Conor Hardy’s path to the Metropolitan Police Department was a bit of a surprising one.
After he graduated from his high school in Potomac, Md., he entered a seminary in New York. By the end of the year he knew it wasn’t the right path for him, but it did turn out to be the beginning of a new one.
He recalls a priest scolding the seminarians for complaining about rising at 4 a.m. to pray.
“You get to come to the chapel to pray and spend time with the creator of the universe,” Hardy recalls the priest saying. The priest went on to remind the seminarians that there were people who faced much more difficult challenges in life.
The priests’ words stuck with him, as did discussions with another seminarian who was a former New York Police Department officer.
“There are people who pray for peace and protection and then there are people who are the answer to those prayers,” Hardy explains. He decided he wanted to be one of those answers so he took his first steps toward becoming a police officer.
He returned home and enrolled at CUA, where he pursued his degree in theology and religious studies. He learned about humanity, human nature, and ethics, subjects crucial to the work of a police officer. His senior year thesis was titled “Natural Law in Law Enforcement.”
“Police officers are in an opportune position to help people,” Hardy says. “My whole thesis was about walking the fine line between being tough and compassionate. It’s a skill a lot of the officers I’ve encountered have.”
Hardy entered the police academy about a year after graduating from Catholic University in 2012. At times, he struggled. The crime scene investigation unit would show the academy recruits scenes of gruesome homicides and explain suspects’ motives and actions.
“Seeing and hearing these things really hurt,” says Hardy. “It was hard. I was trying to reconcile my image of God. It was a struggle with evil. How can God allow this to happen?”
But Hardy credits his strong friendships from CUA for getting him through.
When it came time to select a speaker for his graduating class of 24 recruits, Hardy’s classmates quickly nominated him, thanks to a humorous, yet motivating, speech he had delivered on the fly earlier in their training to encourage his fellow recruits to keep the mustaches they had grown in solidarity.
In his academy graduation speech on Nov. 8, 2013, Hardy spoke before Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, other command staff from the department, classmates, family, and friends about the qualities they would bring to the people they serve.
In his speech, he said, “Our class motto is very fitting. ‘Together we adapt, together we overcome.’ With these many different backgrounds and life experiences that have shaped our personalities and characters, we are unified around a common mission as police officers — to protect and serve. Just as important as what we do is how we do it. We strive to protect and serve with integrity and compassion.”
His time on the job so far has been an adjustment. He says there’s been a lot to learn, and he has at times felt discouraged. But he still approaches his work with compassion.
“As a police officer, you interact with people who have experienced really hard things, both victims and suspects,” he explains. “If you’re compassionate, while still maintaining your professionalism, maybe it will help them. “
Still, it’s often surprising to people to meet a police officer with a theology degree. His says his sergeant is still baffled by it.
“My theology degree helps me have a broader perspective on things,” he explains. “It would be very hard to go into this profession and see the things I have seen and dealt with the people I have dealt with and not go back to that foundation I have in theology.”
For now, Hardy plans to see where his career as a police officer will take him, but he would eventually like to pass along the experiences and knowledge he has developed in law enforcement.
“I’d like to take that background to the classroom to help students have more of an acceptance of different people and to expand their bubbles,” he explains.
Degree: B.A. in theology in religious studies, 2012
Favorite Class at CUA: “Moral Theology” with Associate Professor William Mattison
Favorite cop movie, TV show, or book: : “I hate cop movies but my favorite cop book is Brave Hearts by Cynthia Brown, which tells the stories of 15 officers in the New York Police Department.”
Favorite place on campus: The benches outside the Campus Ministry office
Favorite place in D.C.: Rock Creek Park