Fellow Chattanooga, TN Police Officer and Christian brother Kyle Moses reflects upon his calling into law enforcement, the journey, and challenges along the way in this very gripping blog post. Our prayer is that it will connect and be an encouragement, especially to someone in the profession who may be struggling in the faith.
In 2005, I graduated from college and moved to a state very unlike my beloved Tennessee. Texas was flat, hot, barren of real trees, and as big as the day is long—literally. When traveling from our home in Texas to visit family in Tennessee, it was a two-day journey. The first day was spent driving out of Texas; the second day was spent traveling the rest of the way. I graduated from a small Christian university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical studies. All of my life—or at least for as long as I can remember—I wanted to be a preacher. I prepared for it all through middle and high school and on into college. Closing in on graduation, I was hired by a small church in a small city in Texas. Upon graduation, I moved down there, returned home after two weeks to marry my best friend, and then returned from my honeymoon to start my new life as a college graduate, a preacher, and a husband. I enjoyed my time preaching and reaching out to people who struggled spiritually. All the while, I kept feeling like something was missing, but I could never quite put my finger on it.
There was a state trooper who attended this congregation with us. One day, he invited me to go do a ride along with him. We ran up and down the interstate writing tickets to speeders and taking those to jail who felt it was smart to use drugs while driving. I really enjoyed it. I begged and begged to go back with him. Several months later, I did. We spent time hunting together, our wives hung out, and my wife even taught their son in kindergarten. Finally, one day, it hit me. I asked my wife if she would consider a move back to Tennessee if I could find a job. She was excited. We missed our families and we missed the beautiful hills and trees of East Tennessee. She asked me if I found a congregation that needed a preacher and I told her no. I asked her then what she would think of me becoming a police officer. She thought I was kidding. I talked it over with her, my parents, her parents, and my trooper-friend at church. I began training and mentally and physically preparing myself for the work as a police officer.
In July of 2007, we moved back to Tennessee and I started the academy for my local police department in February 2008. I was kicked in the pants by the steel-toed shoe of Mr. Reality Check. Recap: Christian college, preaching, Christian friends, Christian family, church all my life, sheltered kid growing up…You get the picture. I was suddenly taken out of my rosy life where all was sunshine and daisies and placed in a room full of people, some of them whom I wondered if they knew what the Bible was or even if they believed in God. I was not used to hearing the vulgar language, was never before invited to attend a night club, and was never made fun of because I have never drunk alcohol before in my life. All of that was new to me. All through the twenty weeks of my academy, I got to know these people—my new friends. Through all the PT sweat, blood, and vomit, we got close. We knew more about each other than our parents knew about us. But here I was, a guy who had never cursed, drunk, nor been sexually immoral.
Through out the months of training and the months of FTO (field training), I was formed and fashioned from a preacher to a cop. I learned the Tennessee laws, city ordinances, defensive tactics, firearms training, and “verbal judo”. I quickly learned the ways of a cop.
Now, a few years into my career, I have been placed in many situations that no sane person would even consider and that most will never experience. I have seen gruesome scenes of violence and car wrecks. I have seen people look up at me and ask me to help them as they lie in the street dying. I have seen death, dismay, and mayhem like no ordinary citizen will ever experience.
When I was working for this badge I proudly wear on the left of my chest, I was taught to be courageous. On a cool fall evening, I remember being dispatched to a fully engulfed house fire. I was just a mile from the call and another officer and I got there almost immediately. We heard reports from neighbors that there were possibly people still in the house. This other officer and I quickly ran into the house that was full of smoke and flames and checked each room for people. I remember looking at the wall where the flames were eating the couch, the curtains behind the couch, and now were dancing along the ceiling toward me. Fortunately, there was no one in the house, but the house was a total loss and the one next to it was a partial loss. I also remember a time that I was charged at by an 8-inch-long-blade knife-wielding fifteen year old. As he quickly closed the gap between us, I pulled my gun and prepared for the worst – all in front of his mother who was watching and screaming at him from the front porch. As I squeezed the trigger and saw the hammer of my gun moving further and further back, he, for whatever reason, stopped and dropped his knives. There have been times where we have been dispatched to individuals with guns, suicidal people with guns and the military training and experience to use them, high people, drunk people, irate people, dead people, mentally unstable people, and violent people. The police handle it all; and we do it with courage and bravery.
Not only does a cop have to be brave, but a cop has to be a model citizen with upstanding character. I was always taught by Dad that character is what you do when no one is around to see what you do. It sickens me to read reports of rogue officers who have been paid off to overlook, or even assist in crimes. It tarnishes the badge to read reports of officers being arrested for DUI, domestic assault, or some other kind of crime that we arrest others for daily. With the badge comes a level of trust that is given only to those who prove themselves. To violate that level of trust not only looks bad on you, but it is a reflection upon all police officers as a whole! Have there been times when I have been in the negative in my checking account and could have used just a couple of the dollar bills from the bad guy’s pocket? Sure. Have there been times when I have been offered “favors” just to drive people home instead of to jail? Of course. Have I ever given in? No! You see, my reputation and word is all I have in court. If I tarnish that, I will never be able to do this job I love ever again. Courage will only carry a cop so far if he does not have the outstanding character to go with it.
Even though I stepped out of the pulpit full-time, I still proudly wear the badge of Christ first and foremost. Honestly, I do not know how someone can do this job and not trust the Lord. How can a cop watch a kid with two large knives coming toward him or walk into a burning house without having any trust in the One who sustains our lives?
My New Testament rides in the front seat of my patrol car always. I read it and keep it dear to my heart. It would be easy to allow the stresses and temptations associated with this job to just completely take over my life. This is why the Word of God is so precious to me. It is my guiding light.
When I graduated the academy and started my FTO phase, there was a man at church who sat me down with him on the front bench in the auditorium after services one Sunday night. He told me that he did not know how I could do the work of a cop and still be a Christian. My question to him was how can I do the work of a cop and NOT be a Christian? I rely upon my God daily when I strap my bullet proof vest and gun on. I trust that He will bring me home to see my family at night. But as a Christian, I also trust that if He allows my life to be taken at work, he will bring me home to Heaven to see my spiritual and eternal family. People ask me if I am scared to work the housing projects and to answer these calls that I do. When I really think about it, how can I be scared? What do these people with whom I work daily have over me that God cannot conquer? Nothing! God has already shown me through Jesus that He has power over death. I know, therefore, that He has the power to raise me from the dead and bring me home to Heaven. I live my life trusting the Lord and I go to work trusting in the Lord. Therefore, I will die trusting the Lord. Do I want to die now and leave my son to be raised by this world as a fatherless child? God forbid! Do I want to die now to leave my wife with the grief and responsibility of a single parent and widow? No! However, if I do die in my job, my family knows that I have lived my life to die. They know that I long for the day to meet my maker. They know that I will spend eternity with Him who gives life.
You see, I come to work and show evil what courage looks like. I look at evil in its face and then slap handcuffs on it—all the while I am doing it with a smile and a courteous word. I drive the scum of society to the jail and sing church hymns or play the Bible on CD for them while in route. This badge will always represent courage and character for me, but I wear the badge of Christ first, and my brass badge second. It’s not easy being a Christian and a cop, but I determine daily that I will do it. Christ gives me hope, comfort, and peace and guides me through the paths of righteousness. With His hand, I can and will conquer.
Praise to the Lord!
Officer Kyle Moses