What Does A Responder Do When She No Longer Wears The Blue?

"This world of ours, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

When I retired from the law enforcement profession, I thought I had entered into a new state of being - a season of ease. Little did I know, it was not destined to be, and life would become even more complex.

In my tenure, I spent many a day solving problems and putting out proverbial fires, so to say. One emergency call after another trained my brain to respond in a swift and precise manner. For over twenty-five years, I responded to address societal problems and render aid. I became an adrenaline junkie who felt more alive when the negative elements in life occurred.

When I gave up my superwoman's cape, I felt ill prepared for the routine of every day life. Nor, the manner in which my family perceived my life to be. It was tough to put down the trappings of a fast paced adventurous lifestyle and retire to a home I no longer felt comfortable residing in. Gone were the days of responding, solving world problems and making each day count. Only when I felt truly needed was I able to feel at ease with myself. After all, I had served for the greater good. Well, at least I thought I had!

In watching the recent tragic events in Orlando, Florida, I once again became prepared to respond. Especially when I heard, a lone gunman had entered an establishment to wreak death and destruction upon so many innocent lives. I became reawakened by the need to become involved again. It took a few minutes to realize I no longer wore a cape and my badge had long been retired.

In those initial moments of hearing about the tragedy, I raised my hands toward the heavens, dropped to my knees and asked, "Why"?

During my days wearing the blue, this question was one that was often asked by victims who survived horrific events. Although there were times when the answer to this question was apparent, there were also occasions when the incident left me wondering what the answer might be. I also witnessed all too many times when survivor's guilt took hold, too. This type of emotional trauma not only permeated a victim's being, but responders' as well.

In my initial moments of responding to the Flight 93 crash site on 9/11, I vividly recall my immediate thoughts regarding the scene. As I stood on a bluff with fellow FBI colleagues, I surveyed that field of devastation and whispered, "Why"?

As I stood there horrified, I quietly prayed for all those lost, those who survived, those affected by the horrific events of that fateful day, and for the emergency personnel who would respond. As my mind focused on every detail, I wondered how many parents were not going to be able to hug their child one last time, or say goodbye.

Post the events of 9/11, I watched as the surviving family members struggled to regain a semblance of life. Their lives were shattered and an altered state of being came to pass. At first, I felt helpless in my need to help relieve their sorrow and pain. But once, I came to understand that their pain was mine, I moved toward a greater understanding that we serve on this earth together as one. Now almost fifteen years later, our nation grieves yet again with the moms and dads who have buried their children.

In reflection of the mass shooting in Orlando, it is all too apparent as to the motive of the killer. He was driven by pure hatred and his agenda was to terrorize. He was a terrorist in every sense of the word. This mass murderer did not hold life sacred and did not perceive his victims as humans with dreams yet unfulfilled.

As a result of all I have come to witness during my time in policing, my philosophy is simple -- it is all about respect. I am of the mindset that gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation has no bearing on how I view my fellow beings. Each of us deserves the chance to live life as our authentic selves.

So when an individual intentionally hurts another, or seeks to destroy a way of life, I believe it is my place to intercede. By doing so, I seek not only to be a strong proponent to END senseless acts of violence, but also, to continue to serve the greater good and defend the right of EVERY individual to be safe and secure in this ever-changing world.

Although I no longer serve in the front line, I still have value as a responder in society. My voice can be the voice of all those who have perished. I can rally around the survivors and help them to heal. For in this lifetime, I have come to embrace, I am not only responsible for myself, but equally accountable for all my brothers and sisters.