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Category: Uncategorized

Uncategorized 7

Police Officers or ROBOCOP?

Image source: Newsarama

Invariably, now more than ever, the media controls a lot about what people think of police officers. Not to overlook personal experiences, they are important too. However, when people see things on the news, especially negative stories, human nature leads people to believe this is the “norm” or worse, that those things happen every day in their own backyard. Though they may happen “every day” somewhere in the country, it isn’t always representative of what occurs in your city every day. This is particularly dangerous for police officers. By only reporting on officer involved shootings or other incidents that are negative in nature, the public begins to see that as a common thing, despite the fact that the sheer numbers and facts suggest otherwise.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2011 the numbers showed that 62.9 million U.S. residents age 16 and older, or about 26% of the population, had at least one encounter, face to face or remote with police. Assuming these numbers are fairly consistent, you can compare them to the number of fatal police shootings each year. Naturally, since Ferguson, this number has been more closely followed and documented. On average in the United State of America, 950-1000 people are shot and killed by the police. To be more specific here is the annual break down: 2015: 995, 2016: 963, and 2017: 987. I’m not a math major, so I won’t even attempt to determine the odds of being shot and killed by police, but the numbers appear to be 1000 people vs 62.9 million encounters. I’ll let you calculate the odds if you so choose. I think my calculator is broken.

All joking aside, it’s clear that the number of incidents involving deadly force are actually pretty rare. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s terrible that roughly 1000 incidents happen each year that result in someone’s death. Every shooting is tragic for everyone involved and countless family members on BOTH sides. If you think police officers aren’t affected by these incidents, I can assure you, you’re wrong in so many ways.

When solely looking at it from the odds perspective, it is highly improbable you will be shot by the police. Another way to look at it, is roughly 3 deadly force incidents happen across the country each day. Again, also troubling, however if you consider we have just over 325 million people in the United States, I would again submit that this number is extremely low and not quite the “epidemic” some may suggest.

To be quite honest, the goal for this page is to discuss police related topics and offer perspectives from the police officer point of view. All while also realizing and respecting the non-police perspective, point of view, or experiences that have led to their feelings toward police. All too often in America, it seems everyone just picks a side, slams a proverbial “stake in the ground” and that is now your “team”. Sort of ridiculous if you ask me. Truth be told, there are times when police officers are wrong. Why? You may start to notice a theme here, because they are HUMAN! (Thank you to those who have followed along and answered that in their subconscious as they read it). It is impossible to expect perfection, so naturally if all you ever say is police are right 100% of the time, well guess what, you’re wrong too. It also goes the other way, not all police shootings are “bad” or “unjustified”, even when the person is “unarmed”. Even worse is when I hear the “good officers” term thrown around in relation to officer involved shootings. Comments like this when referring to a recent police officer involved shooting, “Well, not all cops are bad, there are some good officers out there.” So what you’re saying is any officer who is involved in a shooting is now lumped into the “bad officer” group? Okay, that’s logical.

I will quickly say this, statistics regarding police shootings are improving since Ferguson in 2014, which is good, as they will hopefully  begin to show the true story of policing in America. One important quote I saw while doing some research myself was this statement from the Denver Post, “These numbers show us that officer-involved shootings are constant over time,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina who has studied police use of force. “Some places go up, some go down, but it’s averaging out. This is our society in the 21st century.” I think this shows that policing in America is consistent and any suggestions that there is a “rise” in shootings would be untrue. More sensationalism in the media, does NOT equate to a rise in the actual numbers.

Sadly, what the news doesn’t report on or the general public seems to forget, is that every single day, hundreds of thousands of calls for service, traffic stops, and search warrants take place and almost always, nothing “bad” happens. Do things go awry from time to time? Of course. Officers get hurt, people get hurt, but thankfully by and large, shootings don’t happen and people aren’t killed. If something bad doesn’t happen, it’s probably because the police are doing their job as expected and whomever they are dealing with decided not to fight them, point weapons at them, bite them, spit on them, or try to take their gun from them. I’ve had all of these happen to me in my career, have you? “Part of the job” some will say and they’re right, but don’t let that skew the fact that such actions are dealt with using equal or greater force on behalf of the police, justifiably so.

