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Home  >  Topics  >  ballistic vests

March 07, 2014
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Keith Bettinger Musings of a Retired Cop
with Keith Bettinger

Life off duty: How my 3 sons made me wear my vest

I want to tell you the story about an act of love which took place years ago while I was still an active police officer back in the 1980s

An act of love can be many things. Acts of love evolve — love isn’t the same when we’re older as it was when we were younger. Romantic dinners for two may eventually be replaced with providing emotional support during times of personal crisis. 

Love one day may be a romantic evening, away from the kids, and the next day, love may be with sitting up with a sick child, romance not even in your universe of thought. 

Acts of love are as many and varied as there are people willing to love. This love story is about the special bond between my children and me, and still means the world to me to this day.

Vested Interest
Years ago — while still an active police officer — I had dinner with the New York State Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary President and her husband. During an enjoyable dinner, I was asked if my wife Lynn, had received, filled out, and mailed back the questionnaire for "Vested Interest.” 

The Auxiliary President had taken this on as a pet project for the auxiliary, and was looking for 100 percent participation from her members. The goal of Vested Interest was to make sure your police officer wears a bullet-resistant vest at work and returns home safely.

As we were talking, she kept asking if my wife Lynn had sent it in. I told her we had intended to fill it out, and I intended to bring it with me, but we hadn’t gotten around to completing it. 

I promised her we would fill it out, and make sure it got mailed back to Vested Interest and that it would be signed by both of us. Both of us were to sign the document because when you sign as a police officer, you promise to wear your vest while you're working. When your spouse or loved one signs, they’re pledging that they will hound you in your off time so you do wear your vest on duty. 

Vested Interest had found a way to convert nagging into an act of love.

3 Co-Conspirators
The following day, I circled the appropriate information, and filled in the blanks in other places, and signed on the dotted line. After I was finished, I left it on the dining room table for Lynn to sign. My three sons, Sean, Brett, and Derek (13, 11, and eight years old at the time) were milling around the table, afraid that they were missing something — possibly a meal — and asking Lynn what she was doing. 

She told them she had to sign this to make sure that I would wear my vest. 

After Lynn signed and left the room, I heard the three boys discussing something in a stage whisper. 

Soon, they went back to whatever it was they were doing.

I wanted to get the questionnaire in the mail, so I went over to make sure Lynn had signed it, and that it was ready to be mailed. 

I looked the document over one last time, and saw on the three lines below Lynn's signature — there was space for more than one signature — were the neatly written signatures of Sean, Brett, and Derek.

Each pledged that they would be sure that I — their father — would wear my vest.

Those three children — who in their young lives changed romantic dinners for two into eating pizza off of paper plates, and caused many a romantic evening between me and my wife to be postponed so we could comfort a little one who was sick — had shown me a wonderful act of love.

Thank you, boys. I love you too!


About the author

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County (N.Y.) Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publications for more than 25 years and has received 18 awards for his articles, stories, poems, and books. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. During his career he received the department’s Bravery Medal, Silver Shield Award, Meritorious Police Service Award, Special Service Award, Professionalization Award, Department Recognition Award, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct commendations. He also was a field training officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents.

Keith has written two books, Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny, and End of Watch. He has also contributed stories to the following anthologies: Cop Tales 2000, Charity, True Blue, To Protect and Serve, and Dad’s Bow Tie. He also shares with Jack Miller, the screenplay Master Cheat. Keith lives in Las Vegas with his wife Lynn.

Contact Keith Bettinger





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