There are times in every police officer’s career when they may be seduced by thoughts of just giving up. It might be after they have been passed over for a job assignment, or promotion. It could be after a judge makes a decision that shows compassion for a criminal and disregards the concerns of a victim. It could be in a ditch along the interstate while struggling over control of a duty weapon and their arms are feeling like lead weights. Tragically it could be when an officer’s life blood is flowing onto the pavement, while lying seriously wounded and tenaciously trying to hold onto life.
There is a poem that has been inspiring Americans for many years. Sadly, no one knows for certain who wrote it, but the message is so simple it is profound to think about the impact that it has had on so many. It could have been written with police officers in mind. The author received no fame, no fortune, and no credit. The writer just penned these words and left them for all humanity to ponder:
When things go wrong, and they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but you mustn’t quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When one might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You might succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned to late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the victor’s crown.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the cloud of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit!
Some might think these are just words, but words can be churned into thoughts. Thoughts can inspire decisive actions and deeds that lead to success or even survival.
If one was to ask an Olympian if they had any poems or quotes that they lived by and kept posted in their training room they would most certainly say “yes.” Some may even pull out a dog-eared copy of a poem that spurred them on to a gold medal. When one thinks about it, there may come a time in a police officer’s life, when the “victor’s cup” may be much more precious than an Olympic Gold medal. It might be life itself.
Next time you are in the gym working out, on a trail running, on the range shooting, or pounding a bag in your defensive tactics class, imagine yourself facing a determined suspect on the street. Give your training some context and make your preparations real rather than mindless repetitions. Think these words:
I must stick to the fight when I’m hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that I mustn’t quit.
Stay safe, stay strong, stay positive.