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You’ve Asked How to Help, Here’s Your Chance

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Fairly often, I get messages asking how to help support police officers, this website, and the overall purpose of The Officer Next Door.

The best way is simply sharing my content if you like it!

However, if you already do that and want to help financially to offset the costs of running The Officer Next Door, here’s your chance!

Not everyone collects challenge coins, so I opted to start with stickers. Who doesn’t like stickers?!

More importantly, as a way of paying it forward, I am excited to donate a portion of the proceeds to BlueHelp.org, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, that helps fight the suicide epidemic plaguing the law enforcement profession.

Thank you for your support, together we can make a difference.

The Officer Next Door

Officer Next Door Stickers

The Officer Next Door Logo 3″ x 3″ high gloss stickers. 20% of proceeds go to BlueHelp.org! Thank you for your support!

$3.50

An Open Letter to the Anti-Police Crowd

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Dear Anti-Police Crowd of America,

Whether you believe me or not, I hear you when you voice your opinions and concerns about police officers. I support your right to peacefully march or protest for causes you believe in. I understand the emotions you feel when someone you care about dies at the hands of another. The truth is, we are more alike, than we are different.

I know what it’s like to bury someone you love, went to school with, or in my case, wore the same uniform. I understand the feelings you experience when you hear about the latest tragedy and think, “That could have been me.” It’s our worst nightmare, for both us. Like I said, we are more alike, than we are different.

I know how frustrating it is to be judged solely based on your appearance and not your character. I know I made a choice to wear this uniform, but the principle is the same. Nobody should be judged by appearance alone, it’s that simple. I ignore the dirty looks, the insulting comments, and the people who spit in my direction as I pass by. Whether you believe me or not, I go to work every day hoping to be a positive influence and strive to treat everyone the same.

We both want safe neighborhoods, the ability to succeed, and a fair justice system across the board. Like you, I want to see the bad guys go to jail and the good guys protected from violence and evil. I take it personal when someone is hurt or killed on my watch. I’ll give my life to save yours, whether you believe me or not, it’s true.

I can say this with absolute certainty, all good police officers despise the bad ones. When necessary, we have no issue with them being fired or sent to prison. There’s no place for a dirty or corrupt police officer in our profession. Their lack of integrity, poor decisions, or corruption, wipe away all the good we’ve done and erodes the vital trust of the community. This sentiment is shared across the entire profession, whether you believe us or not, we simply hate dirty police officers.

The truth is, police officers are human. Just like you, they can make mistakes. Despite their humanity, the highest standards of accountability are paramount. However, accountability must be a two-way street. Collectively, we must look at incidents objectively and assign blame fairly. If we approach our future with a willingness to walk in “each other’s shoes,” and learn from our mistakes, the progress we can achieve is endless. Through understanding, true change is possible.

Behind my badge is a heart like yours. In the end, we all want the same things.

I hope you see, we really are more alike, than we are different.

The Officer Next Door

I’ve Seen Evil

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Photo credit: Jason Bullard and Karen Solomon for Blue H.E.L.P

As a police officer, I’ve seen evil.

Unfortunately, I see evil all the time.

Evil has many forms and doesn’t always look the same.

I saw evil at the drug overdose where I found a mother holding her dead son in shock and disbelief.

I saw evil when I arrived at the shooting minutes after it took place and watched the victim take their last breath.

I saw evil when I arrived at the freeway accident caused by a drunk driver and put sheets over the deceased.

I saw evil at every  domestic violence call and the marks evil leaves behind physically and emotionally.

I’ve seen evil alright.

As a police officer, even when I hear about a tragedy across the world, I can’t help but think about evil. Whether I want to or not, I think about what the evil looked like. I think about the brave souls who ran to confront it. And worst of all, I think about the people who didn’t deserve to experience it.

Evil.

It’s everywhere it seems, yet books about law enforcement tell us, “There is more in this world besides evil!”

I know it’s true, yet it’s persistence is formidable.

I’m not complaining. As some skeptics say, “It’s what we signed up for.” And to some degree, they’re right, I did sign up to fight evil. That part is true.

What I didn’t realize is the effect it would have on me. Once you see evil, it changes you, forever.

The badge and uniform I wear, don’t protect me from evil. Evil has killed many like me, in more ways than one.

