Lieutenant (Retired), Spring Lake (OH) Police Department
I learned responsibility at an early age with the passing of my father when I was twelve years old. I lived with my mother and two sisters, one two years older than me and the other younger. My main regret was that I never did anything to make my father proud of me as a person. I guess I was driven by that regret to excel at everything I attempted. I was a jock in High School and was a runner, I then enlisted in the Army to fulfill two of my dreams, to be a Soldier and a Police Officer. I spent six years and eight months in the Army as a Military Policeman, specializing in Traffic Accident Investigation and Reconstruction. Between my first and second enlistments, I took the examination for the Ohio State Highway Patrol. I read too much into the psychological exam, and answered the questions the way I felt they were looking for and not how I felt; this caused me to be passed over for acceptance, so I re-enlisted.
I was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and attended the DOD Traffic Management and Accident Reconstruction Course at Lackland AFB, and later certifications in Traffic Radar, Breathalyzer Operator and Breathalyzer Maintenance through the State of North Carolina. An Army buddy of mine got out and found a job in a department next to Fort Bragg in Spring Lake. I went on to a second tour in Korea and he encouraged me to apply to Spring Lake once my time was up. After my discharge from the Army, I moved back to North Carolina and found a job at a Nuclear Power Plant, and applied to Spring Lake Police Department when a position opened. The Chief hired me and paid me while I attended Basic Law Enforcement Training, something very rare for a small agency to do. I felt indebted to the SLPD for doing that and worked my way up from Patrolman to Detective to Patrol Sergeant to Detective Sergeant to Detective Lieutenant to Patrol Lieutenant to Operations Lieutenant.
Working for an agency with between twenty-four to twenty-six officers in an urban county with a population of three hundred and forty thousand people of all ethnic origin was an experience. I often felt from time to time as if I was being tested when I came across a person who needed help that was outside the usual case. I often gave what little money I had in my pocket for my lunch or dinner, depending on the shift, to someone who needed it a little more.
I got married to a telecommunicator in our agency that ended in divorce. I lost my home and fell into depression. I considered suicide a time or two, but one night when I was lying in bed in a one-room flop it came to me, “Don’t grieve for what you have lost, but be thankful for what you have.” After that, my whole attitude changed. I was considered by the younger officers of being a hard ass; I just didn’t want to see them hurt. Now that I am retired, many are my closest friends. Failing to get a college degree and politics played a big role in my retiring before I wanted—Politics in staying in a small agency too long and not moving on to a larger one for one thing. I had seen many officers cut due to budget restraints, but I always strived to be an asset and not a liability to my agency. I was able to buy in my military time along with two years of unused sick leave to add to my twenty-two years, which allowed me to retire with thirty years’ service at the age of forty-eight.
It was a good and honorable life, I would do it again even though it changed me as a person in many ways, some for the better some maybe for the worse. But, I think it all balances out in the end.