Why I Serve: Cpl. Jimmy Stone, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office

"Why do I serve? Because I can’t not serve."

By Jimmy Stone Published on November 21, 2016

Today, The Stream launches a new series, “Why I Serve,” law enforcement officers from all races and stripes and every corner of the nation sharing in their own words why they walk the Thin Blue Line. Hearing their voices today seems especially timely as all across the land organized (and paid) bands of protesters threaten the peace of our cities in the wake of last week’s election, and police are increasingly targeted for ambush and acts of violence. 

Our first stop is in Southern Maryland, where we get to meet Cpl. Jimmy Stone.

I am a 12 year veteran of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office. I spent four years in Patrol and the last eight in Special Operations Division. When I first became an officer I thought I could change the world. Enforcing the laws and chasing bad guys. Training at the police academy taught me many things to protect myself. When I graduated the academy and completed my Field Training on patrol I became the “Police.” I felt unstoppable; the pride of the badge! Then reality set in as I saw some pretty horrifying things.

Why do I serve? Because I can’t not serve.

I serve knowing that I won’t be remembered for all the crime I fight or the number of people I’ve locked up, but for the people I have helped and the small differences I’ve made in their lives.

There is a tough balance, though, between the reality of what you see on the job, and remembering why you committed yourself to this life. I decided the only way to keep my humanity was to balance the dark, bad things I saw with goodness and light.  I became involved with many community organizations and coalitions.  I signed up for extra assignments where there are community events, so I could make positive contacts with the public, talk with families and see smiling faces, rather than always respond to calls where there is chaos.

Why I Serve Badge Ad - 250I made it a goal to attend community meetings, presenting information and engaging with the public. I spent more time dealing with people with mental illnesses and disabilities, hoping to make a positive difference in their lives. I adopted an elementary school where I could have lunch with students, attend classes and teach, go to recess, as well as be a resource to students, parents and staff.
I remember one day I was teaching a health class at a local high school. At the end of class I had a girl come up to me and say “Do you remember me?” I responded, “No, where have we met?” She told me, “You were at my house when my step dad was murdered.” In an instant I remembered. The smell of smoke from the barrel, the crying and screaming in the house and drops and pools of blood all over the living room.

As other officers were securing the scene, I saw three children standing in the hallway. I grabbed their hands and told them to come with me, then I took them out to my car and drove down the street. I parked and spent some time talking with the three of them. I can’t remember what I said to them that day, but I do remember that I was trying my hardest to distract them from the horrible thing they’d just witnessed.

The teenage student hugged me and said simply said, “Thank You.”

This is what it means for me to serve. On the worst day of someone’s life, I can be there to show them compassion.

This is what it means for me to serve. On the worst day of someone’s life, I can be there to show them compassion.  I can be strong for the car accident victim as she slowly dies in my arms. I can spend time with the 5th grader who gets bullied, so he knows he’s important.  I can sit with the woman who attempted suicide, so she has a shoulder to cry on.

I serve knowing that I won’t be remembered for all the crime I fight or the number of people I’ve locked up, but for the people I have helped and the small differences I’ve made in their lives.

 

Cpl. James “Jimmy” Stone is currently the Alcohol Enforcement Coordinator for the St. Mary’s (Md.) County Sheriff’s Office. He is a 12-year veteran of the force. 

 

 

 

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