When you graduate the academy you are convinced that you are indeed a warrior. You are hard core for you will deal with violence; you are the modern day paladin. You are tough. But then you begin to notice something about your colleagues. You are surrounded by a huggy bunch. What gives here?
A Stronger Bond
If you ever attend a police funeral, police memorial day service, or are around a bunch of cops after one is severely injured, heaven forbid, brace yourself. You will see the two cops that you know are roughest and maybe even jaded, hug each other. Don't let this shock you.
The longer you work in this vocation you will notice there will be a bond that develops. When you work with a squad so long, go through thick and thin together, there is a bond there, very similar to those who have served in combat together.
You become brothers and sisters to each other. Strangely enough, I have seen some bonds as close as if not closer than blood family. I still have a few "brothers from a different womb" who are extremely close to me. Yes, when I see them, we hug.
It often takes a major or emotional event to remove our mental armor but it happens. Any Police Memorial Day observance will rekindle memories of brothers and sisters we lost. Yes, real cops cry. Yes, real cops hold onto each other. No, you are not losing your mind seeing this.
Yes, this will more than likely happen to you in time. Do not expect it the first few times; this family bond is often earned with time.
The Finger Jab
Always after a traumatic event several within a department will precipitate the finger jab or vest check moments. I recall years ago when an officer was killed feloniously, the next few nights as we left roll call one of the crankiest old sergeants stood by the door and poked each of us with his finger. He was checking to see if we had our ballistic vests on.
Now, today we are in a much more politically correct climate, especially for officers and supervisors of the opposite sex. But a question or friendly reminder about wearing a vest is just as good as the finger poke. Both tell me that the sergeant is worried and cares.
Recently, I was attending a conference with some old pals. In the hotel lobby were a bunch of overgrown kids who happened to be cops that were hugging and back slapping brothers. It is what we do, what makes us tick. Don't hold it against us. We are just brothers and sisters.
Yes, there are those who do not perform this ritual. I pity them, although they may have great occupations and make more money than a bunch of cops. But they also don't have the brothers and sisters that we have; they do not have that bond.
As you go through your law enforcement journey, you will not walk alone; you will have your law enforcement family.
Train hard and train for tomorrow; it's coming at you.