It’s a tragic actuality that law enforcement officials don’t often make the headlines till they’re accused of doing one thing mistaken.

If every part goes proper, they’re both anonymous or identified solely by the quantity on their badge.

If one thing goes haywire, their title is in every single place – and all too typically convicted in the court docket of public opinion earlier than all the info are even identified.


At the danger of stating the apparent, it isn’t simple to be a cop nowadays, if it ever was.

U.S. legislation enforcement officers are the umpires of American life. According to current statistics, there are practically 18,000 police businesses throughout the nation. From main metropolis departments to one-sheriff cities, near 700,000 courageous women and men put on a badge of some type, vowing to place their lives on the line in an effort to defend your life and mine.


Up till this previous Monday, Steve Pugsley was one in all these heroes on the skinny blue line. A 29-year veteran of the Colorado Springs Police Department, Steve joined the pressure in 1991 after serving six years as an officer again in his hometown of Chicago.

But after being shot at five occasions in the final 2½ years in Colorado, Steve determined sufficient was sufficient.

“I didn’t think pushing my luck any further was smart,” he texted me. “I’ve pushed the limit long enough.”

Steve and I have been buddies for over 20 years, and I’ve lengthy admired him as a police officer straight from Central Casting.

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With a cool and calm demeanor, Steve is the man you need in the center of a disaster. A member of the bomb squad, in addition to a beat cop for years, he’s unflappable – and indefatigable.

During two separate Olympic video games in 2002 and 2004, Steve served as a “runner guard” for the Olympic torch relays, which coated hundreds of miles. There have been some days when he ran greater than 30 miles – and would then rise up the subsequent day and do it another time.

But the curtain falls on even the most storied profession, and this previous Monday Steve discovered himself in the group room of the Falcon substation, a modest outpost that sits simply south of the U.S. Air Force Academy. A regular retirement ceremony often attracts about 50 folks – however there have been over 150 jammed inside, each seat taken and others ringing the partitions, overflowing out into the foyer.

“To you it is a call for service,” Steve instructed his fellow officers, referencing the dozens of emergencies every day. “But for those we’re calling on, it might be the moment that changes their life, potentially forever.”

After the tributes and items, Steve stepped as much as the lectern and bid farewell in his typical low-key style, lauding his fellow officers, but in addition sharing some lessons from a extremely embellished profession:

1. Try to study one thing new each day. All the world is a classroom. Listen greater than you discuss. Ask questions. Steve patrolled a gritty a part of city and acquired to know a lot of the more difficult folks on a first-name foundation, even studying from some alongside the method.

2. Beware of ruts. Nothing in life is routine. “To you it is a call for service,” he instructed his fellow officers, referencing the dozens of emergencies every day. “But for those we’re calling on, it might be the moment that changes their life, potentially forever.”

 3. Be courageous – however be humble. “Instead of being a badge in front of a person,” he reminded them, “be a person worthy of wearing the badge.” Humility retains us grounded – and teachable. Steve by no means thought of himself superior to anyone, however felt nice empathy for everyone. He saved his patrol automotive trunk stuffed with hats and gloves for these dwelling on the streets. “Nobody freezes to death on my watch,” he mentioned.

4. Stay lively – however activate the proper issues. “You can pump all the iron you want, but if you don’t take care of your heart (emotional health) you’re wasting your time,” Steve mentioned. In refined and sober phrases he alluded to the rise in police suicides and the stress and pressures of the position. “Don’t let the job eat you alive. Find your outlet. Talk it out. Look out for your buddy.”

 5. Endure. We can typically do greater than we expect we’re able to doing. An ultra-marathoner, Steve talked about competing in the grueling Leadville 100 mountain race in 2000 and carrying with him this reminder on a card: “You’ll never know how far you can go until you’ve gone too far.” He carried that card in his “go-bag” for the final 19 years of his profession.

Steve likened his tenure to the parable of the starfish – the historical story of the outdated man who scoffed at a younger boy for throwing the beached creatures again into the sea.

“Son,” the man snickered, “there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

Smiling, the boy picked up one other starfish and tossed it again into the roaring surf.

“I made a difference to that one,” the little man mentioned softly.


“We can’t save them all,” Steve remarked in closing, referencing all the instances and all the folks of the metropolis. “But don’t miss the opportunity to save the one in front of you.”

I’m grateful for Steve and all his fellow law enforcement officials close to and much, America’s courageous guardians who hold watch in order that we will reside in peace.


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