Police are almost entirely REACTIONARY in nature. You call, they show up. They see something illegal happening, they react. Bad guy does something harmful or threatening, they react. Luckily, with body cameras and cell phone videos the notion that police just arbitrarily start hurting random people without cause will slowly be proven to be horrendously false. Assuming a video isn’t turned on halfway into a fight when the police officer is starting to win and there isn’t any context to the events that led to the fight. One of the most ridiculous trends you see now regarding video footage.

The sheer fact that nearly everything you hear about police is negative has an effect on the perception of police by the public. How you would you associate something positive with policing when all you read about is murders, robberies, fatality car accidents? On top of that lovely news, you also hear about when things go really bad and an officer is shot, an officer shoots someone, or a car chase ends badly. Everyone has heard the saying, “if it bleeds, it leads” and sadly it appears to almost always be true.  You don’t turn on the local news at night and the news anchor starts off by saying, “Local police officer stopped to assist a stranded motorist today, it turned out the driver was a lost elderly person who was the subject of a Silver Alert, more on this tonight at 10!” Nope. It’s not news if it’s positive. I would venture to guess that well over 1000 extremely heart-warming, feel good, man we are proud that officer works in our city, incidents happen each year, but you won’t hear about them. It’s not what the news media wants you to hear. It isn’t what garners the most “clicks” or gets people to “tune in”. Controversy, sadness, division, anger, that’s what leads to more interaction with news sites. Sadly.

What baffles me the most is people see shows like COPS and Live PD and still are so fast to criticize, as if having watched these shows gives your opinion any merit as to “what I would have done!” To me, that’s like watching the show “Naked and Afraid” and yelling at the television, “Those bug bites are nothing you wimp!!!! Don’t tap out!” as the person is sitting in an ant pile, naked as the day they were born in a rain forest, in a country you’ve never been to, yet you think “YOU could do it”. Okay couch warrior, get off your duff and you go do it, then report back after you tap out in 24 hours or less. It’s comical. You aren’t in that person’s shoes. You aren’t experiencing the pain and anguish of being eaten by bugs as you lay naked in some strange place. Much like you don’t know what it is like to fight someone on PCP, or pull someone over who is acting suspicious, or dealing with someone who has a felony warrant and a gun under their seat on a traffic stop. How do you a handle those situations? Police do it every day and 99.9% of the time they do it right and by the book. If all goes well, everyone goes home – or to jail – but no one gets seriously hurt. Ideal, but not always the way things go. Sadly.

Also, a disturbing, yet emerging trend lately, has been incidents in which citizens BLATANTLY lie about what happened to them when they encountered police. Lo and behold, we roll the body or dash camera footage only to show the citizens have completely fabricated these accusations and are 100% false.

Thank a first responder today, and be safe!

– The Officer Next Door

Sources:

http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4915

492 died in police shootings this year

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Uncategorized 11

The History of Change

In March 2006, I graduated from the Dallas Police academy and was sent to the Southeast patrol station. It was known to be one of the most violent parts of the city. To my mother’s dismay, it was my number one choice! I’m crazy, I know.

Twenty-four long months later, I got off of field training and was out on my own. Even back in 2005, we were short on manpower – some things never change – so most weeks I would sign up for “call answering overtime”. At the time, I had Wednesday and Thursday off, so this meant I would come in on either of those days, sometimes both, and work an 8 hour shift doing nothing but going from 911 call to 911 call. I loved it. I couldn’t believe they paid me to do this job! Spoken like a true rookie.

All new things are fun at first, right? Most new jobs and experiences are fun and have that element of excitement and new challenges you are met with each day. But over time, the excitement fades, the newness wears off, and you start to ask yourself, “Do I really love this job?” Like many young police officers, I was consumed with the job, but in a good way. Ultimately, I had a purpose. I was doing something honorable, something bigger than me and it felt good. It got me up in the morning! Policing really is a calling, especially for the “good” police officers. It’s not just a job, it’s a career, that offers a sense of duty and honor.

