A New Credo for Law Enforcement

New Police Credo

I think its time we created a new credo for law enforcement. My suggestion based upon my strong beliefs about officer safety and wellness is: “Work H.A.R.D.; Live H.A.R.D.; Die H.A.R.D.”.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a Credo is defined as” an idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group”

So what do I mean by:
Work H.A.R.D.
Live H.A.R.D.
Die H.A.R.D.

I think the key to a good motto or credo is the deeper meaning that we take out of it that gives us guidance when we need it. In this case I have defined the acronym of H.A.R.D. as:
H = Healthy
A = Altruistic
R = Resilient
D= Dedicated

I believe that a truly skilled and proficient law enforcement professional should… possess all of these qualities in all of those circumstances. Let me explain further how I define the credo.


Wikipedia’s Definition of Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person’s mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain (as in “good health” or “healthy”). The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Although this definition has been subject to controversy, in particular as lacking operational value and because of the problem created by use of the word “complete”, it remains the most enduring

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Definition of Healthy
Definition of HEALTHY
1: enjoying health and vigor of body, mind, or spirit : well
2: evincing health
3: conducive to health 4 : prosperous, flourishing


Wikipedia’s Definition of Altruism
Altruism (play /ˈæltruːɪzəm/) is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of ‘others’ toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Definition of Altruism
Definition of ALTRUISM
1: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others


Wikipedia’s Definition of Psychological Resilience
Psychological resilience is an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or simply not showing negative effects. A third, more controversial form of resilience is sometimes referred to as ‘posttraumatic growth’ or ‘steeling effects’ where in the experience adversity leads to better functioning (much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease). Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.
Commonly used terms, which are closely related within psychology, are “psychological resilience”, “emotional resilience”, “hardiness”, “resourcefulness”, and “mental toughness”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Definition of Resilient
Definition of RESILIENT: characterized or marked by resilience: as
a : capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
b : tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change


Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Definition of Dedicated
Definition of DEDICATED
1: devoted to a cause, ideal, or purpose : zealous
2: given over to a particular purpose
Definition of DEDICATION
1: an act or rite of dedicating to a divine being or to a sacred use
2: a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose
3: self-sacrificing devotion

So from that information we can establish a code to live by both professionally and personally.

H = Healthy = Healthy Physically, Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually
A = Altruistic = Devoted personally and professionally to the welfare of others
R = Resilient = Physically, Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually flexible and able to cope with stress and adversity and maintain your well being and effectiveness.
D= Dedicated = being a “Peace Officer” devoted to the causes of truth and justice, the ideals of democracy and liberty as well as the purpose of service to your community

Then if you extrapolate those qualities into the credo for each situation you develop a true code of behavior that can help define us and guide us in times of uncertainty.

Work H.A.R.D.
H = Healthy = safety and security for yourself and others by preparing your “self” physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually
A = Altruistic = concern for the welfare of the people you serve, your community, your peers
R = Resilient = preparing and maintaining your “self” in a state of readiness and flexibility to respond to whatever you are needed to do
D= Dedicated = dedicated to your craft, your job, your community, your peers, your profession

Live H.A.R.D.
H = Healthy = healthy lifestyle, healthy relationships, healthy habits caring for your “self” physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually
A = Altruistic = helping others, volunteering time, giving to charity
R = Resilient = being flexible in life and relationships
D= Dedicated = dedicated to family, spouse, children, community

Die H.A.R.D.
H = Healthy = being in a state of health so that you live a long, full life and die peacefully and naturally
A = Altruistic = being willing to sacrifice your life for that of another
R = Resilient = preparing your “self” physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the eventuality of death, and when threatened not going quietly, Never give up!
D= Dedicated = to higher ideals worth dying for, a higher good

That’s my proposal for a new credo for law enforcement. I would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Please give me your comments by using the box below. Be patient it takes a while to process the posting of new comments.

Stay Safe, and Stay Healthy!

John Marx

CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival. We invite you to share your opinions, ask questions and suggest topics for us in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.

At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.

Our “Armor Your Self™: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement” on-site training program is an eight hour, hands-on, “How to” seminar that helps police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE

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I’m John Marx, Founder of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and the Editor of CopsAlive.com. Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. Thank you for reading!

About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into CopsAlive.com. Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! CopsAlive.com gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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  1. Wow! I have been looking for something to pass on to my probationary police officers and this is it! Thank you!

  2. Hi Sharon,

    Thank you for your comment. The concepts of the credo really apply to anyone who works in a law enforcement environment. You know as well as I do that this profession can really take it’s toll on everyone who works in and around a law enforcement agency. I hope this article will spark some discussion and move people closer to the concepts of building personal and professional resiliency.

  3. As a former Civilian Police Records Technician and P.O.S.T Certified Trainer of the Westminster Police Dept for 20 plus years, I developed a great respect, closeness and love for the Officers and Brass I served.

    I started in 1985 and although things were different, the principles of H.A.R.D are more relevant than ever. Officers have to work against the fear of loosing their lives and still stay Strong, Sounded Minded to use deadly force if the situation warrants it without falling apart.

    I have worked with several Officers where they had to use the ultimate force at a scene and I have seen how it affected them afterwards. I lost one friend to suicide and it was horrible for us all.

    I say whatever creed/motto works to give our Brothers and Sisters in Blue the strength, insight and peace they need go for it. I love the acronyms for H.A.R.D.

  4. Hi Scott,

    I appreciate your feedback. I had hoped to create something easy to remember, yet with enough depth to make people think and have some substance within it’s meaning.

  5. Thanks Jake,

    I appreciate your support, as always!

  6. Hi John,

    Law enforcement’s alphabet soup loves acronyms, but I think you are onto something here with H.A.R.D.

    The content of each letter and the deeper meaning behind each is clear and relatable to successfully experiencing this profession.

    Creative and attention grabbing, but not hard to apply!

    Take care,

  7. Howard "Jake" Jaquay

    I think this proposed credo epitomizes the dedication to the well-being of officers and the law enforcement profession that your website and program have always stood for. I hope that you receive a ton of positive feedback.

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