What Makes a Good Cop

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Lieutenant Tony Ryan (Ret.) joined LEAP early on, more than a decade ago. He did it because he knew that bad policies like the War on Drugs were destroying communities and making policing a more dangerous job. He couldn’t stay silent, because good cops like Tony speak up for what’s right. They see law enforcement as an honorable profession, and they rise to meet the challenge – working toward bringing policing back to what it should be: protecting and serving.

Tony quickly built a reputation as one of our hardest-working speakers. In his tenure with LEAP, Tony served as the law enforcement voice of Colorado's Amendment 64 campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana, one of the first states to succeed in doing so, and on LEAP's Board of Directors. His incredible stories of nearly 40 years in policing made him a staff favorite – Tony's been stabbed (more than once), shot in the chest, broken a hand and a foot, was first on the scene at Columbine High School, and has been awarded a Medal of Honor, a Purple Heart, and Officer of the Year, among other honors.

Tony leads with integrity. He’s not only a good cop, but a great one, the kind of police officer people could turn to in times of trouble. So, we asked him if we could create a video series based on the lessons he’s learned: advice for fellow law enforcement, how to repair relations with the community, what were some of his hardest days on the job, and more. Fortunately for us, he agreed. Please watch the first installment in our series, as Tony tells us what advice he would give new officers just starting out.


When we think about what it means to be a good cop, we think about officers like Lt. Tony Ryan (Ret.): those who see law enforcement as more than just a career, but as a deeply important responsibility – a commitment to making their communities better, safer. Cops like Tony know the value in talking to people, in listening to them, and in building trust. They reject the “us vs. them” mentality, knowing we’re all on the same team, and that we all deserve to feel safe.

In Solidarity, 

Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
Executive Director
The Law Enforcement Action Partnership


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