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A Cop's Life: Harry Fagel On 25 Years Of Seeing It All But Staying Hopeful

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Courtesy: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation
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Recently retired Las Vegas police Capt. Harry Fagel recites a poem about the life of a cop during the recent Hidden Heroes gala put on by the Metro Foundation and the Gratitude Project nonprofit.

Harry Fagel is known for his poetry.

He's also a cop with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

“It’s easy to be 250 pounds and in awesome shape and carrying weapons, nobody is going to bother you about anything you’re doing let alone poetry,” he said.

Fagel wrote poetry when he was younger but put it away after some negative feedback. When he started writing again, his sergeant at the time heard him read at a coffee shop and told him he needed to read it at the daily briefing.

Although he was reluctant at first, he decided to do it. He said it didn't take long for the other officers to feel a connection to what he was writing.

“It is so far off the beaten track that it kind of helps center you when you go out to work that day. You’re not so immersed in the negative energy," he said.

Plus, he believes we should be breaking down the stereotypes around people and professions.

The officers then started asking him to write poetry for them. He wrote eulogies, tributes, retirement pieces or other important career milestones.

Fagel said his poetry brought a much-needed balance to his work.

“I had to have some kind of balance for myself when I started working as a police officer. And the poetry brought that balance for me,” he said.

Some might say despite his poetry, he rose to the highest commissioned rank of captain.

He said he tells all the officers below him to look for balance in their lives.

“You can’t just live this job 24/7 for your whole life. It can’t be your entire identity,” he said. 

Fagel sends the message to his officers that taking care of their mental health is just as important as their physical health.

And now, he's retired.

“I plan on writing full time and being a poet and an author and performance artists and all the things I’ve done in bits and pieces I want to push to the forefront of what I do,” he said.

After more than two decades of seeing some of the worst that people can do to each other, of seeing at least one friend die in the line of duty, he managed to maintain a positive outlook, a hope for humanity.

Fagel's retirement poem

 

Capt. Harry Fagel (ret.,) Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.