For National Police Week, we talked to four Triad police officers about parts of the job sometimes you don’t see. The long hours, the dangerous situations and the constant scrutiny that make law enforcement the profession that it is.
For Lexington Police Lieutenant Luke Davis, it's important to realize there's a person behind the badge.
Lt. Luke Davis, Lexington Police Department
Q: What do people not realize about being a police officer?
A: ‘We talk about humanizing the badge. A lot of is We’re human as well. It’s a job just like any other, although it’s a very serious job among other serious jobs. A lot of the time, we want people to realize we are human as well. We have family and friends outside of the job and there’s a person behind the badge.’
Q: How do you deal with fear when you encounter a dangerous situation?
A: ‘It’s very stressful in certain situations, in dangerous or scary situations. We have fear as well and feel pain. We do extensive training to deal with those kinds of situations and handle them appropriately as well as personally. We also talk with other officers and colleagues in our department and have a lot of resources that are available to us.’
Q: Does the possibility of being recorded cross your mind when you’re in the field?
A: ‘It doesn’t really mine. I can speak for other officers as well here. We’re always trying to do the right thing at the right time and for the right reasons. If we’re sticking to those core values then we don’t have to worry about being videoed or not by other citizens.’
‘We’re recording all the time as well with in-car cameras and body cameras. We train our officers and have discussions about the possibility of always being on video. There is a lot of that out there and we see it every day of being on their cell phones.’
Q: What’s a story from your career that you’re proud of?
A: ‘I didn’t really do it for any kind of glory. I saw some kids in a low-income area in Lexington and they were out in the street playing basketball with a broken goal and a soccer ball. I stopped and spoke with them. They were very polite, nice kids, and thought I’d buy them a new net for their basketball goal and a real basketball to use. I brought it back and it lured kids from all over the neighborhood. I was able to get out and play ball with them a little bit. Some parents came out and thanked us.'
'That helps humanize the badge. They got to see an officer come out, not just arresting people, a lot of kids think we’re just out here putting people in jail. It let them see the person behind the badge and allowed us to get out in the community.’
Q: Is it hard to stay empathic sometimes when you routinely see tragedy?
A: ‘You have to really sometimes step back and tell yourself there’s people this situation is affecting a lot more than me and we have to make sure we’re being empathetic to those victims and other witnesses in the situation. If you’re not careful, it can harden you when you see tragic events over time. That’s where we train other officers that you’re really being empathic to others involved.’
Q: Does having kids change your perspective on being an officer?
A: ‘For me personally, dealing with kids always been hard for me to handle sometimes when you deal with a child in a tragic situation or treated improperly. It wasn’t until I had children when it really hit home. I tell new guys that. Wait until you have kids one day. It’ll really hit home with you then.’