'Police Hero' Finalist: My dad, proud on and off-duty
By Jonathan Rosene
My dad was a proud-serving Illinois State Police officer who retired after 30 years as a Master Sergeant roughly 10 years ago. I remember him coming home after work in the evening when I was still a kid; after dinner he'd be in the living room squaring his uniform away for work the next day as he'd watch Hill Street Blues.
Once the dining room table had been cleared of the dishes, he’d have his Smokey the Bear hat sitting in the middle of it with heavy books on the brim to keep it flat and looking sharp. Little did I know my future path was being forged quietly in my subconscious mind. I couldn't wait to hop into the old squad car and have him pull in front of the main doors of the elementary school with all the other kids watching. The degree of my pride could have been measured with the length of a yard stick, by starting at one end of my grin and ending at the other.
He was a solid example for me even when he wasn’t in cop mode. He gave me a Bible for my church Confirmation that was later destroyed in an unfortunate accident. I was heartbroken. It meant so much to me because it came from him.
Time passed and he eventually found out about the loss of the Bible through a friend of mine. He surprised me with a replacement one day. In it he had written: "This is your life's guide to faith, a possession of the heart, which can never be destroyed." I read the message with his voice in my head and the conviction in which it was said in my heart.
I'm different than my dad though. I had a harder time growing up and settling down. In an attempt to find direction and stability in my life I joined the Army Military Police Corps, serving most of my 8 ½ years in the National Guard. Once I felt I had the experiences I wanted from that venture I followed the voice of my spirit when it told me to travel beyond the safe zone of familiar territory.
I found myself in New Zealand without much of a plan but with a burning desire still in my heart to wear the badge just like him. So through a series of blurry events I'm now a New Zealand Police Officer, married to a cute little blond Kiwi who is a Detective. She and I make a great team as husband and wife just like he and my late step-mother always had.
While on patrol I often wish I had him sitting next to me in the empty passenger seat. My test of reasonableness and fairness as a police officer in any given situation comes less from statute and more from what I know of him as a police officer. Everything from my compassion and attitude to the shininess of my boots stems from his quiet example.
I’ve always wanted to be like my dad, and now, in the important ways, I guess I am.
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