Evil has killed many of us while we were on-duty, by our own hand, and even through alcohol or drugs. We are not impervious to evil.

The badge and uniform don’t protect us from evil, because what’s behind them, is no different than anyone else.

My heart hurts and tears fall, just like everyone else who confronted by true evil.

Despite all of this no matter what, I want you to know, I won’t quit and let evil win.

I wake up every day hoping to prevent evil and if I’m unable, I will fight to hold it accountable.

I protect and serve. I laugh and cry. I succeed and I fail.

But in the end, I’m a police officer by profession, a human by nature, and a warrior by choice.

Rest easy knowing, I will fight evil, so you don’t have to.

Evil will not win.

The Officer Next Door

250 Miles and Three Words

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My entire life I have been the daughter of a police officer. I never felt that my dad was in any danger when he left for work every day. He had a ‘regular’ job and he came home every day in one piece. I didn’t give his job a second thought.

On August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. On August 11th, 2014, I walked into my middle school to students yelling “f*** the police”. Hearing kids yell obscenities about police officers, about my father, put his job into perspective.

I realized that his job wasn’t a nine to five; it’s an eight hour shift with a side of two AM call-ins to work a wreck where a four year old child died. I realized that we don’t talk about his day at dinner because he’d rather not talk about the shooting that occurred earlier in the day. I realized that I could tell him goodbye in the morning and never see him again, because he decided to protect and serve a community that didn’t care if he was protected.

What the students at my school don’t realize is that the police, they curse, have a family they hope to go home to every night. They have a spouse that depends on them. They have a son that looks up to them. They have a daughter that they hug in the morning and hope that they’ll get to hug her again that night.

I am that daughter. Now, because of an event 250 miles away and three simple words, I am a daughter that is scared. I fear losing my father to people who don’t respect him like I do. I’m afraid I’ll hug him one morning and won’t be able to hug him that night. But, from all of my worry comes a lesson; I don’t take my father for granted. He gives me my freedom by willingly serving an ungrateful community. I appreciate everything he’s done for me even if others don’t. I respect him for leaving me every morning, not knowing what he has planned for the day, to keep me safe.

Every morning, I do the same thing. I wrap my arms around my father and feel his bulletproof vest under his navy blue uniform and I hug him a little tighter. My head rests against his cold, silver badge over his heartbeat and I stay a little longer. I don’t want to let him go because I don’t know what lies ahead, but I let go. As he walks out the front door, I pray for one more day.

-The Daughter of a Police Officer

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

I Made It Home The Way I Left – A Day In The Life of a Police Officer

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You’ve heard this line before. “Every day, I kiss my family goodbye, hoping I return the way I left.”

It’s just another shift, another day in the life as a police officer.

I walk out the door and head to my car. My mind already starting to think about the shift ahead. I’m in uniform, so naturally I’m in “police mode” as I drive to the station. I wonder what will happen today.

As I near the station, the stress settles in, I wonder what kind of internal nonsense will be thrown my way. Will it be internal affairs saying they’re conducting another investigation? Could my promotion be in jeopardy? Or will it be my sergeant with the latest policy changes or list of new “initiatives” they’re implementing. Which is code for “another hat to wear, more work to do, but no more time to do it.”

It seems every shift starts with a barrage of negativity from within, we need to do this, stop doing that, do more this, nothing positive, nothing but negative that rolls downhill. It just never ends.

The “beatings will continue until morale improves.” That t-shirt couldn’t be more true most days.

We wear many hats during our shift. We are police officers, mental health workers, social workers, civil dispute solvers, armed secretaries, accident investigators, and worst of all, “uniformed parents” for those who don’t know how to parent themselves.

Luckily, today was a good day. No scolding from the command staff, no negativity, just the usual information on recent crimes. No good news of course. We are police officers, so inherently all we hear about is crime, sadness, and people being harmed. It takes a toll, but we don’t admit it.

Finally, I’m out in the field. A small sense of reprieve washes over me as I enjoy being out in the neighborhood I patrol. I get my usual coffee and head to take care of the list of “checks” I was assigned from my supervisor. Drive by this vacant house, stop by a recently vandalized park, and check on a business that was robbed last week.

