Connect the Dots

For forty years, Carrie Watts earned to return to her birthplace, to smell the fresh air, to see the Sartorial fly, and to feel the dirt of the land. If she could only return to Bountiful once more, her life would be made whole. She begins her Journey equipped with nothing more than nostalgic memories of the past. Along her Journey, she encounters numerous obstacles but her obvious and infectious spirit Inspires, convicts, and transforms the lives of the strangers she meets. They too become devoted to her dream. Despite overwhelming odds, Mrs… Watts Is successful In her endeavor.

Her son, Lucile finds re sitting In a rickety rocking chair on the front porch of her old dilapidated home. Now that her journey is completed, she knows it is time to leave. As she walks ever so slowly towards Oldie’s car, she pauses to scan the stunning landscape and take in a deep breath of fresh air. She stops to admire a Sartorial in flight. Then, Mrs… Watts sits down in the meadow. She reaches down with her hand to feel the dirt of the land. She scoops some of the earth into her hand and as the dirt pours through her fingers she says something very profound, “We’re all a part of this!

You leave it, UT you never lose what it gave to you. ” I In The Trip to Bountiful, there’s this notion that we’re connected to our origins. When you stop and think about It, we have a direct and distinct relationship with our genesis”the place where we began. No matter how far we travel from It, no matter where our journey takes us, we’re still connected to it and it remains a part of us. We never lose what it gives to us. We’re a part of something that’s big, huge, and importantly It’s extraordinary!

In fact, I’m going to suggest to you that as we Journey in life if we don’t know and understand where we came from, the likelihood of successfully fulfilling our potential or reaching our destiny is zero to none! It’s been said that we shouldn’t take life too seriously because we all a part of something which is much larger than ourselves. When compared to the vast universe, we are nothing more than a minute drop in the bucket. Yet, on the other hand, we should take life very seriously because every one of us plays a critical role In the big scheme of things. I’m reminded of a game I used to play as a kid called Connect the Dots. Did you ever numbered dots. When all the lines are drawn, an object is revealed. It’s important to go in sequence, starting with the first dot then onto the second, so forth and so on. If you don’t go in order, you’re likely to “mess it up” and the hidden object will never be revealed. We can learn a lot from the games we played as kids. All of us are connected to the past. We’re connected to each other and we’re connected to those who will come after us. We share a common thread, which connects us to the past, the present, and the future.

Unlike traditional societies, in covenant societies, we’re connected to the past, the present and the future. America s a covenant society and no matter how far we are removed from our beginnings, we remain a part of it. Our Pilgrim Fathers were fleeing religious persecution in search of religious freedom. Their society was born in an act of moral commitment, handed on to successive generations. Covenant societies such as ours exist, not because we have been here for a long time, nor because of some act of conquest, nor for the sake of some economic or military advantage. We exist to honor a pledge, a moral bond, an ethical undertaking. Ii Many of us have been to Washington, DC. Some of you have gone there to honor our Allen brothers and sisters during National Police Week. Think about it. As you walk around the great monuments of Washington, you’ll find the statue of Abraham Lincoln. Around him on the walls of the memorial are the texts of two of the greatest speeches of history, the Gettysburg address and Lincoln second inaugural. You’ll find the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial with its quotations from each period of the president’s life as a leader, most famously “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. As you walk along the Potomac, you’ll come to the Jefferson Memorial. There o you will find quotations from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. ” In contrast, if you visit England, a traditional society, you’ll find many memorials and statues of great people, but there are no quotations. It’s a striking difference. One society – the United States of America – tells a story on its monuments, a story woven out of the speeches of its greatest leaders. The other, England, does not.

It builds memorials but it doesn’t tell a story. Iv In America, we have to tell our story. We have to pass it on to the next generation. It s an essential element of a covenant society. It reminds all of us of why we are here. All of us need to know the story of our nation, to recite it, and make it part of his or her personal memory and identity. Unlike a myth, which merely claims to say what happened, a covenant always contains a specific set of undertakings that bind its members from the past, to the present and into the future.

