I’m all for leniency when it is warranted. A second chance if it makes sense. However, I also believe in the rules applying to everyone the same. This topic can get blurry quickly, that isn’t lost on me. Police officers give breaks and warnings all the time. They have descretion. It happens, it’s a good thing.
However, getting a warning for a speeding ticket and getting released from prison early for a murder conviction, because your sister is the Mayor of San Francisco, are completely different things. So let’s not go down that path.
Mayor London Breed penned a letter to outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown on official “Mayor London Breed” stationary asking for leniency and an early release of her brother, Napoleon Brown.
Napoleon Brown has served almost two decades of a 44-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter and armed robbery.
Breed recently released a statement defending her request to the governor.
“Too many people, particularly young black men like my brother was when he was convicted, are not given an opportunity to become contributing members of society after they have served time in prison,” she said. “I believe my brother deserves that opportunity.”
“I do believe that people need to face consequences when they have broken the law, but I also believe that we should allow for the rehabilitation and re-entry of people into society after they have served an amount of time that reflects the crimes committed,” the statement continued.
Unsurisingly, Sandra McNeil, the mother of the victim, feels differently.
“I don’t think it would be justice,” she said. “She’s the mayor, so she’s got a little power, so she thinks she can get her brother out.”
In the end, I understand that Mayor Breed is a human-being and a sister. Just like police officers, who are human beings, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives. Like many siblings, Mayor Breed wants what is best for her brother. Where I take issue, is the fact she wrote the letter to the Governor using “Mayor London N. Breed” stationary, which simply gives the appearance she wants her title to be recognized and special consideration given.
I can only expect a public servant like Mayor Breed, believes police officers should be held to a higher standard. That’s part of being a public servant. As such, I doubt the Mayor would support leniency when police officers are found to have committed a crime. I doubt she would writing letters on their behalf using “Mayor Breed” letterhead asking that the police officer be given a chance at rehabilitation.
So why should her brother get special treatment simply because she is the Mayor of San Francisco? Some will argue she’s just being a sister. I think it’s obvious her use of the title “Mayor” was not an accident. What do you think?
Per a recent press release, the Cincinnati Police Department announced they located a deceased Cincinnati police officer at 2084 Eden Park Drive just after noon today. A death investigation is being conducted in conjunction with Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.
In the press release, Chief Eliot Issac announced that the officer has been identified as Sergeant Arthur T. Shultz, who was a 28 year veteran and a very well-respected member of the Cincinnati Police Department.
We here at The Officer Next Door extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Cincinnati Police Department and their blue family.
Unfortunately, this December has proven to be like many in the past. Suicides and violence toward police officers generally increase during the holiday season.
If ruled a suicide, Sergeant Shultz’ death would be the 15th reported law enforcement suicide in the month of December according to www.wearebluehelp.org which reported 14 suicides as of December 19th.
We want to encourage all first responders to watch after each other during this holiday season. Please reach out if you are in need of help and be safe.
In 2018 it is abundantly apparent that there is a new wave of activism taking place in the United States. Statues that have stood for years are being torn down. Buildings are being renamed to less “controversial” names. Even Christmas songs (Baby Its Cold Outside) and Christmas shows (Rudolph) are being attacked and labeled racist or misogynistic, or whatever term of political incorrectness fits the bill.
So how does this apply to policing? Well, in many ways to be quite honest. In a recent move to continue fighting the politically correct fight, the City of Dallas, Texas has decided to let a long standing city ordinance pertaining to juvenile curfew hours expire on January 18, 2019. The ordinance was first enacted in 1991. The ordinance forbids juveniles under the age of 17 to be outside without an adult between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and additionally restricts parentless kids from roaming the streets from 12:01am to 6 a.m. on the weekends. Basically, the nothing good happens after midnight rule is in effect here. Seems logical. Apparently not anymore.
On the surface, a person might be confused as to how getting rid of a simple law like not allowing juveniles to run amuck at all hours of the night is a good thing. Well, like I said, it’s 2018. We can’t even listen to songs or watch television shows that have been in existence for decades, without someone getting into a tizzy.
Specifically in Dallas, city council members with the backing of multiple civil liberties groups, support the move to let the ordinance expire and no longer be enforceable by Dallas Police Officers sighting concerns that it creates “disproportionate minority contact through enforcement”.
Okay. So does this suggest that only in minority neighborhoods are juveniles roaming the streets at all hours of the night? Do we really think police officers salivate at the idea they can roam around Dallas and detain juveniles for being out past curfew? You have go to be kidding me. I can assure you, they have better things to do. But don’t get me wrong, the ordinance is a tool in their tool belt. This will make sense by the end of this article.
For those of you unfamiliar with the state of affairs in the Dallas Police Department, they are not immune to the nationwide manpower shortage of police applicants and rapid attrition through retirement and people choosing other careers. Needless to say, Dallas Police Officers are too busy chasing multiple pages of pending calls for service, they don’t have the time to disproportionately enforce any 27 year old ordinance.
So what’s my point?
The point is quite simple. The law is the law. The ordinance in theory most will agree makes sense. It’s really quite simple, if you aren’t outside at the age of 15 roaming the streets at 3 a.m. without a parent, you don’t have anything to worry about. It doesn’t matter what you look like, what your last name is, or anything like that. Either you’re in violation of the ordinance, or you’re not. The suggestion that this ordinance somehow negatively impacts minorities seems to suggest that only minority children are out roaming the streets in the wee hours of the night. If that is the case, is that the fault of the police? Or maybe their parents? The saying “nothing good happens after midnight” isn’t a saying because it isn’t true.
I’m not suggesting that police officers across the country should be focused on aggressive curfew violation enforcement. That’s clearly nonsense. However, what I am saying, is the more we continually remove laws from the books that may seem minor, petty, or solely what we call “quality of life” laws, the more you are “handcuffing” police officers from doing their jobs.
Even the small innocuous laws are important for police officers, as they allow for what they call “reason for contact”. For those of you who aren’t legally inclined. Police officers need a law to be broken – or suspicion that criminal activity is taking place or about to take place – in order to stop (detain) someone. If you run a red light, speed, or they see you walking down the street with an open alcohol container if it’s illegal, they can now stop and talk with you. To add context pertaining to the curfew ordinance, if this law expires and is never reinstated, when that officer working the overnight shift sees four “young juveniles who may be under 17” of any skin color, dressed in all black, walking down the street, the officer can’t stop them and see what they are up to. Maybe they have handguns in their waistbands and were planning to rob people as they returned home from the bar? Maybe they are headed to break into the local business? Maybe they are headed to watch a movie at their other friend’s house and they just happened to be wearing dark colored clothing? We can maybe any scenario to death, but the fact remains, laws allow officers to do their jobs.
The worst thing about policing is we can’t measure the unmeasurable. There is no metric for measuring the murders, rapes, robberies, or shootings they prevent through proactive policing. You can’t measure what you prevented by stopping a person walking to the back of a closed business at 2 a.m. who happened to have a crowbar hidden on their person. Were they headed to commit a burglary or a murder? Maybe both? Who knows? There’s no “statistic” for that.
So it’s up to you. We can continue down the path of unabated political correctness and completely take away the ability of police officers to do their jobs. Or, we can have some common sense and see laws and ordinances for what they are, laws and ordinances. If you don’t break them, you won’t be affected by them. If you choose the path of complete political correctness, then don’t be pissed off when you tell a police officer you’ve been a victim of a crime and the police officer replies, “Oh yeah, I saw that person walking down the street earlier, I thought it was weird, but I had no legal reason to stop them. I’m sorry this happened to you.” Because that is the way we are headed.
Breaking news coming from Hillsborough County Florida.
Reports coming in are saying that an unidentified Florida Deputy has killed three others and then drove to a high school in Plant City, Florida and where he committed suicide as officers confronted him.
During a news conference this morning, Sheriff Chad Chronister confirmed that a woman and child were killed at one residence, another woman was killed at a separate crime scene, and the deputy took his own life when confronted by three deputies near the Plant City High School grounds. No students were at the school when this incident occurred.