As I’m approaching my first “honey-do” item from my supervisor, an officer calls out for help on the radio. Shots were fired in the area and he’s in a foot pursuit. I’m not far away so I rush to his aid.

The “honey-do” list from Sarge will have to wait another day, surely I’ll hear about it tomorrow.

Driving fast with lights and sirens, I rush to help my fellow officer. His voice was elevated, as he was running and trying to talk on the radio. I round the corner and see the suspect running across a field with an object in his hand. My adrenaline is pumping as I get closer and closer to the suspect.

Before I know it, I’m on the ground running after a guy I’ve never met. I don’t know why he’s running, what he just did, or what he plans to do next, I can only assume the worst but hope for the best. I’m really hoping that isn’t a gun in his hand.

Before long, the suspect tires and is taken into custody without incident. It turns out he did have a gun. Thankfully he tossed it to the ground just before giving up and laying down.

The gun is reported stolen, taken in a home break-in the week before. The guy is wanted for aggravated robbery and happens to be a convicted felon. A great outcome all around.

A gun off the street. A violent person in jail for his warrant and new gun charge.

As we walk him to the squad car, we hear the usual appreciation from his friendsin the neighborhood. “F*ck the laws!” As they video us talking to their phones like reporters for the 5 o’clock news. Their account of what happened filled with embellishment and anger.

“Y’all are racist!” Another kid yells as he videos us defiantly.

We’re recording too. The entire thing is on video. What should be a rock solid case, could very well turn into more probation. But that is out of our hands. Sadly, we will see this guy again. “Criminal justice reform” they call it.

As I get back to my squad car, I notice a missed call from my wife. The kids are already asleep. I missed my chance to say goodnight.

The rest of shift is fairly uneventful. I even managed to grab a bite to eat with my buddy that works the same area.

We had a few laughs and talked about the latest changes made by the command staff. It’s amazing how much policing has changed over the years. I head back to the station nearly an hour before my shift ends. It’s mandated I download my body camera and squad car footage before I go home every night. I complete the required paperwork that once took ten minutes, now takes almost twenty.

I head home almost on time. I sneak into the house trying not to wake everyone. The dog greets me at the door and my wife is relieved to hear the sound of velcro as I take off my bulletproof vest.

To her, I made it home the way I left.

A quick shower and I hop in bed. My wife has already fallen back to sleep knowing I’m home safe. I lie down but can’t fall asleep. My shift plays back in my head as if it’s a movie. Did I do all the required paperwork? Did I forget to put anything in that arrest report? As I close my eyes, images from the dead body call just before shift end pop into my head.

Frustrated, I toss and turn for 30 minutes and finally drift off to sleep. It’s not a restful sleep. My dreams are vivid and unfortunately, I’m at work again. I can’t escape it as I’m in a yet another foot pursuit, only this time the guy turns quickly and shoots four times. I stop and squeeze the trigger as hard as I can, but no matter what I do, my gun won’t fire. The bad guy keeps shooting and I’m panicking. What the hell is wrong with my gun!? Eventually, a bullet slowly rolls out of my gun and I wake up in a panic.

My wife asks me if I’m okay. I lie and say, “Yes, just another dream.” She’s heard it before.

Physically, I made it home the way I left, but with each shift, I’m forever changed.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

The “Thin Blue Line of Silence” Doesn’t Exist – Facts Over Feelings

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Luckily, I don’t believe the “thin blue line of silence” exists in 2019.

Say what you want. Conjure up conspiracy theories. I am telling you right now, the “thin blue line of silence” is no longer an epidemic or real thing. I know this article will cause plenty of anti-police groups to attack my social media page or comment on my website with profanity laced ignorance, so be it.

At least read what I have to say about “dirty cops” before you lose your mind with anti-government rhetoric and “bootlicker” comments.

You can support police and condemn the bad ones. This doesn’t make you a “bootlicker.” Nor does that mean you don’t support the police.

Good police, don’t support bad police, it’s that simple.

But here we go anyways.

The Police Perspective

Policing in 2019 has evolved in many ways that not only enhance transparency, but embrace it. Almost every police officer I’ve asked about the use of body cameras, has told me they love them. Why? Because they protect them.

