The Texas Lawman

Growing up, I did not visit my father much at work as the police station was not a place meant to be visited too often by the families of law enforcement officers. But when my mom would take my sister and I by “the station” to see our dad, I cannot remember a time that our brief visits were not met with wonder and awe. There was just so many interesting things to see and do inside a police station – and so many interesting people. If allowed to, I could have spent hours there, quietly soaking in all the sites and sounds which passed through the hallways – I don’t think I ever visited my father at work without hitting him with hundreds of questions of “why this? or “what is that all about?” – I am sure my questions drove him mad sometimes as there are some questions that are just better left unanswered.

Although visits to “the station” allowed me to get a glance of what my dad did day to day as a Texas lawman, I really never understood the importance of the work he was called to do until I noticed a battered sign in his office, one that probably had been there for years, which read:

“Remember, we work for God.” – Lt. Cmdr. Vernon J. Gerberth ,  NYPD

It was not until I read these words that I finally got it. My dad, a man who had dedicated his life to patrolling the streets of Texas, working late hours away from home to restore justice in a community shattered by evil, was not working in law enforcement for the adrenaline highs that come with a good detective work; no, he was an agent for God, ensuring that peace and justice reign just as God willed it do so.

As my dad can tell you, devoting oneself to the work of God through law enforcement is far from easy as there are things that they have to see and do no man, or woman, should ever have to. My mother will be the first to share that long after my dad’s day ended, even after the crime had been solved, the victims and their families stayed with my father for days – even years. I too saw this many times at our dinner table as after a long day of work dad would sit down with us to enjoy a good meal only to silently eat as his mind wandered to thinking about the work he did – what God had asked him to do that day. Mom would often have to remind him to “stop thinking about work,” but as much as he tried, he can’t and he never will because he is a disciple of God, his work is and never will be done so long as evil continues to be invited into our world.

Unfortunately, in the world we live in today Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was celebrated this week, is used not to honor men and women like my dad, but to chastise the work that they do. On Twitter for example, hatred towards the men and women who have taken the oath to protect and serve their communities seemed to be trending more than thanksgivings to those who dedicate themselves to protecting us from evil. And yet, like so many other disciples who came before them and who will come after them, they continue to do the work of God without seeking greater rewards or accolades as it is just the right thing to do. How blessed we are to have the men/women we do who dedicate themselves to working for God, doing the things most of us would rather not imagine.  

When not working, you will find my father piddling around “the farm” in a faded pair of overalls, far removed from the city he spent much of his career protecting as one of Texas’ finest lawman. To you he may appear to be just an old, simple farmer, but to me he is the greatest defender against evil that I will probably ever know. And it is for that reason I say “Thank you” to him and to all of the law enforcement men and women I am blessed to know – thank you for your service to our communities and country – our world is better because of you and a little less evil. Don’t forget that, Dad