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Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Next Chapter

How do I summarize all the thoughts and emotions of the past five years serving on the force?
Bear with me as I reminisce through the years...I hope you can enjoy the stories!
It was my whole life's dream come true.  I was accepted and trained by one of the top agencies in the country.  The first day I was hired, I was asked by my Major, why I wanted to be here?  I answered because I wanted to work with the best of the best.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department did not disappoint.
After the seven long months at the Academy, Chief Teare pinned my badge and that was the proudest moment of my life.
I was so proud...I took an oath and accepted my call as "Police Officer".
I was able to share those exciting accomplishments with the man of my dreams
and we encouraged each other greatly as we started our careers.  
Our engagement pictures were taken on the grounds of the academy where we met and fell in love!
Thank you Mandy Sroka these pictures are so special!!
I knew each day going to work either Brian or I might not come home.  We lived and still live knowing that our family may have to pay the ultimate sacrifice.  And that's ok...
This job has taught me such valuable life lessons I would never give up.
I have learned to be brave.  To live out courage daily.
To show compassion to the hurting.  Keep a light heart in light of darkness.
To start each day on my knees and each shift in prayer, because I couldn't have gotten though some days without the strength of the Almighty and the Peace that passes understanding.
Always trusting God wouldn't give me anymore then I could handle
and whatever would happen He would help me handle it!
I learned how to deal with death, decay, and bloody scenes.
I sought to bring peace into chaos.
And all of this in a days work,
I've tased and fought people.
I've been bitten, cut, bruised and hurt.
I hugged those who were crying and wiped their tears when they were handcuffed.
I've yelled and screamed at people.  And my nasty side is not the best, but was necessary.
I wrote over thousands of traffic citations (mostly warnings though cause I'm nice).
Arrested all sorts of people of all ages.
I loved talking to children because I could make them smile, and help them not to fear.
I loved our active shooter training and am so thankful our Officers have the skills to stop killers.
I found that I love people.  I loved hearing their stories and seeing their homes.  I would talk for hours if I had time.  The elderly especially had some great stories to tell.  I even got to meet a WWII warrior from the 101St Airborne division (Band of Brothers) which was a dream come true and an honor!
The number "1796" is my badge number, and I'll miss signing my name, Ofc. Arnold.
"1796" and the name "Officer Witherspoon" is documented on a plaque that hangs on the walls of the academy.  I'll forever be a part of this departments history.
I've tried to save lives as their loved ones were begging me for help.
Some I did, and some I didn't.
I will never forget the ones I lost.
I'll never forget the faces of the ones who took their own lives.
I've stood out in the rain, snow, hurricanes, blizzards, and scorching summer heat
to direct traffic and close down hazardous roads for hours on end.
Sometimes when roads are closed it's because somebody DIED, no I'm sorry you can't drive through my flares and traffic cones, I'm sorry I ruined your day because you had to make a u-turn...real life.

I was assigned to Eastern District.  We patrolled the area from Pasadena, Glen Burnie, Severna Park, Arnold, and Annapolis to the Bay Bridge. I worked two years on the midnight shift, shift four; and three years on a rotating day and evening shift, shift two.
Driving lights and sirens down a major highway at rush hour is crazy.
Driving lights and sirens to try and get to your buddy who's fighting for his life is scary.
Visiting your buddys in the hospital after their fights is sad but I always had to make
sure my boys were ok.
And they were, they would be back on the job the next day, sore but always ready to work.
I was their sister, their daughter, their friend.
They didn't like it when people disrespected me or threatened to fight me.  They eagerly stepped up to protect me.  When I had to call for help on the radio I knew they would come as fast as they could to help me.  And I knew they would fight for me.  I trusted them with my life.  I loved my side partners.
We loved each others families.  Our favorite hangouts were at the Breakfast Shop,  Hero's and Mother's.
These bonds do not easily fade.  
My heart will never forget the hours, days, and years I spent in this uniform, sitting in my cruiser, wearing my badge, carrying my sidearm, listening to my radio.  Waiting for the next call, waiting to respond to the next emergency.
And I had the best funniest smartest supervisors.  They always encouraged us, their squad, and did their job as Sergeants very well.  I'll miss getting their phone calls about work stuff and me answering, "Hey Sgt." I respected my Lt.s and Captains, my Major and all the command staff.
Spent many days and nights keeping my side partners company as we talked and laughed about life.
We teased and annoyed each other to no end.
We encouraged and cried together too.
YES I'm going to deeply miss them.  Miss the calling, miss my identity as an Officer,
miss my cruiser that I've had for years parked outside my home.
Miss both Brian and I being "Officer Arnold".
Real life as we rush off to work...
So why am I giving up my dream?? Why close this chapter?
God started moving my heart almost a year ago.  Giving me new desires.  And causing some discontent to what my life was.  Had I still been single as I was when I started this career I'm sure things would be very different.  But my calling to my husband, to my marriage, and God's plan is a higher calling then to this government.
One particular conversation I had with a heroin addict who wanted to jump off his roof reminded me of what my calling was.  He was crying and was so upset that he was addicted and it was ruining his life.  He cried out, "I'm broken!!"
I wanted so badly to comfort him and shout, yes you are broken but Jesus came to save the broken hearted!!  I didn't that day, I have shared with people on other occasions but in the right timing.
I kept telling myself  I have to be free to give an answer for the hope I have.

So I'm accepting a position where my job will be to build relationships and encourage student in their faith.  I'm going to start working with our youth group again!
I love that God has brought me to a place, a hard sad place, where I can give up what I love most to honor and obey His calling.  Because being in His will and following Him is the desire of my heart.
I spent months and weeks praying and crying about this and He opened the doors just like I asked Him to.
I believe He has awesome plans for His work in His church and I want to be apart of that process.  He gave me the desire to want to help people and what better place than His own church.
I'm looking forward to the better schedule.  After five years, this life has been very hard on Brian and I and I'm excited to see my husband more!
We are still struggling with infertility and I still have health issues. It is very hard to do this job with issues and always feeling weak.  And the stress wasn't helping either.
So the hope that maybe we will have a better chance for children is worth it to me.  
So I've cried...I've wept a lot.
As I'm mentally closing this chapter, it hurts to say goodbye.
It hurts to return all my equipment.  It hurts to think I'm letting my department down.  I have always been so loyal to my shift and it was very hard to tell my Commanders
I was leaving and to turn them down when they asked me to stay, was horrible for me.
So this is bittersweet.    I'll never forget my friends.

I'll always have them on my heart and in my prayers.
But I know I'll make great new friendships and I look forward to all the Lord has planned.
I was honored to uphold this position and I'm glad I did it well.
I'll keep the memories of my wonderful friends
and the darkness and horrors of the job will fade away.
I hope to always keep in touch with my brothers and sisters in blue!
After all I'm still a Law Enforcers Wife ( a LEW) =)
Goodbye may seem forever, farewell is like the end.  
But in my hearts the memory, and there will always be.  
(Fox and the Hound)
Will you all be praying for me as we transition into a new phase of life.
This verse hangs on our wall in our Police room.
I read it everyday as I put on my vest, uniform, boots, and belt.
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm. To give you a Hope and a Future! 
Jer 29:11   
And we will trust Him for His plans with our future!