YOU’VE TURNED INTO AN ASS SINCE YOU BECAME A COP

I was just a regular forty year old family guy living in the suburbs with a wife and two kids.   I had my own company doing computer-type consulting for area businesses.

I took on a couple of police departments as clients.  Suddenly, everything changed.  I was working/riding with street cops 3-4 shifts each week.  One night, following a high-risk call, I concluded it might be wise for me to go through the police academy so that I could protect myself.

I enrolled in an upcoming academy class and bought a used Glock in preparation.  Feeling as proud as a new papa, I arrived home to show my first gun to my wife and announce my plans to go to the police academy.  Well …  let’s just say she wasn’t jumping up-and-down with joy.

I recall her saying something like, “We’ve been married 25 years and NOW you decide to become a cop?”  I quietly went to the basement until things cooled off.

AS THE WORLD TURNS

The academy was tough.  I became the best student I had ever been.  I loved what I was studying: criminal law, defensive tactics, weapons, first aid, verbal command skills and many other skills I would need on the street.

The instructors were cops.  While not all were stellar teachers, we were learning skills that would keep us alive.  Yes, we learned from books.  More important, we learned from real stories these teachers had lived.

Upon completion of the academy, I sat with others at the graduation ceremony honoring the successful completion of our studies.  I realized right then and there that, “the hook was set.”  I knew in my heart that police work was where God had called me to spend the remainder of my life.

I once calculated that prior to the academy, I had spent about 2,000 work hours on the streets of Flint, Warren and Monroe, MI on ride-alongs.  These were tough towns where the cops kicked ass first and took names later.

I specifically remember one of the best teachers I ever had:  Officer Ron Carver from Warren PD.  One of our first shifts together, I watched as he would point to a car as we drove along Eight Mile Road.   He would then utter, “Warrants or drugs.”  He clarified for me:  the occupants either had a warrant out for their arrest or they were carrying illegal drugs.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how he knew that.   I quickly learned that he was very rarely wrong.    Amazing!  Little did I realize that his skill was one that I would soon acquire, as well.

9/11/01 – OFF TO WAR

I was part of the Sheriff’s Office.  Following the attacks of 9/11, U.S. Customs asked for support from local agencies because they were terribly short-handed.  I volunteered.

Little did I know that I would spend 40-60 hours each week for the next three years working in uniform at the border.  I was part of the team who greeted people coming from Canada.  Some were immigrants, some were Americans returning home.  It could be crazy-busy and it could be quiet and slow.

Customs Primary Inspection

My country was at war.  We had been attacked.  I needed to learn the ropes – fast.  Mainly, I was at the primary inspection stage.  We had about one minute with each vehicle.  Our job was to determine if the vehicle and occupants were clear for entry into the U.S.  Alternately, the vehicle would be sent to the secondary inspection point for further examination and questioning of the occupants.

One minute.  A mistake on my part could result in the deaths of many of my countrymen.

It was there that I honed the skill of making instant judgments about people I encountered.  However, it’s not something a person can turn ‘off’ and ‘on’ at will.  I had learned the skill I had admired in Ron Carver years before.  I would be part of me 24 x 7 from then on.

BAD GUYS WILL TRY TO KILL YOU

That’s not fantasy-land, folks.  It’s very real.  Let’s take a short look back over just the past few days.

PIERSON, FL – Deputy William Kretzer made a traffic stop.  The driver was wanted on various warrants.  When the deputy tried to open the car door so he could arrest the driver, LaRodney Bennett suddenly hit the accelerator.  Deputy Kretzer was dragged down the road and injured.  It happened in the blink of an eye.

NEW YORK, NY – Officer Dalsh Veve was dragged two-and-a-half blocks by a stolen vehicle being driven by a 15 year old boy.  The officer was able to discharge his gun twice while be dragged down the street.   Officer Veve is currently fighting for his life.

LINCOLN PARK, MI – A woman punched an officer who was attempting to arrest her friend during a traffic stop.  Officer Patrick Culter stopped Kristen Campbell who didn’t have a driver license.  When Culter attempted to arrest the driver, Campbell became belligerent  When Culter attempted to arrest Campbell, she punched him.  Campbell was TASERED three times.

COLLEGE PARK, GA – Two College Park police officers were shot Saturday in a restaurant.  Kenarrious Chester is the suspect being sought.  Police had been summoned to investigate a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot outside the restaurant.

