Quiet Warrior: Why it matters that we honor our best

The Quiet Warrior is motivated by the desire to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons

By Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor at Large

A colleague recently asked me, “What does the term ‘Quiet Warrior’ mean to you?”

My reply was, “The quiet warrior shuns the spotlight and shrugs off public praise, but is willing and able to do things that most ordinary humans either cannot or will not do in service of their communities. The Quiet Warriors are the best of us — they are guardians whose bravery and heroism may go unappreciated by a small but vocal fraction of the population, but who are respected and admired by a an equally quiet majority of Americans.”

The Quiet Warrior Program is a partnership between 5.11 Tactical and PoliceOne to honor those who serve
The Quiet Warrior Program is a partnership between 5.11 Tactical and PoliceOne to honor those who serve

My colleague asked me for some examples of quiet warriors. I was simultaneously filled with memories of officers I’ve personally met or read about that fit the description like poster children and also at a loss for words. There were just too many to list.

Some have made headlines, but the overwhelming majority have not. Seeking only the feeling of satisfaction a person feels after having done something to help someone, countless cops have served the public in truly compelling ways that fit the Quiet Warrior mentality.

The acts of a Quiet Warrior can be mundane. Cops change tires for stranded motorists , help a kid learn how to tie a necktie , help a homeless man who was “down on his luck” or help rescue a boy trapped underneath a pontoon dock.

The acts of a Quiet Warrior can also be extraordinary. Cops save people from jumping to almost certain death, rescue people from burning cars (even felons after pursuit), and pull a colleague from the path of an oncoming car.

You can see some of Quiet Warriors we already profiled, such as Officer Jonny Castro, who has created inspiring portraits of fallen officers; Chet Parker, who has organized a program to help connect the homeless in his area with services they desperately need; and Officer Jennifer Maddox, who has worked to connect with the children of one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods and bridge the gap between police and neighborhood residents.

Why a program like Quiet Warrior matters

For the past several years, it’s been tough sledding for coppers in America. It seems that now more than in my memory, citizens are more prone to see cops negatively. This is partly due to how media works now and partly due to how often police are portrayed negatively in pop culture. Despite the fact that every day literally thousands of police-citizen interactions are entirely uneventful — are positive even — that’s not what leads the six o’clock news. And a good cop’s story certainly is not going to be as titillating as a Training Day or a Bad Lieutenant. Of course not all portrayals are bad, but the lately, the majority have been.

This is why I am so thrilled that PoliceOne and 5.11 Tactical have teamed up on this program. I won’t delve deeply into detail on the program itself — click here to get a full description — but suffice it to say that I feel like we’re filling an important need to shed light on just a small fraction of the thousands of positive stories which happen every day in this country. My hope is that these stories are not only seen by those within the profession, but by the citizens as well.  

Doing a tough job with honor and valor

For the Quiet Warrior, the words kindness and service are synonymous. The Quiet Warrior is motivated by their unending desire to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. They don’t seek fame or fortune. They simply do an incredibly difficult job with a deeply held sense of honor, duty, and valor.

Quiet Warriors are faced with astonishing challenges every day, and are increasingly asked to do things for which they have not been trained. They are marriage counselors at DV calls. They are social workers at nuisance calls. They are counselors at calls at schools. They are psychologists at suicide-watch calls.

Despite the fact that the near-constant chorus of criticism continues unabated, the Quiet Warrior dons the ballistic vest and the uniform, straps on the duty belt and polishes the badge for another shift, every day, all day, in every city and town in this great country.

So I say, thank God for the Quiet Warriors. We are more than merely fortunate to have them — without them the world would be a miserable place. 

If you have a Quiet Warrior story, please share it with us here.

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