At first, you don’t mind working weekends, holidays, birthdays, snow days, hot days, rainy days, any day, because that is what you signed up for as a police officer. You knew that going in, so don’t whine about it and be a cry baby. Ah, how soon that changes. However, as the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold!” right? I suppose so. You see, policing is an interesting profession because it’s ever changing and ever evolving. Who knew that we would get to a point where foot chases would become restricted by policy? Yes, you read that right, foot chases where the “bad guy” runs and the officer chases them on FOOT are now restricted by policy in Dallas and I imagine in many other cities around the country. Baffling. What I mean by “restricted” is there are now more rules or “red tape” for officers detailing if and when officers can chase someone on foot. Almost hard to believe considering the dangers are really only limited to those involved. I don’t think a suspect or police officer is going to run so fast that they run into someone else and kill them, the common concern regarding car chases. This is where the “history” part of this article comes into play. If you were reading this hoping to learn about Robert Peel and the true history and creation of policing, I’m sorry, that’s not my style.

So back to my little story here, the truth is, “things change” or “evolve” which means police officers and policies have to change too. Anyone familiar with police officers, knows police officers hate change. They are set in their ways of “how we do things”. It makes sense, considering they are trained a certain way, they feel that it works, keeps them safe, therefore they don’t want to change. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Policy change can be especially tough on police officers that tend to be more “proactive”. When new policies come out restricting foot chases, car chases, whether you can knock on a door looking for a wanted person, police officers tend to feel like they are being “handcuffed” by policy. “Prevented” from doing their jobs if you will. When I say “proactive” I am talking about officers who enjoy going out into the community and actively seeking out the criminal element. Proactive officers go out wanting to find people with guns and take them off the street, or arrest the person wanted in the latest string of armed robberies. Proactive policing in my opinion is the truest form of crime fighting. I’m sorry to say folks but answering a residential burglary call is NOT crime fighting. That falls under the “serve” part of “protect and serve”. Service is a very important aspect of policing, there is no debate on that.

As soon as I say this, I know I have to elaborate as to not ostracize any police officers. So here it goes, just because you enjoy working car accidents, writing tickets, or answering certain calls for service that interest you, does not mean that you are a lazy police officer. To the non-police officers reading this, there are many “kinds” of police officers and all of them are important to the success of every police department and the overall safety of the communities they serve. Because police officers are human, naturally different aspects of policing appeal to different officers. Some officers dread car accident calls due to the amount of paperwork associated with such a call. After the chaotic scene and helping anyone injured, the officer will spend hours drawing diagrams, dealing with insurance companies, MATH, accident scene reconstruction, taking photographs, just to name a few things that come with working a large accident scene. Did you see the word math? Yeah, no thanks. Thankfully, some police officers love doing math and reconstructing accidents scenes and they are the ones who typically end up working in those capacities for their respective police departments. Everyone has a role, they all have a purpose, and all are unique and important in their own way.

Whew, now that I have that out of the way, onward we go. Ultimately, the needs, demands, and desires, of society change over time. With that, police departments and their policies will too. We will use car chases for an example. I’m sure most of you remember a time when turning on the television and seeing a live police chase being covered was a fairly common occurrence. When is the last time you saw that? Depending on where you live, I would venture to guess it isn’t all that common anymore. Why? Because society and policies have changed. “Back in the day”, police chases were common, the dangers associated with them and their consequences were viewed as “part of the police doing their job”. Over time, I assume as more innocent civilians and officers were killed in police chases, things began to evolve and police departments started to restrict such policies, looking for safer ways of getting the job done. These unfortunate facts, coupled with calls from communities to do things a different way, were a huge catalyst that caused more restrictive car chase policies and policies in general.

So the first question that bears asking is, where do Police Chiefs draw the proverbial line in regards to what they allow their officers to do, how, and when? Policies vary widely from agency to agency. In Texas, where I am most familiar with law enforcement, I know that DPS Troopers are allowed to shoot out the tires of a car to immobilize it during a car chase. Yeah, that’s not a typo, give it a Google, you’ll see. I found a story about that happening as recently as July 2017. Odds are there have been more since, but it just didn’t make the news. If you did that while working for the Dallas Police Department for example, you may as well head straight to the quartermaster and turn your stuff in because your days as a Dallas Police Officer are probably over.

