I’m pretty sure every organization has them. They may be called countless different things depending on where you work, but I refer to them as “Organizational Terrorists.” No matter what the name, we all know them. They’re the ones sucking on the Big Gulp-sized container of Haterade — whining, sniveling and bemoaning every aspect of their existence.
They’re underappreciated, overworked and underpaid. Life hasn’t treated them fairly and the department has screwed them over. Everything is a plot or conspiracy, usually by management, and all change, no matter how slight or even obviously beneficial, is immediately fought and railed against as the bane of every good street cop’s existence. The litany of complaints goes on and on, no matter what fate or chance brings their way. They do little, if any, real police work, yet are the first to claim their almost divine right of seniority, and fully expect junior officers to handle their workload for them.
They perform at the lowest possible level, cut corners, kiss off calls, view most citizens as unworthy of their efforts, and in the immortal words of Dr. Gil Martin, author of Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement, view everyone, especially those who still care and continue to do their job in a professional manner, as assholes, and nearly everything else as bullshit.
Despite their lackluster performance as law enforcement officers, organizational terrorists are usually the first to complain, the first to file grievances, and the first to sue on behalf of officers everywhere. The one thing you can count on from these individuals is they’re experts of your agency’s P&Ps. You can rest assured they know policies and procedures far better than 99 percent of your supervision, and are well versed in exactly what you can and cannot make them do.
Organizational terrorists wield their knowledge like a club, not to ensure they maintain some minimal level of acceptable performance, but rather to ensure they’re not required to give one iota more effort than that which is strictly required. While most of these organizational terrorists live out their bitter careers marginalized by their departments, the most dangerous occasionally do manage to slither their way into a minor position of authority. More typically, they seek the cover of police associations as a forum to vent their bile. Like an immature child who breaks his own glasses in a fit of anger, these individuals will seek to destroy the very thing they once loved, for no other reason than to serve their own inner demons and personal agendas.
I cannot say how or why these officers have lost their way. In their deluded minds I’m sure the disgruntlement, angst, and even hatred for their chosen profession — and all who still respect it — has been righteously earned. I’ve always believed, and many may agree with me, law enforcement is more than just a job. It’s a calling, which demands our very best.
Since the first cop walked the first beat in some long ago forgotten jurisdiction, this profession has, upon many occasions, demanded more than our very best. It has demanded our very lives. I may be naïve, even after nearly 20 years in this business, yet I can’t help but see my job in the same light as when I was just a bright eyed, idealistic kid, eagerly watching my blue suited heroes of “Adam 12” policing the mean streets of Los Angeles, with equal parts courage, compassion, good humor and commitment. And while I may no longer be quite so bright eyed and bushy tailed — at my core I still believe.
Good Triumphs Evil
I still believe police are the good guys in the white hats, bravely fighting against the bad guys in the black hats. I still believe this is a noble profession, filled with noble men and women who have sworn to protect this country and its citizens against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I still believe as law enforcement officers, we have much to be proud of and much to be thankful for. Despite the continuous scrutiny of all we say and do, we are still looked upon by most as honorable protectors.
As those appointed protectors, we stand for, and are, the thin blue line holding fast to all that is good, right and decent in our society: freedom, justice, the right to live and raise our families as we see fit. Like the knights of old, we live by a code of conduct very few can emulate. That code separates us from nearly all others.
We have given an oath, an oath many have shed blood to uphold: to enforce the law, help those in need, protect the law abiding citizens from the predators who roam amongst them, and to defend the weak when they’re unable to defend themselves. Law enforcement can be a lot more complicated, but for me, it’s really that simple.
Knowing there are officers who go out every day and work these free streets of America with hearts and minds filled with bitterness, strikes me as a sad state of affairs. It’s tragic not only for those officers who have lost their way, but also for the good citizens who have placed their trust and faith in them.
Never Give Up
This job is tough, no doubt about it, and it will just naturally bring with it all the pain and suffering anyone will ever want to see, and feel, all on its own. Those who bring along an extra large helping of emotional baggage to work every day, will, in the end, only be destroyed by it. Like a poison, the hatred and bitterness will eat them up from the inside out. Over time, it will taint their life, both on- and off-duty, with dissatisfaction, dishonor and a sense of purposelessness.
I won’t begin to believe my words will change anyone’s mind if they’ve already gone over to the dark side; they really aren’t for them anyway. I speak to the vast majority of you who might be having a bad day, a few doubts, or have made a few mistakes you’ve had to pay for and are feeling a little disillusioned. If you’re reading this, please remember this: This job is the greatest show on earth, and each and every one of us has ringside seats.
Who wants to sit on the sidelines watching while life, and our departments’ history, just passes us by? When our time comes and we pull the pin for good, don’t we all want to look back and know we were actively involved in a good cause? That we came to work everyday and gave it our all, fought the good fight, and hopefully in some way made a difference? That, my friend, is certainly a life worth living!
By Larry Doane