Dear Excelsior Springs citizen,
In the wake of recent events I have had time to reflect… Reflect on life, reflect on my family, and reflect on my career… This reflection time has resulted in this letter to you.
I start by saying this: A normal day starts for me by waking up, putting my pants on one leg at a time, placing my bullet proof vest over my heart, buttoning up my shirt, and pinning my Hall Of Waters themed badge to my chest. This is the same routine as many within your community and your country. For many of us, this career is not one that we chose one day out of the classifieds. Many times this is a career that we felt drawn to as young children. Many of us cannot put our fingers on what the initial fascination was to the job; was it the badge? The gun? The cool cars? The flashing lights? The action?
To this day I do not know which one, or combination of these things was the draw for me. Sometimes my mind wanders to the idea that it was a higher power, or fat. No matter the initial fascination, the truth is that it was a part of us for many years, far before we understood the meaning of what it meant to be a police officer.
The truth is, now as an adult, with a wife and responsibilities, I realize that being a police officer is one of the most selfish jobs in the world. I selfishly enjoy the badge, the uniform, and the cool car. More than those material things, I deeply, selfishly enjoy the feeling that I get when I screw in Marion’s light bulb on Excelsior Street, remove the flying, blood- sucking bat from Cheryl’s bathroom on Elms Boulevard and arrest the drug dealer that is selling drugs near Lewis Elementary School. So many of you come to me and thank me for the job I do, hug me, pray for me, and watch my back, just as I do yours. The truth is that when I do these things, almost every one of you will say thank you as I walk out the door and it makes me feel good. I selfishly love the love that you show me.
It is true that not every day do I hear “thank you” or “God bless you,” but when I hear it, more importantly, when I earn it by providing you a service, I feel good. I am selfish.
I now know this is the true meaning of being a police officer.
The country in many places is now in a state of emergency involving the police and communities. The thing that makes me feel good in this rough time period is that many of us at the Excelsior Springs Police Department are working extremely hard to ensure that you trust us, that you respect us, that you support us, and that you love us.
My goal for this letter is for you to better understand me and my co-workers. Also, I want you to feel comfortable walking up to a police officer, or into the police station and ask us to try to better patrol your neighborhood, or inquire as to the reasons why we do certain things, or the way we do them.
If you wonder why you drive through town and constantly see police cars pulling over people, it’s not because we have a quota or need the revenue. Many of us are trying to reduce hazardous moving violations that could lead to an accident or find other crimes such as narcotics, stolen items, or drunk drivers before they kill a family of four. And if you ever find those lights behind you, remember that it is not personal; that one of the reasons above may be the initial intent leading to your citation.
Briefly, understand that behind that intimidating car, behind that shiny badge, and under that body armor is a body that bleeds. We are not robots; we feel happiness, excitement, and now more than ever, fear
As I drive around your neighborhood at 3 a.m. and notice your garage door open, I now stop my patrol car, notify dispatch where I am, just in case I fail to respond to them in a timely fashion they can send someone to look for me. I then walk to your front door, in the pitch dark, and my palms begin to sweat, my heart beats faster, I begin to look for a safe place to stand near your front door, just in case. I ring your doorbell, hoping that this isn’t the house hiding a wanted man who will never go back to jail, and then you answer the door, likely in your pajamas. I inform you that your garage door is open. You respond, “thank you, I must have forgotten.” Your words make my worries wash away and as you close the garage and return to bed, I set off to find another. I will complete the cycle for as many garages as I can find. Why, you ask? Because I am selfish.
I love this city, more than sometimes my family wants me to. Every day I will suit up and give my best to protect your family. I will give my life for yours, because it is who I am. I will replace your great-grandmother’s light bulb because she has no one else to do it at the moment. I am your Excelsior Springs police officer. I want you to trust me. I want you to believe in your police department.
And Excelsior Springs citizen, I want you to love me.
– One of your many Excelsior Springs officers
(Editor’s note: The Standard requires letter writers to identify themselves by name. We made an exception in this case because the officer who wrote the letter told us he wanted to represent the feelings of all his fellow officers.)