I read a heartwarming news article this week about a retiring “cop”, a story of the type we typically don’t find covered in mainstream media.
Teddy Floyd, an Indian River County Sheriff’s Office deputy, is required to take a year off to stay qualified for his pension. After that, because of his love of community, he fully intends to return to work in the sheriff’s office. His philosophy of law enforcement was so inspirational to read that it was not surprising his powerful yet compassionate style was rooted in Scripture, which he unashamedly cited in the interview.
In the interview Floyd recounts times of handling situations not by what they looked like, nor even by what he may have been motivated to do given his authority, but rather, based on his insight into loving one another. He once pulled a man over driving over 100 miles per hour on I-95. After speaking with him, Floyd learned that the driver was distraught over a bitter divorce and was planning to kill himself by crashing his car. Instead of a ticket, Floyd discussed his own divorce with the man, prayed with him, and sent him off. The man returned several years later, happily remarried, prospering, thanking Floyd for saving his life.
He recounts chasing a man who had stolen food from Walmart. Following him into the woods to apprehend him, Floyd sees the man living in a tent with his wife and two children since he has lost his job and his home. Rather than arrest him, Floyd paid Walmart for the food and put the man in touch with the local homeless charity that found him a job and eventually a home.
I loved these quotes from Floyd: “Never look down on a man unless you’re picking him up” and “The Bible says let your works speak for you. Not just in law enforcement, but in everything.” He clarifies that he’s hard on career criminals, but does not throw that net wider than is necessary.
In his younger days, Floyd was active in his community with youth as a Little League and youth football coach. His philosophy, “ If they knew better, they’d do better. . . Be firm, but be fair.” He formed relationships and became close with the town people personally by interacting with them in local events. He was part of his community.
In keeping with Ruach’s goals to regroup, rebuild, and recommit to come back together as an even stronger community, we can be inspired by Teddy Floyd’s wise words and exemplar actions. He says (as Joel Nichol did too), “We’ve got to get back to unity in the community. . . We’ve got to have a heart.”
If a person in law enforcement can live out his days guided by love and kindness to others, how much moreso can each of us in our daily interactions with others be guided by love and kindness. If love for each other frames our perspective as we awake each morning, as we think of ways to overcome disappointments by lifting up the other person, negativity is upended, literally. Floyd did not forsake his law enforcement responsibilities by his acts of kindness. Rather, he had the wisdom to see the larger role of his job. Being in law enforcement, by interacting with others sometimes at their lowest times in their lives, or most vulnerable, or most angry, he was given a window into their souls. He was given the ability to see others as HaShem sees us, most intimately in our times of weakness.
We don’t have to compromise our values, but rather, we can open our hearts and minds to seeing life from our brother’s and sister’s perspectives. We are being trained to see others as our Abba sees us. The amazing part is we each have been given this gift! By seeing Floyd able to walk in his brother’s shoes in a job typically fostering the opposite perspective, we realize that the opportunity for us to do so is even easier. We can create a place around us of goodness whether in our workplace, in community, at home, within ourselves. Deeds of kindness. Eyes of compassion. Hearts of love.
A redemptive association for the name Floyd, from the tragedy of George Floyd, to Teddy Floyd, a black law enforcement officer who helps us see the other side of law enforcement, and the other’s side.