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Read This Confession To Me
I am writing this in the wake of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in CT. I am a certified deputy sheriff and a school resource officer. I have a confession to make. Before I became a school resource officer, I was a patrol deputy. I patrolled the county, made traffic stops and got mixed up in some of the more exciting parts of law enforcement.
When I was offered the school resource officer position, I took it with some hesitation. The perks were pretty good. I had regular hours, most weekends and school holidays off, and my own office. But my surroundings would be limited. I would no longer be able to travel the whole county. I could not make daily traffic stops, looking for the next drug bust and my aspirations for becoming an investigator would be put on hold.
Previous to my law enforcement career, I worked in a literacy program with preschoolers. I also raised four of my own children who are now adults, so I was no stranger to the stages from birth through high school. I decided to take the position. For the most part, I enjoy it. But… and here is the confession.. I sometimes found the job boring.
My school district is comparably small, in a rural area. It’s a town where just about everyone knows your name. Some of the student’s parents are my friends, and if there is any trouble, I can call them up on speed dial. Not much happens, and I suppose it is a good thing. The biggest problem with that, is that it can lead to complacency and a sense that I am not making a difference.
At the beginning of the school year, I read a book to my favorite kindergarten class. I gave each of them a star badge with a safety tip. The one they remember most is, “Keep your shoelaces tied.” I know this, because everyday when I stop by to see them, at least one of them will hold out their leg and say “Officer Wendy, safety rule!” I squat down, rest their foot on my leg and tie their shoelaces. Many days, it felt like that was the extent of my duties… tying shoelaces and opening ketchup packages.
But then an event like Sandy Hook happens, and I am humbled and burdened.
After I heard the tragic news, I went to visit those precious children, and it was all I could do to maintain my composure. I understood then, that while I may not be making any big drug busts or solving a burglary ring, I have been given the responsibility of protecting those innocent lives. I am their line of defense.
That night, as I saw their faces in my mind, I grieved, as did the rest of the nation. And I made a decision. I will never take what I do for granted. I will continue to train and hone my skills. I will increase my proficiency in firearms and keep physically fit. I will be vigilant and continuously aware of my surroundings. I will not grow complacent. I will bear the responsibility of protecting the students and school staff with honor. And I will tie each shoelace and open each ketchup package with more love than I did before.