President Lyndon B. Johnson said it like this about the American covenant: “They came here”the exile and the stranger”they made a covenant with this land. Conceived in Justice, written n liberty, bound in union, it was meant one day to inspire the hopes of all mankind; and it binds us still. If we keep its terms, we shall flourish. “v We’re all a part of the American covenant. By Legacy course for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (ICP). Each class consisted off mix of chiefs, sheriffs, command and supervisory personnel.

All of them were hard-working, honest folks who genuinely cared about their officers and the communities they served. It was about a year into the trainings, when we discovered something fundamentally wrong”a “disconnect. ” All of them took an tat to protect and defend the US Constitution and their state’s constitution and yet, the vast majority of them never read or received any law enforcement training on the Declaration of Independence or the U. S. Constitution. Hardly any of them had ever read or received any training on their state’s constitution.

So we posed this question to them and I pose it to you: . How can you protect and defend something that you have never read or studied? I have a couple of confessions to make to you: On June 13, 2005, Circuit Court Judge Ronald ROR swore me in as the Chief of Police in Watertown. I was in City Hall that afternoon. I remember standing there before God and a host of witnesses with my right hand raised. The Judge asked me if I swore to uphold and defend the U. S. Constitution and then he asked me if I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution and the laws of the State of South Dakota.

I confess, for a brief moment, I paused and said to myself, “Heck, I don’t know what South Dakota Constitution says nor do I know its laws. ” Then, I replied, “l do. ” Needless to say, I had my homework cut out for me! I mean you don’t get this stuff through osmosis even when you’re the chief of Alice! You can’t put a copy of South Dakota Codified Law or the South Dakota Constitution under your pillow and hope that it mysteriously sinks in over night. You have to read it! All Chiefs and Sheriffs took an oath to protect and defend the U. S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of South Dakota.

But here’s the big question for you: Have you ever read either one of them? I want you for a minute to Just think about your relationship as a law enforcement officer to the Declaration of Independence, the U. S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I want you to listen carefully because this loud be one of the most important messages that you have ever heard. Because if you do not develop a relationship and connect the dots with what I’m going to talk about, you’re going to go through your life and miss the very most important purpose for which you exist as a law enforcement officer.

Have you ever asked yourself: Why do I exist? What is my purpose? Do I exist to Just lock people up? Heck, that’s less than 10% of how you spend your time! Across America, there are roughly 18,000 police departments staffed with more than 600,000 police officers. In South Dakota alone, there are about 1,904 law enforcement officers. Vi When you stop and think about it, law enforcement officers are the most visible representation of government in our communities across South Dakota and in the United States. Not only do you represent the government, you are the government!

But, in a very real sense, law enforcement officers do so much more than enforce the law. They also serve to protect and advance the underlying principles and freedoms of the American system of government. Vii of government. I like the analogy of the golden apple because it helps us to understand our higher purpose. Abraham Lincoln likened the Declaration of Independence to a golden apple which represents the highest ideals of the American Republic”beliefs in liberty, equality, and the right to self-determination. Lincoln said the U. S.

Constitution was the silver frame around the golden apple that “holds it in place and provides the structure. ” According to Lincoln, the frame was made for the apple and not the other way around. In other words, government’s purpose is to protect the golden apple”those God given, natural and unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government exists to protect and defend those rights. We exist to protect and defend God given rights. Viii In so many ways, the future of America is intrinsically linked to the ability of law enforcement to protect and defend it.

We are part off very noble profession. To think of it another way, we have to go back thousands of years before the law enforcement profession was established. Even then it had a name. In Plat’s vision of the perfect society”a republic that honors the core of democracy”the greatest amount of power was given to those he called the Guardians. Only those with the most impeccable character would be chosen to bear the responsibility of protecting he Democracy. These Guardians would love the community more than anything else, and never act in any way to harm it.

They would be entrusted to preserve its ideals, the sanctity of human dignity, and life itself. About the Guardians Plato said, “It does not matter if the cobblers and the masons fail to do their Jobs well, but if the Guardians fail, the democracy will crumble. ” ix In a very real sense you are the modern version of Plat’s noble Guardians. You are the silver frame, which serves to protect the golden apple. You exist to protect and defend God given rights”life, bibber, and the right to self-determination. There are many reasons why I love South Dakota and one of them happens to be our state’s motto: Do you know it?