Societal pressure causes policy makers (usually Police Chiefs) to make policy changes under the guise that they are for the “betterment and safety of everyone”. Before I became a Dallas Police Officer, legend has it, that it was not uncommon to have more than one car chase happening at the same time on a busy night. Soon after becoming a police officer, policy changes were implanted basically making car chases obsolete. Unless they committed a violent felony in your presence or they were fleeing the scene of a violent felony, you let them go if they ran. Some will say this is a good thing, it is safer for everyone involved and they would be right. I have family members and friends too. I certainly don’t want to see some ding dong crash into them and hurt them while running from the police, I don’t care what that person did. That should go without saying, no one wants that to happen. The question still remains, at what point do we let the criminals “win”? Where is the tipping point of saying, “we will get them another day” versus “we must not let the criminal element think they run the show”?

Ultimately, everyone wants two things to happen when it comes to making our communities safe. They want police to get the “bad guy” and no one get hurt in the process. Sounds amazing in theory, but it’s impossible to expect that to be the norm. Adding fuel to the fire, is the quickness of society to assign blame on the police. Anytime something “goes wrong” even if it was due to the poor decisions of the suspect. I can’t stress enough how much I understand the tragedy of ANYONE getting hurt when the police are out there trying to do their job. Let’s not forget, the human being wearing that badge has to deal with the results of the incident too. They have to sleep at night knowing a car chase he or she initiated, ended in the death of another human being, innocent bystander or not.

Another tragedy is it is becoming apparent that police aren’t in the business of catching bad guys anymore. They are now armed risk mitigation experts with the HOPE of catching a “bad guy”. I understand that the inherent idea of “protecting and serving” also means not putting the members of society in any unnecessary risk. I really do understand that, like I said, I have family and friends too. But to suggest that police officers, police chiefs, or even policies on paper, can mitigate and prevent any and ALL tragic incidents from happening, while still trying to maintain a lawful and safe society is simply impossible. Policing a lot of times isn’t pretty. The foot chases, fights with people high on drugs, and shootings that you see on the news, are certainly not an ideal outcome. Nor are they easy to watch or even easy to accept as the outcome. However, that is the true harsh reality of what happens when police officers confront the most violent 1-2% of society on a daily basis. When will we place the blame on the person who chose to fight the police? Or failed to comply with lawful orders to “get on the ground” or “show me your hands”? These questions and issues are legitimate and I feel are leading to a very timid and reactive police force across the country.

Not being able to chase someone who refused to stop in a car, or now, on foot, is demoralizing. It’s almost counter-intuitive for police officers. You are a police officer, they are running from you – presumably for good reason – you should go catch them! Policy says you can’t, so you turn off your lights, slam your hand on the steering wheel, throw the microphone down and feel completely defeated and yell, “Handcuffed again!!! Have a good one sir” as you watch the car drive away.

“Swallow your pride, be the bigger person, it is safer to let them go” non-police will likely say. What if that person just killed their entire family, is wanted for multiple horrific crimes in another state, or any other number of reasons someone would run from the police? It’s a huge “what if” – trust me I’m not oblivious to the risks associated with high-speed chases – but where is the line between “law and order” and “risk management”? How about the situation where you come around the corner at an apartment complex and a person sees you, drops a gun and drugs and runs and you can’t chase after them thanks to a new “foot chase policy”. How demoralizing.

I also don’t want to hear the suggestion that a policy is for “my safety” as a police officer. I knew the risks when I chose this profession and I appreciate the sentiment, but quite honestly, if I want to chase after someone on foot who may be dangerous, that’s my choice.  I’ll accept the consequences. Can you imagine if you were a victim of a crime and you point out the suspect to the responding officer and the officer says, “I’m sorry sir, I can’t chase after him, my policy doesn’t allow me to pursue someone on foot when I’m alone, it’s too dangerous.” I’m sure that would go over great.

Times have changed. Ultimately, we all know why – liability, money, societal pressure – I think it’s important to realize that police officers jobs are continually getting more difficult. With advances in technology and the advent of social media, their jobs actually are getting harder each and every day. They are expected to be perfect, yet productive, while the tools on their tool belt are slowly being removed or restricted with each passing year. Can you imagine someone coming into your job and saying, “Alright, new rule, you must continue to do your job, maintain your current level of productivity, but you will tie one arm behind your back when you come into the office, good luck!” You’d go nuts! How is that fair? Well, police officers are facing this more and more every day.