Sheriff Chronister further stated that the deputy got on the police radio channel and stated that he had “caused harm to his family” as well as stating his plan to commit suicide at the nearby high school. A supervisor got on the radio and attempted to talk to the deputy to no avail. During the radio transmissions the deputy mentioned financial and health issues but further motives and details have not been released at this time.
Sadly, this is the second murder-suicide to take place involving a Hillsborough deputy this year.
Suicide in the law enforcement profession has been on the rise and has reached epidemic levels. More on this topic to come.
Chicago, Illinois – In keeping with the theme of late, not only are the media complicit in making the jobs of police officers harder, community activists can have the same impact.
In a recent display of distasteful ignorance, Chicago area “community activist” Carl Nyberg tweeted the following, “Two people too stupid to avoid getting hit by a train were given firearms & the authority to kill people by the Chicago Police Department.”
Clearly, this guy has an axe to grind with police officers. The fact he immediately makes mention of “authority to kill” goes to show his state of mind and how just far out in left field this particular person appears to be. I don’t know this guy, but he has every right to say what he wants. However, I’m not sure how this tweet helps his community in any way.
Most would say, “Just ignore him.” To a certain extent, I would agree. However, I feel it’s important to call out people for their nonsense and recognize that this sort of ignorance creates the anti-police rhetoric that leads to officers being ambushed while eating lunch, protecting protesters, or simply sitting in their police vehicles.
Police officers today don’t just fight “bad guys”. They fight the movement that paints them in this negative light. It furthers the hate toward officers and makes their job more dangerous.
Apparently Carl is too blinded by his own ignorance to see that the officers were investigating a “shots fired” call. They died trying to make the city he lives in a safer place for everyone. Bless his heart.
Today there was yet another news article published somewhere in the United States about the shortage of police applicants in their jurisdiction. Admittedly, I didn’t read the article. The headline stated what we already know, or at least what any reasonable person would suspect. People aren’t applying to be police officers anymore. At least not at the rate they did in the past. (If you could see me as I write this, I’m displaying my best shocked face).
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past four years. Since the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting and the subsequent riots and protests that swept the nation, police officers across the country have been labeled nothing short of racist and blood thirsty monsters. By and large, thanks to the mainstream media in this country. Why? The answer is simple. The controversy surrounding policing in the recent years has made them money. Sadly, it’s that simple. The more people protested, marched, and held rallies, the more the media could give them the microphone to stir the controversy. The more controversial a topic gets, the more clicks, views, and revenue they make. Their job is to make money. Nothing gets more views than something controversial.
How do I know this? I know from experience in writing and posting articles like this one on my website and social media platforms. The number of “views, clicks, or shares” articles get, seem to be directly correlated to the photo or title that accompanies the article. To test this, I’ve posted the exact same article with two different photos and guess which one got more traction? The one with the more controversial and sad photo. Same article. Same title. Different photo. Completely different results in readership. The photo and title I choose for this article will be relevant the first time I post it. Then the following day I will repost it with an even more controversial person in the photo, I’m almost certain, the results will be completely different. We will see how it affects readership and I will update this article. I don’t like or want to be controversial. I started this to be honest, truthful, and give officers a voice. Their side of the story if you will. But, sometimes controversy happens.
Conclusion, the more sad or controversial an article title or photo appears, the more “clicks, reads, or views” it garners. So maybe we as consumers are also to blame? Apparently, America just loves controversy and sadness. This may all be true, but it doesn’t remove responsibility from the mainstream media to be mindful on how they report facts and stories, or worse, how they choose to skew them.
Basically, mediaheadlines matter.
The narrative they push matters and has direct and tragic real life consequences when they create hate that leads to police being ambushed and killed like in Dallas on July 7th, 2016. Other consequences are less tragic, but equally concerning when it comes to the lack of police applicants nationwide. Soon, there will be a crisis. I’m calling it now. Unless the economy crashes and people are in dire need of jobs, police applications will remain low, continually pushing police departments to levels that put officers and the public at risk. Who honestly wants to work holidays, weekends, and be called a monster for doing your job for $60,000 a year? Not to mention the obvious dangers associated with the job.
Sadly, the mainstream media doesn’t care about the repercussions of their controversy creating headlines. They don’t care if people who once strongly desired to be a police officer, are now rethinking their career choice. Can you blame them? After over a decade of wearing the uniform myself, in one of the largest cities in the country, my simple answer is, NO. I don’t blame them. In fact, I think it is wise to really question your desire to be a police officer in 2018 and beyond. If you really, really, want to be one, then do it. Because those are usually the best ones. It’s not just a job, a paycheck, or something you should do half-assed. It’s a serious job, with lifelong consequences for you, your family, and everyone you deal with. If it’s nothing more than a paycheck to you, you’re likely the kind of officer I wish never became one. They generally seem to become officers that make negative headlines in legitimate way.
Buzzwords like “police reform” now flood media headlines and political rallies because somehow “they” believe “they” can change the fact that every day police officers confront the violence most people deny exists. Yet somehow, “they” get upset when the confrontation turns deadly. Well, let’s keep speaking the truth, “they” only get upset if the police officer survives and a citizen dies. However, if the officer happens to be one race and the deceased another, CHACHING!!! Time for an inflammatory headline! Let’s not worry about the facts or circumstances surrounding the incident, publish that inflammatory headline! To hell with the consequences! Who cares about the facts or the fact the entire incident was on video and likely justified!? Profit through division. Tell me I’m wrong.
Sadly, no matter how many community events police plan, cute lip-sync videos are made, or ice cream cones are handed out in the summer. One even remotely controversial police shooting and we are back to square one with the help of the media. Police are quickly painted with a wide accusatory brush suggesting that because of ONE particluar incident, we must remind you that ALL police are racist, blood thirsty monsters! It’s like a sad game of chutes and ladders.
Meanwhile police recruiters hastily hold up signs at a job fairs, “Sign up folks! Come join the team! It’s the greatest show on earth! Let’s make a difference! You can help people!” Come on, let’s stay on the honesty train. Times have changed and your good intentions no longer matter. It’s now all about what the media headlines say that define police officers’ actions. The media doesn’t care if you are the best officer to ever wear the uniform, never been disciplined, or have 58 medals pinned on your chest. Ultimately, when given the chance you, the American police officer will be crucified to their benefit.
To my knowledge there’s never been a protest or rally after a police officer was shot and killed. If there has been, please enlighten me, because I am unaware of such an incident. Vigils don’t count. Police haters generally spew the usual despicable response when an officer is killed, “That’s what they signed up for.” Get real. No one signs up to die.
I’ll be the first to say, dirty or racist cops of any kind should be fired and go to prison if warranted. The recent 3 year prison sentence of a Police Chief for framing African Americans for crimes they didn’t commit was too short. The punishment should have been harsher for ruining people’s lives, betraying the trust of society, and tarnishing the badge. His despicable acts have consequences for everyone involved and the damage is permanent and likely irreparable. For that, he should’ve been punished more harshly.
To conclude, I will say this. Police officers don’t become police officers to get rich. They don’t become police officers to hurt people. They genuinely view their job as a way to keep the evil from hurting the good. They know their role is to hold those accountable for THEIR bad decisions. Becoming a police officer, is a way to serve their community and bear burdens of which most people are blissfully unaware. They don’t go into notoriously violent communities – no matter what the racial makeup may be – looking to hurt someone.
The next time you hear about a fatality car accident with multiple people killed, a deadly shooting, or any horrific tragedy, pause for a minute and ask yourself, would you want to be the one rushing to that scene? Do you want to see the dead bodies sprawled across the highway? Do want to see the person taking their last breath after being shot by a rival gang member? How would you feel about the fact the media is able to portray you as a monster or an inherent racist with a few simple keystrokes, despite knowing nothing about you? Despite the fact you rush to those scenes without knowing or caring about the race of the victim. You just want to HELP. Would you be able to handle it? Again, I think we know the answer. When you think about it in these terms, the nationwide police application shortage comes as no surprise. There is an elephant in the room. The question is, how long until it reaches a critical point?
