We must never forget why we do what we do E-mail
Written by Jim Gilbert   

As we continue on in our personal career path, it's important for each of us to remember to keep the "spirit of a good police officer" in mind. This mantra is something I have followed during my 16 years on the job. Before I was elected president of my local FOP Lodge, I worked third shift, 11 precinct "C" company, in a very busy area in the inner city of Columbus, Ohio. I always started my shift by going over several things in my head, no matter what bad news came down: from the administration above; that the division of police may have delivered more policies/procedures to follow etc.; or gossip among the sarge and other coppers.

Your inner peace comes from remembering those things that make you love this job. After loading up the cruiser with the equipment you may need to accomplish, it is your decision which way the cruiser goes. Whether you choose to go right or left, stake out local business late in the shift for criminal activity, or head on another officer's call, it is your show.

There will be no one to blame at the end for your decisions but yourself. It is each officer's decision to read up on the latest in policing during your off time to gain the upper hand and specific knowledge in crime trends in your area of responsibility. It is your decision to carry a back-up handgun.

These are the decisions that can impact the outcome of your shift. This includes spending time watching the countless police shows that critique how you handled a specific incident. These things can be a weight on your spirit, just like rumors, new equipment, cruiser video and Monday morning quarterbacking by your agency's administration. Many agencies are facing layoffs and officers are being asked to do even more with less.

Less money, less personnel and in some circumstances, less support. Regardless of external influence, we must keep that "spirit of a good police officer." That positive attitude towards yourself and the job will keep the brotherhood of the thin blue line strong and will keep us committed to the profession we all love - law enforcement work.

Jim Gilbert is a sergeant with the Columbus Division of Police and the president of Capital City FOP Lodge #9 in Columbus, Ohio. FOP Lodge #9 serves 4100 active and retired members from 28 agencies in central Ohio. It is the largest police union in Ohio.

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