My name is Phillip LeConte, co-founder of the Junior Police Academy.
Over the past year it’s been my privilege to collaborate on an educational project with my good friend, Rabbi Cary Friedman.
Our collaborative enterprise is called THE CREDO PROJECT, and we think it offers police officers a simple but powerful way to rekindle that heroic sense of purpose that got them into the policing profession in the first place.
As you know, police officers confront enormous challenges, not only to their safety, but to their spiritual well-being. Having a practical strategy for maintaining spiritual well-being is essential to a police officer.
Unfortunately, police officers don't easily open up, and as Cary once wrote, "policing can turn even the most idealistic cadet into a bitter, disillusioned officer waiting to get out."
Both police chaplains and members of a police officer's own family must deal with the fallout from this demoralization.
We both shared a firsthand understanding of the problem, but it wasn't until we reached out to a specific subset of police officers that a solution began to emerge.
The Sons of John Wayne
We wanted input from members of the law enforcement community on how they attended to their spiritual well-being. Specifically we sought out experienced, hard-boiled officers who were nevertheless well adjusted.
One by one they came over to the house or we met up with them to discuss how they managed to beat the odds and stay spiritually connected to their profession.
Their strategies were often surprising – in one case, validating Cary's own beautifully elucidated philosophy. [Honestly, that last statement is too complicated to explain, so take a moment to check out these clips and meet me down below. ]
Pretty cool right?
I encourage you to check out Cary's book and Facebook page.
Now, back to what we were talking about.
Throughout our conversations with police officers, a common thread emerged with regard to staying spiritually healthy. It is an idea that has the power to summon the heroes of our youth and put us in accord with our highest values.
Simply put, it is having a CREDO – a few simple words put to paper, but with the power evoke the heroes of our youth who continue to guide our thoughts and actions.
So here's to the immortal spirit of John Wayne (Ed Burris, Texas Dept. of Public Safety), Batman (Chief Eric Mendez) and Steve McGarrett (Constable Adan Ballesteros).
THE CREDO PROJECT reminds us they are still very much alive.
This year, police officers and police chaplains from across the country will be submitting their CREDO. Ultimately they will be shared in the form of an e-book and on a special Credo website in the hope that it will inspire others.