Every parent’s worst nightmare, a school shooting. I can’t imagine having to experience it as a kid, a teacher, or a parent. I vaguely remember an incident in my high school where a kid brought a gun to class. Luckily, he didn’t use it and the situation was quickly resolved. It was in the classroom across the hall from me, so there’s little doubt I would have been involved to some degree had things gone bad.
Throughout my career, I went through what police call “rapid rescue” or “rapid response” training on more than one occasion. I won’t get into details, but essentially the training was geared toward how to respond to an active shooter, primarily in a large building like a school. When I was a patrol officer on the day shift, I can tell you with absolute certainty, that an active shooter at a school was my worst nightmare. I thought about the possibility of that call coming out every single day, usually as I put my patrol rifle in my squad car at the beginning of my shift. I knew if I had my rifle, I was equipped to get into that situation and handle business with accuracy and confidence. Pistols are just not as accurate, especially at longer distances and under extreme stress, so I was thankful I had that tool. In preparation of my worst nightmare coming true, I studied where all the schools were and even the ones near the borders of my patrol division. I probably should have prepared more and walked through them a few times, but I didn’t. Thankfully, that call never came.
So what is the million dollar school shooting solution? I’ve thought about it, like most of you probably have and I never quite reached a perfect answer. I would hope if there was one, it would have been implemented by now. Short of turning schools into something resembling a prison, I don’t know if there is a hard and fast, guaranteed way to prevent any and all mass shootings in schools. Can you imagine making all of the school windows bulletproof, requiring access cards to get from room to room, pat downs and metal detectors at every entry point, armed guards with a bird’s eye view of the perimeter? Sounds awful.
Also, before I go any further, this topic could turn political quickly and that is certainly not my intention. I am looking at this solely from a police and teacher perspective in regards to their roles in prevention and in ending an incident quickly, should one arise.
First off, I think school resource officers are paramount in every school. They have so many upsides, I don’t see why a school wouldn’t have one. To start, they are there daily and get to know the kids. By always being there, they know who likes who, who fights with who, and may even have an idea of someone that could be at risk of carrying out such an atrocity. As we have seen in the past, there are usually warning signs, but not always. This doesn’t mean that intervention or prevention by police is a certainty. Hindsight is always 20/20. Sadly, people fail to realize that law enforcement could intervene in certain situations, however, we don’t live in a full on “Big Brother” society that allows police to follow “those suspected of being dangerous” on a 24 hour basis. Police aren’t always ready to step in at the first sign of trouble. That just simply isn’t realistic. I hate to break it to you, that’s just the truth.
Yes, you could arrest a bad apple for making threats or getting into fights or whatever it is that the bad apple did to raise suspicion. If you’re being realistic about how KIDS are dealt with criminally, unless they kill someone, they will eventually be released to a parent or guardian and able to carry out their previous threats, should they be so determined. It’s just a fact. Unless people are honestly willing to lock up kids forever anytime they threaten to carry out a mass shooting, then the notion that it is solely up to the police and justice system to intervene is ridiculous.
Should we arm teachers? Initially, I was like, “Heck yeah we should!” And to some degree, I see benefits of it. But like most things in life, there are also drawbacks or unintended consequences we must consider. To start, where do you keep the firearm and how do you ensure it won’t be taken and used against kids in the school by a bad actor? Even if the teacher keeps it on their person, they could be disarmed by a big angry kid who has been bullied for years. Do you secure it in a safe in the classroom? If so, will the firearm be accessible when it is needed when seconds matter? Which teachers should be armed? Do we take volunteers and only allow those who may have a military background, are avid hunters, or have a concealed weapons permit? That seems to make sense, but it may not be the perfect solution, if one even exists. I don’t see the advantage or forcing someone who has no interest in using a gun, to use one. They’d likely be more of a danger than a help, if an active shooter took place.
Maybe if teachers were armed there would have to be extremely strict rules and protocols that had to be followed? For example, if a shooting is taking place, as soon as the school went into lockdown, any armed teachers must remain in the room they are in, no matter what. An armed teacher could only confront a shooter, IF the shooter managed to enter a “locked down room” and it was vital and necessary to take action, in order to protect themselves and the kids in that particular room. Basically, no running around with pistols in your hand trying to save the day. If a teacher is armed and is actively attempting to find and end the shooting while police are also running into the school, how do they know who are “good guys” and who is the “bad guy”? I know the arguement to this will be, “So just sit there while the shooter is actively killing? It defeats the purpose!” Yes, this topic is difficult. No one shooting is exactly the same. You can plan all day and set up measures to prevent a shooting and one could still happen.
In a recent presentation I attended about the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the officer said when he ran into the building it was complete chaos. The fire alarms were going off, water was spraying everywhere from bullets that hit waterlines, and everyone was screaming and running. Communication was nearly impossible. Adding teachers running around with guns into the mix, doesn’t seem like a great solution to the problem, it could easily make the incident worse and lead to even more tragedy. That is why I think the lockdown method may be the most realistic. If nearly every room had a gun, then the hope would be that the threat would be neutralized quickly. Of course, everything always sounds good in theory.
Lastly, let’s not forget, it takes a special person to run toward a horrible event like an active shooter. There’s no other way to put it. Human nature tells us to run away. So we need to consider the absolute courage it would take to confront a shooter in a school. Not to mention, asking a teacher to shoot someone they likely know as a student. Horrible to even think about, I know. I can assure you, the idea of it isn’t any better if you’re a police officer. I’ve said this many times in my articles, police officers don’t want to kill anyone. Period. I don’t care if they’re the biggest monster in the world, in the end, you’re taking a life and that isn’t normal. I don’t care what anyone says, it will change you. The training for this type of incident using fake ammunition similar to paint balls, really gets your adrenaline going. I can’t imagine what it is like heading into a live situation where the consequences are real and permanent. I would like to think that if I was charged with handling that kind of situation, I would have in an efficient and effective way. Luckily, I never had to find out.
So what is the solution? I honestly don’t know. I think every solution needs to be heavily thought out and we consider pros and cons of every decision. I think ultimately it starts with parents, and trickles down to teachers and eventually the kids. Bullying is a major issue. I have yet to hear of a situation where a student likely to be voted “Homecoming King” goes on a killing spree to get revenge on all the people that like him. That isn’t a joke, it just highlights an obvious underlying root cause, being bullied, ostracized, and picked on.
So what can parents, teachers, and kids do? Well you know the answer to that. Be smart, be vigilant, and be kind. See something, say something. All the clichés are already out there. Also, we can’t ignore the harsh reality that there is a certain percentage of humans that are just pure evil. There’s no other word for it. Evil. Someone that is pure evil, likely can’t be stopped if they are determined to be evil. If I figure out how to prevent or stop someone from carrying out acts of pure evil, I will let you know. Until then, stay safe and take care.
This morning I went through my normal routine of getting ready for the day. Like most people, it involves showering, brushing your teeth, if you still have hair, you fix it. Being that it is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, I started to think about all the things I’m thankful for in my life.
It’s a long list to be honest. I’m a lucky guy. I’m thankful for my wife, my parents, my brother, my dogs, my job, my home, my health. You get the picture.
Then I started to think about it in a deeper way.
Honestly, I’m thankful I’m not sad.
I’m thankful that this holiday is still enjoyable because I haven’t suffered significant loss or heartache that makes this holiday season unbearable. But I remember those who have.
I’m thankful my family is alive and well. But I remember the families who are spending their holidays in a hospital.
I’m thankful for those who continue to serve our country as first responders and in the military whose service doesn’t take a break on the holidays. But I remember what it was like working on holidays and how much I looked forward to them being over.
Unfortunately, the holidays are not always a fun time for everyone. We all suffer loss and family members pass away. It’s the inevitable circle of life, I dealt with it myself just a few months ago. However, for some people in our society, they may have just lost everything. Their husband or wife, their Mom or Dad, their provider, their hero.
The family of Chicago Police Officer Jimenez is planning a funeral this week, instead of worrying about when they are going to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Officer Jimenez had a wife and three children and did nothing to deserve his fate, other than become a police officer and serve our country. He heard the “shots fired” call come out at a hospital and responded, like any police officer would. He went toward the danger and paid the ultimate price. I’m thankful for him, but I will remember his family during the holidays.
