You may have heard it said, "If you're standing halfway up a ladder, it's easier for someone to pull you down than for somebody to pull you up." That analogy is especially true for those who are on the front lines of fighting crime in America -- our law enforcement officers.
Day after day, police officers and sheriff's deputies face a life of frustration. They risk life and limb protecting the public by arresting those who break the law -- only to find their efforts go largely unappreciated and that the justice system is much like a revolving door, letting the criminal right back on the street. This eventually can take its toll on officers.
Sometimes good officers burn out and walk away from law enforcement altogether. In other cases, normally good officers start to push the envelope, believing their frustrations entitle them to take license with their own interpretations of the law. This can manifest itself in situations ranging from officers who exceed the speed limit when not on a call to, worst-case scenarios, where officers find themselves corrupting the system by becoming involved in serious crimes themselves.
One fellow officer, very aware of the pitfalls in the law enforcement field, has accepted what he believes to be a calling from God to help his colleagues fight the frustration and disparagement that comes with time on the beat. His name is Ray Nash. Nash is not only the sheriff in Dorchester County, South Carolina, but also the founder and president of Police Dynamics Institute -- an organization established in 1998 and committed to teaching law enforcement officers leadership concepts based on biblical principals.
According to Nash, he found a void in the training law enforcement officers received while he was helping police departments as a consultant on the community-policing concept. During that training, which was focused on giving officers better information and procedures to fight crime, he noted there was a lack of character training for officers today.
Although Nash's training program is relatively new, he is the first to tell you the principles taught in it are essentially age-old concepts. "Really what Police Dynamics is, in a nutshell, is biblical wisdom that's been packaged into a law enforcement message," he says.
Nash believes all officers need character training to battle the constant barrage of negative messages they get from the very nature of their work. "It's very easy to lose your perspective when you deal with the underbelly of society day in and day out," says Nash. "Cops are an interesting breed of people. They really look at the world differently than the average citizen does. And they often fall into a trap of cynicism and can actually, believe it or not, begin to look at themselves as victims." They don't feel victimized by criminals, says Nash, but by the system. "They tend to feel powerless to change it; the media and criminal justice itself. Consequently we see a number of predictable outcomes, one of which is a movement from operating within a core set of values into one that's more situational. This can lead you down a slippery path of corruption."
This is why Nash believes it's imperative officers are taught principles of authority. In his training, Nash refers to various passages of Scripture such as Matthew chapter 8 and its reference to the Centurion acting as an authority, but still remaining under authority. His program stresses the need for law enforcement officials to realize that though they are authorities, they are not to act on their own, but they're to represent the authorities above them. "This is a message we have to drive home to officers; that you represent something more than yourself, and that in your official capacity you do not represent yourself," Nash says.
In addition to conducting his training program across the U.S., Nash has also presented it to officers around the globe, including police in Romania, the Moscow Police College, and Guatemala. Some of the 22 countries that have had officers attend Nash's training are suffering from serious corruption within their departments, he said. "These principles are universal," says Nash. "And the reason they are is because they are biblical principals God has instituted. All we have to do is learn the dynamics of them and bring our lives and our organizations into harmony with them. Then we can begin to reap the benefits."
The feedback from the majority of the officers attending Nash's training programs is very positive. He receives many letters and comments from officers who thank him for helping them put their very difficult, demanding and sometimes discouraging work in proper perspective. Moreover, since Nash has implemented the principles of his program in Dorchester County, the result has been a 38 percent drop in crime over the last eight years. Nash says character training in law enforcement is all about building relationships with the community. "If a law enforcement officer isn't trustworthy, he's the last person you'll give information. But if the officer is an individual of integrity, the community will work with that officer in preventing and stopping crime."
"It's all about God," says Nash. "This training program belongs to Him, it doesn't belong to me. It works because it's something God led me to do. He has blessed it beyond my wildest imagination. I never thought I would be traveling all over the place teaching other cops, or that I would have anything to say they would be interested in. But, God has given me the ability to take these principles and communicate them in a way that resonates within the heart of a cop."
Thank God for Sheriff Nash and the thousands of law enforcement officers who serve us, under difficult conditions, keeping the faith every day. If you serve in a law enforcement capacity, or if you know a law enforcement officer, I encourage you to explore Nash's training programs by visiting their website.