My husband announced his retirement today after more than 25 years in law enforcement, the last five of those years as Chief of Police. But I'll get back to that in a second.
About three years ago, I met Scott Silverii at a writer's conference. I sat through his classes on SWAT and cop culture, thinking I might get a few new ideas for my JJ Graves series, but not expecting much. I've been writing for a long time and there's not much I haven't heard or seen when it comes to law enforcement research. I had no idea that sitting through those classes would change my life forever.
Writing is like a sickness. The only people who understand that sentiment are other writers, so I won't try to explain, but it's always interesting to see people's reactions when I tell them I was more interested in picking Scott's brain for information than I was anything else on first impression. The book always comes first to a writer. I was impressed by his insight, his knowledge, his education, his experience, and his love of law enforcement. And it didn't hurt that I'd written a character very similar to him several years before, which was a little weird for both of us if I'm being honest.
But because Scott's the kind of man he is, he opened his agency to any writer who wanted to visit, just like he's opened it to everyone in Thibodaux. To open a police department to writers is truly courageous, because we pick up on everything. But he's always believed in transparency--to outsiders and to the community--and the quality of the Thibodaux Police Department shows because of that transparency.
So a couple months after our first meeting, I hopped on a plane and made my first trip to South Louisiana. Scott and I talk about it now, but neither of us knew that God was very strategically setting us up for a lifetime together. If I'd decided not to get on that plane things would be vastly different for both of us. I still can't explain what made me do it. I've researched different agencies all over the country--from Texas, to Florida, to New York, to Washington, and several places in between. By all accounts, I should've saved the five days of an unnecessary research trip and been working on whatever book I was on deadline for. But I still got on the plane, even though there was the possibility my flight would be cancelled anyway because New Orleans was having one of the worst ice storms they'd had in years and all the roads were shut down. In fact, when I landed in New Orleans and told Scott I'd be in Thibodaux in about an hour, he was surprised to hear they'd let my plane land at the airport.
I told him after that first trip that of all the agencies I'd visited, all the leadership I'd observed, all the policy and data that the nerd side of me adores, that I'd never had the privilege of seeing a better run agency than the Thibodaux Police Department. And that is the truth. I've seen and experienced agencies of all sizes across the nation. There is none better than here.
I think it's only something I could appreciate as an outsider, because the people of the community are used to the high standards that Scott demands. And they're used to a city that believes in living a great quality of life, thanks to Mayor Tommy Eschete.
Every officer under his command should be proud to work for a man with that kind of foresight, dedication, honor, and integrity. And every citizen of this community, myself included, should be proud to live in a place that has only gotten better and safer under his leadership.
It's been a privilege to watch him lead and mold the agency and to see the data speak for itself. And as his wife and someone who loves him, it's been a challenge to see the unspoken toll such a position takes. To watch the worry mingle with compassion. To see his face as he takes calls that rip at the heart at all hours of the day and night, on weekends, and during vacation. And to see him cloak himself with that invisible shield of protection when he has to go to a scene in the middle of the night, and to watch him put on the uniform and badge every morning knowing that we live in a society where so many hate cops and feel they don't deserve to live. But he does it because it's who he is and he loves the job. And I've never been anything but proud of him.
So I find myself, three years after our first meeting, living in a community I love and married to the man whose brain I was only interested in (at first) wink emoticon Retirement has been a discussion in our house for a while now, though it might be surprising news to many of you. But just like God led Scott to take the Chief's position 5 years ago and He led me to get on that plane and fly to Thibodaux, He's telling us now that it's time for new chapters to be written in our lives. We've enjoyed using up Scott's vacation time that he's worked hard for the last five years, and it's well deserved because before we met each other neither of us knew the definition of the word vacation. It's a promise we made to each other, and we've gotten to take some incredible adventures.
Scott is the best man I know. He's served this community and parish for more than twenty-five years, and given us all a safer place to live and better quality of life. And he's leaving a legacy that will be remembered for years to come. That's all any of us could ever hope for, and I'm so very proud of not only all his accomplishments, but of his courage to leave at the top of his game and on his own terms.
Scott, I love you, and I'm so very glad I got on that plane. Can't wait to start those next chapters of our life.