In an odd conflict of emotion, I struggle to simply be thankful and happy, because I know what others are experiencing. I wish I had a solution or something I could say or do to help them, but I know I can’t. These words will do nothing to heal the pain, they’re simply intended show sympathy and understanding that it exists.
No words I can write will stop the pain felt by the families who have lost their hero at the hands of the evil that walks among us.
So when you’re done eating your Thanksgiving turkey and you’re drifting off to nap to the sound of the football game, be thankful and remember those who aren’t so lucky. I know I will be.
I saw the news break late last night before heading to bed. A shooting reported at a bar in California. I initially thought, “Maybe it’s not a shooting, just gunfire in the area and no one was hurt?” Wishful thinking, but why not? I try to be optimistic.
This thought immediately caused a flashback to July 7th, 2016. A day I can’t seem to escape, despite having not worn that Dallas Police uniform going on 11 months now. The evening the shooting took place – resulting in the death of five police officers – I received a text from my Mom, “Shots fired at the protest.” My response was dismissive and annoyed. Once again, I thought, “shots fired” doesn’t mean anyone got hurt, hopefully it’s just someone being ignorant shooting into the air, trying to be a pain in the ass. Sadly, I was wrong, very wrong.
Despite the fact these events seem to occur much too frequently, it doesn’t make them any easier to accept. I stayed up a little later and watched some more television and eventually went to bed. No matter how much I told myself I’d get some “good sleep” and that I was “tired”, I knew it’d be a crappy night of sleep. All because of a simple “breaking news alert” with little to no information about what transpired. I didn’t know the number of people shot, dead, or if anyone was even shot or dead.
Two hours later, after tossing and turning, battling visions of red and blue lights flickering in my head as if I was at the scene of the shooting when I closed my eyes, I did what anyone does that can’t sleep, I picked up my phone. There it was, confirmation of more disgusting and unthinkable evil in the world. I don’t remember the headline exactly, I just saw the words “dead” and “officer”. I knew more innocent people had been killed and apparently a police officer was among them. What a joke.
I put my phone down in disgust. I’m thousands of miles away, my phone didn’t ring, no bad news came my way personally, yet here I am, struggling. I haven’t worn a bulletproof vest in months, haven’t seen a dead body in years, yet I lie there awake, frustrated, bothered, sad, angry. I think about the victims, who did nothing wrong but go out to have fun with friends. I think about the police officers, firemen, and EMS who ran toward the scene and the horror they were confronted with once they arrived. I think about how they will never be the same and those who survived will also be forever changed.
I don’t know why I still carry this burden, as if I wish I could have been there to help. I’m angry it happened, despite not knowing anyone involved. Maybe that’s just who I am, or more accurately who I was. No matter what happens, especially the bad in the world, I always feel like I should have been there. I should have helped, maybe prevented it, saved a life, something, anything. Not because I want a medal or an award, nothing like that, those are meaningless, but because that was just my mentality for just over 12 years. When bad things happened, I am who you called. It was up to me to help you. Stop the evil, or even better, prevent it.
Each and every time I hear about incidents like what transpired on July 7th, 2016 or November 7th, 2018 at the bar in California, I feel like I’ve let society down. I didn’t do enough. I wish I could have been the officer who out of sheer luck, made a traffic stop as the shooter was on his way to the bar to carry out his evil plot and stopped it all from happening. Wishful thinking and almost silly to think I could be that “good” but I’m just being honest. When these things happen, it pisses me off to my core. It’s just in my DNA I suppose.
Before I was married, I’d be angry that the officer that gave his life was a 29 year veteran police officer and was married. It’s been reported he called his wife to tell her he loved her before rushing into that bar and giving his life in attempt to save others. Why couldn’t it be me instead I’d ask myself. I don’t have a wife. I don’t have kids. It should have been me.
I don’t know why these thoughts rush into my conscience. I don’t ask them to, I certainly don’t want them there. In the end, I know I’m powerless and just have to accept the fact that another tragedy happened and it is over. Just like on July 7th, 2016, I survived, some of my friends didn’t, I have to learn to live with that reality.
Honestly, I should consider myself lucky. Unlike the hundreds of officers who responded to that scene last night, I’ve never done that. I haven’t had to run into complete chaos with dead people everywhere, injured kids crying for help. Maybe that adds to my guilt? Yet another psychological bullet I dodged and my brothers and sister in blue have to absorb.
In the end, I know this, this burden is real. You can’t escape it, you can’t ignore it, and you can’t just make it go away.
It may never go away and I only carried it for 12 years. I can’t imagine 30.
I will forever support those who run toward danger and the burden I know they carry.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. A common saying that applies to policing more perfectly than people may realize. Most of society probably isn’t aware that there are basically two “kinds” of police officers, proactive and reactive. They have their pros and cons, but both are important to have a successful and effective police department.
As a police officer, you have the ability to decide which kind of officer you want to be. The “pro-active” police officer is the one that answers calls for service, but prefers to actively pursue the criminal element or find a person with an active felony warrant, illegal guns or drugs, and put them in jail. A pro-active officer comes into work early and reads all of the crimes that took place over the past few days. They note vehicle license plates taken at gunpoint in the latest armed robbery, they note the homes that were broken into and what was stolen (in case they come across someone with two televisions, an iPad, or wrapped Christmas presents with the name “Suzy” on them), in essence they pay attention to crime trends and possible suspects they may encounter over their shift.
This is what I call a pro-active and diligent officer. One that gives a damn, sticks their neck out a little more than the rest, by actively seeking to find and arrest the criminal element, more so than the other kind of officer, the “reactive” officer. I say “stick their neck out” because inherently when you’re actively seeking the criminal element, the likelihood they “get into something” as police officers say, goes up. The likelihood they get into a fight, car chase, or shooting, increases exponentially because they are actively seeking those in society who are violent and are committing violent crimes. Subsequently, those violent individuals tend to have more to lose. If caught, they are likely headed to a cell with a roommate they don’t get to choose for an extended period of time. This isn’t good for the pro-active police officer. This likely means more complaints from internal affairs, more injuries, and more chances to get hurt or killed themselves. These incidents take a toll on you as an officer and can affect your pay, or promotional eligibility. Some officers start out “proactive” then eventually become more “reactive” as they age. Or lately, more officers are becoming “reactive” as it is safer physically and they are less likely to end up in the news, be accused of wrong doing, using excessive force, being racist, or any other number of accusations that have become popular in the “post Ferguson” era of policing.
On the contrary, the reactive officer is sort of like a fireman in a police uniform. This isn’t a knock on firemen, all jokes aside, they’re heroes and amazing folks. A reactive police officer will get in their police car and basically go wherever the dispatcher tells them to go, answering calls as they come in. This kind of officer is a necessary member of your team, as they allow the pro-active officer more time to do what pro-active officers do, actively search for the criminal element. I’m not saying reactive officers are bad, in fact, they’re good because they embody the “serve” aspect of “protect and serve”. They are more “customer service” based as a quick response time is something everyone wants when they call police for help. So these officers are essential for a balanced and effective police department. These officers are far less likely to get into a fight, car chase, or shooting, because by nature, responding to call for service is REACTIVE in nature. The crime already happened and they are being called to the scene to take the report. Again, vital to police operations, but don’t count on these guys to make multiple traffic stops and recover those stolen Christmas presents or get the felon with two pistols and some heroin off the street. They’re too busy heading to that next call about a stolen checkbook from a vehicle, than to make a traffic stop and catch a “bad guy.”
The sad thing about our society is they “want their cake and to eat it too” when it comes to police officers. They want the reactive and consoling officer to show up in a quick and expedient manner when called. But they don’t want to see an officer speeding to get to that call, putting people in danger. Drive normal and cautiously, but hurry up and get here! They don’t want to see police officers fighting anyone or possibly hurting anyone, let alone shooting anyone. But at the same time, society wants crime rates to be low, response times to be short, and the bad guys caught and held responsible! But in the process, no one can get hurt, little to no force should be used, and certainly nothing should be done that puts anyone at risk of injury or death, especially members of society who aren’t committing crimes. Trust me, police officers want this too.
