Parents: Police Will Not Arrest Your Kids For Misbehaving – Be Parents, Not Comedians

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I think most police officers agree there a few things that get old quickly as a police officer.

No, I’m not talking about the unpredictability of your work schedule, the dangers of the job, the fact you have to work weekends, holidays, and if you’re unlucky, mandatory overtime due to manpower shortages. No, I’m not talking about those things. Because like “they” say, “That’s what they signed up for!” (Another annoying saying)

I’m talking about the moronic thing parents say to their kids when they encounter police officers in public.

“You see that police officer over there? If you aren’t good, they will take you to jail!”

This is about as funny as our other favorite, “I didn’t do it officer!” (Insert hysterical laughing here)

Whew. Man. Good stuff. Really good stuff. Honestly, tears, tears are rolling down my cheeks from laughing so hard. “I didn’t do it!” (Shaking my head in sheer amazement someone could be so funny……..not really).

Alright, back to being The Serious Officer Next Door.

Honestly, police officers have enough to deal with when it comes to public scrutiny and negativity. There’s plenty of anti-police groups, extreme “libertarians” that hate the government and police, not to mention the criminal element police officers confront daily. The last thing a parent should want is a child that fears the police. “Stranger danger” doesn’t apply here, yet that’s basically what you’re telling them.

Young kids, of all people, need to KNOW they can run toward a police officer in the event of an emergency. Why create a fear of the police at such a young age? It doesn’t matter if you’re joking.

I don’t care what the media or the anti-police crowd tells you, a police officer’s best days are the ones they get to truly help someone, save a life, or do something positive. Yes, they’re a consequence, which naturally hinders their popularity, especially among those who live a life of criminality.

Sure, sometimes police do stupid things and end up on the news. But these are children we are talking about. They are impressionable and need to be taught that a police officer will help them no matter what it is they need.

I remember growing up, we didn’t need our parents telling us the police would arrest us and take us to jail if we misbehaved. Instead, we had a show called, “Rescue 911” and the intro to that show was creepy as heck. It honestly scared the crap out of me, yet, I loved watching that show. I’d go to bed terrified our house would go up in flames and I’d have to crawl through flames and smoke toward a firefighter with a mask breathing like a scary Darth Vader.

Yeah, I just made firefighters scary. Take that hose draggers!

I grew up more afraid of that scenario than anything else.

I guess I was lucky. I had parents that I respected and feared, in a healthy way. I was raised, “guilty until proven innocent,” by the very people who brought me into this world. The way it should be. As such, they didn’t need to tell me the police would come take me away for misbehaving. My parents were enough of a consequence, they didn’t need police officers to help raise or discipline their children. They also taught their children to respect teachers, police officers, and people in positions of authority. Ah, the good ‘ole days.

I’m not telling anyone how to parent. I’m not “parent shaming” or any other ridiculous term someone may want to throw out there. I’m simply saying people need to think about the messages they send to children when it involves the police. They’re an ally, not the enemy. Teach your kids that and maybe our society will be better off going forward. Be the change you want to see. Respect for authority doesn’t have to be a thing of the past.

Thank a police officer today.

Even better, encourage a positive interaction between a police officer and a child if you’re able.

It’s not just the children who will benefit.

We all will.

The Officer Next Door

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Stop Doing This When You See A Police Officer

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I think most police officers agree there a few things that get old quickly as a police officer.

No, I’m not talking about the unpredictability of your work schedule, the dangers of the job, the fact you have to work weekends, holidays, and if you’re unlucky, mandatory overtime due to manpower shortages. No, I’m not talking about those things. Because like “they” say, “That’s what they signed up for!” (Another annoying saying)

I’m talking about the moronic thing parents say to their kids when they encounter police officers in public.

“You see that police officer over there? If you aren’t good, they will take you to jail!”

This is about as funny as our other favorite, “I didn’t do it officer!” (Insert hysterical laughing here)

Whew. Man. Good stuff. Really good stuff. Honestly, tears, tears are rolling down my cheeks from laughing so hard. “I didn’t do it!” (Shaking my head in sheer amazement someone could be so funny……..not really).

Alright, back to being The Serious Officer Next Door.

Honestly, police officers have enough to deal with when it comes to public scrutiny and negativity. There’s plenty of anti-police groups, extreme “libertarians” that hate the government and police, not to mention the criminal element police officers confront daily. The last thing a parent should want is a child that fears the police. “Stranger danger” doesn’t apply here, yet that’s basically what you’re telling them.

