Ah, the first month of the new year. It’s a month of parties, football, snow or snowbirds (depending on where you live), and just generally good feelings. Then the winter wears on. Football ends for nearly everybody’s team; ice appears on the roadways at the worst time (who hasn’t had the thrill of that tactical 360-degree spin en route to a call); and all those resolutions you made suddenly become ancient history.
I think it is a good idea to come up with some practical, do-able resolutions that might ensure we are all around reading Police next year.
In fact, I think we should draw this up as a contract and sign it. Things that I actually affix my signature to seem much more important than the ones I just keep in my head. So photocopy this page or clip it out of the magazine and consider it a contract between you and yourself.
I, _____________________, do hereby “resolve” to keep the following “resolutions” in 2006:
• I will do less multi-tasking. When I am flying low in my vehicle, I will actually attend to driving and not to my in-car computer or my cell phone!
• I will have someone watch me do routine activities and tell me if I have any bad habits. Bad habits are invisible because they are truly “habits” that we develop because routine de-trains us constantly. When a K-9 searches a building and doesn’t find anybody, many agencies will send an officer dressed in protective gear into the building to take a bite. This keeps the dog sharp. But we let humans search hundreds of buildings and respond to false alarms galore without understanding that we are de-training them out of good tactics and allowing them to develop bad habits.
• I will train my body to be the best ________________-year-old body it can be. I will include both cardiovascular and strength training in my lifestyle. Yes, I understand that donuts, coffee, and beer are not good for me, but I am allowed to have some of each in moderation. (The key to successful New Year’s resolutions is to keep them reasonable.)
• In 2006, I will remember the things in life I should love and the things I enjoy. Most of all, I will remember that the social contract between my agency and me is simply, “I work and they pay me.” It is not ______________________________ ’s job to make me happy; it is mine.
Too often we overinvest emotionally in our agency and then we feel betrayed when “it” doesn’t love us. The social contract is this: The agency pays you and, in return, you give it your duty, honor, loyalty, selflessness, and courage. Great bargain for the agency, eh? There is an old saying, “Love your God, your country, your family, and what you do, but do not love your agency…it cannot love you back.”
• I will look for the heroes in my midst. I will look into the eyes of the nurse who risks truly caring about her patients, the teacher who is truly committed to his students, and the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines all around the world and those who are returning to us every day from far away and express my gratitude and respect.
• Finally, I will look in the mirror and remember what drew me to this wonderful profession…and see the hero in the mirror.
OK, I know this is a lot of work, but being the best warrior you can be takes a lot of work. Defeating the terrible effects of routine and the stress of working in a bureaucracy takes special effort, whatever your rank. So give these resolutions a shot, and I pray to have you around reading this column at the start of “ought-seven.”
Dave Smith is the creator and star of the “Buck Savage” series and a former law enforcement officer from Arizona. Currently, he is the lead instructor for Calibre Press’ Street Survival Seminar.