Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I have passed the test. I made it. I am SWAT. Two weeks ago, I became a part of the law-enforcement elite. And while I am elated, I am also humbled. Elated as this is a no kidding life-long ambition come to fruition. Humbled, as I understand the enormous amount of responsibility which I have now been given. Any member of a special-ops team will attest that the responsibilities placed upon them are enormous. We are given the training, the tools and the trust to carry out our mission. Let there be no question, we are a life-saving organization, but we are a also a body who is dedicated to the protection of the innocent. And herein lies the ambiguity; a catch 22 of sorts which causes many some heartburn and which makes the membership of such a team reserved for the top 5% of any law enforcement agency.
At any given moment, I could be placed into a position where my individual decision could in one second, totally and irreversibly affect lives. Why? Why would I or any man for that matter, want this amount of responsibility on their shoulders? Why would any man want to be the one to have to make the decision that could forever alter the personal landscape of another man's legacy? Here is my answer and why I chose to be a part of that 5%. Let me preface my answer by saying that no one-sentence blurb can even come remotely close to adequately answering these questions. But here is my reasoning.
When I got out of the Marines, I knew trust. I knew what it meant for one man to place his well-being and in certain circumstances, place his life in my hands. I bore a tremendous amount of responsibility let there be no doubt. I knew however, that he was also bearing the same amount of responsibility because I was placing my life in his hands as well. It was a sort of morbid reciprocity. A quid-pro-quo of the highest magnitude. I knew that if I was placed in a life or death situation, when I zigged, he was going to zag without even a fleeting thought of self-preservation. I knew this because I witnessed it. I experienced it many times over. When you experience this total unselfishness, when you feel the comfort of this trust, you begin to crave it. You begin to seek out people worthy of your selfless sacrifice; people whom you know will return this trust. You seek to associate yourself with them on any level possible in the hopes that your craving will be satiated. I felt this trust, to a certain degree, when I first became a police officer...but I craved more. I craved the same comfort that I had when I was rushing into insurgent enclaves in Iraq with my fellow Marines. That total and all-encompassing trust that I had as we rushed from house to house not knowing what was on the other side. Knowing only that my Marines were with me; and this knowledge was enough. I hungered for it. Then, I began to talk to the members of our department's SWAT team.
These men spoke a language that I understood. There was the bad guy, and then there was the team...a concept with which I was intimately familiar. They spoke of the unknown, the mission and of their faith in the team. They told me how they would turn left without hesitation of what was right because they knew that their brother had it covered. They spoke of the gravity of taking a human life so that the innocent may live. They trained at every opportunity so that when they were called upon, they could accomplish any mission given to them. They were speaking my language and I simply knew that I had to be a part of this team...and now I am.
This is why I do what I do what I do. On a personal level, I also believe that a life lived in mediocrity will be remembered for just that. I believe that a family raised and led to not appreciate sacrifice, will falter when times call for it. I also believe that children who are not only taught, but also witness leadership in their homes will gravitate toward followers later on in life. My life is a living example of a selfless parents and I am determined to provide the same for my children. It is my hope that through my example, my children will understand unwavering trust, giving of themselves for their fellow man when it is deserved and being willing to accept the responsibility of the top 5%.