‘Quiet warriors’: Defining the contemporary American police hero
Help us as we acknowledge an evolving version of police honor and achievement
Sponsored by 5.11 Tactical
By Doug Wyllie for PoliceOne BrandFocus
Policing in America has changed. A spotlight shines intensely on every officer’s every move. With amateur documentary filmmakers — video-enabled smartphones and Twitter accounts in hand — quick to capture any police action they see, and a content-hungry media eager to sell advertising against the latest “viral video” to hit the airwaves, cops can find themselves getting down about their chosen profession.
It’s enough to make one long for the days of Andy Griffith and Joe Friday, where respect for the profession and the men and women in it was cleaner and simpler. Civic interactions were more positive, and police as portrayed in mainstream culture stood for ideals like truth, justice, fortitude, and courage.
Fast forward to 2016 and you have men and women in uniform who have that same stoic commitment to service, and believe in those very same ideals. But it doesn’t feel the same. People choose to enter law enforcement because they believe that being a cop means helping people and protecting the community from evil — not because they seek hero worship — but it’s human nature to crave appreciation and to be stung by uninformed criticism.
It’s a shame, but it’s also a call for an evolved definition of what it means to be a police hero.
A New Label for Police Heroism
As abstract and often reviled as the term ‘hero’ is within law enforcement, we’ve always found it an important concept to consider given the stakes. There are so many opportunities for heroism as a police officer, from lifesaving acts on patrol to the personal sacrifices required by the profession.
We recently partnered with 5.11 Tactical to discuss how best to pay tribute to heroism in law enforcement, and it led to a discussion about how best to define today’s police hero, who may not get a front page spread or a ticker tape parade.
Make no mistake, there are singular achievements worthy of accolades, and we do our best to call attention to them on PoliceOne. But there is a general state of being among law enforcers that can be harder to capture with a single anecdote. It’s a single, connected mindset that is captured in the humility of responses when we do highlight achievement.
From the individual, there is a genuinely humble ‘just doing my job’ that characterizes their response to our coverage of their act or achievement. From PoliceOne readers, it’s something similar — a ‘that’s great, but that’s not why we do this’ that represents an utterly genuine humility.
We challenged ourselves to define that mindset, that state of being. And after discussion, we arrived on a single term that had everyone’s heads nodding: ‘quiet warrior.’
What Defines a ‘Quiet Warrior’?
Every day, cops conduct themselves with the highest levels of professionalism, compassion, heroism, and humility. They do the job with honor not because they seek recognition, but because being the good guy is in their DNA.
The very term captures an important mindset: ‘quiet’ in the composed, balanced way you approach policing, ‘warrior’ in constant alertness and readiness to take whatever comes your way, much of which won’t lead to a front-page news story or PoliceOne article.
The quiet warrior is:
• Humble, yet focused
• Appreciative of acknowledgement but not driven by it
• Steely and intense, yet reserved
• Strong in the face of adversity
• Courageous, yet cautious
• Compassionate toward those in need
• Forthright and honest
• Committed to improving the community
• Stoic, yet tender-hearted
• Loyal to the profession and its professionals
On countless occasions, quiet warriors do something special for someone above and beyond the call of duty, often times changing that person’s life forever for the better. One officer passes a couple of kids at a lemonade stand, and one radio call later, a half dozen cops are there to buy a cup or two from those young entrepreneurs. A cop notices a homeless man with bare feet, so he goes and purchases shoes and socks for the indigent man. A deputy seeks a bunch of young men playing basketball, and he stops to show off his hardwood skills, leaving a lasting impression that “he’s just like us.”
The Quiet Warrior Program
With the Quiet Warrior program — a partnership with 5.11 to recognize and define a mentality of modern law enforcers everywhere — we are aiming to pay tribute to law enforcement heroism in a new, unique way. A big part of it is inviting you to help us define what being a contemporary police hero — a ‘quiet warrior’ — means in daily practice.
In future articles, we will be exploring the ‘quiet warrior’ archetype — both in theory and in practice — and we want to hear from P1 readers: what does being a ‘quiet warrior’ mean to you? Head over to this website to stand up and be counted among law enforcement’s quiet warriors.