You Alone …
A recent road rage incident in Phoenix cost a Phoenix police officer his job. What is really sad about it all is that it appears to me that this police officer was essentially a good officer who had occasional issues with controlling his anger.
On the good side of his career, his 60 pages of personnel file had primarily good reviews and accolades. Phrases like “very professional”, “an asset”, and “ability to calm the situation down” appeared throughout writings by himself and his supervisors.[i]
But another side could be seen developing as well. In 2013 there was an altercation between he and his wife in which he claimed to be the one being abused, and he had subsequently used a police submission hold on his wife. Then the next year he was moving out of his home.
Then came the day he was honked at by two priests who felt he had cut them off in traffic. His response, in spite of the fact he was transporting a van full of prisoners, was retaliation. The tailgating and road rage he exhibited were not consistent with his “safe driving commendation” he had received earlier that year.
When he pulled out his gun and pointed it at the priests his career ended.
It made me recall a police officer I had an encounter with in my days as a young man full of ire. Being very unhappy about the ticket I had just gotten, I let him have an earful. I was smart enough to follow his order to stay in the car, but I pushed the borders expressing my anger from in the car (including wadding up the ticket and throwing it on my floorboard as he calmly explained how to contest it in front of a judge).
That police officer never raised his voice, and never showed any inclination towards getting dragged into my anger. In the end, he kept policing and I paid the ticket.
Well – there’s a little more to it. Our twin sons were with me when it happened (very young at the time) and when we got home they told my wife, “Dad yelled at a police officer and wadded up a ticket in front of him”.
No, it wasn’t one of my finer moments. My wife was good to point out the many errors of my actions. I am glad she remains a 1 Corinthians 13:5 type lady (“keeps no records of wrong”). I would be in serious deep dookey if she so chose.
Though I still miss opportunities to de-escalate, I’ve gained an
appreciation for that police officer encounter more than 30 years ago. I wish I
knew his name so I could say “thank you” for modeling how to perform in a tense
situation (and I would need to work in a “sorry” in the process).
His model is applicable to every police officer and security operator out there.
Think About it:
Ø As agents of protection, we should not allow the actions of others to get under our skin. The highways and side streets are great places to practice that skill daily. An even better place to practice it every day is at home with our wives, husbands and children.
Ø A fine line in a fine old chorus says, “You alone make my spirit yield”. Remind yourself of that chorus (“As The Deer”, by Martin J. Nystrom, 1981) and the 42nd chapter of Psalms (which the chorus is based upon).
Ø The next time you feel your ire turning into fire check in with the Boss – “You alone make my spirit yield”. No man (or woman) should be able to make your spirit yield.