Every now and then, something or someone will cause me to run through memory flash-cards in my head. I have them – just like you. You know: those memories which stand-out because they were good, bad, profound, life-changing or otherwise.
Every cop has them. They are different for each of us. These are the “first times” that we will remember until our last breath. They are on par with how a guy remembers the first time he had sex. There are some experiences that are never forgotten.
I remember the first time someone died in my arms. It was my first day in uniform on the job. It was the second call my partner and I handled that rainy winter afternoon. There was a serious traffic crash on Schafer. The driver was the sole occupant and was injured. He turned out to be a WM in his fifties who had run his vehicle into a phone pole.
My partner told me to check on him and do my best to get him squared-away while FD was en-route. My partner was doing the usual: traffic cones, calling for others to assist, etc. I looked into the man’s eyes and tried to reassure him that things would be alright. He leaned into my arms, against my chest and then … he was gone.
As the cop I’d trained so hard to become, I knew that I had to stay in control and do my job. The little kid inside me wanted to run for ‘Mommy’ and cry on her shoulder hoping somehow this tragedy had never happened. I did my job, and the first block of the tough, exterior emotional wall was laid in place.
There was my first homicide. The victim was a WM, 20 yrs who didn’t have the $200 demanded by his drug supplier who had come demanding payment. It was nearly midnight and the young man’s innards had been cut out of him and lay on the sidewalk next to the body. It was the kind of sight no one wants to ever see, but cops don’t get a choice.
I remember being detailed to the Ambassador Bridge at the Detroit/Canada border. It was the place that I first saved the life of an infant – because I was lucky enough to remember the Red Cross first aid training on CPR.
And, there was the night before Thanksgiving when my partner and I were working in an extremely poor neighborhood of metro Detroit. Most living there were either in dire circumstances or so they could practice their trade of selling drugs or sex-for-cash.
Dispatch sent three cars to the residence to arrest the father who had warrants and whose presence also violated a restraining order to have no contact with the wife. We got our guy.
But, in the process, I witnessed the eyes of four very small children focus on us as we handcuffed their daddy and took him away – the night before Thanksgiving. They hated us. No amount of effort trying to soothe them made any difference as they sobbed. I felt like the world’s biggest ass that night and worst ogre alive for doing my job. I think I may have hated myself more than those kids did that night.
TURNING THE CHANNEL –AND- TURNING MY STOMACH
Now, let’s look at the realities of current times. News outlets and the internet are overrun with society’s useless haters screaming phrases like:
WHAT DO WE WANT? DEAD COPS! WHEN DO WE WANT THEM? NOW!
PIGS IN A BLANKET. FRY ‘EM LIKE BACON!
When I hear that bullshit, I think of Ferguson’s Officer Darren Wilson. He lost his career and essentially his life for taking out a known thug: Michael Brown who preyed upon the weaker ones in his community. Wilson did his job and did it well.
I reflect on the elected thug, a/k/a the District Attorney, in Baltimore: Marilyn Mosby who led a lynching of five of their city’s cops. She has proven to be the real criminal and the five cops have gone through a living Hell because of her misdeeds.
Then there was the Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas last summer. Officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson and Michael Smith were there to protect the protestors. These five saints from God are now gone.
Thank goodness, the vast majority of Americans support what Law Enforcement does. Someone once said, “Love is silent. Hate is noisy.” We need to often remind ourselves of these realities and remain strong for those who need and support us.
STAND UP STRAIGHT
Stand tall. Push-out your chest. Flex your arms and put on your game face. Remind the bad guys with everything we do that they cannot screw with us and survive. Consider this piece from Corey Loftice:
“I have pulled dead, mangled bodies from cars. I have lied to people as they were dying. I said you are going to be fine as I held their hand and watched their life fade out.
I have held dying babies. Bought lunch for people who were mentally ill and haven’t eaten in a while. I have had people try to stab me. Fought with men trying to shoot me. Been attacked by women who have had the shit kicked out of them by their husband as I was arresting him.