Young kids, of all people, need to KNOW they can run toward a police officer in the event of an emergency. Why create a fear of the police at such a young age? It doesn’t matter if you’re joking.

I don’t care what the media or the anti-police crowd tells you, a police officer’s best days are the ones they get to truly help someone, save a life, or do something positive. Yes, they’re a consequence, which naturally hinders their popularity, especially among those who live a life of criminality.

Sure, sometimes police do stupid things and end up on the news. But these are children we are talking about. They are impressionable and need to be taught that a police officer will help them no matter what it is they need.

I remember growing up, we didn’t need our parents telling us the police would arrest us and take us to jail if we misbehaved. Instead, we had a show called, “Rescue 911” and the intro to that show was creepy as heck. It honestly scared the crap out of me, yet, I loved watching that show. I’d go to bed terrified our house would go up in flames and I’d have to crawl through flames and smoke toward a firefighter with a mask breathing like a scary Darth Vader.

Yeah, I just made firefighters scary. Take that hose draggers!

I grew up more afraid of that scenario than anything else.

I guess I was lucky. I had parents that I respected and feared in a healthy way. I was raised, “guilty until proven innocent,” by the very people who brought me into this world. The way it should be. As such, they didn’t need to tell me the police would come take me away for misbehaving. My parents were enough of a consequence, they didn’t need police officers to help raise or discipline their children.

I’m not telling anyone how to parent. I’m not “parent shaming” or any other ridiculous term someone may want to throw out there. I’m simply saying people need to think about the messages they send to children when it involves the police. They’re an ally, not the enemy. Teach your kids that and maybe our society will be better off going forward. Be the change you want to see. Respect for authority doesn’t have to be a thing of the past.

Thank a police officer today.

Even better, encourage a positive interaction between a police officer and a child if you’re able.

It’s not just the children who will benefit.

We all will.

The Officer Next Door

All I Ever Wanted To Do

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Photo Credit and Permission: Laus Photography

All I ever wanted to do was become a police officer.
Ever since I was a kid, I felt like it was a calling.
I’ve seen the news, read the headlines, and watched police funeral processions.
I knew it was dangerous, but that wasn’t going to stop me.

All I ever wanted to do was make my community safer.
I didn’t set out every day to write tickets or make arrests for minor crimes. Instead, I hoped to find someone that deserved to be in jail and put them there. Gang members, violent felons, or drug dealers, any would do. Someone has to hunt for those people, to be honest, that’s the only kind of police work I wanted to do.

All I ever wanted to do was truly help someone.
It didn’t matter how it happened. Whether it was making an arrest, helping someone when their car broke down, finding a missing family member, or recovering stolen property.  Or maybe just being there to listen when someone was at rock bottom. When you break it down, that’s really what the job is all about. There’s no better feeling than knowing you truly helped someone.

All I ever wanted to do was save a life.
It doesn’t happen every day or on every shift, but when it does, you’ll never forget it. You won’t hear us talk about it, because to us, it’s part of the job. No matter the circumstances, a bad car accident or medical emergency, saving just one life makes an entire career worthwhile. It reminds you why you answered the calling, despite all the challenges.

All I ever wanted to do was be there when someone needed me the most.
Whether it was to prevent something tragic from happening or responding quickly when it did, I wanted to be there. If I wasn’t, I took it personally. That’s why despite our own fears, we run, not walk, to wherever danger or evil lurks. We are truly the thin blue line that stands between society and evil.

All I ever wanted to do was make my family, friends, and coworkers proud.
With the badge and uniform comes great responsibility. It was up to me not disgrace the name on my name tag or the patches on my shoulders. While wearing them, I represented something bigger than myself. My family, my blue family, a brotherhood, a sisterhood, and the thin blue line that stretches across the world.

All I ever wanted to do was go home safe after my shift.

It didn’t take long to realize this job would forever change me. The tragedy, violence, and evil, we saw on a daily basis was quick to take its toll. Putting on a bulletproof vest before every shift, was a stark reminder of the violence we may confront. I knew all this, but it wasn’t going to stop me.

All I ever wanted to do was become a police officer.

The Officer Next Door

A Dead Person, A Broken Water Pipe, and Not Poking the Bear – Lessons From The Streets

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I was on field training, which meant I had a trainer (veteran officer) with me on every call, every traffic stop, wherever I went as a new police officer, my trainer was there.

