, like I had never seen it before. I had retreated to the solitude of my desk when I got a message from the Captain telling me to come to the break room.
I walked into the break room and was confronted with a cop’s dream, or nightmare, depending on how you look at it. There were dozens and dozens of donuts — donuts in boxes stacked high on the counter as far as the eye could see.
To the side of the mountain of donuts stood a retired teacher along with a mother and her two kids. They told me that they remember when we went to their school in 2012 and they wanted to do something that would let us all know that we are important and we are special. So, they brought us more donuts than we could ever eat, and made special “police” plates on which to eat them.
I tried to look cool as I sat eating my donut with them; I hid the tears that were slowly streaming from my eyes.
They had no idea that what they had just done had given me the hope I needed to get through all of this madness. To them, it was just some donuts, but to me it was the best donut I had ever eaten, because that donut meant that someone did care about me and cared about all of us.
They are the reason I put on this badge, they are the reason I care.
I finished my donut, thanked them and left, because I am a police officer, and I still have work to do!
Chris Cognac is a Sergeant with the Hawthorne Police Department in Los Angeles County California. He is the co-creator of the nationally recognized Coffee with a Cop community policing program and works closely with police around the world to create better police-community relationships. A former Fellow with the Office of Community Policing in Washington DC, He believes in paying it forward, the power of positive thinking and that one Cop can change the world.
Follow Chris Cognac on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chriscognac