Over the past year, I'd like to think you've noticed that I believe firmly in a few core truths. One of those truths, and perhaps the most important to me, is the need to do what's right.
Regardless of the consequences, regardless of how uncomfortable things get, I believe in gritting my teeth, saying what needs to be said and standing firm for the fallout. It's always better to deal with facts than with smoke and mirrors.
Times change, situations change and people change, but what's "right" doesn't. You know what I'm talking about. There's a tiny voice inside your head that usually tells you when you're not doing the "right" thing. We've all failed to listen to that voice at times and usually suffered the consequences later.
That voice is now telling me it's time for me to do the right thing.
Over the past months, I've traveled thousands of miles, met hundreds of readers and spent countless hours helping to put this magazine together. I count you as friends, confidants, beat partners, and when we've forced issues to the front, co-conspirators.
You've laughed with us, and at us. You've shouted and stomped your feet when we've been right and let us know in no uncertain terms when we've been wrong - or when you simply didn't see eye to eye with us.
You've also shed tears with us as we've honored our heroes and our fallen comrades. I know. I've got the letters to prove it, and I can still hear the voices of those who called, just wanting to talk.
But now it's come time for me to do the right thing. It's a tough decision, but one I'll make. The obligations of the magazine, as fulfilling and important as they are, come second to my family. Simply put? Dad's been gone too much; he's spent too many hours at the computer, traveled too many miles, and let too many late night phone calls distract his attention. My 13-year-old daughter and my wife want me around. They want Dad back. And they are right.
Consequently, after no little soul-searching, I've resigned as executive editor of POLICE, but will remain on board as a regular feature and guest editorial writer.
The new editor, David Griffith, and I have become friends, and I will support his efforts at POLICE in whatever way I can. I look forward to a long, eventful, and at times controversial partnership with POLICE. It seems David is game to keep things going in the direction they've been headed.
And it couldn't please me more to hear that.
I'd like to leave you with a few thoughts, though. There are times when you may think your job sucks, times when your chief is a jerk and not supporting you, times when that 3-year-wonder of a sergeant is on your back and times when you are frustrated because the public wants you to do your job and act like a Boy Scout while you do it.
But think back to a month ago, or three years ago, or 25 years ago when you first came on the job. Think hard. Remember why you wanted it so bad you were willing to work hard, to get into shape, to fill out that overwhelming background investigation package and to put up with all the bull in the academy.
You wanted it for a reason then. You wanted it because there is nothing like it in the world. Period. You have seen, and will see, things that "regular" people only imagine or see in the movies. Your hands have directly affected the lives of countless people in a hundred ways.
The rewards of your job are boundless and can't be bought with any amount of money. You've found that lost child, stopped that bleeding, pursued that felon at large, cuffed that child molester, talked to that frightened old woman home alone ... and held her hand while you did it.
There are hundreds, thousands of people who will think of the time you entered their lives, however briefly. From the driver at a traffic stop who left understanding why it was necessary for you to stop her, to the criminal you jailed who needed it, you have touched and will touch so many lives.
Your job counts in the big picture, and there's no escaping that. Be proud. Honor your commitments, hold your obligations in esteem, fight past the bull, stand up to the naysayers ... and continue to do what's right. Nobody else will.
My hat's off to you.