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I became serious about developing a consistent mindfulness practice when I attended my first retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh (known affectionately as “Thay”), in 1991, seven years into my twenty-year police career.

I had quite a chip on my shoulder, then, built on the anger formed by my experiences, including those as a police officer. At the retreat, I had extreme doubts that Thay’s teachings could be incorporated into the life and work of a cop. And I was sure that if anyone at the retreat found out I was a cop, I would be judged.

Thay convinced me that part of the skill set of a police officer was the ability to employ both the gentle compassion of understanding and the fierce compassion of setting boundaries to protect others, including using force to intervene if people were physically harming one another. For a police officer, wisdom is being able to discern when gentle compassion is called for and when fierce compassion is called for.

Thay directed me to focus on my intention. I found it was possible to start any call or street interaction with a commitment to non-aggression and preventing harm...

A Buddhist cop's approach to justice - Lion's Roar

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