Well, guess what? That’s rather altruistic and basically impossible. If you are chasing the violent felons and members of our society that have chosen a life of crime, the odds of bad things happening are unfortunately high. They’re certainly much higher than taking the reactive police officer application of policing and simply showing up AFTER something bad happens.
When a proactive officer sees a suspect that has taken a car at gunpoint, or confronts a drug dealer known to be armed, the common sense person has to see that the likelihood of a foot chase, fight, car chase, or shooting, are higher. It’s just the unfortunate truth about policing and confronting violent criminals. If you are a more “reactive” police officer, your shifts will be generally uneventful, if all you’re doing is speaking with crime victims to take their report. In essence, the “reactive officers” mostly deal with the “good people” in society. The proactive officers assigned to “Gang Units” or narcotics task forces head out each day with the goal of being the “cat” and the bad guys are the “mouse”. This is a long running game that has rules that only the cat has to follow and usually ends with the cat winning and the mouse going to jail. But this game isn’t without consequences, sometimes deadly ones. In my opinion, this is where society has begun to get it wrong, by blaming the cat for the actions of the mouse. Yes, there are rules. Yes, the cat has a duty and responsibility to be diligent and operate in a safe manner and not put people in harm’s way unnecessarily. But lest not forget, ultimately the mouse decides what to do, whether to fight, run, or produce a weapon. The cat merely reacts and does their best to catch the mouse. The cat can’t force the mouse to make bad decisions, the cat just hopes the mouse complies and everyone goes home safe.
So the next time you see a news article or video on the internet, ask yourself, who caused this to happen? The cat or the mouse? And then also ask yourself, what kind of police officer do you want protecting your city, county, and country a proactive or reactive one? Maybe a mixture of both?
Ultimately, all police officers are REACTIVE to the decisions made by the people they encounter. They can’t control whether the “mouse” decides to run, fight, bite, kick, or shoot at them. We need to change the lens we use to view these incidents and recognize that policing isn’t always pretty, but in the end, it really is up to the “mouse” to decide if the outcome is peaceful or violent. A tough job for sure.
When you are a new police officer you get told many things. You learn the laws, how to answer calls, what to do in case this happens or that happens. But one thing they don’t cover enough is the mental health aspect of the job. Oddly enough, one of the first things I remember being told as a new police officer is, “This job will change you.”
Multiple times over and over I was told that eventually I would look at the world differently and I would change as a person. They were right. To be honest, if you didn’t change as a person after becoming a police officer, that would be concerning. Let me explain.
Once you become a police officer your entire purpose in life is helping people fix their problems. You respond to situations that are complete and utter chaos. No one calls the police just to say hello or say thank you. Furthermore, police officers are called to each and every horrific tragedy that takes place in your community from fatality car accidents, suicides, homicides, sex assaults, child abuse, you name it, they handle it all. Every. Single. Day.
Not every day is horrible. In fact, every once in a while, things seem to go really well, and no one fights you, hates you, spits on you, or hurls insults at you as you drive down the road. But then there are “those” days, those days every police officer has that honestly make you question whether the job is really worth doing. The days you respond to the most horrific scene that makes you sick to your stomach, want to cry, or make you so angry you can’t believe what you are seeing. Images of dead bodies or abused children that will be forever burned into your mind. But while you are there, you can’t show these emotions. You can’t cry or shout in anger. You have to be professional and treat it as a crime scene, or just objects if you will. This isn’t done out of disrespect to the people hurt or dead, it is done out of self-preservation as a human.
Police officers are human. They are fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters, just like everyone else. The emotions they feel while at these crime scenes are real but must be stifled while on-duty. They must remain professional and appear to be “strong” in order to get the job done or console a witness or victim of a crime. However, seeing the tragedy and horrific crime scenes take a toll and eventually you change as a person. You start to think everyone is a potential suspect or a bad person. You feel like there is only negative in the world. You become upset more easily or irritable and you aren’t sure why.
Add shift work, long days, and the overall stress of what is called “hyper awareness” during a shift to the mix and you have quite the recipe for changes in a person. Especially for someone who, before becoming a police officer, didn’t deal with dead bodies and irregular working conditions on a daily basis.
Ultimately, the fact that the people in the profession or in the academy have the foresight to warn you that “this job will change you” is great. The problem is, they fail to tell you how to deal with the changes in a healthy way. As I’ve said before, seeing and doing what police officers do on a regular basis is far from normal. Often times, it is downright awful and tragic. Those pent-up feelings or emotions have to go somewhere and unfortunately they don’t just fade away with time.
There is a reason that police officers are known for what I call “the big three” – alcohol abuse, divorce, and suicide. When there is a running joke in your profession that you aren’t a “real cop” until you’ve gone through your first divorce, I think it is safe to say that the issue is an epidemic within the profession. Unfortunately, due to the type of person it takes to be a police officer, most shrug it off and say, “It’s part of the job.”
So, what’s the solution? How do we do better? These are the important questions that need answering. I would start by saying we need to end the stigma of talking about the negative effects of being a police officer. Simply telling a recruit, “This job will change you,” isn’t enough. It is frustrating that police officers are aware of the mental health hazards that come with the job, yet only acknowledge them and don’t take any action on how to manage them.
Reach out. Talk. Discuss. Find hobbies or hang out with friends that are not police officers. Do ANYTHING but ignore the fact that as police officers, we deal with very difficult things on a daily basis, physically, mentally, and visually. It would take a toll on anyone, so don’t think you’re immune or weak for admitting the truth. The job WILL change you. Be prepared, have a plan, and be safe.
If I made the statement, “The news media mostly publishes negative stories about police.” Would you say I am wrong?
What if I said, “The news media purposely uses controversial or inflammatory headlines when a story involves police officers.” Would you say I’m wrong?
I have been a critic of the media when it comes to how they cover incidents involving police officers in America for years now. Most notably since 2014 when the Ferguson incident became the catalyst for the new wave of police protests and controversy across the country. I whole heartedly feel that the news media has played a huge role in pitting citizens against the police officers across this country, mostly through the use of controversial headlines and inflammatory stories. This kind of news coverage has led to an ideology and belief that it is acceptable to resist and fight with police. This is a dangerous epidemic and mindset in which no one will win or benefit from.
Now I am not suggesting that when a police officer does something horrifically wrong that the news media shouldn’t cover it. There is no doubt, the police are responsible for some of their own plight. However, the constant “stoking of the flames” by the news media creating controversy does nothing positive for anyone, no matter which side of the coin you are on.
So am I arguing that we should do away with the freedom of the press? Absolutely not, that would be rather ironic of me as I sit here freely putting my thoughts and opinions on paper without fear of government persecution. I am suggesting that the fact the media cares more about profits, clicks on news links, and ratings, they will continue to put those priorities before responsible or non-inflammatory coverage of police incidents.
Here’s my bold statement of the week: If the news media made it a point to cover positive interactions, heroic moments, or truly kind hearted deeds carried out by police officers on a daily basis, it would FILL THE ENTIRE NEWS CYCLE. You read that right, the entire 24 hours news cycle would be filled with selfless and heroic actions that police officers and first responders were responsible for each and every day. It would get so repetitive that eventually heroic actions and kind hearted deeds would become boring and no one would want to read about them anymore. That’s just human nature, even too much of a good thing can get old.
Each and every year, police departments across the country give out hundreds of thousands of awards to their employees. These awards are called things like: The Medal of Honor, The Medal of Valor, The Purple Heart, The Live Saving Medal, and The Police Commendation Medal. You get the point. Do these award ceremonies make it in the news? Or more importantly, do all the heroic actions that led to the awarding of these medals end up in the news? Maybe some do, but I would bet not all. A very small percentage if I had to guess.
You see, police officers are human and capable of making mistakes. They certainly deserve to be held to a higher standard and punished for crooked or wrong behavior that denigrates the trust of the public. But they also deserve to be commended for a job well done and taking the risk of not coming home to their families for the good of strangers all across the country. However, it is easy to only see police officers in a NEGATIVE light, when that is all you ever see about them on the news media.