Adding to the pressure for perfection, body cameras and cellphone videos now allow for instant scrutiny and the criticism from the public and news media seems to grow increasingly louder, as the “silent majority” sits idly by. This article isn’t being written to suggest police officers should be allowed to “do as they please” or “get the job done, without regard to safety or accountability.” I am simply focusing on how things are changing through the eyes of a modern day police officer. I will discuss balancing proactive policing and accountability as these articles progress, I promise.

If you want evidence showing the effects of societal pressure for police to be reactive and not proactive, do some research regarding the Baltimore Police Department since the Freddie Gray incident. In today’s USA Today newspaper, there is an article where their Interim Police Chief flat out says his police force has become much more reactive in nature, which has resulted in a tremendous spike in violent crime.

So the billion dollar questions are: “Where is the line for police officers in regards to what we allow them to do in order to keep our communities safe?” “How proactive do we want our police officers to be, knowing that with proactive policing comes risk, but also highly increases the chance our community is safer?” “Will we objectively place the blame where it belongs when things go bad?” “Are we as a society okay with a completely REACTIVE police force that just shows up when called and handles the crimes AFTER they’ve been committed?”

Interesting questions to ponder. And that is what I’ll let you do. Until next time.

Thank you for reading  and walking in their shoes for a little while.

Thank a first responder today and be safe.

-The Officer Next Door

Uncategorized 6

The Police Officer In 2018

Being a police officer is a tough job, few people will disagree. Even those who outwardly say they “hate” police, protest police, or honestly think police have evil intentions, have to see that the job is difficult. That’s if they’re being honest with themselves of course. Just minutes before writing this article, I saw a story about people protesting at a scene in Chicago, where an ATF agent was shot in the face conducting an undercover operation. There were people standing outside the barricades and crime scene tape shouting various chants and holding a sign that read, “Stop the harassment.” Many issues and perspectives are in play regarding this incident.

First, we have a Federal ATF Agent shot in the face by a person later confirmed to be a gang member that has had a strong hold on that neighborhood for over 50 years.  This was the fourth law enforcement officer shot in that neighborhood in a year. Second, we have a community who feels wronged by the strong police presence that resulted in the aftermath of the shooting. Residents told local news reporters that they don’t think it’s fair that when an officer is shot, there is an overwhelming response, but when a citizen is shot, the response is much different.

I think most can agree that both incidents are tragic and deserve thorough and efficient responses. I also don’t believe that the Chicago Police Department “doesn’t care” when a citizen is shot or killed. This wasn’t said outright, but was implied in the statements some citizens gave to the news. When an officer goes down, you can be assured that every officer available will respond to help in dealing with the aftermath of that incident. Much like when a citizen is shot, every available officer will respond. The major differences are driven by protocol and policies that dictate how incidents involving police officers acting in the course of their duties are investigated. One important factor was overlooked and probably unknown to the citizens, a Chicago PD officer returned fire at the suspect in response to the ATF agent being shot. Once this happens, it elicits a full on response not just for the injured officer, but entire teams of investigators tasked with solely investigating the use of force by the Chicago PD officer. This is part of the push for transparency that communities nationwide called for and is part of why there is such a large police response to these incidents.

What is unfortunate is the sentiment of the community where they feel it is truly an issue of “who is more important”. I wonder what their response would be when it was explained to them that a large response was necessary to investigate all aspects of the incident. I won’t sit here and deny that there is a massive response when an officer is shot or killed. However, juxtaposing that to the response when a citizen is shot and killed doesn’t seem fair. Laws in most states have made the shooting or killing of a police officer or first responder an aggravated offense, in some states punishable by the death penalty. In Texas for example, it is a Capital offense which immediately brings the death penalty into play. With this being the case, the way these incidents are handled are much more manpower and labor intensive, there is just no way around it.

