On April 2 I will retire from the Wilton Manors Police Department.
It has been my privilege to serve as your Chief of Police for the past 10 years. My service to the Wilton Manors community truly has been the highlight of my 44-year career in law enforcement. Gratitude only begins to describe the feelings that I have for this experience and this community! When I think of our police department I think of one word: family.
When I started in 2011 I changed our Mission Statement to read as follows:
Policing with Passion for Our Profession and Compassion for Those We Serve
This mission statement was embedded into every aspect of our law enforcement work, especially as we trained our new hires. I know each member of our team, regardless of assignment, carries in their heart this policing philosophy. In a very real sense police officers throughout our country carry the mission eloquently summarized in the words of Senator Ted Kennedy (paraphrased) when, in June 1968, he stated in his eulogy for his brother, Bobby:
“To see wrong and try to right it; to see suffering and try to heal it; to see war [on our streets] and try to stop it.”
My friends, these words are the story of us, of who we are, of what we do and why we do it. We are the “guardians at the gate” who are called upon in moments of danger and in times of grief. The media and some on our streets try to define us by the misdeeds of a few. I will always define us by the bravery of the many.
I ask that you rise with me above the distant noise and confusion and acknowledge the many acts of courage and kindness by our police officers. Winston Churchill was correct when he stated, “Making a living is what you get. Making a life is what you give.” These words truly define our profession and those who wear our badge of honor.
Please know that a central component of planning my exit is to ensure your Police Department is in good hands with a strong foundation that entails strong ethics, steel courage and visionary leadership. I assure you these traits are in place and ready to steer our ship into the future; steady and true.
As I take my final bow allow me to use a quote from Ellen Goodman (final column, 1/02/2010, Washington Post): “I am told that there is a trick to a graceful exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is complete — and letting go. It means leaving what is over without denying its validity or its importance in life. It involves a sense of future and a sense that for every exit there is an entry.”
So, as I enter “retirement” I have been asked by friends, “What will you do”? My answer; I will do MORE because my search for social justice is a journey that has not yet ended. Indeed, after 44 years I still have more to give!