Much attention is given to training our officers in the physical skills required to perform at an optimal level. Certainly these are important topics; allowing our personnel to win each and every encounter. An area often overlooked, however, is teaching officers to prioritize.
Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to work a few different assignments. I have also fallen victim to allowing my universe to revolve around the job or a given undertaking.
Now that I’m a bit older and have two children of my own, I can say this without reservation. No matter what my day has held, the most enjoyable portion of it is walking through the door and hearing two squealing toddlers yell, “Daddy’s home!”
Three Key Concepts
Several years ago, while working as a Field Training Officer, I would commonly ask of any new recruit officer assigned to my car, “What kind of support network do you have at home, and are they on board with what you’re doing?”
At the time, my main concern was the mindset of the trainee in my car, but over time I came to realize that it goes much deeper than that.
Here are a few concepts that have helped me to keep my priorities straight.
1.) Be Home — The deal I have with my family is simple. When I’m home, I’m home.
I put the cell phone in the back, leave the laptop computer closed, and focus on being a husband and father.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and during those times, I explain to my family the importance of this task or that, and work to make up the time with them. Again, this is the exception.
2.) Let Them Be Involved — As cops, we all want to insulate our loved ones from the gritty world we live and operate in.
“Fine, Routine, and Nothing,” are all words we use to describe our shift when asked by a loved one.
Granted, there are issues we deal with on a daily basis that are beyond the comprehension of even the most hardened law enforcement family. We can, however, put an effective filter in place and still remain communicative. The mundane to us may just be the most exciting thing your grade school child has heard all day.
3.) Be Involved — This is the flip side. Even at three and a half, my oldest is excited to share her day with me, read her new book, or recite the latest daycare song she learned.
We must be involved in the lives of our children — the day may soon come where they no longer want that involvement. What will we have given up and was it worth it? I have personally found that reading a new favorite book, or watching my daughters sing a nursery rhyme is a stress reliever like no other.
Teachers, Trainers, FTOs
As a trainer, I often work with young cops who have young families. This is a topic I often dedicate some time to.
As I round the corner on the latter half of my career, I realize more and more just how important the support network is to our survival.
Work with your people to keep them safe. Help them keep their priorities in line. Help them keep the little ones saying, “Daddy’s home!”