Promises Made are Debts Unpaid

Hello, again my dear gentle readers.  Once again this good old “Gumshoe” will humbly submit to you fine folks for your personal pondering (or puzzlement?) another one of my musings as we all embark upon our 2020 AD journey through time eternal.  (I really liked that line, it sounded somewhat poetic to my fuzzy ears.)

“Promises made are debts unpaid”, entitle this missive and I would like to think (and have you all believe) that I originated this thought from my brain-housing group (Marine jargon for skull) but alas, I pray not.  This title I selfishly borrowed from the father of one Mike Rowe.  You folks may know Mike Rowe as the narrator for the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”.  He also premiered in “Dirty Jobs” as the clueless and unpretentious apprentice to jobs that actually count and make our civilization function unlike politicians, actors, and news pundits.

The first “official” promise that I ever made was on March 17, 1967 (St. Patrick’s Day – that’s how I remember it) when I raised my right hand to repeat the oath (solemn promise) to swear allegiance to protect and defend the US Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic to become a 17-year old Marine Recruit that was soon to be shipped off to Parris Island, South Carolina for the USMC to build my body, mind, and spirit (after they first crushed all three).  I suppose I kept this promise during my four years of active duty since none of those enemies, foreign or domestic, penetrated our shores except for the “ British Wave” and a large group gathering at a place called “Woodstock”.  (Go figure?)

This honorable discharged “jarhead” once again raised his right hand (starboard side of the body) and repeated from memory the Police Officer Code of Ethics as I was sworn in as a police officer for the first time in 1974 when my four-decade police gypsy career commenced.  Here it goes for your enlightenment:

“As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.  I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all and will behave in a manner that does not bring discredit to me or to my agency.  I will maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint, and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed both in my personal and official life.  I will be exemplary in obeying the law and the regulations of my department.  Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary for the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, political beliefs, aspirations, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of police service.  I will never engage in acts of corruption or bribery, nor will I condone such acts by other police officers.  I will cooperate with all legally authorized agencies and their representatives in the pursuit of justice.
I know that I alone am responsible for my own standard of professional performance and will take every reasonable opportunity to enhance and improve my level of knowledge and competence.  I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession . . . law enforcement.”

Well, I know that that was a “mouth full” to say the least.  The Marine Corps simply summed it all up to this shouted anthem as we laid in our racks at attention, “I am a United States Marine Recruit, I serve in the forces that protect the United States of America and our way of life, I am prepared to give my life in this defense, GUNG HO! GUNG HO! Goodnight Chesty wherever you are?” At which time the DI ordered, “At Ease – sleep!”

Nuff said.  All of these promises are still made and kept by all good cops everywhere.  I still keep’em to this very day.  No debtor’s prison for me!  Blessings to you and yours throughout this new year.  Always remember to love the ones who love you and even the ones you don’t.  “At Ease!”

Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.
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Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent

The police code of ethics is something we should all strive to follow. Sadly though most people have never heard of it, much less read it, and few would even attempt to live within its bounds. Thanks, Danny, for that enlightenment. And, I agree with your premise about a promise.

Lynn Forrester-Pitocco
Lynn Forrester-Pitocco

One of the things that made me a good cop was that i took the job seriously and was determined to keep my promise of the oath i swore. As a woman who broke into the profession early, dominated by males, i soon learned that a few were those that set the trend of today it seems of “promises made, debts unpaid, and the oath, something of the past” but only by a few, who should never wear a uniform. Period.



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