There’s a problem though. Police officers are human as I just mentioned, but more importantly they are mostly humble humans. They view their role in society as the sheepdog who fights for the rest of society. They recognize that by doing so, they are sometimes the ones who get hurt or killed. They recognize sometimes they are cast in a bad light because what they do isn’t always pretty, but needs to be done for the betterment of society.
Due to their humility, police aren’t going to run to the media and say, “Look what I did! I bought a homeless person some food today!” Or, “I gave someone ride because it was raining, I saved this person by stopping them from committing suicide, I replaced this victim’s Christmas presents from my own pocket because they had theirs stolen!” Yes, we hear these stories on occasion, maybe on a slow news day or because SOMEONE notified the media about the incident. I can assure you it wasn’t the officer who did the good deed. It diminishes the act and goes against the grain of what a good police officer is on the inside, humble. A servant to the public. Who does the job not for riches, but for the cause.
In summary, sadly there is plenty of negative to go around in this world. The news media certainly does its part in highlighting the tragedy taking place each and every day in our society. However, we do not have to let that define how we see our world. Secondarily, we do not have to let it define how we see law enforcement and the job they do every day, every weekend, including holidays. Millions upon millions of selfless acts are carried out by our men and women behind the badge, so let’s not forget that. Just because it may not be breaking news, remember what truly goes on behind the scenes. They are fighting for you, maybe do them a favor and fight back for them. Stop being the silent majority and start being the vocal majority. Share good deeds you experience or witness. I think we can all agree they could use it. They’re counting on you.
Note: This article was written by a current Dallas Police Officer. I am sharing it with their approval and blessing. The officer wished to remain anonymous.
I am a proud black man and a proud police officer. Did you notice I didn’t put the word black when I described myself as a police officer? I’ve been with the Dallas Police Department for the past 10 years of my life.
Being black and growing up in the black community, all my family members, teachers, coaches and motivational speakers ever preached to me was, “Life is still not fair for blacks.”
Instead of complaining about it, I prepared for it.
I planned my life during my freshman year in high school after listening to a motivational speaker in 8th grade at a Team Success seminar. The one thing he said that has always stuck with me was, “Life is going to pass you by if you don’t have a plan the day you graduate.”
No matter who you are, I believe that holds true. Why? Because I see it daily on social media. Back in August of 2009, I made the decision and plan to apply to the Dallas Police Department one day. Six years later, I put my plan into action and have been a sworn Dallas police officer ever since.
I’m just one person, but I know it can be done by people who come from “the hood”, just look at Adryelle for example. We share identical mindsets and personal stories. No one said it would be easy, it wasn’t, but we just haven’t complained about it.
I can write a book on why I became a cop, instead I’ll share this quote I developed in college. “I like to see people happy and enjoying their lives and for someone to come in and take that away, I want to be the one who makes that person face the consequences, up to and including putting my life on the line.”
I’m the real definition of a beat cop. I have spent my career focusing on South Oak Cliff, a predominately black part of Dallas. I understand the way of life in this part of town, because I grew up in and around it.
Myself and my co-workers self-described as the “South Central Trifecta,” actually go after real bad guys and have a pretty good success rate. We make a trip to Lew Sterrett jail almost daily. We actually take pride in taking the burglars, robbers, jack boys, car theives, and let’s not forget the “almighty drug dealers” off the street. That’s one less person on the street that may do harm to you and your family in ways unimaginable. Right?
Sadly, in all actuality, this is what my day as a black police officer is often like:
I get told multiple times a day by “my” people, that I shouldn’t care about their wrong doing and “let it slide” because I too am black. Often, I show up to a call and don’t say a word, yet everything becomes my fault because I’m the black officer on scene. How does blame or behavior benefit the black community? And who is making it about race? It seems no one wants to be held accountable until it is a police officer is in the hot seat. Then you want the book thrown at us.
I’ve even been told by other officers that being “pro-active isn’t the way to go.” That attitude tells me that particular officer doesn’t care about cleaning up violent crime in the streets of Dallas. The truth about being proactive and getting the gun off the street before it’s used in the violent crime is how crime is suppressed. You would think this would be applauded in a neighborhood riddled with violent crime. (That is an entire seperate soapbox).
Countless times while at work, I am called names like, “sell out” or “Uncle Tom”. I hear comments like, “You’re supposed to be on our side!” Or “He’s the one in charge of the arrest and he’s black!” Among many other comments referring me to being a “sellout”. The truth is, there is no side. There’s a law and you’re breaking it. Ultimately yes, it’s my discretion if you take a ride or not, but that doesn’t make me a “sellout”.
You see, I didn’t “sellout”, I bought in. I bought in to the community I grew up in. Being a Dallas police officer is my way of giving back and I feel like I was called to do it. I make it my priority to protect you from danger and make you feel safe at night. I’ll die for you while attempting to arrest that bad guy who broke into your house, despite the fact that I don’t know you. What’s sad, is most times the suspect I am chasing is someone who lives in the same apartment complex or three blocks up the street. That in itself is a damn shame.
Regardless, I know that’s why I signed my name on the dotted line, despite the risks. I know there’s a bunch of other officers who would do the exact same thing and guess what? The majority of them are white. I apologize, to be more politically correct, the majority of them are not minorities. I’m not always politically correct by the way, I just speak the truth.
It would be foolish of me to argue about the typical white officer and black person story. It would take a small miracle for people to stop being ignorant and making everything about race. News flash, it’s NOT! Answer this question, if a white officer patrols a 90% black neighborhood and a majority of officers are white, if an incident were to happen, what is the likelihood of it being a white officer and a black person? (I just opened up a can of worms, didn’t I?)
Put black officers in the black communities is what you would likely say in response. To that, my response would be: please read a couple paragraphs above. A lot of people would rather be a part of the problem rather than the solution. I’m not saying the only way to help is become a cop. Truthfully, there are plenty of ways you can help change the relationship between the police and the community. The goal is to work as one. yet most of you seem to thrive on division.
Something else I’ve learned, is to focus on what I can control.
I’m not saying social injustice doesn’t exist. Damn sure not saying police brutality doesn’t exist either. The majority of officers are ready and willing to “get the bad ones out” just as much as the public wants that to happen. Trust me, we have the best Public Integrity Unit detectives (a unit tasked with investigating criminal allegations made against police officers) and Internal Affairs detectives in the country. They don’t miss a beat and everyone is held accountable.
Ignorance of the law is one’s own fault. The penal code, transportation code, and health & safety code, aren’t secrets anyone can look them up. I challenge you, look up Chapter 14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. But who am I kidding? I bet looking up anything is out of the question because you’d rather wait for another uninformed person to post something on social media to cause outrage, instead of educating yourself with facts or knowledge.
I am always baffled at the people on social media who post, “Free ____ insert name here!!!!” after they’ve been arrested. Almost like a cry for them to be released because they’ve “done nothing wrong!” Almost suggesting the police were wrong for arresting them. What’s sad is people post that nonsense no matter what that person was charged with! Does anyone ever look online to see what these people did to end up in jail? Three counts of aggravated robbery, yet you’re posting, “Free them!” No accountability right? Is that what is really best for the community? The alleged robber is “right” and the police are “wrong”?
The next time you feel like advocating for someone’s release from jail, ask yourself this question: “If someone stuck a gun in your face and took your property, would you still be yelling to free that person?”
A friend of mine recently asked, “Tell me, what is it really like being a police officer?”
I smiled as this was the hundredth time I’ve been asked that question. I thought to myself, “If you only knew the truth.” Protector to a fault, I couldn’t unload the real truth about what it’s like to be a police officer. Instead, I smiled and said, “It’s good, every day is different and I get to work outside.” If he only knew. Over the next few minutes, I would smile and nod as if I was paying attention to the conversation.
In reality, I was thinking to myself, if you want to know the truth, I’ll tell you the truth. When my wife asks how my day was I respond with a rehearsed, “It was fine.” I say that to protect her and I guess myself too. I’m not trying to be rude or short. I don’t want to keep things from her or hurt her feelings. I guess the truth is, I don’t want to relive the fatality car accident I responded to last night. A mother, father, and their two children didn’t survive, it was horrific.
