Welcome everyone, and thank you for being here on this very special day! I am honored to have this opportunity to congratulate the cadets of our graduating class from the Chicago Police Academy. I want to thank the academy, our instructors, and our families for standing by us and supporting us as we made the decision to enter this profession and pursue our dream to become a law enforcement officer.
What a proud day for all of us! Today we graduate prepared to accept the challenges in modern day policing. Each day we put on that uniform and go out into the community, we will uphold the mission of the Chicago Police Department. We will honorably protect, serve, and enforce the law impartially. We have been entrusted with an incredible amount of authority and must remember that comes with an incredible amount of responsibility.
Each of us have been called to this profession for different reasons and we will each experience and encounter different cases, different emotions, and different members of our community. However, we will all remain one family. We will be here for one another and have each other’s backs always.
As we go out into our community, we will witness horrific tragedies as we respond to motor vehicle accidents, suicides, murders, robberies, and so on. We will be the first on scene many times when a victim of domestic violence is visibly shaken and injured, a child suffers an asthma attack or injury and is not breathing and we need to initiate CPR, or an individual with PTSD just shot an entire family. We will then have to notify the next of kin of these senseless tragedies and stand by them as they begin to grieve. There will also be times we respond to a call and talk someone down who is threatening to end their life, and save a life, or multiple lives. Many days, we will respond to a conglomeration of these calls.
We all know that a career in law enforcement is extremely stressful. Do not carry the stress on your back alone. Remember, we are family. If you find yourself feeling particularly stressed for whatever reason, whether it be after one of those tragic calls that you respond to or the stigmatization or media gets to you, do not isolate yourself and try to sweep those emotions under the rug when they become burdensome. Do not be too proud to seek help when you need it. We must make sure we do things to “reset” the stress level when we are off duty. Always remember that though it is your job to deescalate situations, but you cannot do so efficiently and effectively if you are not of sound mind. We must go out each day fully capable of making judgment calls and instant decisions that affect, save, or even take lives in some situations.
We must remember to never become complacent. A lot of things will become routine to us, but the moment we become complacent, we become a danger to ourselves and to others. We must remain vigilant and sharp minded always. We are entering a service profession and every single thing we do, good or bad, will be noticed and scrutinized. Remember that even when off duty, we are held to a higher standard, and everything we do reflects on our department. We will see and learn and know things that the general public has the luxury of not having to understand. Remember this and remain professional when you are tempted to get frustrated with someone who questions your actions. Remember this when you are on the stand in court being challenged for your decisions.
From the moment we put our uniform on and begin our shift until the time we remove it to rest and enjoy time with our families, we are on duty. We must keep our guard up, remain confident, professional, and just. We must always remember our officer survival training and I pray we all return home safely at the end of each shift. God bless and be with each one of us as we go forward in this amazing profession.