Sixteen years ago today I retired from the Chicago Police Department and joined the KMA club after almost 30 years of service. I left the best job in the world. Every day was an adventure, education, and sometimes humor, even dark humor. I was lucky. I was not killed, seriously injured, fired (Came Close), or indicted.
I worked with and for great people. We took care of and cared for each other. There was camaraderie and esprit de corps. We did the things no one else wanted to do or could do. The worst thing you could do was tell a citizen there was nothing you could help them with. We were masters at applied psychology, quick thinking, and making people believe we solved their problems. Sometimes it was easy as giving them the right phone number to call. Other times we relied on our wits.
Occasionally I reminisce and cannot believe some of the hair-raising things I/we did and survived. There were laughs and sorrows. Dealing with the public daily is one of the most difficult things imaginable. It is worse when people are mad at you for the problems they caused and expect you to solve them.
I worked in some of the poorest and wealthiest areas of the city. No matter what their station in life, people have the same problems. They are crime victims, fight with their spouses, violate various laws. In effect, they are all the same. Working with so many types of people, I learned how to converse with anyone. You cannot be shy and be a police officer. The gift of gab is one of the most important tools you have.
I saw and witnessed some horrible things that humans do to one another. Every time you think you saw the worst, human nature says hold my beer. Some of the worst things are either evil or recklessness. The horror inflicted on the most vulnerable among is the worst, especially on children.
I am still in contact with some of the people I worked with through social media or run-ins. Sometimes we play remember when. Most times, we are just happy to see each other and talk about our families, hobbies, or activities. Some have left us. I keep track of the police department through the news and a few police officers and supervisors I know.
Though the job was good to me, the day I retired was joyful. I was ready after all that time to move on. I never looked back. I do get nostalgic occasionally. It does not last long. I look forward to creating fresh memories rather than dwelling on the past.
When I retired, I realized I did not have to be anyplace on time or worry about being late. I only have two speeds, slow and stop.