The Thin Blue Line

 

MINISTRY MINUTE: When there’s only a minute for ministry  Dr. Ross L. Riggs

The following is re-printed here for all retired law enforcement officers and their families: 

Author: Unknown (attributed to Charles Crawford, Chief of Police, Retired)

~

Once the badge goes on, it never comes off, whether they can see it, or not. It fuses to the soul through adversity, fear and adrenaline and no one who has ever worn it with pride, integrity and guts can ever sleep through the ‘call of the wild’ that wafts through  bedroom windows in the deep of the night.

When a good cop leaves the ‘job’ and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder. We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know in the law enforcement life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the law enforcement world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing. Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the ‘job’ and merely being allowed to leave ‘active’ duty.

So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God,’ and you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.

 

There are different professions that sometimes remark as to the way in which those who serve in them continue to share in the passion for the service long after their active duty tour has ended. Most have heard that there is “no such thing as an ex-Marine” and anyone who carries proudly the name veteran understands that statement regardless of their branch of service. Firefighters are a breed of their own as well. But now, as we begin to near the annual Police Memorial Week hosted in Washington D.C. by the Law Enforcement Foundation and Concerns of Police Survivors, it is time to look toward the police service for its commitment to the safety of American citizens and their posterity.

A well-known symbol among law enforcement is a thin blue line upon a black background. The term of the thin line began in the 19th Century between the British Army – Commander William Russell 93rd Sutherland Regiment and the hussars (cavalry units) and Cossacks of the Russian Army fighting at Balaclava in the Crimea (Ukraine). Rather than using four lines of red dressed soldiers to present rolling volleys of fire, he stretched it out to only two lines to cover more area and did not form a square against the cavalry but kept the volleys of fire coming, driving the Russians into retreat. The ‘Thin Red Line’ was carried on to describe the British units stretched across the globe to defend the British Empire.

In the 20th Century the term was adapted to the ‘Thin Blue Line’ the only thing standing between civilization and total anarchy. It is a very thin blue line. There is a very interesting aspect though to the ‘thin blue line.’ That aspect is its strength and its resilience. No other line, so very thin, so continuously attacked, has developed a survivability that can only have two co-joined sources. The first is faith, a complete trust in the God of our fore-fathers and the second is in the camaraderie that comes with the badge and the service above self that it demands.

There is one thing that holds with the cop that grows deep within his soul. It is that blue line, that thin blue line that crosses the heart, wraps the soul and winds its way through the every aspect of that cop’s life. The retired cop’s family knows it all too well. Whether it is that last walk around the house in the evening to double check the locks on the doors or the unspoken rule in every restaurant in every town; Dad is always to have the seat that has his back to the wall and facing the door. There is that one last word of caution before his daughters head out for the evening or the double take at the cop with the car pulled over on the highway as he drives by, slowly, ready to stop if he sees that the cop needs help.

There will  be the day when the caring stops. There will  come a day when he stops thinking like a cop. That is the day he is laid to rest and he signals in EOS.

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