On September 21, 2012 I worked my last official day as a Portland police officer. Tradition dictates a PD luncheon/sendoff where plaques are presented, speeches are made, and good wishes are bestowed. It is an emotional time for both the retiree and those remaining on the job. In typical writer fashion, I had prepared and practiced giving my final remarks. Those who know me know that I enjoy public speaking. I thought this final speech to my coworkers would be easy—after all, I had witnessed many of my brethren take part in the same ceremonial last lunch. I was wrong. In the end, I was forced to wing it. The words I had written were simply too full of emotion to be spoken aloud.
The other day, while cleaning my writing studio, I came across that final speech—the one never made—and I have decided to share it with you, resisting the urge to edit it. So here it is, warts and all, my farewell to the family:
I have given a great deal of thought to what I would say to all of you today. Well, after much consideration… I’ve got nothing.
No. Seriously, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of your family for the past 27 years. I have always considered being a police officer as who I am not just what I do. I’m still not sure how that much time could have passed so quickly, but it has. They say that this job, and the experiences that come with it, change a person. Well, after nearly three decades I can say with a certainty that it has changed me, but I believe for the better.
I have made friendships and memories, that will last me the rest of my life. I have seen and done things that others, outside of this profession, can only imagine. I have experienced first hand the best and worst that society has had to offer. I enjoyed the opportunity to play a small role in the honorable calling that is, law enforcement.
I want to thank my entire family for their unwavering support and for instilling in me the values that made me want to become a police officer in the first place. I couldn’t have succeeded without you. More specifically, I want to thank my wife, Karen for believing in me and in this way of life, for putting up with the late night and weekend call ins, the missed holidays and family get togethers that you had to attend solo. Thank you for always understanding and for always being there.
And finally, I want to thank all of you for your service, your professionalism, and your friendship. It has truly been my pleasure to work along side each of you. I may go on to work at a different career, in a different venue, but I will always consider each of you part of my family and I will always consider myself a Portland Police Officer.