Back in my younger days, I had the idea that I wanted to go into the field of law. While I enjoyed reading law books, (yes, you read that right, I said I enjoyed reading law books), I didn’t really want to be a lawyer. What I found fascinating was the guys in law enforcement who worked behind the scenes (this was looooong before the days of CSI TV series and its incarnations).
But to become a lab technician at the state or federal level, you had to start out as a basic cop. So, off to school I went. Midway through my training, I was told by two of my instructors that I would never make it. One insisted it was because I was too “girlie”. Well, that just made me, “Miss Tomboy Extraordinaire”, try harder. The other instructor though, he said I’d never make it because I had the wrong attitude. Seeing my puzzled expression, he went on to explain that I saw the world and the people in it as inherently good; I tended to trust everyone no matter what, at least until they proved me wrong.
I puzzled over that one for a while, before forgetting it as I worked even harder towards my goal by acing all my classes. I passed everything and got hired on as a trainee at one of the local police departments.
My first day on the job, I was keyed up and raring to go. However, when I arrived at the building, the negativity around the place was nearly palpable. It was so thick that it made me pause and I wondered, just for a moment, if I was making a mistake. I told myself that the negativity was just because of all the negative emotions that were probably being generated by the cops and the people the cops brought in during the course of their jobs. So, I shook it off and headed inside.
Everyone seemed friendly—mostly—although, some razzed and chided us (there were several of us trainees) for being so young and so green. But we smiled and sometimes we razzed right back. After all, most of us had grown up with at least one parent in the law enforcement world, so we had been around cops most of our lives. We knew what they were like, or so we thought.
We all gathered in the squad room to listen to the duty sergeant give his talk. As we waited for him to start, I felt my insides squirming. I thought it was nerves, but as I looked around at the pulsing red and black spikes of negative energy that filled the room, I wondered if it was something more. The sergeant’s voice filled the room, and I turned my focus to what he was saying.
At first, I was caught up in the drama of it all, as he welcomed us trainees to the squad room and made the assignments as to who would get to go as ride-alongs (riding along with the beat cops in the squad car) and who would be stuck in the station house (either in the dispatch area or “playing secretary and file clerk”). I gave a silent “Yes!” as I pulled a ride-along assignment, and so missed the first part of the sergeant’s next statement.
But the part I did hear seemed to echo that of the one instructor oh so long ago. The sergeant said that we had to assume that everyone we encountered was guilty of something, and to trust no one except our partners. If we didn’t follow this standard rule, it could cost us or our partners their lives. I stared into his eyes and realized that he wasn’t joking, he was deadly serious.
But I couldn’t be that way, and I couldn’t (wouldn’t) understand how they could be. In my world, people do dumb things for sure, and sometimes they do things that society considers bad, but people themselves aren’t bad or evil, they just make negative choices or choices that cause them to be at odds with other people and society as a whole. But that doesn’t make them bad.
I struggled through being a trainee for 30 days, and I finally recognized that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had finally realized why the room, in fact, why the whole building was so filled with negative energies, it was from the cops’ own negative thinking patterns.
I have always hated to give up on anything, but I realized that I either had to give up the idea of being in law enforcement or give up my belief in people. So, I walked away from that negative place and I’ve never regretted it, because as far as I’m concerned, people are good, and I’ll always believe that.