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Image Source: JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would stop the years of tragedy from replaying in my head, while trying to sleep at night.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would no longer see the face of the young child I couldn’t save from drowning.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would no longer see the lifeless bodies lying on the highway at the countless fatality car accidents I’ve worked.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would no longer see that person take their last breath who was caught in gang crossfire.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would forget the look on a parent’s face, when I told them their child was dead and never coming home.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would no longer see the lifeless bodies of every homicide victim, I’ve seen over the years.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would not remember what a decomposed body looks like, even worse, what one smells like.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would forget the look of fear and pain on every domestic violence victim’s face, who endured abuse from someone they loved.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would erase the images of child abuse, sex trafficking, and child porn, I was forced to see throughout my career.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, my heart would be softer, my trust more attainable, and my guard not always up.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I’d be less skeptical, less cynical, and remember that kindness in humanity still exists.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would no longer break down and cry unexpectedly, like a dam of emotion breaking for reasons unknown.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would sleep without issues, cold sweats, and repetitive dreams of being killed, would be a thing of the past.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would not have to sit with my back against the wall when out in public, forever on alert, just in case evil were to show up.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I’d be forever free from the truth that evil is real, it’s out there, I know, because I’ve looked into its eyes.

If I could forget what my eyes have seen, I would not be a police officer.

These are the burdens we carry, the price we pay, to keep you safe.

This is the truth behind our badge.

The Officer Next Door

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28 Comments »

  1. There is a part of this article that was not mentioned… I’d do it all over again for those who I know I’ve helped.

  2. Reminds me of what I Have Seen…. So important for everyone to know this. The “I Have Seen” Montage

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    | | | | The “I Have Seen” Montage

    From the “Keeping The Peace” project, officers and chiefs speak of what they have seen while in the line of duty… |

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    I am using this author’s shortened piece as part of that!

    Yours Sincerely,

    James Anthony Ellis Legacy Productions LegacyProductions.org (858) 518-5826

  3. I too suffered with night terrors and flashbacks after a plane crash l witnessed while off duty and worked anyway. After 2 1/2 years, my pastor prayed for me and l have been problem free for 34 years now. To God be the glory. I just hope that all first responders will get help if they suffer, and that departments will remove the stigma, and have Psych Services available for their people.

  4. I have treated everyone from park row to park bench….. wish I could forget some of them…..
    But LOVE the job and would never do anything else!!! Go figure…..
    Firefighter/EMT
    25 YEARS (ret.)

    • Stated very straight. “I WOULD BE NOTHING BUT A POLICE OFFICER”
      I say this with pride
      Old retired Leo

  5. Amen I am still dealing with it after 27 years on the job sleeping is what I get at two hours a time waking up trying to remember were I am at. Being retired since 2013 I see a counselor every week thinking al those who have taken their own lives. The system does not help prepare you for what we have seen and done.

  6. I clicked on this article because as a former dispatcher I knew I could relate but I was a little shocked to see a photo of my husband and his coworkers grieving the loss of one of their brothers.

      • Ah, the other photo is a former coworker from Dallas. The photos are on the internet on various sites and stories from the past. I simply use them as a compliment to the nature of the article. I’m sorry if it upset you, however, it wasn’t meant with disrespect, just to honor them and their sacrifice. Unfortunately, if I choose a photo that isn’t topic relevant, it takes away from the article, or vice-versa, the photo becomes the topic.

      • Okay good.

        I try really hard to honor and fight for officers. The last thing I want is someone upset. You aren’t the first person that’s messaged me that was in a photo I used. Some of them were more funny, others similar. It’s crazy I even reach that many people to be honest.

        I hope you and yours have a great weekend! I hope you enjoyed the content once the shock wore off! 😎

  7. You are all being prayed for daily, and thanked for your courage, dedication and love. We need you. Hugs and tons of blessings, in Jesus’ Holy Name, AMEN.

  8. May you police officers find peace and may you heal from God or the universe and let it be known that we support you 100% and thank you so very very much for protecting us and for your service. God Bless you.

    Tom Zeun

  9. I liked your article. In my 19th year… Last summer we had an incident involving a water fall… Saved one, lost one, sadly the dead are the one’s that stay with you. Kid had a heartbeat when he left, died in the ER. The worst part for me was driving mom to the hospital knowing they were keeping her son alive just so she could say goodbye.

  10. 35 years on the job. I retired in 2010. I have been run over, shot at, and attended every funeral of a line of duty death in New England with my honor guard. When I look back on my career, I realize that the good far outweighs the bad. I think of those I was able to help over the years, it made it all worthwhile. I would not have traded jobs with anyone, and I would do it all again.

  11. I shared this with my wife today. With tears in her eyes she asked when I wrote this. I said I hadn’t. Guess I’m not so unique. Thank you for sharing.

  12. I always said I left a little piece of my heart at every call. After 25 years there’s not much left for me, but we are STRONG.

  13. My Daddy was a Police Officer for over 30 years. As a child I was always very proud of him and felt safe when I was with him. These statements so explain what he faced every day and why he was the way he was. He taught me so many things regarding safety, things I still practice today. I follow many of his actions (don’t sit with my back to the door, keep doors locked, remain vigilant, maintain skeptical until confirm facts, etc). I am so grateful for Daddy’s service as a Police Officer. He truely loved serving others and keeping them safe. Now I have 2 brothers who are Police Officers. I love them, am proud of them and pray for them and their colleagues daily.

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