You can never go back. That’s what they say. What is past is gone forever. Move on. Don’t look back.
That’s even more true for cops, I suppose. You work the street for years, and then you’re promoted and catch a special assignment that keeps you inside. It’s nice. You feel like you’ve accomplished something. It’s not that you didn’t like the street. You did. As a matter of fact, after several more years “inside,” you begin to realize that you loved the street. It was exciting. It was fun. And you really miss it. But you can never go back. Yet another promotion and increased responsibilities… inside. You are told you are “too valuable” to the department in your present assignment. You retire and go on to other things. It is painfully obvious now. You can never go back.
Well, almost never. If you happen to have a son, who that for some inexplicable reason decides to follow in your footsteps, and if that son decides to ask you to go on a ride along with him for a night, well, maybe you can go back. Just for a night. It’s a rookie’s ultimate expression of self-confidence to ask his dad, a retired lieutenant with twenty-nine, 29 years of service, to ride with him. It says a lot. “I am a cop too, Dad.” It’s a very adult version of, “Look at me, Dad!” On a more profound level, it says, “I share your love for the job, Dad. Let me share a night with you …”
And so for eight hours we rode together, not as father and son, not as rookie and lieutenant, but as a couple of cops in a beat car doing what cops do. It was not an exceptional night from a law enforcement perspective; the tools had changed, handheld radios, in car data terminal, light bar with strobes and take down lights pointing to each side. And the players on the street were familiar—it was same circus, just different clowns. But it was a profoundly exceptional night from a personal perspective because for that microcosm in time we were partners.
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