I was on my second phase of training, if I had to guess, I was roughly 9 weeks into my career as a Dallas Police officer. I was still very “green” and naïve. I don’t even know if I’d seen crack cocaine yet.

We worked an odd shift, 7pm – 5am which meant we stayed pretty busy. Southeast Dallas is known as a rough part of town. It was my number one choice of where I wanted to work when I filled out my wish list in the academy. I know, I have some screws loose.

Just south of downtown, we made a traffic stop. I don’t remember all the details to be honest. All I remember is the driver was clearly drunk. He wasn’t incoherent, but he was bad enough to where SFST testing was futile, so it was a relatively easy DWI arrest.

My trainer wasn’t particularly my favorite person in the world. He’s no longer a police officer.

Needless to say, he was a big guy. No, not eats 15 donuts a shift big. He was probably 6’4” 260 pounds nearly all muscle. Maybe bigger. Needless to say, he wasn’t worried about people trying to pick a fight with him.

So back to the DWI traffic stop. As I’m about to put the guy in handcuffs, my trainer says, “Don’t do anything stupid, my rookie has an itchy trigger finger.”

Really?

Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate that comment. I didn’t have an itchy trigger finger. How would he know? I hadn’t shot anyone. I was brand new and still learning the job. I wasn’t overly aggressive or said or done anything crazy to suggest I was eager to shoot someone. Quite the opposite actually. No police officer wants to shoot someone. In fact, despite many close calls, I never shot anyone in my 12+ years with the Dallas Police Department. Thank God.

It should come as no surprise, the person being arrested didn’t appreciate the comment either. Insinuating he could be shot despite the fact he was cooperating was rather ridiculous, so I understood why he wasn’t thrilled. But being new, I just ignored it and continued on with the arrest.

Later on at jail, I was able to apologize to the guy. I told him I was sorry my trainer was such an as*hole and I didn’t understand why he said what he said. The guy thanked me for being cool. The person being arrested wasn’t upset with me. He knew he was wrong for driving in his condition. He knew it was nothing personal on my part, I was just doing my job. Thankfully he wasn’t an aggressive drunk.

Fast forward a month or so later.

I’m now on a different phase of training with a different trainer, different shift, same neighborhood. A call about a house with water pouring out of it comes in. The call also mentions that the owner of the house hadn’t been seen in a few days.

Awesome. (Sarcasm) Immediately I thought, “Today is the day, what every rookie is inevitably subjected to, a decomposed dead guy.”

If my memory serves me correctly at this point in the summer, we were well into double digit consecutive days where the high temperature surpassed 100 degrees. Needless to say, I was prepared for the worst on this call.

We arrive and sure enough the yard around the home had standing water and it is clear something has gone amiss inside to cause the flood. Turns out, a pipe under the house burst open and was spraying water all over the place, flooding the yard. That busted pipe was a blessing!

As we walk up to the house and began doing what police do, snoop around looking for a way into the house, the neighbor who called walks up.

As my luck would have it, it was the guy I arrested for DWI on my previous phase of training.

Awesome (Sarcasm again). At first, I was nervous. Seeing people you’ve arrested is naturally awkward and avoided if possible for obvious reasons. Luckily, this guy not only remembered me, he remembered how I treated him compared to my previous trainer.

Minutes later, that same guy was boosting me into his neighbor’s window. He was now helping me. A guy I had arrested just weeks before.

In the end, I found his neighbor deceased from natural causes. Thankfully, the broken water pipe kept the home cool and the deceased person had not begun to decompose. That stroke of luck started my streak of 12+ years without ever standing in the same room as a decomposed body.

Yes, you read that right. I went 12+ years in Dallas, Texas, as a police officer, and never once stood in the same room as a decomposed body. I was slated to go to homicide for a 6 month training program at one time in my career. Had that happened, my streak would have surely ended. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I’m definitely okay with that.

The moral of the story is simple. Today’s arrestee could be tomorrow’s witness or victim. Just because someone is going to jail today, doesn’t inherently make them a bad person. More importantly, as a police officer, you never know when you may need help or from whom.

If the only person around to help you, is someone you’ve arrested, I sure hope the arrest went well. If it didn’t and the guy was a complete scumbag or pain in the neck, so be it. Obviously those people exist too. Not every arrestee is rationale and takes responsibility for their actions. Not every arrestee realizes it’s usually their (bad) choices that led to them being in handcuffs.

