I stood in the locker room and looked at myself in the mirror. I was getting sworn in as a police officer in about 15 minutes and I was carefully examining myself in the mirror to ensure I looked perfect in my new uniform. I was so nervous but I was also so proud! I had made this dream come true. I checked myself over and smiled as hard as I’ve ever smiled. “This uniform looks good on me.”
I went downstairs and stood in line with the three other brand new officers getting sworn in with me that day. As we stood in the hall, waiting to go in to the briefing room where I would come to spend so much time over the course of my career, officers from my agency passed us and checked us over, head to toe. The officer’s gazes were full of judgment and no one smiled at us. They walked by slowly and stared at us in a way that said, “You haven’t earned this yet. We shall see if you are worth trusting.” It was in their eyes. The once-over that relayed in moments what I would come to believe myself; Sizing someone up takes seconds, trusting that person with your life takes much longer.
As I stood there against the wall, fresh faced and innocent, I suddenly felt a tug on my gun. I quickly turned to find one officer putting his finger into the empty well of my handgun.
“Hey rookie, where’s your ammo?”
My face was instantly on fire! I stuttered as I explained to him that I didn’t know if I was allowed to have ammunition in my handgun because technically I wasn’t even a cop yet. (I had gotten used to being in the academy and NOT being allowed to carry ammo.) I had no idea what I was supposed to do or not supposed to do and no one had showed me. This officer laughed and reached down into a magazine pouch on his duty belt and retrieving one of his own magazines he quickly and discreetly slid it into the well of my firearm.
He chuckled somewhat discreetly, “Welcome to the action, Rook.”
This officer became one of my closest friends over the years and I am so thankful for his kindness, which, in that moment, reassured me that I now had an extended family for life.
So now I say to you, “Welcome to the family, Rook.” Now that you are sworn in as a police officer you will experience incidents much like the one I just described. You will make mistakes, flounder at times, and experience moments of fear, love, excitement and even boredom. Being a police officer will have your soul running the emotional gamut. You will always have a family and a place here though and by having that bond with your new brothers and sisters you will survive it all. – excerpt from New In Blue: Surviving Your Police Training