Your Call as a First Responder

Posted by Jeff Daukas
On April 8, 2024

I have had the privilege of serving in public safety for twenty-five years. I started in the Adult Probation Department and then transitioned to my city department where I have served for almost twenty-two years. I have embraced the label of being a “First Responder” significantly over the years and with different applications. There is no greater profession in existence than public safety. We are entrusted with the commitment, concern, and care of the community. We stand on the precipice of a cliff staunchly ready to turn away society’s rush to decline every day. In my time on the job, I have watched too many people to name spend twenty or more years in this work leaving bitter, angry, and misguided. They have allowed the evil in the world they rushed to fight with their whole heart to consume them. People who said when hired they would serve in any way, any place, any shift, and at any time have forgotten what it means to live their interview. And the culture in policing just accepts that as reality. We have failed if that is true. No other job anywhere in the world promises longevity of twenty or more years to end up an emotionally broken, mentally fragile, and physically decimated version of the person you started as in the beginning.

Why would anyone want this life? That is a question recruiters around the country are battling in the elusive hunt for qualified applicants. The answer lies in the truth my senior officer on my squad offered the other day in briefing. As a formerly active Marine, he told the room that the Marine Corps training regimen and lifestyle were excruciatingly difficult and held each person to the highest of standards. You were tested daily physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. There were no exceptions made for anyone for any reason. You knew before you enlisted how difficult this would be. And people keep signing up. Why? The transparency of “the life” eliminated the fear of the unknown, and the allure of the Esprit de Corps stirred something deep inside people’s souls making the challenge worth it. There is a direct application between what he said for the Marines and how we can view law enforcement.

What Do I Mean by “Call”

Specifically, I am addressing the call as a First Responder for people to embrace. It is a stirring in someone’s soul to willingly take on a job where the threat of physical violence is real, the trauma mentally of wading through the worst times of people’s lives is present, and the “reward” is measured in the intangible metric of service. And people keep signing up. The “why” has nothing to do with these peripheral results but with the internal call felt pulling people into a life of service. Officers relate they do not really know specifically when they wanted to be in law enforcement, but they felt compelled to be a part of something greater than themselves to help others. We were created to be this way!

Words matter, and the specific words you use convey specific meaning. So, I define “call” as an undefined pull on someone’s soul drawing them to mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally commit to action precipitated by that pull. As a Christian, I believe in that definition as a starting point, but I have come to learn over my career with Christ the pull is not undefined – it is a purposeful positioning by a sovereign God intentionally and exactingly facilitating my life in the best possible way to let other people see Him as the point of it all while enriching me personally through the relationships made along the way with others to be an example of how police work brings God glory.  

My call as a 1st Responder needs to be grounded in this way. It is not some altruistic vibe where service to others trumps it all. Being a “First Responder” really implies my first response to the pull in my life is in obedience to the God who made me and loves me. It’s about service through that obedience that generates the definition of success and worth that so many law enforcement professionals struggle to find. Your rank never determines your worth. Neither does your bank account. WHOSE you are is infinitely more important than WHO you are. Who you are changes parts of your life. ‘Whose’ you are changes your eternity.

Your call to serve as a First Responder is not done in isolation. Many have gone before, and many will come after. This is an infinite game, as Simon Sinek would say. There is no solution set which defines a win using the metrics we have always seen. However, obedience to the call for service to God as a First Responder is its own win. Remember that. Men like Jeremy Wade with Mission First Alliance certainly do. Connect with the alliance and join a nationwide community of people centered on this call to obedience!

Jeff Daukas
Sergeant Daukas is committed to the principles of Courageous Leadership and is the lead instructor for the foundational principle of Courageous Nobility. You can listen to Jeff discuss this vital principle on a recentCourageous Leadership Podcast. He has over 21 years in law-enforcement working through patrol, investigations, and special operations both at the line level and as a supervisor. Through the last 21 years, Jeff has embraced his passion instructing officers and civilians through the nobility of policing. He is a certified FranklinCovey Nobility of Policing instructor, as well as a certified instructor for the Blue Courage curriculum. Jeff holds a master’s degree in criminal justice with a focus on terrorism and homeland security and teaches in that discipline at the college level. He is a graduate of the FBI-LEEDA Supervisor Leadership Institute program consistently implementing servant-leadership into training the next generation of law-enforcement professionals in both courageous leadership and followership. He serves as a teaching Elder with CrossTrain Church in Peoria, Arizona and is devoted to showing the grace of God's glory to the world.

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