Under God, the people rule. It’s not about me and it’s not about you. We’re here to serve mankind, the people! “As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind. “x Those who have worn the badge before us and those who will wear the badge after us are like us; noble guardians” and we’re publicly accountable to certain moral standards that are part of the text and texture of our national and state identity. We are honoring the obligations imposed upon us by our founders and we defend and protect them for future generations.

As leaders, Chiefs and Sheriffs have a moral responsibility to develop their officers and deputies so that they are effectively prepared to become a living personification of the ideals of the American Republic. We serve as the gateway to the American Criminal Justice System and we stand at the foundation of American Social Justice. As guardians of a democracy we must, first and foremost, protect God given rights; and, second, we may take away God given rights only when Justified. It’s not the other that they get the sequence right!

Did you know that the best way to lead and teach core values is by example and that the second best way to lead and teach core values is by telling stories? Xi What we do and what we say really matters! Each of us has been given a tremendous amount of responsibility and with it comes accountability. We can’t afford to fail as chiefs and sheriffs. If we do, our officers and deputies will fail. If they fail, the democracy will crumble. They will follow your lead. You may be thinking to yourself, Vie never read the Declaration of Independence, U. S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights nor I have I ever read the South Dakota Constitution.

Vie got good news for you! It’s not too late to do something about it. Start reading it. When? Today! So, after making this startling discovery that the vast majority of law enforcement leaders across our country swore to defend and protect documents they have never read, I came home to Watertown and decided to check with my own officers. What do you think I discovered? I learned that the vast majority of my folks were in the same boat. More importantly, I realized that I had dropped the ball as their leader. Collectively, we put our heads together and came up with a game plan: 1 . We ordered Pocket Constitutions for all of our personnel. . We ordered renditions of the U. S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights and they’re now framed and hanging in a highly visible location that the officers frequent at the Watertown Police Department. 3. We began in-service training classes. 4. We brought in a local attorney who shared with us some of his expertise on the American Founding. 5. We included a block of instruction in our field training program. 6. On a personal note, I ordered several books about the American Founding and began to better educate myself so that I could be a better leader.

Then, I reached out to Director Bryan Caretaker of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and shared with him our discovery. Immediately, he went to work and added a block of training to ensure that every recruit in the State of South Dakota is educated on the founding documents. He also provided his staff with pocket US Constitutions as well. Most recently, Law Enforcement Training (LET) has offered an online leadership-training course, which serves to help connect the dots to our American founding. According to LET, a large number of law enforcement personnel are enrolled in the online leadership class.

There are several books that you’re required to read to complete the course. Two of the books are written by Donald Phillips and are entitled: Our Founding Fathers on Leadership and Lincoln on Leadership. Both are very good reads! I hope that many more will take advantage of this opportunity. The good news is that you can still contact Agent Scott Restructure at LET and enroll. It’s not too late to do so. Across our state, we have young and inexperienced officers. In some instances we have young and inexperienced Chiefs and Sheriffs.

On a regular basis, they will find themselves in difficult situations, facing circumstances, which cause enormous decisions regarding liberty, life, and death. They will face ethical dilemmas on a daily basis. It is imperative they are armed with and rooted in the ideals and principles upon which our country was founded. Having this knowledge and belief will guide and direct them. It will connect them to their higher purpose as noble guardians of sacred -God given rights of life”human life, liberty”freedom, and the pursuit of peppiness”the golden apple.

It will connect them directly to U. S. Constitution, the silver frame made to protect the golden apple. Without this knowledge and connection, they’re likely to get the sequence wrong. It’s likely they will never be able to fulfill their fundamental purpose. They will never be able to reach their intended destination. It’s not too late, you can still connect the dots and you can help your people connect the dots too. When you do connect the dots, no matter how far you travel from your origins, you’ll never lose what it gave to you.