In this season of gratitude, I'm grateful for…you!


Another year of writing, training and crimefighting has almost come and gone.  I’ll celebrate my 28th anniversary as a cop this month (when did I get so old?!) and we’ll all head into 2008 with our usual resolutions and admonitions to do better, be safer, work smarter.  As I pondered the topic of my final column this year, I kept coming back to why I do it in the first place.  There are many, many reasons why I write, including a rather belated attempt to honor my high school English teacher (thanks, Mrs. Bess!), but the main reason I keep doing it is because you guys write me back!  The feedback I receive from Police One and Newsline readers touches me in a way that nothing else does, so I’m going to wrap up 2007 with some reminders of what we’ve talked about and learned from each other this year. 

Men and Women are Different, yeah, even in police work.  Our bodies are different, our brains function differently, we communicate in very different ways.  Let’s stop trying to fight it (and each other) and accept it.  There’s great equipment out there that’s specifically designed to enhance a woman’s comfort and performance (take a look at some of Safariland’s new belts and holsters for women); get yourself or the women who work for you some really good soft body armor (check out SAVVY Armor for Women, there is nothing else like it on the market), and read a book like Dr. Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain, just for fun or to really impress the members of the opposite sex with your insight and knowledge!

Teach a Kid in Your Life About Gun Safety.  Every year there are tragedies involving cops, kids and guns.  Recognize that kids are curious and their curiosity has to be recognized and satisfied in order for them to be safe!  It’s not enough to say “don’t touch my gun,” you’ve got to de-mystify it in an age-appropriate way.  Keep it simple, and don’t just talk about the dangers of firearms, talk about why you carry a gun (or two!), how you train with it, and what they can do to keep themselves safe around firearms; in other words, Bring Them Into Your World! Read Guns and kids: Feedback from the field.

Work on That Cop/Dispatcher Relationshipreally!  Never have I received more feedback on an article than on “The love/hate relationship between cops and their dispatchers. This is a huge issue in departments throughout the country and beyond!  Kindness, courtesy, and good communication are a great way to start:  try saying “please” and “thank you” over the radio a few times, watch your tone of voice, be patient with each other, and make a coffee run for your dispatchers or offer to share those cookies someone brought into the communications center with the cops.  This is a good time of year for a little internal good will!

Truly Value and Work On Those Other Relationships That Matterthe ones at home!  It can be so easy to lose ourselves in solitude, work-related-only friendships, or a “my family doesn’t understand me” attitude, but these are some of the many things that can lead to our profession’s high rates of divorce, alcoholism, and estrangement.  As we talk about in the Street Survival Seminar TRAIN for those relationships the way you train for your officer safety.  Good relationships take hard work, and like that healthy diet you’re always striving for, if you blow it for a day or two, get back on the wagon immediately!  Watch how you talk to and treat those you love, they’re not your subordinates or your arrestees, and if you screw up, say “I’m sorry,” MEAN IT, and move on.  Remember, this job can be extremely hard on your family, appreciate their sacrifice too.  Read Surviving your relationships.

Law Enforcement is a Brotherhoodwe are brothers and sisters in this profession.  Appreciate each other, take care of each other, and remind each other (and yourself) to practice, train, and use all those skills that you know will help to make 2008 a much safer year for this profession.  I certainly appreciate all of you, and can’t wait to hear from you next year!

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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