BY PASTOR TONY REA | MAY 4, 2020
I Can (series)
Last week I told you a little bit about my MLEOTC experience, Michigan Law Enforcement Officer’s Training Council, a.k.a. the police academy. The Detroit Police Academy program was 16 weeks long, and all during the training, whenever the instructors would become frustrated or even a little upset with the class, every cadet was threatened with a permanent assignment to the 13th Precinct. If, as student police officers, we made even the simplest of mistakes, academy supervisors would terrorize us and say, “That’s it, we are going to make a recommendation that all of you be assigned to number 13!” The 13th Precinct had the infamous reputation of being one of the most dangerous and treacherous places to work in the entire city. I suppose that was due to it having the highest violent crime, drug sales, trafficking, and homicides in all of Detroit’s 15 precincts.
Well, on graduation ceremony night, it came time for all of us to receive our random precinct placements (you know what’s coming). My name was called, followed by my assignment: midnight shift at the 13th Precinct. I could not believe my ears, the 13th Precinct? I thought to myself, “Why me?” Four months long, we were told number 13 was the worse assignment we could possibly get; and now, I had to report for duty there…on midnights!
The very next morning, the first thing I did (and this is no joke) was go to the police uniform store and purchase a bulletproof vest. At that time, back in 1975, body armor was not standard-issue equipment; it was optional, so I felt compelled to buy a Second Chance bulletproof vest.
That evening around 11PM, I left for my first police midnight shift in full uniform (including my new vest). On my way to the 13th Precinct, I had some serious issues to deal with. I would’ve never admitted it back then (certainly not while I was wearing a police uniform), but I was afraid. Truth be told, I was scared to death. I mean, come on—I was 20 years old, relatively naïve, and raised in the suburbs where the highlight of a police officer’s day was a misdemeanor arrest for improper plates or an expired driver’s license. And now I’m on my way to the most violent, crime-ridden district in the city of Detroit and not to visit, mind you, but rather to patrol the streets in the pitch black.
On my way to work that night, a 20-minute drive that seemed to last an eternity, I thought to myself, “I am in way over my head, and I don’t know if I can do this.” Ever feel that way? Ever feel like fear, as much as you try to resist it, is getting the best of you? Well, if you’re normal, the answer to both of those questions is yes. Yes, we all feel afraid at times, especially in the situation we find ourselves in now. Currently there’s so much uncertainty and speculation it’s hard to know what the future holds. So what are we supposed to do when we sense fear knocking at our door?
Well these days whenever I feel afraid (yes, it happens), the first thing I do is begin to cry out to God. And then I try to focus in on a passage of scripture like the first five verses of Psalm 27. For me, these kinds of bible verses immediately pop into my mind because I’ve memorized them. And you should know by now, there’s power in God’s Word; especially when His Word is right there, tucked away in your heart. That’s why you always hear me talk so much about the importance of God’s written Word. When His Word is a part of you, it becomes an effective and significant tool against fear. His Word is powerful! (Hebrews 4:12)
A Psalm of David
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me (even a pandemic war),
even then will I be confident.
One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,
and to seek him in His temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.