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I couldn't be a policeman without being a Christian

Sgt Craig Kitto
Sergeant Craig Kitto on serving Christ in the Police.

I was 19 and a half when I joined the Police. That was almost 30 years ago.

Both my brothers were cops and I’d been brought up in a very regimented family—my parents were Salvation Army officers (ministers)—so the Police appealed to me. And I wanted a job that offered adventure.

I started in the Ministry of Transport, which was amalgamated into the Police in 1992. After that, I started working in Auckland police prosecutions, and I’ve also worked as a sectional sergeant and various other roles. Prosecuting in court is what I really enjoy though. I’ve spent 18 years in this work and now I’m training others as Northern Region Training Officer for the Police Prosecution Service.

At the start, my expectations of joining the Police were to have a bit of fun and do a job that was worthwhile. I’ve always seen this as a ‘career’, not just a ‘job’. Being a policeman is very similar to being a Christian, it’s not what I do; it’s who I am. Just like being a Christian isn’t what you do on Sundays, it’s who you are 24/7.

Years ago, I heard a Salvation Army officer preach that it wasn’t possible to be a Christian and a policeman! That really shocked me. I proved it’s not the case from my first day in the job. I don’t think I could be a policeman without being a Christian.

Being in the Police has taught me to be humane in trying circumstances. It sounds trite, but Jesus’ words to love others and to treat others as you want to be treated are really important to me.
 
Whether it’s a mum crying at the side of the road after an accident, or some ratbag whose just committed a crime, the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to show compassion. That’s not the same as being soft. It’s being firm but fair.

Everything I do in my job, every decision I make, I put it before the Lord. When I was working on the roads, whether in a high-speed chase or on my way to a serious incident, I’d pray for myself and my safety. Then, as I matured in the faith, I prayed for those I was going to see. I’ve prayed with offenders and victims as well as colleagues. It’s just what you do.

I never, ever make a secret of my faith. When I train people, I introduce myself by talking about my family, my Salvation Army background and that I’m a Christian. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. As soon as you hang yourself out as being a Christian, people are watching you.

Probably about 10 of my mates from when I was young have gone on to become Salvation Army officers, which is all very good, but there are vocations for people outside of being an officer. I feel my job in the Police is part of my Christian ministry. It’s like that song says, ‘Just where he needs me, my Lord has placed me.’ I’ve been sent here for a reason.

Use the talents the Lord has given you wherever you’re working. And never make a secret of being a Christian.

By Craig Kitto (abridged from War Cry, 23 February 2013, p9)