How did we meet? I remember, it was about a year ago. I arrived for a scheduled ride along, and a Sergeant of unknown faith assigned me to ride with an Agent for the night. He introduced me to the Agent and requested that I make contact with a few officers on his squad during the shift. The officers responded to a child drowning call the night before, and some of them “may be having a hard time with it,” he said. “I think you could be of assistance, and I want to make sure they get a chance to talk with you if they want.”
During the shift I was able to make connections with the officers, lend an ear, and offer prayers of support. When I met officer “Adam,” he immediately looked at me and said, “Chaplain, we need to talk.” Even though it was the first time we met, Officer Adam was comfortable enough to release tears as he described the pain of what he experienced the night before. He told of how he felt helpless inside when he arrived on scene followed by the frustration and eventual anger that this type of unnecessary tragedy could have been avoided. After he finished venting his story, He concluded by saying, “There, now you have it. You know what I saw and how it felt. I needed to get that off my chest.”
Fast forward six months…
Officer Adam is transporting a prisoner in his patrol car to the jail and is rear ended while sitting at a red light. Adam sustained injuries consistent with the impact of a rear-end collision at 50 mph. He endures numerous medical procedures and surgeries and is put on light duty assignments. I drop in on him every few weeks letting him know I’m praying for him. I check on his recovery and how he is progressing with the emotional side of the injury.
Fast forward 10 months…
I receive a text from Officer Adam at 8:30pm that reads, “Paperwork came through. I am being medically retired. Today is officially my last day. I’m off in 30 minutes.” I jumped in my truck and headed to the PD. I stood and listened to the officer as he retold of his 20+ years in the Navy serving our country and his time as a SEAL. He retold of enjoying every one of the nearly eight years he spent on the police force. “It’s a sad day,” he said. “Pretty ironic too,” he continued. “I jumped from countless planes, exploded things, shot thousands of rounds of ammunition, swam hours at a time in dark water, and a car crash in the city finishes my career.”
On his final day of service, Officer Adam was not thrown a going away party, no service award, no cards of thanks, and no banner overhead as he exited. For what it’s worth, I figured I would be there. I was proud to be there with him and honored to be his friend. I stayed alone with him until his shift ended. “Chaplain, you didn’t have to come down here,” he said. “Yes I did,” was my reply. “This is your last day with the department, and I wanted to support you all the way to the end.” “You have my number,” he said, “and you’re on Facebook, so let’s keep in touch. God bless you, Chaplain. Thanks for what you do for us.”
Thank you, Officer Adam, for your generous service and sacrifice to our Nation and to our City. May God bless you and your family. When you see a cop today, smile, say hello, and lift a silent prayer for their safety.