Why cops need to protect themselves to serve others

You don’t have feet of clay, move if your current companions are dragging you down

It’s estimated that there are around 8,000 soldiers once buried in the ground outside Xian, China. An army of soldiers — each individual in their appearance — meant to serve and protect the first emperor of China in the afterlife.

Buried for more than 2,000 years, some have not stood the test of time. Several of the pits the warriors are buried in were vandalized by thieves. In some, fires were set which burned the roof supports — what fire couldn’t accomplish, time did. The ground collapsed in on them and they were crushed.

Terra Cotta is easily crushed. Yes, these warriors are famous sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang. And we can learn a lot from them.

We’re Like the Terra Cotta Warriors
In each of the three pits where the warriors are located is an area known as the “warriors hospital.” Here, the shards of fired clay are painstakingly identified and reassembled by archeologists. Some are fully reconstructed and some have parts that were too badly crushed or missing.

When they were made, the statues had legs of solid clay, a body that was hollow and a face modeled after an individual warrior.

Each of us is like one of those warriors. We have the outside pressures placed upon us and how much pressure and how well we are put together determines if we withstand the pressure, crack, fracture, or shatter.

If the insides of the warriors had been filled with something, that would have increased their abilities to take the pressure. Filling them with sand might have been a quick and inexpensive way of accomplishing that. In the old west they used the term ‘sand’ to describe things like guts, courage, determination, and willpower.

Each one of us will be under different levels of pressure in our lives, a critical incident that lasts seconds, job stress that lasts years, physical illness or impairment that can last a month or a  lifetime.

Filling Your Life with Good Things
So what can you do to get the sand that you need to prepare for and with the coming pressures? Let’s start with the simple daily things: a good night sleep, a good diet, a regular exercise program, and a daily session of When/Then mental imagery go far in filling you with sand.

Read books, magazines, and websites with good information on how to do your job better and how to help you cope. Below are some great recommendations:

These are just a few suggestions for any warrior’s reading list. The concepts and ideas contained in these works, and others, give you the knowledge to be prepared for the coming pressures and a means of recognizing and dealing with them before they creep up and blindside you.

Unlike the emperor’s warriors, you don’t have feet of clay and you aren’t buried in rank after rank of your fellow warriors. Take the effort to step outside your brother and sister warriors and maintain some friendships and relationships with people not involved in law enforcement. It will give you a different perspective from outside the ranks for a fresh view of the world.

We strengthen or weaken ourselves by the people that we choose to surround ourselves with. If you spend your time with cynical, bitter people, that becomes your world. Hang out with optimistic, positive people and the world takes on another view. You don’t have feet of clay, move if your current companions are dragging you down.

Develop a strong support system of co-workers, friends and mentors. The friends and co-workers are there to support you on a daily basis, the mentors to guide you and prepare you for the future. Create that small group of people who you can turn to, the people that you can truly trust.

That support system is just as important as training, knowledge and experience for success in this profession. They will provide a lot of the “sand” that you will need when the pressure builds. If you don’t have that system in place now, start to build it. If you have it, don’t assume that it will last. The members of your support system will move, fade away and eventually pass away.

Cracks Will Ultimately Lead to Being Crushed
Over time, if we are not careful the outside pressure will exploit any cracks or weaknesses that we have. Lack of sleep and poor diet are two of our weakest points. Recognize that and make them a top priority.

Cracked and broken can be fixed, crushed to powder can’t. Before things get to that point, take those steps to relieve the pressure, whether that bedays off, exercise, or talking to a friend or a counselor.

The Terra Cotta Warriors are cold, inanimate objects that could not move. You can, so a change of shift, or precinct, or department may be the best choice you can make to keep yourself whole.

A Terra Cotta Warrior will eventually crumble. A true warrior has a duty is to stay alive and healthy. 

About the author

In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career he served as patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., Use of Force and Firearms Instructor, and is currently employed by the Parkers Prairie Police Department. He is also a full time instructor in the Law Enforcement Program at Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, Minnesota. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University, and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University. Duance has previously published articles on Calibre Press and IALEFI and served on the Advisory Board for Lt. Col. Dave Grossmans book, On Combat. Contact Duane Wolfe

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