We tell our girls that they can do and become anything they set their mind too. We encourage them to “shoot for the moon” and reassure them that even with a miss, they will still land among the stars but how do we encourage them to actually follow through with going after their goals? What can we do to give them more than just hollow words that they can hang their superhero capes on? As a mom to two girls, this is something that I have asked myself many times over the years.
I firmly believe the best way to lead is by example. For me, this meant overcoming the fear of inadequacy and chasing my own calling head-on. I do this with the hope that one day my girls will fearlessly follow their calling, too.
At the end of December I took a risk. I gave up the security of a steady paycheck, the opportunity to spend extra time with my big kids while volunteering at their school, and my role as an ever-present mom and wife.
I handed over the reins of my life to the BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) program in Shelby, NC and excitedly gained the title of Cadet. I decided wholeheartedly to follow my calling.
I remember being 18 and wanting to be a military police officer. It may seem odd, but I thought it would be a good fit. My teen years had proven to be full of circumstances that were less than desirable but beyond my control. Because of those experiences, I desired order and control yet had a heart that yearned to help others.
Not long after that I met my husband, had a gaggle of kids and fell into a routine. In the words of my friend K. Parker, “Life got in the way.”
I had a job but not something I was passionate about. I loved my family more than life itself but I knew I had a greater purpose.
I decided to become a nurse. That chapter of my life, in nursing school, taught me that sometimes things are just not meant to be. I did not become a licensed nurse, and it was disappointing but with it came a bit of wisdom. A few years later I decided to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. While doing so I fell in love with Community Oriented Policing. This is the practice of working proactively with members of the community to open the doors of communication by building bridges; and in doing so, becoming problem solvers.
At age 26, I knew I had found my drive and calling. I wanted to become a community helper, wound mender, and protector. I knew I wanted to help those who needed it most. I had a passion for law enforcement, a love of people, and a drive to be a problem solver. For me, Community Oriented Policing combined these values perfectly.
I filled out the mountain of paperwork, began aggressively working out, gathered background checks from every county I had lived in since I was 18, crossed my fingers and hoped I would be accepted into Basic Law Enforcement Training at Cleveland Community College.
I was driven by the saying of a local police chief: “Be more about who you are than what you are.”
I’m 28 now. Upon completion of this program, I may be sworn in as a police officer and given a badge, but that badge will be part of what I am, not who I am. I am first Hannah Moore; a human being with empathy, compassion, and the desire to serve and protect.
So far this journey has taught me more about life and how to lead by example than any textbook ever could. In every class we are tasked with different challenges that are designed to prepare us for what we will face upon being sworn in. Through everything we do, our superiors have been right beside or leading us. They have never asked us to complete something where they were not practicing the same thing.
We participate in mandatory physical training three to four times a week and spend countless hours studying and memorizing statutes, case law and various procedures.
One of my favorite weeks so far was Week 5, during which we practiced unarmed self defense (SCAT) and fingerprinting. By the end of the week we were so covered in bruises and black ink, you could not tell where one stopped and the other began.
This program is 16 weeks. We are currently in Week 9 and I can slowly start to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. At the end of the class, we will be tested on our physical abilities by means of a POPAT (Police Officer Physical Agility Test), and if we pass that along with all of our weekly tests, we will be allowed to sit for our state exam in May. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, we will graduate May 14.
C. Martinez, one of the female cadets, is always reminding us that we are on this journey together, and she couldn’t be more correct. The day we started, I gained nine brothers and two sisters, who are in the program with me. The 12 of us, though different in every way, have become a special sort of family. Every day, they help to show me that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. With them, I have learned to push myself.
As a mother, I’ve learned to let go of some roles for now, like homework, shopping and housekeeping. I am lucky to have the best support system ever. I have a husband who doesn’t just say he supports my ideas and dreams, he shows me by taking on the extra weight. We have been showered with love and support by precious neighbors, and my kids have amazing teachers looking after them. My family and in-laws have gone out of their way to make sure we know they are available if we need them and have shown us kindness that I am beyond grateful for.
My children have seen this love first hand, for that I am eternally grateful.
It is not enough to just tell kids “they can do anything,” we must show them too. Parents, this one goes out to you. You are more than (insert your child’s name here) mom / dad. You are more than just ideas and dreams. You are your goals — and you can achieve them.
In around seven weeks, I will be eligible to live out my dream and be a sworn law enforcement officer.
Photo: Courtesy of Hannah Moore