Right now, our Brotherhood is facing some really tough situations on many fronts.
There are shithead prosecutors like the one in Atlanta who charged cops with murder for a shooting that Stevie Wonder could see is good.
Of course, there are the traitors to our country. Look at the prosecutor in Portland who cut loose all of the assholes that the state and city cops risked their lives to arrest.
I don’t want to fail to also credit the jerkoff in Minneapolis who has charged a rookie cop who had four days on the job because he didn’t override his senior training officer in the George Floyd arrest.
There is plenty of negative stuff to read and watch. You can see that elsewhere.
NOT HERE, NOT TODAY
Too often, a dream starts with the words, “I wish …”
Sadly, we cops tend to dismiss job dissatisfaction because there’s a sense that we get ‘locked’ into working for a particular agency. Think of a cop who gets a few years on. The thought of moving to a different agency seems to be loaded with too many obstacles.
- What about my pension? How bad will I get hurt?
- I spent my years at the bottom of the totem pole here, getting the shit jobs and shifts. Now that I’ve got some seniority, I don’t want to become the FNG all over again.
- I could go through the pain of making a change only to have the situation at the new place go to hell in a few years. I’d be right back where I started. It just isn’t worth it.
So, you hang on. You’re miserable. You know exactly how many years, months and days it is until you can retire. You wake up each day with little or no desire to go to work. That’s no way to live life.
THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE
There’s an old line, “When a fish rots, it starts at the head.” Very true.
The converse is true, as well.
There are some great law enforcement agencies in this country. Their guys love (or at least really like) their jobs. They look forward to going to work.
You can bet your ass that each one of those agencies has a chief, sheriff or other leader who has his act together. Those agencies do exist.
They are worth searching out.
Those chiefs are NOT preoccupied with getting their next job, hanging on until they can retire or kissing the ass of the city manager. They know instinctively that their future wellbeing is tied to those under their command today.
They wouldn’t think of asking their cops to handle any job that they, themselves, wouldn’t do. In fact, they are often the ones leading the way.
Are they perfect? Hell no.
Do they always bend and agree with the cops on their crew? Nope. They’re not spineless pushovers.
They go into battle with their cops.
I HAVE ONE OF THOSE CHIEFS IN MY LIFE …
I met one of those chiefs.
It was late January, 2019. I came across a story about a cop in my home state of Florida. Pensacola PD, to be specific. His name was Stephen Grogan.
I came to learn the important stuff about Grogan: 33 yrs, WM, married, two very young sons, Marine veteran, 3 yrs on the job. He was terminally ill with an aggressive form of brain cancer: Glioblastoma.
His story tore my heart out. He could have been my son. We did an article on him asking people to donate to his cause. You can read it here: What Do You Say to a Dying Cop?
Over the following weeks and months, Stephen and I talked on the phone regularly. You know, guy-talk: work, wife, kids and his treatments. He had been traversing the country trying to find someone who could extend his life.
I kept hoping – and praying.
People donated thousands of dollars to help that family.
I talked with Stephen after Christmas, very early this year. He casually mentioned that none of the treatments had worked. His doc said he had just a few weeks to live.
We cried on the phone together. Then, we prayed to God, together. Finally, we agreed to talk the next day.
We continued to talk nearly every day.
I called the department to let them know about our fundraising efforts. I talked with the Chief. His name: Tommi Lyter. He told me some details about what the guys at the department were doing for Stephen and his family.
Stephen and his wife have two sons, five and two. For Christmas, they had received a play-scape for their back yard. But, Stephen was too weak to assemble it. A crew from the department went over to set it up and make sure it was safe for the boys.
In another instance, I learned that Stephen would be traveling to Gainesville for one last possible treatment. The chief told me he was sending Stephen’s sergeant along with his best friend from work along with Stephen and his wife.
Stephen was having frequent seizures. So, the two cops could handle the driving which allowed his wife to take care of Stephen.
My wife and I traveled to Gainesville so I could meet Stephen. We met at their hotel. When Stephen entered the lobby area and I first laid eyes on him, I could see he was weak. I went to him, we hugged and held on to each other as we talked quietly.
God took Stephen home a few days later.
THE NEWS WHICH FOLLOWED
In the following weeks, I learned about some of the things that Chief Lyter had done for the Grogan family.
In the weeks prior to Stephen’s passing, Hospice sent a hospital bed to their home for him. Guys from the department went to their house to clean out the ‘junk room’ that we all have – just to make room for that bed.
But there is so much more.
Shortly after Stephen had endured brain surgery, he was rehabbed and returned to the road. But, an unexpected seizure put him back in a desk job. After some time, he could no longer do that, either. The chief told him to keep his cell phone and take calls from home.
At some point shortly thereafter, the chief visited Stephen at home. Stephen offered to resign so that the job could be filled by someone else. Stephen told the chief he would find some way to earn an income. Chief Lyter would have none of it.
The Chief insisted that Stephen would not be released; he would remain on the payroll. Period.
At some point other cops in the agency donated their accumulated time to Stephen who stayed on the payroll for over three years.
The chief saw to it that fundraisers were held for the Grogans. The PIO kept the media up to date.
Volunteers were sought in the department to go to Grogan’s to handle maintenance like lawn cutting, painting and other needed chores. There was never a shortage of fellow-officers ready, willing and able to go to Grogan’s.
Throughout Stephen’s illness, he was not forgotten. The chief was at his door regularly. Other cops were, too. They called. They sent texts.
Stephen was never alone. He knew in his heart that his brothers loved him to his dying breath.
As I have heard from guys across the country, this kind of treatment is exceptional. Just like the leadership that makes it happen.
SPILLING THE BEANS
I had the chance to talk with one of the command staff in Pensacola about Chief Lyter’s leadership. Here are a few brief points about his style.
Tommi Lyter came up through the ranks over the course of many years – and he never forgot where he came from. His cops trust him.
When discipline is called for, he will err on the side of generosity. He tries his best to serve the good of the department and the personal growth of the cops.
He characterized the chief as using care and compassion. He does his best to empathize with others and wherever possible use grace and forgiveness.
Tommi is described as a ‘super-optimist’ and when there are disagreements, he doesn’t hold a grudge.
In plain English, Chief Tommi Lyter genuinely cares about his cops. He loves them.
This is the kind of chief we all want.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
We all know someone who has been fucked-over by their department or their administration.
I am reminded of the screwing a close friend of mine got from his local agency. He suffered a spinal injury on-duty in a car wreck. During his extended recuperation, while he was on light-duty, he was diagnosed with leukemia.
The chief took away his take-home vehicle and then, his gun. A couple of months later, he was summoned to HR where he was terminated without notice and told he would lose his health insurance days later.
The agency kicked him to the side like yesterday’s news.
No income, no insurance and a family to support.
CopBlue has heard these same kinds of stories from cops across the country. Now, we’re seeing our brothers and sisters be shit on in cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Seattle and Portland by the local elected officials, too.
We are hearing the word “DEFUND” from anarchists across the nation. Fortunately, they are the small (but VERY LOUD) minority.
Here is our hope for the future:
There are 17,985 police, sheriff and state law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Many / Most of them are being run by leaders like Chief Tommi Lyter.
Their agencies need and want dedicated cops. Their communities want dedicated cops, as well.
They are not the exception.
STAY TUNED: CopBlue is working to create a method for good cops to find good agencies and communities who want them.
You won’t be forced to stay on your sinking ship much longer.
Our mission has always been saving just ONE life. We want to help you be happy and thrive. You should enjoy going to work tomorrow and dread it no longer.
We will do our level-best to help you.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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