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Police work is from time to time stressful. It can be anxiety ridden, dangerous and fraught with unknown perils. Situations, incidents and events can cause the heart to race, cold sweat to appear and emotions to run wild. It is easy to play it safe. No show or slow show is no responsibility. This play it safe mindset that results in a career of avoidance may not be grounded in fear of physical harm but on fears none the less, that are just as powerful. Fear of being criticized by peers, subordinates, superiors or the press on the way an event was handled can point the officer or official towards a career of avoidance. Fear of failure, fear of being ostracized, fear of the effect on their reputation, fear of holding onto their position or getting the next position, or fear of how will this effect their performance evaluation. Play it safe, no show or slow show is no responsibility. Get out of your comfort zone, engage in full immersion in all aspects of your work and force yourself into unfamiliar experiences. So, I will bet that everyone enjoys public speaking, am I right. Okay, no need to yell. I know you don’t. Do you know how some people are just good at it. They got good at it by getting out of their comfort zone, engaging in doing it many, many times and forcing themselves to do it. Now they are great at what they do, public speaking. At some point the epiphany pole axed me between the eyes. I can overcome the situations and events that trouble or bother me. There was no career of avoidance in my duties. I went to and if possible, participated or took control of every dicey situation possible. I sought to get out of my comfort zone, to engage in full immersion of all my duties, I forced myself into experiences, and repeated and did things over and over again. Did this take effort, energy, and time. Indeed it did. Results - I became more confident and competent. I made fewer errors in judgment, my fear level fell and my anxiety was reduced. There was no panic because I learned through past experiences to dial back the stress level, slow things down, take my time and evaluate the situation. I was able to control the situation or event instead of it controlling me. I was able to avoid over reaction because I had been there and done that before. I build a positive reputation. My decisions and actions had better outcomes There is risk involved in being a responder but the benefits can be significant. While I am not certain I would define a career of avoidance as cowardice it definitely not courage.

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About Ross Swope

In a career spanning more than four decades, I rose through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Department in both uniform and investigative positions. I began as a uniform patrolman and retired 27 y


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