09/20/2007

Betsy Brantner SmithSurvival Insights
with Betsy Brantner Smith

The Real Stars

I’m going to admit something publicly that I’m a little embarrassed about, and I’ll probably regret doing it, but here goes: I have a subscription to Us magazine. (half of the guys reading this will not even know what that is, but most of the women will!) In fact, I’ve been known to buy People a couple of times a month and read that too. Worse, you can generally find a copy of either of those magazines right next to the current issue of the Police Marksman in my patrol bag. Embarrassing, isn’t it?

OK, so I’m a closet celebrity watcher. I confess, I love reading about “Brangelina” and wondering how the heck Angelina Jolie went from that amazing Lara Croft-Tomb Raider physique and kick-butt, wild child attitude to an anorexic, orphan collecting do-gooder. I silently screamed “I told you so!” when Britney and K-Fed got divorced. In my imagination I high-fived the officer who arrested Lindsay Lohan for her last DUI, and secretly wish to have a beer with the corrections officers who dealt with Paris Hilton’s brief but widely-publicized incarceration. Admit it, there’s a lot of you out there who are with me on this. Who doesn’t love to see those pictures of celebrities doing normal, everyday stuff? “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!”

But are they? Are these people really “stars?” Have they done anything to earn our admiration, or just our curiosity? 

In Ben Stein’s book The Real Stars: In Today's America, Who Are the True Heroes? He talks about the real stars of our society, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military, as well as those who “fight fires and fight crime. . .for modest wages.” Hey, that’s us!

Who are our stars? I’m not talking about the high-profile trainers, authors, experts, and reality TV cops we all see. I’m talking about you, and those just like you.  Officer Robert Wuller, Officer Chris Watson, Deputy Frank Hernandez, Officer Stacy Lim, Deputy Jennifer Fulford, Officer Ray Wolfenbarger, United States Deputy Marshall Mike Thompson, to name just a few. Haven’t heard of most of those people?  You’re not alone. But they are stars; they’ve all done things that we should be talking about, reading about, and celebrating. 

“Street Survival’s” lead instructor, Dave Smith, ends virtually every law enforcement class he teaches by asking the officers to “see the hero in the mirror.” That is great advice, and I’m suggesting that you also see “the star.”  Not only in the mirror, but sitting next to you at roll call, or working in the town next to yours, or on page 22 of the newspaper, or in some tiny story on the Internet. Continue to celebrate each other and our profession for being the thin blue line of defense between the citizens we serve and the evil and chaos that threaten to disrupt and maybe even take their lives. 

PoliceOne and sites like ours are full of stories about the everyday “stars” of our profession, make sure you take the time to read them. Forward them to your friends at work, to your teenagers, to your family. Print them out and read them at roll call, post them on the bulletin board, and remember who the real stars are!

About the author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety's School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy's website at www.femaleforces.com.

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter

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