I have held towels on bullet wounds. Done CPR when I knew it wouldn’t help just to make family members feel better. I have torn down doors, fought in drug houses. Chased fugitives though the woods. I have been in high speed car chases. Foot chases across an interstate during rush hour traffic. I have been in crashes.
Been squeezing the trigger about to kill a man when he came to his senses and stopped. Waded through large angry crowds by myself. Drove like a mad man to help a fellow officer. Let little kids who don’t have much sit in my patrol car and pretend they are a cop for their birthday.
I have taken a lot of people to jail. Given many breaks. Prayed for people I don’t even know. Yes and at times I have been violent when I had to be. I have been kind when I could.
I admit I have driven to some dark place and cried by myself when I was overwhelmed. I have missed Christmas and other holidays more than I wanted to. Every cop I know has done all these things and more for lousy pay, suckie hours and a short life expectancy. We don’t want your pity, I don’t care for your respect. Just let us do our jobs without killing us.” (Corey Loftice)
STORIES THAT WARM MY HEART
LENARDO ALMEIDA, a rookie with Taunton [MA] Police recently found a family living / sleeping in their pickup truck. It was cold. When Lenardo saw two and three year old children in the back seat, that was enough. This rookie cop took $190 from his own money to pay for a motel room for the family. That’s what my Brothers do.
BEN HALL, an officer with Emmett Township [MI] Police recently made a traffic stop because a young child was not properly secured in the back seat. The single mother, who had fallen on hard times, was due a traffic ticket. Hall made a better call. He knew that this woman didn’t have the money to pay a ticket. Instead, he told the mother to drive to a nearby Walmart and meet him in the store’s car seat section.
Officer Hall and mom selected a seat. Hall paid the $55 price tag so that the five year old girl could travel safely.
SGT. BILL CASHEN of the Toledo [OH] Police Department learned that a brother officer needed a kidney transplant or death would soon follow.
After much thought, Sgt. Cashen was tested. He was a match. The transplant surgery followed shortly thereafter. We are a brotherhood. We love one another so deeply that we would take a bullet for a brother without any hesitation.
CHE MILTON, a rookie with Atlanta Police continues to demonstrate what it really means to be a cop through and through. He was called to a Family Dollar stores where the manager pointed out a twelve year old girl who was trying to steal a cheap pair of shoes.
When questioned, the young girl said she wanted the shoes for her younger sister who had none. Milton took the girl home where he found horrible conditions. The five children in the home had little to eat and no furniture. He got pizza and drinks for all and returned with dinner for all. Since then, he has worked with other cops to get clothing and food to meet the family’s needs.
Be proud of our Brothers. Today and every day.
WALK TALL, BE PROUD
Over the years, I have been part of discussions about how some characterize law enforcement officers are mean, militaristic, overly aggressive and a group of thugs that enjoys using force against others.
I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit to a sense of winning when a very bad person is taken off the street and put in jail. But, look a little deeper inside.
The satisfaction and pleasure of an arrest has its source in the knowledge that I have made the homes and lives of the good people in our world just a little bit better and more safe. We cops are not about being mean or hateful.
Rather, we are about serving and protecting those in our country who are trying their best to make their world just a little bit better each day. These people go to work, go to school, raise their children to have faith in God and teach them right from wrong.
Every person who has ever pinned on the badge has made a meaningful contribution to the betterment of our country. Each one of them is due the gratitude of those who have been served.
As for the jerks who spew hatred and foul sentiments at the law enforcement community: they can go straight to Hell. If they believe there is a better country than ours, they ought to make their way out the door as quickly as possible.
TO MY BROTHERS & SISTERS: Stand tall. Stand up straight. Stick out your chest and put a proud smile on your face. You have earned it.
Collectively, our Brotherhood has saved many more lives than it has taken. While every lost life is sad, they must be put in the context of the lives which were saved as a result of taking a bad guy off the street.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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