Nobility of Our Profession
By Paul O’Connell, M.S., J.D.
Tonight I would like to start by saluting the families and friends of our graduates. Your support and encouragement have allowed for this day and these dreams to come true. Never doubt that when these graduates look back on this day, they will see and remember you and the strength you gave them to move forward through this challenging process.
To our graduates, please accept my sincere congratulations on your successful completion of this initial phase of your law enforcement career. Each of you has become one of the few to survive an arduous process, and you should take pride that you now wear the uniform of a law enforcement officer. Wear it with pride in and passion for the profession that you are joining.
Did you notice the wording I just used? I said “initial phase.” Indeed, you have completed only the first step in your career. Many more await you. As one example, over the next few months, you will participate in a very challenging field training process, during which you will be exposed to a variety of procedural and technological tasks. Keep an open mind, absorb like a sponge, and never be afraid to ask questions. I have every confidence that those with whom you are paired in this training process will share with you their knowledge and experience to ensure that you are ready to take command of your patrol car and patrol duties.
I hope that your career choice will be as it has been for me—a lifelong commitment. In my short time with you tonight, I would like to share three expectations that our community has for all of us who wear the uniform of a law enforcement officer. If you understand and adhere to these expectations, your journey through this profession will prove successful.
Have integrity. This is important because it forms the very bedrock of people and their standing in the community in which they live and in the organization in which they serve. Integrity must rise above all else; without it, a person is like a voice without an audience.
Act with courage. Doing so is critical because this one character trait moves us forward in the right direction. In the face of adversity, courage will aid us in making the right decision, even when we stand alone. Never fear adversity. Life experiences teach us that we should embrace adversity because it produces endurance and patience, which, in turn, create true character that is steadfast and resolute. Courage in the face of adversity is a character trait that will pass the test of time and guide each of us along our journey through life.
Serve others. I remind you that a career in law enforcement is not about self-enrichment as measured in a paycheck. It is about self-fulfillment as measured in one’s soul. This career entails being committed to the community and its citizens. Winston Churchill once stated, “Making a living is what you get; making a life is what you give.” That expression defines our profession.