Many skeptics seem to believe police officers will go to great lengths to lie for each other. Luckily, with the implementation of body cameras, most things are recorded. As such, there’s little debate about what happened during an incident once you hit play. How can you lie if it is on video?

Did the officer swear, be disrespectful, say something racial, plant evidence, or sexually assault a prisoner?

All these things have been alleged and quickly disproven by body camera footage. Conversely, any lying on the part of police officers, will be quickly exposed and handled accordingly.

Simply put, bad police officers make the job of good police officers more difficult. As such, it does no police officer any good to protect one that is openly in the wrong, dirty, or corrupt.

Eventually that “bad” police officer will do something stupid, make headlines, causing the profession as a whole to take two steps backwards with the community. Why would any police officer want that to happen? Potentially make their job more dangerous or difficult?

Here’s a newsflash, working riots or protests as a police officer are not fun. Not even a little bit.

What’s almost comical is the notion that zero accountability or discipline takes place internally. If you were to take a poll of 1000 police officers about the stressors of the job, I can almost bet with complete certainty the number one cause of stress as a police officer, comes from the internal workings of the job.  Internal discipline, policy changes, pressure to perform, poor leadership or management, the list goes on. It’s commonly talked about by police officers as their biggest stressor and likely a big contributor to the police suicide epidemic we are now seeing.

Also, not every “bad” or ‘dirty” cop is conducting such corrupt behavior out in the open. We live in a time where you are on camera nearly every minute you are in public. If you add in a body camera (assuming a dirty cop would properly use it) then they’re almost always on camera.

As such, if they are operating in a manner that is corrupt or dirty, you can be rest assured they are doing so in a manner that is hard to see or detect. But not everything they do that is “dirty” is out in the open. They could be tipping off drug dealers of impending drug raids, running an illegal side business, or any other number of corrupt acts that may not always pertain directly to their daily duties or be visible to co-workers.

There is this overwhelming belief from people that comment on my articles on social media or this website, that police officers should be “arresting” their fellow officers or watching their every move to keep them accountable. This sounds good in theory, however, most police officers are either in their patrol car alone, or have a partner.

If you have a partner, odds are you and that partner answer and handle most calls alone as a pair. Therefore, your ability to “oversee” the actions of your co-workers during the shift is impossible, or improbable. Of course, these dynamics vary depending on the size of the city, department etc. It’s like suggesting the secretary on the third floor should be able to tell you if the secretary on the fifth floor takes too long of a lunch break every day. Police officers operate independently more often that the public realizes.

Either way, police officers owe it to themselves to report anything illegal, corrupt, or immoral. I believe this happens far more than the general public realizes. I can think of multiple examples off the top of my head, but maybe that’s because I pay attention to such things.

Quick Story

Once, while working a case in narcotics, something troubling popped up suggesting an officer could be dirty. I immediately showed the other officers in my squad and we agreed it needed to be looked into. We took it to our supervisor and called a meeting with the unit that investigated potentially criminal acts by police officers. They took it from there. Eventually, he was busted doing something criminal, but unrelated to my initial concern. He is no longer a police officer. Fine with me. No room for people like him.

The point is, my co-workers were as eager as I was, to refer this potentially dirty officer to the “powers that be.” The misconception that police officers want to protect dirty cops makes no sense. The general attitude I always see from officers regarding a dirty cop is, “Get rid of them!”

That being said, people also seem to forget that police officers still have rights. They surrender some of them as an employee, like an expectation of privacy in their work locker for example. But they do have a right to a lawyer, to remain silent if charged with a crime, or any other right that citizens are afforded in the criminal justice system.

Conclusion

In the end, the point remains, the thin blue line of silence is not real. No police officer or police department stands to benefit from lying to protect each other. Even if such things allegedly existed years or decades ago, I can assure you things have changed.

The sad irony in our society, is we are quick to be upset if anyone is judged as a whole for the actions of a few, yet that idea is completely acceptable for the public when it comes to police officers. Why?

We must punish those who deserve it, harshly and quickly, for betraying the public trust.

But we must not allow such incidents to tarnish the rest and impact the ability of the “good” to effectively and efficiently do their jobs.

If we allow this, we will all lose.

It’s happening more than you think. A recruiting crisis is brewing, if not already here.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door