The fact that the citizens of this neighborhood were also holding signs saying “Stop the harassment” shows the deep divide between perception and reality when it comes to the police and that neighborhood. The anti-police narrative is largely fueled by perception. The perception that police swarming a neighborhood looking for someone who shot a federal agent in the head was viewed as “harassment” goes to show that the message from the community members is conflicting. In one instance, they are saying, “You don’t do enough when a citizen is shot and killed!” And then turn around in the same breath and say, “Stop the harassment!” So which is it? They want police to come in fast and heavy every time there is a shooting in their neighborhood? If they do that, will you accuse them of harassment? I guess it is safe to say the message from some in the community can be contradicting and confusing. It’s also important to note that one of the news articles stated that 82 people were shot in Chicago that week. I guess the members of that community want peace and safety, but only if it means that they are not “harassed” in the process. This seems like an impossible demand to meet, like I said, being a police officer in 2018 is difficult. The demands and expectations of police to solve violent crimes and police violent neighborhoods, without disrupting the normal everyday life of the citizens is impossible. There will be barricades, crime scene tape, and people questioned. It’s the unfortunate part of violence in the streets of America. In doing so, the police are subjected to taunting, protests, and insults, all while merely trying to rid the streets of violent gun toting gang members.

This sadly reminds me of comments I’ve heard about what some officers experienced in Dallas, Texas on July 7th, 2016. On that day, five officers – four from Dallas PD and one from DART PD – were gunned down during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas. One officer said that while running for cover and diving behind cars as bullets flew indiscriminately, he was yelling at people to “get down” so they didn’t get shot. He said their response was “They’re shooting at you pig, not me!” Wow. That’s a soul crushing thing to hear. Police officer or not, that hurts the soul to hear those words spoken. It makes you sad to think that someone has that much hate in their heart toward someone solely because of their profession or the uniform they wear. One would think that doing the right thing and trying to help each other would be the foremost priority with bullets flying down the street. It’s important to note, civilians were shot in this incident too, not just police officers. Proving the often stated saying I heard in my years of working in dangerous Dallas neighborhoods to be true, “Bullets know no name.”

When the unthinkable happened and the bullets began to fly, the police officers didn’t pick and choose who they tried to save. They didn’t pick or choose who they laid on top of to shield from possible death or injury. Countless police officers dove behind cover and helped anyone they possibly could in hopes that they would all make it out alive. Officers closest to the gunfire ran toward it and confronted the evil face to face. For one officer, this cost him his life. Officer Brent Thompson of the DART Police Department, died as he confronted the shooter face to face. He didn’t care about who was protesting, or the fact the protest was essentially against police, he ran toward the danger in hopes of ending the threat and saving lives. Period. Without hesitation, he rounded a corner of a building and tragically ran right into the shooter. It cost him everything. A true hero if you ask me. His actions highlight what police officers are really all about, but many fail to see this aspect of police officers. Most of society knows police officers die and the job is dangerous, but many citizens don’t instinctively run toward gunfire, police officers do.

Truth be told, there were many heroes that night, police and civilian, of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I knew some of them personally and had the pleasure to work alongside many of those who engaged the shooter and brought the worst night in law enforcement since 9/11 to a conclusion. But in the middle of it all, there was still hatred to a level that is disturbing and unimaginable to most. “They’re shooting at YOU PIG, not me.” Can you imagine? Put yourself in that officer’s boots for a minute, what do you do then? All they wanted to do was help anyone, help everyone.

So how do we change the mind or the perception of the person who uttered those hateful words in the middle of a horrific attack? Why do some people feel this way? Why do some citizens have so much anger toward the very people – who without hesitation or bias – sprang into action in attempt to save the very people who were marching in protest of them, the police?

The answer isn’t a simple one. I’m not even certain there is a “solution”, definitely not just one solution. This issue, like many things I will discuss on this page are multi-layered. To start, we need to remember that humans are flawed, in many ways and yes, this includes police officers. When you deal with groups of people or society in general, you will have extremists or outliers. For example, ignorant people who belong to hate groups, terrorist groups, or any form of extremism. They exist, sadly. Thankfully they are a very small minority of the population, but they exist nonetheless. I’d like to think the person who said that chilling phrase is part of a very small minority in society. Some people will hate police no matter what, so accepting that notion, what about those who are on the fence? Or maybe those going along with the narrative that police are evil or racist because they haven’t stopped to look at things from another perspective?

Hopefully, with the advent and implementation of body cameras will slowly help the citizens see the truth. The truth, that no matter who you are, what you look like, or whether you like police or not, when the gunfire starts, the police will act, without hesitation and without regard for their own safety. I can’t think of another incident or set of circumstances that could illustrate the true colors and mindsets of the police officer than what took place that night in Dallas, Texas. True acts of heroism, love, compassion, and honor were shown that night, highlighting what is really inside the heart of our good and noble police officers.

Having said that, I would be remiss to ignore the fact there have been instances and circumstances involving police that show the complete opposite of what we saw on July 7th, 2016 in Dallas. What do I mean? The name Rodney King says it all. The fact that horrific and horrible things have taken place involving police cannot be denied or overlooked. It lends truth and validity to the feelings of mistrust and even hate toward police officers. The one saving grace is the fact that these incidents are extremely rare and not the example of what police officers are all about. I am not suggesting that the police have suddenly raised the bar to a level of perfection and nothing bad happens anymore. That would be a lie. Bad things still happen today, on and off camera. Why do these bad things still happen on camera (body worn) or not? Honestly, I think because police are human. Police aren’t without imperfections, bias, or flaws. They’re a human being doing a job with the expectation of society to be perfect. It’s impossible. Good officers will make poor decisions and completely embarrass themselves, their department, and their profession. This makes it all that much harder on the “good police officers” and has a lasting ripple effect on the perceptions of law enforcement as a whole.

I know as soon as some people read this they will be saying to themselves, “Police are still held to a higher standard!!!!” Absolutely they are, that should not and will not change. I’m simply pointing out the fact that bad things can and will continue to happen when you have humans trying to police a violent and unpredictable society. I do believe and hope that body cameras will continue to show that as a whole, police officers are out there doing the right thing, working hard, to keep America safe. There have already been countless instances where police were accused of horrible misconduct and the body camera completely vindicated the officer, once the footage was released. More on that another day.

I think it is safe to say, there is a lot of discussion to be had about the varying facets of society and policing in America today. No one incident is ever identical, no incident “routine” when it comes to police work. The perceptions of the citizens in our communities are affected each and every time an incident takes place involving police, good and bad. Police officers know that and are working hard to improve perceptions, I can assure you. They want to be respected, trusted, and valued, like every human being.

On the two year anniversary of July 7, 2016, I hope that people can read this article and examine how we perceive things that happen in society today. I hope we can honor those who gave their lives, doing nothing more than blocking a street, allowing people to exercise their right to march for a cause they deemed worthy. I hope we can remember the “Dallas 5” and recognize that evil is out there and when it rears its ugly face, police officers will run toward it and attempt to shield the innocent from it. Without hesitation or bias, they will give their life to save yours.

So what now? That seems to be the age old question. I will continue to write about this topic and many others in hopes of opening up dialogue and discussion that can be productive in helping people of all backgrounds gain understanding. I hope to say things that police officers want to say, but can’t out of fear of punishment from their employers. I also hope to be fair and not only discuss or see things from one side. I have a true passion and respect for policing and know the sacrifices the men and women in uniform make to keep our country safe day in and day out. Stay tuned, there’s more to come. I hope you enjoyed reading this, thank a first responder today.

Take care and be safe.

-The Officer Next Door

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to The Officer Next Door website and blog! Thank you for coming, we hope you enjoy your visit!

The website is being created and content is being written so stay tuned.

Though this website / blog is in its infant stages of development I’d like to share with you my vision of what this site will become.

The major hope is that this will become a site people can come to and read about events involving police officers in the United States and around the world. Discuss incidents that happen, gain perspective, have meaningful dialogue, or simply get an opinion from someone who has likely “been in those shoes”. This site will share all sorts of stories, even positive ones, to keep people talking and understanding what it is like to be a police officer in 2018.

As the name suggests, police officers are human, one may even live next door to you. They might have a squad car parked in their driveway, maybe you have seen them going to and from work wearing a uniform, or you may have no idea because they work in an undercover capacity. Either way, they are a part of the community whether they are on duty, or off. My goal and vision for this site is to “humanize the badge” and offer perspective through the lens of a police officer, while juxtaposing the civilian point of view. Furthermore, I hope to help those who have never been a police officer, see things through their eyes and mindset. I will never be able to tell you exactly what an officer was thinking during a certain incident or event, however, I can likely share my opinion based on my experience and attempt to shed light on what they may have been experiencing. Interesting? I hope so.

Ultimately, I want to communicate, discuss, debate, share, and laugh. Learning comes from understanding. So why not try “putting yourself in their shoes”?

Thanks for stopping by, be safe, and thank an officer today!

-The Officer Next Door

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