I was lucky to have had a remarkable career. I worked with some of the best human beings that walked this earth. Their honor, sacrifice, duty and humanity leaves me with pride that continues to this day. I am proud I can say I was an Albuquerque police officer. I gladly display my retired APD sticker on my vehicles. I refuse to hide or cower under the current “politically correct” pressures.
My partners and I protected our city under all conditions and we refused to accept anyone who would tarnish our badge or disrespect our trust as guardians of our community. I remember many times officers buying a prisoner food on the way to jail because they hadn’t eaten for days. Officers bought groceries for families and toys for children out of their own pockets. I watched an officer hold the hand of a dying man knowing that this was his last moment on earth. He wouldn’t let go because he wanted the man to know that someone cared about him. I remember talking a young girl out of jumping off the Paseo bridge one night. She was scared, and I was able to gain her confidence. I never had any formal training in crisis intervention at that time, but I remembered what one of the old-timers had told me a long time ago: “Be a human and try to relate with people you contact. It’ll make your life a lot easier.”
I had a ride-along that night. He asked me, “How did you do that?”
I shrugged and said, “I guess that’s what cops do.”
How true that is. Cops are put into situations that no one else wants deal with. They have to enforce laws they didn’t write, deal with people who no one else wants to touch, solve impossible problems, and as the point of the sword of society they receive the wrath of the media when something goes wrong.
We worked weird shifts, bad days off, holidays, special events, investigations that went into endless hours, shorthanded, lousy pay, old equipment or no equipment. We missed our kids’ birthdays, soccer games and band concerts. Our spouses put up with this god-awful occupation but encouraged us when we came home tired and depressed. If we were asked to do the job again, we’d say, “Hell yes!”
I saw some of my friends who didn’t make it to retirement. Their end of watch came abruptly and too soon. They died doing the job that we all love. They were police officers.