As I’ve said before, I began my law enforcement career working as an Orange County Deputy Sheriff; station 18 for those in the know. It was while still assigned to my JTO (Jail Training Officer; the senior officer responsible to assure that you make the shift from academy graduate to functional field officer.) — that I first realized I would have to earn my right to hold my testimony in Jesus Christ and still be accepted as a viable field officer. However, most challenges I experienced were presented on a subconscious level; people just being who they are and expecting me to be like them.
One of the first challenges an officer has to overcome is whether or not he/she will engage in battle. Now it is true, most officers over the course of their entire career, very few will ever draw their weapon as an act of aggression. However, as a jail-officer, that same officer will have to go hands-on in a combat status at least once a week on average. My first challenge came during my second week of training. In those moments, you don’t have time to stop and pray for a Godly mindset, so one is best served by being prayed up and prepared ahead of time.
There are two stations where a fight was most likely to happen: Uncuff or Court Transfer. Uncuff is where new intakes arrive at the jail, and the booking process begins. In this stage, inmates have just come off the streets, transferred from state prison or other city or county jails. On the other hand, Court Transfer is where inmates, already housed in jail, were brought down and transferred to and from court while still in custody.
Now, another thing that was very real in the jail was that the different ethnic groups had to be kept separate. Well, actually, the Whites and the Mexicans had a truce that held up in lock-up, while the Blacks and Asians teamed up to create a precarious balance that allowed the jail to operate just this side of chaos.
Back to my challenge: It was in Uncuff where a transfer inmate decided to challenge me. He knew I was a rookie, and as such, had not been tested. If he caused me to cower or back off, he gained points in the jail. If I prevailed, then I made my marks with my JTO. This all happened in a moment, kind of like scripture — in twinkling of an eye. You either pass or fail. No retest.
Then comes the self-examination where I had to check my heart before God. Did I say or do more than was necessary? Did I, even in the heat of combat, say or do anything that would be displeasing to my God. After assuring that I had not lowered my standards, came the act of living with the praise. Not giving into the power and adulation that is inherent to wearing the uniform is a battle I had to fight every day, not so much with others but rather in my own heart. The fight was actually easier to handle….Just saying.