Despite all that, we still have control over how we treat people, even if they are the worst of the worst. If that’s the case, let the arrest report do the talking. No sense in stooping to their level and having to answer to internal affairs over a pissing match or letting them get the best of you.

I was glad I learned that lesson so early in my career. I always tried hard to be fair and professional to the people I dealt with. Sure, I made mistakes or had bad days. We all do. I am far from perfect. But for the most part, people respected me and I respected them. That’s how it works. Or at least how it should. If someone fought me, I fought back. If someone was cool with me, I was cool back. Pretty simple really.

It was much easier to walk a prisoner into jail, instead of dragging someone kicking and screaming, acting like a child because you made them mad. Let me be clear, sometimes people just act like that because they’re childish and it may not be the fault of the arresting officer. Videos on social media would surely lead you to believe otherwise, but that’s a whole other topic.

I’m not suggesting police officers need to coddle everyone they encounter, just be professional. Comments like my trainer made, only stood to create more division between us and the community. Something we don’t need more of in our society.

So if you’re reading this and you want to become a police officer, I hope you enjoyed this story and maybe learned something from it.

You just never know who will be there to give you a boost when you need it.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

Police Officer Found Guilty of Murder, Activists Cry Foul

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Activists: “Hold police accountable when they use unjustified force! Fire them! Throw them in prison! We demand accountability!”

A Minnesota jury finds former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor guilty of shooting an unarmed woman who hit the trunk of their police car, scaring the officer.

Activists: “The officer was only found guilty because he is black and the victim was white!”

Look, I don’t care what ethnicity or race the officer was, nor do I care what the race or ethnicity of the victim was, if the officer shot and killed someone unjustly, he deserves to be punished. Period.

In my opinion, if we must see color, then the officer is blue. He was wearing a uniform at the time of the alleged crime and was being judged as such. The question being debated and decided by the jury was, were his actions justified under the color of law, not the color of his skin.

To make the claims of the activists even more mind bending, the jury was ample in diversity.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Noor case was decided by a jury of 10 men and two women. There were six who appeared to be people of color on the panel, four of them immigrants. I’d also like to add, one of them was a firefighter. So much for that first responder “brotherhood protection” theory.

Do we really live in a world where there is no winning?

If you hold someone accountable for their poor decisions, apparently it’s not because of their poor decisions, its due implicit bias by the jury? Despite the fact that half of the jury members were described as, or appeared to be people of color. Yeah. You read that correctly.

Is this real?

So let me write this out so we can all read it and think it through like rational people.

If you convict a police officer for unjustly shooting someone, it’s a good thing. We could even consider it progress in terms of fair and equal accountability. But, if the officer happens to be a minority and the victim is white, throw all of that out the window.

On the contrary, if the jury lets an officer off, they will likely be accused of “feeding the system of protection for bad, evil, and racist police officers.” Or the jury is enabling the “thin blue line of silence and impunity” to continue to exist and flourish.

I’m truly baffled.

Why can’t we accept the verdict from the jury for what it is, a finding of guilt based on the actions of the accused?

At what point do we look at verdicts rendered by a jury of our peers for what it is, a verdict? They heard all the facts and came to their decision for a reason. Yet, media outlets and activists run to print stories that suggest 6 of the 12 jury members were somehow implicitly biased and racist, despite being minorities themselves!?

Shake me, because I must be dreaming. Order me another coffee, I’m clearly not comprehending this correctly. I must not be properly “woke”.

I don’t have an issue with the fact a police officer was found guilty of a crime. Why? Because that’s how the system works! He shot and killed someone and the jury made the determination that it was NOT justified. Now he will be sentenced and he will serve his punishment. Just like if the roles were reversed and the officer was shot and killed.

I didn’t have a problem when a Texas jury found Roy Oliver, a former Balch Springs police officer, guilty of murder. Roy Oliver was white, the victim was black. Roy Oliver was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Some say that was too light of a sentence, maybe so. But I wasn’t in the courtroom. I wasn’t in the jury room. Regardless, I accept their guilty verdict and I accept the subsequent punishment.

Again, I don’t care what Roy Oliver looked like, where he came from, what box he checked when filling out a form regarding race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. Was he guilty? According to the jury, the answer was yes. That’s how our criminal justice system is designed to work and I accept that.

