As I sit down to write this column, I cannot help but think about the tension and division in our country. Messages conveying mistrust, anger, hate and even fear of law enforcement pervade today’s media culture. These messages are changing how the public views law enforcement and the criminal justice system. These changing views of law enforcement are very serious political issues that are being debated. Changes in policy are happening almost daily as misperceptions are informing attitudes on policies and choice for politicians.
It is not my intent to raise another debate, but only to state the fact that changes in attitudes about law enforcement weigh heavily on all of us. They affect our attitude, motivation, morale and, ultimately, our safety. They also create a sense of uncertainty toward our future.
Thinking about these changing views has made me reflect on the purpose of my position as a chaplain. I reflected on the commitment I have made and my resolve to help my Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department family. When people ask me why I volunteer, I have several reasons, but I will sum it up in one statement: “At the end of the day, I like knowing that I have done something to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
One thing I have come to realize is that other people may not always recognize, understand or appreciate what I am doing, especially those on the receiving end of my efforts. Most of the time, in order to make a positive impact on others, difficult issues have to be confronted. This is not usually a pleasurable experience. The same is true for deputies — people do not always recognize, understand or appreciate your efforts to protect and serve the public and the community. But this has not deterred me, and please do not let it deter you. Being a deputy is one of the greatest and noblest of professions. Few have the opportunity or the ability to make such a positive impact on an individual’s life or society as a whole.
During difficult times, it is good to step back and take a look at the big picture, to evaluate our purpose, goals and what role we have to play. We should focus on our ultimate purpose and do everything we can to accomplish it. Do not let anything or anyone discourage you!
The Bible says in Galatians 6:9–10: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.”
The reality is that there are things in life that are beyond our control. We can only do our best to manage what is around us. This reminds me of “the Serenity Prayer”: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
In my own life, I have made a commitment to never compromise on my values and beliefs. When confronted with a difficult decision, I have learned that doing the right thing is not always easy and can sometimes have consequences. Nevertheless, I have also realized that at the end of the day, when I lay my head down on the pillow, I can be at peace knowing that I did not compromise or give up on my values and beliefs, regardless of any consequences I may have to face.
I am very proud to be a part of this organization. I truly believe that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is the finest agency of its kind. There is only one reason, and that reason is you!
How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their unit of assignment, or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500.