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Editorial by our Vice President Officer Jim Hill

Jim Hill: a day in the life of a police officer

I’ve gotten asked many times throughout my career, what’s it like to be a cop?

Jim Hill

Jim Hill

My response has usually been along the lines of; it’s stressful, it’s exciting and it’s a chance to make a difference in the world.  Lately, I’ve been thinking more about how does the job make you feel every day and how could I sufficiently convey the emotions of just every day cop life.

It’s game time. To all of you who have ever played a sport, think back to those moments when you were getting ready to play the game. As you put your uniform on, every piece has an essential meaning and purpose to making you successful during the game.

As you add each piece of equipment, you also start to put on your game face. Everyone that’s played a sport in a competitive setting knows what it means to put on your game face.

You’re putting away the normal you and bringing to the forefront the laser focused, finely tuned-in athlete that you’ll need to be for the next 60 minutes. You’re getting ready to face you’re opponent across the field or court and it’s time to go to battle.

Policing is similar.

Everyday a cop puts on their uniform and every piece must serve a purpose that may be called on at any moment. Many of us put on compression shorts and shirts under our uniform because its game day. We lace up our boots that we’ve chosen for speed and durability because its game day. We put on our body armor and wonder is this the day it will save me, not be enough or just be hot and uncomfortable, but today is game day so we tighten the straps.

We put on our gun belt that is heavy and awkward, but necessary to carry the tools we might need, but hope we won’t. Last we check our duty weapon, knowing all too well what the implications of needing it could be. As we’re doing all this without any real thought we’re putting on our game face because it’s game day.

The game starts the moment we step out of our homes. We’re in a clearly marked uniform, but the opposing teams aren’t wearing a uniform. As a matter of fact the opposition is wearing the same clothes as everyone else. There won’t be any whistle to tell us when the play starts or ends, it could happen at any time.

We won’t know until the play is in progress whether we’re on offense or defense, but the opposition will. We do know that no matter what is happening in the game or during the play, we’re carrying a “ball” our duty weapon, which the opposition may try to take from us at any moment.

The game is in progress not 60 minutes, but for 8, 10 or 12 hours. There are no timeouts or referees. The game clock is still running when you stop for a soda, for food or to use a public restroom. During times when most people would naturally let their guard down, cops are still on the playing field and never know if a play is about to begin.

It takes a lot of energy to be on the playing field all day long. Especially knowing that if the opposition scores points it could be somebody’s life, even your own.

Then when you get home, you can take the uniform off. However, the game face is never fully gone. See the opponent doesn’t necessarily respect the fact that you’re “off” the playing field. They may want to take the game to your locker room, your house. And the next day, you’ll get up and get ready to join the game already in progress for another shift and another shift and another.

Even in the moments when you’re completely out of your uniform and in your normal clothes to do the normal things that people do, you’ve picked your normal clothes to conceal your off-duty weapon and extra ammo. You know that the game is continuing all around you and your family and you need to be ready to come off the bench at a moment’s notice.

That’s how it feels … but it’s not a game.

Editor’s note: Mr. Hill is Scottsdale resident and member of the law enforcement community

metro-phoenix-chamber-member

Sir Robert Peel – “The Founder of Modern Policing” – Community Policing Principles

“The Peelian Principles” These nine basic principles are often referred to as “The Peelian Principles.” Upon close examination of each of the Peelian principles, not only are direct connections to policing in today’s world apparent, but often the nine principles are cited as the basic foundation for current law enforcement organizations and community policing throughout the world. Many law enforcement agencies currently quote the Peelian Principles on their community websites as their own principles.   Sir Robert Peel 1788 – 1850 “The Founder of Modern Policing”

Sir Robert Peel

 
Peelian Principle 1 – “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”

 Peelian Principle 2 – “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”

Peelian Principle 3 – “Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”

Peelian Principle 4 – “The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.” 

Peelian Principle 5 – “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.” 

Peelian Principle 6 – “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”

Peelian Principle 7 – “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” 

Peelian Principle 8 – “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”

Peelian Principle 9 – “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”