When people speak about justice, they seem to all want the same thing, a system of justice that is fair and equal. Justice that looks at the actions, the mitigating factors, and what transpired during the alleged crime and reaches a conclusion (verdict) regarding whether or not the person is guilty. Or in the case of a police officer, they decide if their actions were justified. Pretty simple.

The sad irony is police officers are being held accountable for their missteps and poor decisions now, more than ever. Yet, instead of celebrating progress when it comes to equal accountability, we find fault in it with a new layer of criticism.

I don’t want to throw my hands up and admit defeat. I really want to hold on to the idea that we as a society are better than this.

I have to believe, we can come together and hold “wrong” accountable no matter what “wrong” looks like, or what job “wrong” was doing when they committed the “wrong.”

That’s the society I want to live in. I’m all for EVERYONE being held accountable for their actions equally.

Selective justice is not something we want as a society. In fact, I thought that was what every activist has ever fought against.

Though it seems we are moving in that direction, with certain District Attorney’s across the country picking and choosing which crimes they will prosecute and which ones they will not. A slippery slope if you ask me.

This police officer was found to be wrong. That’s the bottom line. The jury said he wasn’t justified in his actions and now he will pay for it. That’s how the system works and that’s how the system should continue to work.

Period.

The Officer Next Door

Behind The Scenes: Investigating The Death of a Hero

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The Call 

Immediately as we arrived to celebrate my husband Robert’s amazing achievement, being promoted to the rank of Major with the Dallas Police Department, the text messages and news alerts started coming in. Sergeant Merritt called me and said, “You’re up, one or two officers down, it’s unclear at this point exactly what happened.” “I’ll meet you at Home Depot.” Ugggghhhhhhhhh!

As I drove to Home Depot, tears filled my eyes. It sounded bad. I listened to the radio traffic as countless heroes converged on the scene, calmly but swiftly searching a creek for the suspect. SWAT thought they had him. They wanted to throw a flash bang. Turns out, it wasn’t the right guy, stand down.

I was assigned as the lead detective on this case and when I arrived at the scene, I was informed that two officers Rogelio Santander and Crystal Almeida had been shot and were “low sick” (unlikely to make it). A loss prevention officer, Scott Painter, was also shot and in critical condition.

Really?!? No! We can’t do this again. Not this soon after the ambush attack on July 7, 2016 where five (5) officers were killed. I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t do this again. Get it together. Everyone needs you to get it together and do your thing. Begin gathering facts.”

Sherry Leonard came up to me, her hand was shaking as she showed us the photo of the suspect vehicle. She’d been searching the Home Depot surveillance video for a clue and she found a big one. The info was immediately put out citywide and the hunt for the suspect was on.

The Investigation

After several hours of Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Homicide detectives interviewing witnesses, canvassing for video, checking statuses at the hospital and getting officer’s statements; we needed to sit down together and go over what we had so far to decide next steps. It’s a team effort, always.

As we were briefing in the conference room, Sergeant Merritt whispered to me that officers were in chase with the suspect.

We all stood around the radio and listened to the chase. Our helicopter, “Air One” was calling the chase and the suspect was firing shots at the pursuing officers. He got to a dead end, tried to back out and struck a car. We all suspected the officers in the chase would be forced to shoot this maniac. And that meant SIU would be working another OIS (officer involved shooting). Thankfully, God never gives us more than we can handle. The suspect threw his gun out the window at some point. He was surrounded, no way out. After all that, shooting three people, a massive car chase, shooting at pursuing officers, he exited the stolen vehicle he was driving, laid down and gave up. Wow.

The restraint the officers showed at the end of the chase is by far the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen. I can promise you, every single one of them wanted to put a bullet in his head, like he had done to Rogelio, Crystal and Scott. But they didn’t. They upheld their oath to serve and protect even the worst criminals. They knew they were not to be judge, jury or executioners. They didn’t give him a whooping or mistreat him, they were 100% professional. The amount of adrenaline going through them had to be hard to control. But they did it. The end game was of upmost importance and the officers knew it. These guys and gals did an outstanding job taking him into custody.

He will now be coming to police headquarters for interrogation. In preparation, I go over the body camera footage from the shooting at Home Depot with my team. Again, just like 7/7/16, watching my family in blue get murdered over and over, making sure I know every detail. It’s grueling to say the least. Those images will NEVER leave me.

