I hate to be a big buzz kill, but you will not be doing these cool law enforcement things forever. Just as your equipment gets old and weathered, so will you. And like your gear, you will be obsolete one day. Reality check.
I am writing these mean words to remind you to enjoy these times of your life. I was once in my twenties, lean and invincible. Professionally, I had it all: Midnight Shift, SWAT, and K9. I didn’t know how well off I was. My work days consisted of speeding from one adrenaline rush to the next.
It is all a blur now, though. I’m twice as old as I was then. Probably twice as slow, despite decades of physical maintenance. So many of those critical incidents are not quite lost in my head, but buried in the past and difficult to dig up.
In some ways, I am lucky in memory. I have meticulous K9 records, which benefitted me in Court then and aid my recollections now. I also wrote the majority of the after action debriefings from the 12 years of SWAT operations while I was Team Leader, so those missions are archived.
Nothing will bring back the slide show of daily amusements and frustrations from the last 25 years. I wish I could remember all the quirky happenings from thousands of shifts. I’m certain I’ve forgotten an encyclopedia of interesting events.
The thing is, you get older and see your options narrow. More seems to be behind than ahead. While you walk tall with experience, you limp a little from all the years. “It’s not the age, it’s the mileage,” I have heard.
I know that you young guys won’t get this, because I didn’t when I was your age and I guess I’m just indulging in a little self pity now that I am a victim of time, but I hope you find a great satisfaction in your present skills and adventures. Few get to walk in our boots and serve society the way we do.
We should be able do these great things forever, but that would only serve to lessen their importance. My advice is to be cognizant that there limits to your youth. Take lots of pictures and video now. Write things down. Keep records and letters and notes and mementos.
These things won’t replace the the electricity of the action, but as you become more seasoned, they will serve to make you just a little bit smug about what a badass you used to be…