Friday, July 24, 2009


Messaged for a while with one of my colleagues from the old agency.  Things are not better there, worse, if anything.  He said I was missed, just for the common sense I used to bring to the situation.  I felt a stab of guilt.  Would things be better if I had stayed?  Maybe.

There were good friends there. We have shared a lot over the years.  Blood sweat and tears? Yeah.  As much as we protected each other's safety we also, when we could, kept each other sane.  It's easy to spend so much time with killers and hustlers that you start to confuse that place with the world.  Seeing good, honorable, men and women every day gave us all permission to be better than the dark.  When something, either a particular event or just the mass of stuff, got to you there was always someone to talk to.

Some people did get damaged. They were usually the ones who didn't talk.

Keeping them safe and keeping them sane was the job.  Everything, every last thing, centered around that.  Even taking care of the prisoners, dealing respectfully and humanly (you can be humane without being human, being human is both). That is what sergeants were for.  Directives would come down, some of them breath-takingly out of touch with reality... and it was the job of the sergeants to find some way to make it work.  Safely.

The number of truly bad decisions, and their impact, had been steadily increasing.  Some of them would have made satirist Jonathan Swift proud:  "We are NOT lowering standards, sergeant. We are simply changing the standards so that more people pass."

There was more.  I was burning out and wanted more challenge, but like most people, that alone wouldn't have been enough to make me leave a job I loved.  It took more.  When the last line was crossed...

But I had to leave people behind. People I still care about.  People who have to deal with stuff with a little less support.  They'll be fine. I know that. One person left (more, now- some fine officers have left as well) but there are still many, many good people there. And they will take care of each other.

But every so often I still feel guilty.


Unknown said...

It's difficult to convey how close you become to people you work with when your safety lies in each other's hands. Law enforcement, combat vets, firefighters all share this type of bond. In many ways, they become your family.
Isn't it fun being a Sgt? I used to refer to myself as a shit filter. I filtered the crap coming down from Admin to make sure my people didn't suffer unduly and I filtered it going back up the COC in order to get my people what they needed. It's where the supervisory "rubber hits the road" and a lot of the time the tire doesn't have much fun.

Kami said...

I think no matter where you leave from, you'll be missed because of the way you contribute to overall safety. And wherever you go next, you'll do your best to make things better for everyone.
You'll always be a sarge. :-)

Anonymous said...

Good grief-is is difficult being the center of the universe?

Unknown said...

Assuming the universe is infinite, every point is the center. The fact that I happen to be the center of the universe, doesn't diminish the fact that you are too.

Unknown said...

Oh, that was good Vaughn. Really good. The actual most difficult part for me as the center of the Universe is the occasional vertigo I get from everything spinning around me.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, you are missing all the fun -- new Shurf, who had the job some years back, took over from the recently-deposed one who left under a dark cloud.

The new skipper is seventy years old, and, according to the law, has to be re-certified to serve. Four months at the academy, which would make him the oldest guy ever.

The job isn't pounding a beat or working in the jail, it would kind of be like asking the CEO of McDonald's to flip burgers, and our legislature passed an exemption, sort of. He still had to pass the physical, which he did with flying colors, and an open-book test, which he has now failed twice.

So it's back to the academy after all ...