The Interrogation

I am now tasked with interrogating a cop killer. Santander had not been pronounced dead yet, but we were aware his injuries were not survivable. Detective Ibarra looked at me and said, “Do you want me to talk to the suspect and you take the female?” I said “No way! I want him. He’s mine!”

This is quite possibly the interrogation of my career. The gravity of the situation was not lost on me. I knew the importance of this part of the investigation. We briefly discussed some strategy, but I knew what I needed to do. I’d done this a thousand times before. Just never with a Capital Murder Suspect. Never with a cop killer.

The patrol officers guarding him assured me they’d be just outside the door if he jumped bad. I took a deep breath and opened the door. I was now face to face with a cop killer. I moved the table out of the way and sat as close to him as I could. My knees were between his legs. He said he was thirsty, so I gave him a bottle of water and he drank the entire bottle of water in what seemed like one gulp. I got the confession. Details, many of them. Many very important details. I wish I could share them here, but they must be saved for trial.

Surprisingly, it was like any other interview. It had to be. I had to conduct the interview like I had every other one before. I had a routine that I’d perfected over my 13 years as a Detective. I had to follow the routine so I got everything I needed, to ensure we get a conviction. I couldn’t be nervous or let the gravity of the situation get to me. Same as any other interrogation.

After it was over, everyone praised me. Everyone. Detective Ibarra said it was a text book interrogation, that’s huge coming from him. The DA’s office agreed. I remember feeling good about it, but needed confirmation from them. They assured me I covered everything. God guided me, was right there with me, I give Him the glory because to this day, I’m not sure how I did it.

Temporary Relief, Family Sacrifice

It’s now about midnight and my daughter Kate calls me via FaceTime. Crying, she asks when I’m coming home. I told her I was still at the office with all my buddies and we were working on the officer’s case. I turned the camera around and all the detectives and lawyers standing there with me, put a smile on their faces and waved to her. She’s only 10. She just wants her Mom home safe. She worries about me more than I’ll ever know and it’s become worse since 7/7 happened. I told her to try to go to sleep and I would be home as soon as I could. My dad, who was staying with her since Rob and I were both working, got on the phone and told me she was having a hard time. No doubt.

Back to the grind, I typed offense reports and obtained arrest warrants to put the suspect in jail. Two attempted capital murder warrants and one aggravated assault warrant should be enough to keep him in jail for the night. It was 2 a.m. at this point and we were all exhausted. Emotions were running high. I finally got home about 4 a.m., about 12 hours after the original call. Kate was still up waiting for me. She couldn’t sleep until I was home safe. I may never realize the effects my career choice has on her.

The Final Stretch

I felt like I didn’t sleep. Maybe an hour or two. I was up at 6:30 a.m. and in the shower. I let Kate sleep in because she was up so late, worrying about me. Rob got a message that Officer Santander had passed. He was officially pronounced dead at 8:11 a.m. We knew this was coming. We knew he wouldn’t survive. Sadly, it was time to obtain the Capital Murder warrant.

Immediately upon getting to the office, I start typing the warrant carefully as to not make any mistakes. I know I am being crazy controlling, but this case has to be perfect. Every word needs to be spelled correctly, every detail and crime scene process needed to be documented perfectly. I know I drove the Physical Evidence Section (PES) guys crazy. They got it though and were true professionals. I owed it to Rogelio, Crystal, Scott, their families, and all of Dallas PD to make damn sure this scumbag gets convicted. The pressure I put on myself to not let anyone down was immense. Three detectives and Sergeant Merritt read over my Capital Murder warrant for accuracy. All looked good, time to head to courthouse.

It was surreal, Judge Kennedy, on the bench wearing her black robe, asked me to raise my right hand and swear or affirm that the affidavit was true and correct. I did. Unfortunately, the facts were true and correct. Then she asked how we were doing today. She has a soft way and tone about her. You can tell she cares. I replied “hanging in there.” She nodded and signed the warrant. $1 million dollar bond.

I executed the warrant, adding the Capital Murder charge to the list of charges as the scumbag sat in jail. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it. The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) had just publically posted Officer Santander’s death. It was official.

Closure

I felt a strong need to go to hospital. Something we didn’t get to do on 7/7/16.