If you want to know the truth, a few days ago I came home and was distant and distracted. My wife got upset with me because I wasn’t listening when she told me about the parent-teacher conference she attended alone. What she doesn’t know is someone shot at me on my last shift. I debated telling her but don’t want her to worry more than she already does. Honestly, I am just thankful to be alive. The scary truth is, my wife almost became a widow and my kids almost lost their father. That thought is really messing with my head. I guess that’s what I signed up for, so I’ll have a few more beers and then head to bed. I’ve got work in the morning.
If you want to know the truth, even though that guy shot at me, I’m thankful I wasn’t able to shoot back. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t want that on my conscience. I don’t want to be on restricted duty because I need to work overtime to pay the bills. The truth is, I don’t want to hurt anyone and certainly don’t want to kill anyone. I want to help them but I know I’m a consequence for some, a sigh of relief for others, and a hero to a few. The truth is, I don’t go looking for a fight; the fight comes to me, whether I want it to or not. Ultimately, I just want to go home at the end of the night.
You want to know the truth? Today I got word that I’m being investigated, another ridiculous complaint and now my long-awaited promotion is in jeopardy. A drug dealer is claiming his money went missing and he was roughed up while being arrested. Despite the fact the video will prove none of that is true, I have to wait months for the outcome. No matter what, that complaint is on my record forever now. One more thing I have to explain to the promotion board if I even make it that far.
The truth is, my wife is expecting our second child and that promotion would really help with the upcoming expenses. Carrying all this stress the last few days, I’ve been pissed when I hit the streets. But just last night, I was flagged down by a frantic mother and was able to resuscitate her unconscious baby. The truth is, seeing the joy and relief on that mother’s face restored a sense of worth and purpose. In seconds, the anger and stress about the complaint and promotion were gone. I helped someone today and the truth is, that’s why I do this job.
If you want to know the truth, I’m not a hateful person. I don’t care what you look like, where you came from, or what you’ve done in the past, I will give my life for you. I may not know you, but that isn’t a reason to hesitate when seconds matter. The truth is, helping people is in my blood. I run toward danger, I shield strangers from harm, and I accept death as a consequence. I guess the truth is, it’s just my way of life. I’m a risk taker but don’t like the idea of dying. I didn’t sign up to die, however, I accept it could happen. The truth is, I would feel bad for my parents; no parent should have to bury a child. At least it would be honorable, that should count for something.
If you want to know the truth, I have a wife, a mother, a father, one brother and two dogs. I have a family just like you. Even if I have to work, they hope to see me at birthday parties, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like football and baseball. I watch movies and can quote some of them word for word. I guess the truth is, I’m not much different than you are. I have my good days and bad. I hope for the best, expect the worst, and always try to do the right thing. Like you, I want my family to be proud of me. I don’t want to bring disgrace to my name, my family, or my late grandfather whom I know is watching from above.
If you want to know the truth, I love my country, my city, and my brothers and sisters in blue. I guess they are why I keep coming to work every day. I don’t want to abandon them or our fight for what is right. We defend the vulnerable and defenseless from crime and evil. It’s what we do. If you want to know the truth, it gets harder every day. I just blocked some friends on social media. They said they wished “all pigs would die,” I just can’t stomach that. Why should I die? What have I done wrong? I just want to help people.
You want to know the truth? I may not act like it, but the job is starting to take a toll on me. Sometimes I lie in bed and start crying out of nowhere. I don’t feel sad, nothing in particular happened that day. In fact, I had a pretty boring shift. But the truth is, sometimes I just lie there and cry and I’m not sure why. I suppose the truth is, I just had to let it out and eventually I feel better. I’m not too sure if that’s a good thing but that’s the truth. I guess that’s just part of the job.
The truth is, some days I wonder if it’s all worth it. It seems like everyone hates us these days and no matter what we do, we are always to blame. The cards seem stacked against us. Surely, we are playing a game we can’t win. I can’t watch the news anymore. All you see is more protests, tragedy, death, and half-truths. Headlines that seem to be aimed at stoking the flames and furthering the narrative that the police are the enemy. I guess the truth is, I just want to do a good job and make a difference, but that seems impossible these days. Ultimately it seems like even if I did, no one would notice.
If you want to know the truth, the more I think about it, it’s just not worth it anymore. I drink all the time and my wife said she’s filing for divorce. I guess the truth is becoming clear, I’m not a hero. I can’t help myself, let alone strangers who call 911. I am angry all the time and I’m losing this battle. I don’t see a reason to go on. I’m losing my wife, my kids, my life seems over and this job has made me into someone I don’t want to be.
If you want to know the truth, I planned on killing myself today. I wrote the note and had a plan but couldn’t pull the trigger. I just couldn’t do it. Thankfully, I decided I’m going to take control of my life. I am going to seek help. I decided I need to make some changes and give myself a chance to be happy. I will fight for my wife and the life I once had. I guess the truth is, since all I ever do is fix stranger’s problems, I forgot to fix my own.
The truth is, when you asked, “Tell me, what is it really like being a police officer?” These are all the things I wanted to say. Instead, I smiled and replied, “It’s good, every day is different and I get to work outside.”
“After an officer involved shooting or any tragic event, can the police say sorry?” It was an intriguing question. This question stemmed from a discussion about how police are portrayed by the news media. The person who asked the question is from a country where it is culturally important to say “sorry” if something bad happens. For example, if a major bank went bankrupt, an apology is what you’d likely hear from the CEO. A stark contrast to what you would see here in the United States. Good, bad, or otherwise, this made me think about the culture of apologies – or the seeming lack thereof – here in the United States.
Naturally, I tried to remember an incident where a Chief or someone representing a police department apologized for something that took place. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of an instance that resonated with me. Lo and behold, later that week I was reading an article where the Chicago Police Chief offered his condolences and apologized after an officer involved shooting. To my surprise, a quick internet search of the words, “Police Chief sorry” or “Police shooting apology” actually returned quite a few results. The apologies stemmed from incidents ranging from arrests to officer involved shootings.
Upon finding multiple instances of apologies by police departments, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was unable to respond to the question with a confident, “Yes, police apologize when bad things happen.” If a quick internet search disproves the notion that police never apologize, why does it seem like they never do? Personally, I was surprised by this and thought maybe he was on to something. Maybe if police apologized more, society would see police as more humane? Maybe there would be less animosity in some neighborhoods? Maybe not?
We theorized that the seeming lack of apologies could be related to legal liability. Jumping in front of news cameras and immediately saying “sorry” implies guilt or wrong doing. Nearly all police involved shootings result in a civil wrongful death lawsuit, justified or not. Even if the officer acted in accordance with the law and departmental policies, a payout of hundreds of thousands of dollars is common and likely. Do apologies increase their liability?
Another likely reason people don’t associate the police with apologies is because apologies are not what you see in the headlines. If you search the internet for instances where apologies are issued, they are usually after the initial incident or in the body of the article, not the headline. This is problematic as it seems so many people these days ONLY read headlines, form an opinion, and immediately begin their social media tirade. So if all you ever see are headlines that read, “Officer involved shooting leaves man dead.” It’s understandable you would miss the fact the Chief offered an apology during the press conference.
Further silencing the police, the officer(s) involved in the shooting can’t speak about the shooting while it is under investigation. Most certainly not to the news media. Naturally an apology from the officer who actually did the shooting could really resonate with the public. However, it is inadvisable for legal reasons. Let’s not forget, a police involved shooting is still considered an aggravated assault or murder and they are investigated as such. As much as that officer may want to publicly say sorry, no lawyer in the world would allow it. Police officers have legal rights afforded to them after a shooting just like any citizen who shot someone in self-defense would. Ultimately, it is still up to the grand jury to determine if charges are necessary and subsequently a jury to decide guilt or innocence if such charges are filed.
What is unfortunate from an empathy standpoint, is the fact that police are kept silent for their legal protection. It dehumanizes them and insinuates that police officers lack sympathy or empathy for what happened. If you never hear an apology, over time, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to surmise that police officers aren’t sorry for shooting people. Just because you never hear it, does not mean that is how officers feel.