TAYLOR, MI – A local officer made a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven by Jonathan Boyd.  Boyd told the cop that he didn’t have a driver license.  The officer found there were warrants outstanding from Wisconsin for Boyd’s arrest.  Boyd attempted to take the officer’s sidearm during a struggle to kill the officer, but was unsuccessful.

COACHELLA, CA – A Riverside County deputy was shot in the head and in the arm by the driver of a vehicle he was attempting to stop.  The shooter was described as a Hispanic male in his late 20s.  The deputy was airlifted to the hospital with non-ife-threatening injuries.

TUSCON, AZ – A man drove through barriers at an immigration checkpoint and then opened fire on Border Patrol agents.  The suspect was injured.

INKSTER, MI – It was about 10:30PM on a cold January night.  My partner, Paul and I were driving west on Stanford in Inkster, MI.  Suddenly, we saw the flash of the muzzle from a gun which had just fired two rounds at our patrol car. (Talk about the ‘pucker factor’)  I got on the radio to bring the cavalry; Paul was running toward the shooter at full speed with me close behind.

Every one of these incidents came without advance warning for the law enforcement officers involved.  The survival of every cop depends on their ability to quickly judge the threat level of everyone encounter.

I am reminded of a couple of phrases from the academy:   “Talk nice; think mean.”  The other, “Have a plan to kill every person you meet.”

Those statements sound unreasonably vicious – until they are put into the context of the incidents above.

BAD ATTITUDE?

These events (other than mine and Paul’s) happened in the last few days.  This shit goes on all the time.

Put that together with many leaders and politicians who want to micro-manage and second-guess everything cops do.  These leaders think they can Monday Morning Quarterback every decision and fry the cop’s ass when the politicians believe there has been a bad call – no matter how minor.

Cops across the country are constantly put in situation where they must make a very fast decision about their own safety.  Some of them won’t go home tonight.   A cop is killed in the U.S. in the line of duty every 53 hours.  There are many more who are injured that don’t go home because instead, they are in the hospital.

This isn’t an easy job.  We knew that going in.  What we expected and hoped for is the love and support of the good people whom we are trying to protect.

Here’s a sad fact about the current state of affairs:

Since 2010, the Florida Highway Patrol has lost 933 troopers – about half of its workforce of 1,946 troopers.  Today, there are 240 vacancies and reinforcements aren’t filling the void.  They hold three academy classes each year with a capacity of 80 recruits, each.  The current academy doesn’t even have half that number enrolled.

THE NEWS ISN’T ALL BAD

We are different.   Once connected to the Brotherhood.  It didn’t take long for me to recognize just how different cops are.  I was standing in formation at the funeral of a brother officer.   It started to drizzle.  It was then that I witnessed our sergeant step out from under a tent when the thunderstorm broke.  He stood with us – his men.  He later told us that he decided that if his assembled cops were going to get soaking wet, so was he.

Then, there is the story about the meal that felt much better than it tasted.  A group of five cops was having lunch at a local eatery.  Now, it’s not unusual for officers to be given a discount.  In this case, the waitress left their bill:

UNEXPECTED GIFT

And finally, comes a story which may be the best of all.  It seems that 3-year-old Hannah Pasley of Kansas City, MO decided to sell lemonade.  The money would be used to pay for the education she would need to become a police officer – her dream job.

In a show of support, about fifty cops from KCPD stopped over to buy lemonade from sweet Hannah:

COPS MAKE THE DAY

CONCLUSION

Cops are people, too.   Are they quick to judge?  You betcha – it’s a major part of how we stay alive.

THINGS TO REMEMBER:  When you encounter a cop, do your best to ease his fears INSTANTLY.   He is wondering in his mind if YOU will be the one who tries to kill him that day.  Let him know that you are NOT that person.

On a traffic stop, put the windows down, turn on the interior lights, put your hands on the steering wheel.  In other encounters, let him see your hands.  Let him know you are on his side.  Follow his directions.  If you want to disagree with him, do it in court.  The street is NOT the place to argue with a cop.

We care for (and about) the good people we serve and protect.   We love one another enough to take a bullet for a brother.   Like you, we want to go home to our families when our work day is over.

We have promised to uphold the law and defend the Constitution.  That’s just what we will do.   Please support us in our mission.

Above all, it’s about saving just ONE life.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this message and allowing me to share my story with you.  I can be contacted with questions or input: EMAIL ME   or call me at my home office (386) 763-3000.

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