Rogelio, Crystal and Scott’s hospital rooms were all right next to each other. I loved that they were together. Their rooms were completely surrounded by cops. There were probably 25-30 officers in, around, and outside of Rogelio’s room. Many to say their “goodbyes” to him. Crystal’s family was so sweet. My co-worker Eddie gave them our business cards. Scott’s wife, Scarlett, was amazing. She was so thankful and strong.

When I left the hospital, I thought how tragic it will be when Crystal is finally strong enough to be told her partner had been murdered. That she missed his funeral. That she would never see him or have him by her side defending Dallas, ever again. I knew one thing, I sure as hell didn’t want to be the one to tell her.

I already have thought about how this Capital Murder trial will go. How he will get convicted and how I will travel to Huntsville to watch him pay for his sins.

RIP Rogelio Santander #10934, we have the watch from here.

Angela Arredondo #7651
Dallas Police SIU/Homicide

If I Had Chosen Suicide

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If I had chosen suicide, would my department have given me full honors? Would my body have received a full motorcade with my brother officers riding proudly on their freshly detailed Harley Davidson motorcycles, the blinding brilliance of blue lights piercing the night? Would they have lined up on the streets to pay their respects? Would my comrades have saluted, standing tall as the cold, dark casket passed them by? Would the crowd have jumped at the first sound of gunfire as the volleys of unified blasts rang through the air?

What would they say about me at the graveside?

“Everything seemed to be fine…”

“He was just awarded officer of the year last year…

“He smiled and laughed…”

“I had no idea what he was facing…”

“Doesn’t surprise me that he checked out…”

If I had chosen suicide, would anyone have cared? I had already decided my life was over anyway. Would my wife have grieved my death? She and I were barely speaking. I know it was my fault, I hurt her so badly, and I’ve done so many unspeakable things. Would my five year old daughter have been able to flourish and grow as she carried the unexplained death of her daddy? Would my friends have been devastated, plagued by survivor’s guilt, wishing they had recognized the signs of someone who was a high risk for suicide?

“I’m praying for the family..”

“How will they survive without his income..”

“I know he was hurting but I never thought…”

“He was drinking a lot more heavily…”

If I had chosen suicide, would anyone have done anything about it? Would they have named a street or dedicated a park in memory of me? Would they have retired my badge number— to honor me, or would it have been to prevent another officer from being shrouded by the shame? Would they have begun to consider taking peer support and mental health more seriously? Or would they continue to cloak their own thoughts in shadows and make fun of officers who are hurting?

“I heard he was messing around with…”

“I heard he got pulled over and he was drunk, and still in his uniform…”

“I heard he got suspended for blowing up in roll call…”

“I told him I refused to talk to him, after what he did…”

If I had chosen suicide, would I have gone to Heaven? I believe at that moment, I would have burned in Hell forever. I know I never would have come to know the God who I believe created me and loves me as His child.

If I had given up and chosen suicide, I never would have seen my marriage restored, I never would have been able to give up alcohol forever. I never would have seen the birth of my son. I never would have been able to completely heal from depression, post-traumatic stress, and endless sadness.

If I had chosen suicide and killed myself, I never would have given myself the chance to get the help that I so desperately needed. I never would have been able to lift up in prayer, and reach out with hope, to my hurting brothers and sisters in blue as they encounter the darkness and struggle to not succumb to the demons.

It takes a strong person, a true warrior, to daily face and battle the hell of this world as a police officer. It takes reaching deep to realize that you’re hurting, that you’re no longer that same person you were when you took the oath to protect and to serve. Warriors reach out to get help to win the battle. Warriors choose help to win the war within.

Warrior, get help. I’m so thankful I did.

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Read the powerful true story of how my life was changed forever in my award winning book, Break Every Chain: A Police Officer’s Battle with Alcoholism, Depression, and Devastating Loss, and the True Story of How God Changed His Life Forever. Available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Books-A-Million, Walmart, Ebay, and iTunes. Also available as an Audiobook. For more information, visit https://JonathanHickory.com.
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Jonathan Hickory is a master police officer in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his 15 plus years of police experience, Jonathan has mentored and instructed other officers in police driving methods and as a field-training officer. Jonathan spent seven years investigating the reconstruction of fatal vehicle crash sites and three years as a motorcycle officer. Jonathan proudly serves as a member of the Police Department’s Peer Support Team providing Critical Incident Stress Management support to fellow officers. He also leads a Life Safety team with The Point Church in Charlottesville and the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers. Jonathan has been married to his wife Stacy for over 15 years and has two children.