Advertisements
Skip to content

Tag: Police

Law Enforcement 3

The School Shooting Solution, Is There One?

schoolshooter2

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.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

Advertisements
Advertisements
Law Enforcement 2

I’m Thankful, But I Remember

IMG_8359
Source: Unknown

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’m Thankful, But I Remember.

The Officer Next Door

Law Enforcement 11

The Unsung Heroes

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.

Thank a first responder today.

-The Officer Next Door

Law Enforcement 84

It’s Not Normal

Police funeral

It’s not normal, to see the things police officers see, hear, smell, touch and experience.

It’s not normal, to carry the burdens police officers do, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

It’s not normal, to see dead bodies, mangled bodies, decomposed bodies, dead kids, abused kids, homeless people suffering, and people victimized, taken advantage of, raped or killed.

It’s not normal, to respond to scenes of horrific suicides, fatal car accidents, gang violence, domestic violence, random violence, dead animals, and abused animals.

It’s not normal, to tell a family member their loved one has died and won’t be coming home during a death notification call for service.

It’s not normal, to respond to shooting calls where you watch someone take their last breath, or stabbing calls that make you cringe when you see their flesh cut wide open and blood everywhere.

It’s not normal, to stand next to a dead body for hours securing a crime scene, waiting for the coroner to arrive, so you can go eat dinner, as if nothing happened, as if “it’s just another call”.

It’s not normal, that seeing such horrific things becomes your “normal” and you tell yourself it doesn’t bother you. It’s not normal, to be numb to things that would likely devastate the rest of society.

It’s not normal, to experience extreme highs and lows in one day, one minute you’re  typing a report and the next you’re responding to the local business being held up at gunpoint with shots fired. It happens that fast, it is fun in some ways, but it’s not normal.

It’s not normal, to work rotating shifts, rotating days off, work on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and maintain a semblance of a “normal” life. It’s not normal, to miss these moments in life and expect it not to take a toll on a marriage or the relationship with your children.

It’s not normal, to slowly lose friends that aren’t police officers too. It’s not normal to say, “they just don’t understand me anymore” or “they don’t know what it is like to be a police officer”. It’s not normal, for lifelong friends to wonder why you’ve changed, become more cynical or even angry and distance themselves from you.

It’s not normal, to go to work and not know what time you will get to go home, or if you’ll even make it home at all.

It’s not normal, to wake up at night in a cold sweat because you dreamed you got shot multiple times by a “bad guy” and you were powerless to stop it. It’s not normal, to lie in bed unable to sleep, because all the things you saw that day play in your head like a bad movie you can’t turn off.

It’s not normal, that nearly every call you answer, someone is counting on YOU to help them. They may be at their lowest point, maybe they are experiencing a crisis, a loss, and you have to be there for them, no matter what is going on in your personal life.

It’s not normal, that you as a human being could be personally dealing with a crisis, a divorce, a dying family member, alcohol addiction, or thoughts of suicide, and you’re expected to show up and solve other people’s problems with no regard for your own.

It’s not normal, to go to work every day in hopes of making a positive change or influence in someone’s life only to be spit at, kicked, punched, stabbed, or shot. It’s not normal, to feel you can’t “win”, no matter what you do, or how many lives you save or stickers you give to kids.

It’s not normal, that simply sitting in your work vehicle being present, can get you shot and killed because the decal on that work vehicle said, “POLICE” on it, like NYPD Officers Liu, Ramos, and Familia. Gone, but not forgotten.

It’s not normal, to be shot while eating dinner, minding your own business, only because the patch on your shoulder said, “POLICE”, like Florida Sheriff’s Deputies Sergeant Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey. Gone, but not forgotten.

It’s not normal, to never be “off duty”. To always be alert, aware, cautious, even concerned, that you may be a target at any given time due to your chosen profession.

It’s not normal, you do the job and maintain a professional demeanor or smile while holding back tears, because in the end you know, someone has to do it and you’re proud that you aren’t normal.

