An Exciting and Honorable Journey Awaits
By Steven A. Mazzie, M.A.
Good Morning. It is a pleasure to join you today for the graduation ceremony at the Reading Academy. I’m honored to celebrate this occasion with you.
Over the past few months, I have not only taught a class at your academy but also observed the development of my own four recruits from Everett. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in class with you, and I hope that all your training has helped prepare you for your future endeavors as police officers.
I know many of you served our country as military service members, some spent time in college, and others worked myriad jobs before having the opportunity to be here. In any case, it is an exciting opportunity for all of you. I applaud you for taking steps toward a career in this profession. It’s not easy to get into policing today, and I encourage all of you to stay the course and do the best you can to follow your dreams.
As I may have told you during class time, my family has served on the streets of Everett since 1926. For me, following in my grandfather, father, and three siblings’ footsteps has been an honor and a privilege.
Since the day I graduated, put on the badge, and took the oath to serve, I have remembered the awesome responsibility that comes with it. I always take that oath seriously, and I look at being a police officer as more of a calling than just a job. I ask all of you to consider the awesome responsibilities that come with this career. Please take your oath seriously, and remember that the badge you wear entitles you to nothing more than an honest paycheck in a very noble profession.
Chief Mazzie of the Everett, Massachusetts, Police Department delivered this speech at the Reading Police Academy graduation, held on August 15, 2017, in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
Hopefully, you made some friends here during your time together because if you stay in this business long enough, you someday will need a shoulder to lean on and someone to talk to. I encourage you to make good friends in law enforcement, but please try to find those who will be positive and help you become a better person and officer.
I always encourage my new officers to keep good civilian friends, as well, to help them balance work and life. Don’t get permanently stuck in “police mode”—it’s OK to be “John Q. Citizen” when off the clock. Make time for those civilian friends and, most important, your family.
The stress and pressure sometimes can take a negative toll on not only us but our families. Working nights, weekends, and holidays doesn’t help, nor does it help when you have to tell those closest to you about some of the worst things human behavior can produce. That’s why it’s important to have a healthy support system—good cops, close civilian friends, and family members you can turn to.
You all pursued this profession for a reason. Perhaps you wanted to be an officer since childhood, had family members who wore the uniform, sought excitement and adventure, or looked at it as a place to serve. Regardless of your intentions, it can be a great career. Policing does have excitement and adventure and provides an opportunity for service. It’s also an honor to follow in the footsteps of family members who served in this profession.
It’s not a place to make your own rules or take advantage of society’s most vulnerable. You also will not become a millionaire, no matter how many extra shifts or details you work.
Success starts with a simple formula. Show up for work as scheduled and as needed. Look the part in your uniform, like you do today, and take pride in it. Handle your calls and assignments. Conduct traffic and parking enforcement as requested. Write clear reports. Make the arrest when called upon to do so. And, in your spare time—trust me, there will be a lot of that—do a few nice things. Get out of your car and talk to young kids, go see the elderly, and stop in to businesses and see if they are having any problems.
Remember that enforcing the law and making arrests is really a small part of the job. It can be the most exciting, but it won’t be how you spend the majority of your time. You have an opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. This starts with greeting people either verbally or by waving at them, smiling at them, and showing you care.
Get to know who is in your community. You’ll be surprised to find out how many interesting people there are. Also, you will find that many of these persons have problems. Their issues will become yours, and on many occasions, you are going to be the only person who can help them, especially when it’s two o’clock in the morning.
Be compassionate and caring. Lend an ear for 5 or 10 minutes to those in need. It’s OK to show that you’re a human being.
Don’t mistake any of this for being soft on crime or letting your guard down. You still can be the guardian of the community while practicing solid tactics. Always be aware of your surroundings and have the winning mind-set that you’ll go home after your shift ends. And, look out for each other.
If you follow these basic steps, you’ll have a great future in what many of us consider the greatest career. It’s a people business, and you have made a choice to help people regardless of who they are, where they are from, how old they are, what their sex or sexual orientation is, or which religion they follow.
Someone once told me that to have success in policing, you need to have a clear mind, kind heart, and fit body. I encourage you to go to work with those ideas in mind. You not only will have success but you will feel great about who you are and what you are doing.
I wish you the best in your future endeavors and congratulate you and your families. You’ve answered the first in many calls. May God protect you, and may you find peace and happiness during your travels in your respective communities.
Chief Mazzie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.