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Briefing: Temper, hot headed, short fuse, anger. Do any of these describe you? These are not attributes that are associated with wisdom.

Dispatch (Assignment): Is there a certain type of call or offender that gets under your skin? What really sets you off?

On the Street: As silly as this seems, I tend to get most worked up and angry when I am in my car alone. I have a two hour drive from my home to work. My drive starts out on an old country road. I typically see only one or two cars on the road until I get to town. The town has a population of about 3,000 people. Everybody waves to each other as they pass by, usually because everybody knows everybody. No one is in a hurry to get anywhere. As my drive progresses north, the towns get bigger and bigger until I reach Fort Worth. Can you see the tension building?

I drive a hybrid. It is slow and does not have much power. It does, however, get great gas mileage. Being the slowest vehicle on the road means I don’t have to worry about competing for lanes or making sure the guy behind me does not have a chance to pass me. Everybody passes me. I do not engage in road rage, not because I am above it, but by the simple fact that I’m not in a position to be competitive. This allows me to sit back and watch the actions of drivers around me. My anger gets aroused when I see how inconsiderate we humans are to each other. By the time I get to work, I’m ready to jump into my police car and run some traffic.

Anger is a natural human emotion. Not all anger is bad. We are all tempted with being angry and sometimes we can be justified in our anger. One of the problems with anger occurs when we lose self-control. Proverbs is very clear on the danger of letting anger get the best of us. It is easy to see others in the following verses but try to see if you fit any of them.

Proverbs 12:16 (NIV) says, “A fool shows his annoyance at once but a prudent man overlooks an insult”. Are you easily angered? I tend to get a little moody, especially when I am hungry or tired.

Proverbs 14:16 (HCSB), “A wise man is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless” Do you often act on your anger? I had a roommate in college who would get angry and break things. You did not want him borrowing your golf clubs if he was having a bad day.

Proverbs 14:17 (NIV), “A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.” Have you done or said things in your anger that you later regretted? I think we have all fit into this category at some point in our life.

Proverbs 14:29 (NIV), “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays folly.” Webster’s dictionary says that folly is a lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight. I can also be criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct, evil or wicked behavior. This is not the kind of behavior that a law enforcement officer should display.

Proverbs 15:18 (NIV), “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” A great example of this is found in the Gospel of John where the woman is caught in the act of adultery. Jesus’ actions were simply amazing. He showed why He is wisdom personified. You can read about this in John 7:53-8:11.

This is a verse that every street cop should have taped to the dash of his/her squad car. We are trained to live out this verse on every call we answer. Have you ever been on a call where the roles were reversed and you saw a law enforcement officer being the one who was hot-tempered? Have you ever found yourself “out of control” on a call?

Proverbs 16:32 (HCSB), “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.” Capturing a city requires violence of action (the warrior). The patient man can usually come to a peaceful resolution without violence of action. Again, is this not what we have been trained to do? Conflict resolution is what law enforcement officers do.

Proverbs 19:19 (NIV), “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” In your city or area of patrol, do you have the house that you get called to time and again? Maybe it is the abused wife who will not leave her abuser. Maybe it is the guy who cannot control his anger and seems to get into fights everywhere he goes.

Proverbs 20:3 (NASB), “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.” It is easy for us to point the finger and say, “I see that at work all the time.” Is this you, maybe not at work but at home? Are you quick to fight with your wife or children?

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NIV), “Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” When I was a younger officer I remember two guys who rode together in the district next to mine. If they ever showed up on a call I was working you could bet there would be a fight. They did not try to fight other officers, but suspects. If they were not the ones responsible for doing the paperwork on the call, then they would try to aggravate the suspect. I tried to distance myself from them as often as I could.

Proverbs 29:22 (HCSB), “An angry man stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered man increases rebellion.”

There is a reason law enforcement officers are called peace keepers. By our very job description we are expected to stay calm during chaos and self-controlled during stressful situations. Law Enforcement Officers are often inserted into incidents where peace and civility have been over powered by destruction and anarchy. The Law Enforcement Officer is expected to maintain self-control and attempt to restore peace.

Investigational Resources: Proverbs 13:13, 17:1, 27, 18:19, 19:11, 12, 20:1, 24:29, 25:8, 23, 29:8-9, John 7:53-8:11, 2 Peter 3:9, John 15:16, Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-48.

Officer Safety Principle: If you have found yourself on the wrong end of the above mentioned verses, it is time to start praying and seeking help.

from The Book of Proverbs Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!