It’s not normal, to attend a funeral for a coworker who died doing the same job as you, almost annually.

It’s not normal, that no matter how much all these things bother you, you couldn’t see yourself doing any other job, because carrying this burden is what you were meant to do. This is your calling.

You are not normal, you’re a police officer.

Luckily their normal is not your normal. If you’re reading this and you aren’t a police officer, some of the things you just read may have bothered you. Odds are good, the images that popped into your head made you uncomfortable, or were hard to think about or even picture. I hope this was the case, because that is a police officer’s daily reality. At the very least, I hope it changes your perspective of police officers and what it is they actually do and experience every single day.

This topic isn’t widely talked about among police officers, for a multitude of reasons. To start, it isn’t a fun topic to talk about. Yes, there are times that officers gather and share “war stories” about all the crazy things they have seen and dealt with. But don’t think for a minute, that the ugliness of it all isn’t still lurking beneath the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head when they least expect it.

Most officers simply choose not to talk about these things and change the subject when asked about what “crazy things they’ve seen”.  Some may even lie and say “nothing crazy has happened lately” just to avoid the topic altogether. Most officers don’t rush home to tell their significant other what they saw or experienced during their shift. For most, it’s easier to say, “Today was fine” or “I don’t want to talk about it” to avoid the conversation and having to relive the bad things they may have seen or experienced that day.

This sort of behavior is common, a defense mechanism if you will. Over time, police become “numb” to seeing the worst side of society. But in the end, it’s still there, lurking and waiting to show up in their subconscious again. It’s like a pressure cooker that constantly gets tested to see how much more can be fit inside. Almost inevitably, it eventually gives way and explodes. Sadly, it can explode in many different forms.

For some, it explodes in the form of an unexplainable outburst, angry rage, or reaction to something that normally wouldn’t bother that person. For others, they may just break down and cry inexplicably until they feel better, not really knowing what triggered it to happen. Some turn to alcohol or other substances to mask the pain or feelings, which lead them down a path of destruction. No two people are the same, therefore, no two police officers are the same. They all experience different things in their careers and each thing affects them differently than the next officer.

Maybe now when you see them, you don’t just see a man or woman in a uniform that took an oath to protect you, but also a person who runs toward the things most run away from each and every day. They see things so you don’t have to see them. They carry a heavy burden and do it because they were chosen to carry it, so you don’t have to.

Being a police officer is much more than writing traffic tickets, breaking up a fun little house party with underage high school kids, or responding to the fender bender to facilitate the exchange of personal information. A police officer is much more than what meets the eye or what you see on television.

People in society simply create their image of what something or someone is, based on their personal experiences and that makes total sense. For example, if your only experience with police officers is being pulled over for speeding, I imagine it is possible you haven’t thought about what a police officer experiences on a daily basis.

I hope this article changes that. The next time you read about a fatality car accident or horrible tragedy, feel sympathy and empathy for the victims, but don’t forget the people responding to the scene, what they experienced and how they are affected too.

I fully recognize that police officers chose their profession and I also recognize that, “if they don’t like it, they can quit.” Some people try being a police officer, only to find out, “it isn’t for them” and kudos to them for having the courage to admit that.

I firmly believe it isn’t a job, it’s a calling. If you become a police officer solely to pay the bills, you are likely not the kind of police officer most people want on their department or patrolling their community.

Being a police officer is recognizing that you will see the worst side of humanity that society has to offer and you accept that as your normal. Chances are good that when a police officer starts their career, they have thought about these things but didn’t quite know what it actually meant until they experienced it firsthand.

It takes a special kind of person to do this job, one that isn’t…”normal”.

To the hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters in blue around the world, who put their lives and their “normal” on the line every day, thank you.

Don’t be afraid to admit if you’re struggling, need help, or just want to talk to someone. As weird as it may seem to you, asking for help is “normal”.

Thank an officer today.

– The Officer Next Door

%d bloggers like this: