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I picked up on the idea of writing about my experience as a policeman from a short program which I heard on Paul Harvey news early in my career in the 1950s.

It does express the feelings of most dedicated police officers today, as it did in the past.

I wore the badge for 20 years of my life in Missoula and have continued to serve as a willing volunteer for many years here in our wonderful city. I say this with a great deal of pride, because I have always been proud of my chosen profession.

A policeman is a composite of what all men are, a mingling of saint and sinner, dust and deity.

It takes just one remark from a disgruntled person to darken an image that takes countless hours and even years of endeavor and effort to raise above the shadows of doubt and suspicion.

A remark made in half jest and half sarcasm will be taken as fact and will fester like an open wound. It will take the efforts of an entire force to restore the truth and honor which is our common goal.

Some of the remarks which an officer is expected to shed with little recognition are "sir" to his face and "pig" or "fuzz" to his back.

He must learn to be such a diplomat as to settle differences between two persons so that each will feel that he is the victor.

Now ...

If a policeman is neat, he is conceited; if he is scuffed, he is a bum; if he is pleasant, he is putting on a show; if he is quiet, he's a grouch.

He must make instant decisions which will be tested for hours and weeks in a court of law.

If he hurries, he is careless; if he is deliberate, he's slow.

He must be the first to the scene of an accident or emergency and the last to violate any traffic laws.

He must be able to start a person's breathing, or stop his bleeding.

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He must be familiar with his weapon, but never remove it from his holster.

He must be physically able to bring a man twice his size to justice, but dare not abuse him in the process.

To stand and take abuse, I am a coward, to take none, I am a bully.

He must be aware of every sin, but partake in none.

These are some of the things in the life of a law enforcement officer which would seem to discourage him and cause him to call it quits, but there are so many opportunities each day to help our fellow men in time of need, that these tasks are what we keep in mind and this is what brings out pride in ourselves as well as our department.

Charles "Ray" Doty is a retired police captain with the Missoula Police Department.

 

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