Personally, I was lucky and never used deadly force despite the multiple times I was justified to use it throughout my career. That being said, I would bet that every single officer who has been involved in a fatal police shooting, wishes it didn’t happen. Nothing good comes of being involved in a shooting. There are nightmares, sleepless nights, constant stress and worry about the grand jury referral, not to mention the financial impact it can have on them. If an officer is on administrative leave, that generally means they cannot work overtime or off-duty jobs to supplement their income. Many officers I worked with had regular “extra jobs” they would work while off-duty to supplement their income. A shooting does nothing to help them financially and could really put them in a bind depending on their family situation.
As I have said many times already in my articles, police officers are human beings. They are not robots. They are not programmed to do a job and end threats with precision and perfection. They are human beings, who make split second decisions based on the situations they are presented with day in and day out. No human being wants to take another life. Period. Officers are forced into these situations. Police officers are 100% reactionary when it comes to their use of force options. If the “suspect” turns around and puts their hands behind their back, you will never hear about that arrest because the “suspect” CHOSE to comply. The arrest is over and nothing bad happens. This is how everyone wants any police incident to end, including the police.
On the contrary, if the suspect resists, fights, or points a weapon at the officer, you will likely read about the aftermath in the news. This isn’t rocket science, it is simple cause and effect where the suspect is ultimately in control of how the incident plays out. Yes, there are shootings that are not justified. The shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina is an example of a horrible police shooting. Consequently, the officer was convicted and is serving a 20 year prison sentence, rightfully so. On August 28, 2018, a policer officer from Balch Springs, Texas was found guilty of murder. It does happen and will likely happen more in the future due to video being readily available during nearly all police and citizen interactions.
Sadly, police officers will make mistakes and police officers will continue to go to prison. This is the new normal police officers have to accept. Years ago, grand juries made deicsions based on witness testimony and the officer’s statements. In the past, accounts of what happened generally led to a no-bill from the grand jury (meaning the officer won’t be charged with a crime) or an innocent verdict if they did go to trial. In today’s world of law enforcement, we can review a shooting like it’s a play in a professional sporting event. What happens in mere seconds can be broken down second by second, frame by frame, and eventually a decision is made as to whether it was justified. Things have changed and any mistakes like the ones in South Carolina and Balch Springs, Texas can and will likely result in a prison sentence. A bad day at the office could cost you 20 years of your life maybe longer. The job of being a police officer was always difficult, you’d be hard pressed to convince me it isn’t harder today than ever before. Perfection or prison.
Back to the original question at hand.
Can police say sorry?
Yes they can. And I bet they would do it more if they could.
Police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, military members, corrections officers, teachers, and nurses. The public servants of society share many things in common. Most people respect them and most of us appreciate their sacrifices, rightfully so. They usually work in harsh environments, work long hours for generally speaking, low pay. As much as the people who choose these career paths deserve admiration and respect, there is an entire group of people that are often overlooked. The spouses and family members of our public servants or the “unsung heroes” of our society.
They are truly the “unsung heroes” of public service. Not only do they shoulder work schedules that include long hours, shift work, or unpredictable “on call” statuses; they are at home trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy in the absence of their spouse. Celebrating Christmas on the 23rd or the 26th because your spouse has to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, is anything but ideal and certainly not the “normal” the rest of society gets to enjoy.
It should go without saying, worry is a constant for the families of public servants. Every time their loved one walks out the front door, they hope they return the way they left. In recent years, it would not be a stretch to say the dangers have increased. Though statistically 2017 was a better year than most – in regards to line of duty deaths – an increase in ambush style attacks and unsolicited shootings of police officers do nothing to quell the fears for law enforcement families.
In a recent email from a reader I was asked, “How are wives supposed to handle the fear associated with their spouses being police officers in a society that so openly disrespects police?” My initial thought was how much I wish I had an amazing answer. One that could help them sleep at night. I wish I could prevent their heart skipping a beat when the phone rings, or there is an unexpected knock at the door during their spouse’s shift. Truthfully, that point of concern is exactly why I started writing these articles and created The Officer Next Door website. The pure hatred and vitriol that motivated the cowardly shooter in Dallas, Texas on July 7, 2016, lends credibility to the fear law enforcement spouses experience daily.
The dangers law enforcement officers face today have changed since 2014. The Ferguson effect is NOT just limited to police officers’ new hesitation to engage in proactive policing. It has also increased the chances of being targeted simply because of the uniform they wear. I think most law enforcement spouses realize the job their loved one signed up for is dangerous. However, I don’t think most law enforcement spouses dreamt it would become common place for officers to be shot while taking no enforcement action at all. This would be like worrying about your firefighter spouse dying doing something other than fighting fires. Sadly today, eating lunch can lead to being injured or killed and that is hard to digest for police spouses.
To the men and women out there married to a first responder, THANK YOU. Parents, siblings, and family members of public servants, THANK YOU. Without you, our public servants would struggle. You are the support system they need to be successful. The fact they became a public servant is a reflection on you as a parent or spouse and you should be proud.
I will offer this idea to help with your fear and worry regarding the daily dangers your spouses or family members face. Be vocal and supportive when talking about their jobs and their personal sacrifices. Share your concerns and worries with your friends. Don’t be shy to share with people what goes on in a family that has a first responder or public servant in it. Don’t “unfriend” people that speak negatively about law enforcement. It’s easy to turn a cheek to the ones who “don’t understand” what it is like to be a police officer or public servant in 2018. I can certainly relate.
When you speak to someone you know personally and share your perspective as a law enforcement spouse, one would hope they will listen with a sympathetic ear. Furthermore, I would hope they would take your input and perspective at face value as friends or acquaintances. When critics read my articles, they automatically think I am biased and ONLY support police regardless of fault, which is simply not true.
I have noticed that most people who are vocal or critical of police officers’ actions often have valid points or concerns. That being said, they can also be slightly misguided or have certain beliefs or opinions that are based on lies or half-truths. In this instance, it would be your job to dispel any mistruths about a particular incident or topic. All too often you see people in social media comments sections saying things like, “That’s entrapment!” or “That’s excessive!” Odds are good, if you review whatever it is they are talking about, they are wrong. Or it could simply be the fact, “it doesn’t look good.” Police work isn’t always pretty. People resist, fight, bite, spit, and shoot at police officers. These are all met with equal or greater force, which is legal by the way. None of which is fun to watch or “looks good.”
On the positive side, as technology, equipment, and training improve, officers are indeed safer. They are more aware of the threats they face today and training continually evolves to address these issues. Officers being issued tourniquets and higher quality bulletproof vests help as well. Can you protect against an all-out ambush? No. Just like we can’t stop rain on wedding days. Some things we can’t control, however, I am confident in the future for police.
With knowledge and understanding comes power. The power to change someone’s mind or make them see something from a different perspective is precisely what needs to happen to make police officer’s jobs safer. Unfortunately, there is little to be done about poorly chosen media headlines that care more to stir up emotion and garner clicks, than tell the story in an unbiased or non-inflammatory manner.
That is one aspect of the, “war on police” we have zero control over. So my suggestion of discussion and explanation when afforded the opportunity bears even more weight. I have had personal success of offering a different point of view when discussing law enforcement with people. As mentioned in previous articles, discussion can actually change someone’s point of view. Trolling, commenting with hate, anger, or a sarcastic “meme”, does little to help people see things from a police officer’s perspective.
I would be remiss to suggest that you can change everyone’s mind. I think it is safe to say there will always be some people who simply “hate” police. Usually, they seem to be the ones who place ill-directed hate toward police because they enforce laws they disagree with. Police officers don’t make the laws, they simply enforce them.
Engage people who hate what your spouse does. Attempt to have meaningful dialogue and address their viewpoints and concerns. If they don’t respond well and still “hate” police at least you tried. All we can do as law enforcement supports is continue to take the ever-difficult high road.
If doing the right thing was easy, everyone would do it.
Stay safe, stay supportive, and THANK YOU for being the spouse or family member of a first responder. You are truly the unsung heroes of our society.