The fall afternoon Boxborough Police Officer Tyler McElman stopped his cruiser to play ball with a young boy, he did not know he’d go viral on a Facebook clip. The fresh air, the lure of a football, the sight of a kid tossing it high in the air, then running to close a single-handed catch, all triggered an impulse as deep as time – “let’s stop and play!”
Luckily, because he’s a police officer, stopping by is what he does.
Officers face untold challenges every day and much of the publicity examines the difficult nature of their daily choices, but underlying all these cursory perceptions is a fundamental fact – officers serve communities because they enjoy the job.
Policing – The Career’s in Their DNA
The majority of police officers share a particular set of characteristics ideal for patrolling the streets – they relish being outside in the elements, operating gadgets and saving lives. They savor life’s every moment and appreciate wearing a uniform whose very presence transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. Each workday is different, each situation fragile and potentially action-packed. As described by Lt. Dan Marcou in his article published on Police1.com, they love being “in the know,” witnessing the unbelievable as part of their daily work, and protecting people in their homes and communities.
And, from time to time, they get to stop and play ball with a local kid.
Training for the Police Force
Hiring an officer is a careful, slow process. For recruits, the road to the Blue is grueling and stressful. Recruits undergo 900 hours of academy training after passing a civil service exam — a year-long process at the minimum. To make the cut, one’s body, mind, and personal history must be in excellent condition. Lowering the bar to fill uniforms is not an option, chiefs report.
Communities such as Haverhill, Mass are eager to hire new police officers but careful to maintain rigorous benchmarks. “They have to meet the physical standards, they have to meet academic standards, they have to meet the disciplinary standards, they have to meet the qualifications standards,” regardless of whether or not they passed the civil service exam. explained Haverhill Police Chief Alan DeNaro to Boston 25 News. Credit issues, past criminal history, and other issues can eliminate a candidate.
Through a Child’s Eyes
Many officers knew their calling before they held a driver’s license.
Haverhill recruit Kaylee Sarfde comes from a long line of officers: Her father, her uncle and her grandfather were in the force. Now she’s toughing out the academy to pursue her passion, imbued with the strong desire to serve and protect passed down through generations.
Officers Alex Rosa, Jose Correia and Manuel Andrade grew up playing soccer and finishing schoolwork at The Catholic Charities Teen Center at St. Peter’s in Boston. A refuge from a difficult neighborhood, its storied walls often rang with the sounds of police officers’ footsteps. Local cops regularly stopped by to play basketball, help with homework, sneak a snack, and share time with the teens, letting them know, “If you need anything, you call us,” explained Beth Chambers, director of the Catholic Charities for Greater Boston.
That steady influence of the visiting officers in blue created an image of a profession truly involved with people and, perhaps, able to change lives.
Officers Training for Every Emergency
Not every situation an officer faces is life and death. Often there are striking moments when police must draw on their experience and ongoing training in mental health, first aid, and autism spectrum disorders to diffuse otherwise tense incidents.
Norwood police officer Brett Baker relied on his training in autism after he attempted to stop a car for a minor violation. Despite “sirens blaring and lights flashing,” the car kept going, steadily driving the speed limit through a suburban neighborhood. When the young man exited the vehicle, Officer Baker approached the driver in a nonthreatening manner, turning what could have been an ugly confrontation into a mild conversation with the individual and his mother.
Arlington police officer, and father of four, Brandon Kindle delivered a baby on his watch, his calm, friendly demeanor comforting the mom of three throughout the birth. “I just remembered my training, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her head, so I was able to get it loose, I patted [the infant] on the back and got her to cry. Dad handed me a nice new towel and wrapped her up,” Kindle said to a reporter with Wicked Local Metro.
Beyond kudos from his chief, the veteran was awarded a pink stork pin, the perfect emblem for a doctor cop.
Serving the Community
Caring, serving, and protecting all of us who live in communities throughout Boston is the motto of every police officer patrolling our streets. At The Hundred Club of Mass., we care for those who care for us. When these everyday people-turned-heroes lose their lives in the line of duty, we are here for their families. We have assisted beneficiary families since 1959, providing more than $3.5 million for the families of fallen police officers and firefighters. Our assistance spans college scholarships, financial and legal support, counseling, and enrichment programs. Help us help those who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting our communities. Click here to give now.