I do it so frequently that it’s like second-nature to me, now. Since the inception of CopBlue, I find myself behind a desk a whole bunch of the time. Believe me: I’d much rather be at the gym or back on the street with the crew.
What was it that I am doing frequently? Oh yeah, that. It’s checking my email. It seems like between the election and ads for various Christmas gifts, I’ve been getting a lot of emails every day – like ten or fifteen million of them. It seems that way, anyway.
It was the first week of December and I’d already received too many notifications from the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP.org) bringing the news of another cop who had been snatched from us. All I can think is: they’re my brothers – every one of them – as tears roll down my cheeks.
Worst of all … they’re just kids. WTF?!
Take look with me at the past six months:
Gordon Best, E.O.W. 01/01/21, 7 yrs on, 30 yrs old
Jason Shuping, E.O.W. 12/16/20, 1 yr, 6 mos on, 25 yrs old
Tyler Herndon. E.O.W. 12/11/20, 2 yrs on, 25 yrs old
Cassie Johnson, E.O.W. 12/03/20, 4 yrs on, 28 yrs old
Andy Ornelas. E.O.W. 12/02/20, 4 yrs on, 27 yrs old
Jared Allison. E.O.W. 12/01/20, 2 yrs 6 mos on, 26 yrs old
Charlie Cortez, E.O.W. 11/17/20, 3 yrs on, 29 yrs old
Jacob Hancher. E.O.W. 10/03/20, 8 months on, 23 yrs old
Aubrey Travis Johnson, E.O.W. 10/01/20, 4 yrs, 28 yrs old
Jason Phan, E.O.W. 09/12/20, 2 yrs on, 26 yrs old
Dylan Pickle, E.O.W. 07/26/20, 24 yrs old
Anthony Dia. E.O.W. 07/04/20, 4 yrs on,, 26 yrs old
Johan Mordon. E.O.W. 06/11/20, 11 months on, 26 yrs old
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?
It seems that there was a spate of losses where the officers involved were quite young and just had a year or two on. A few of them stretched to four years on, while the time on for the others was measured in months.
All told, thirteen were dead: 12 male; 1 female.
Five to auto accidents; five to gunfire. One drowned, one injured in a foot pursuit, one found dead out on a remote foot patrol.
All of them kids.
MY BEST GUESS
The old guys who used to be in our midst are gone. Retired. Left coppery all together. The ones who remain are just plain tired. For too many of them, the job has become a grind which leaves them worn out at shift’s end.
Twelve hour shifts. Running call-to-call. No time for lunch or even much of a break. We’re short every shift without enough guys. A lot of the older cops are grousing about leaving, but haven’t yet made any real effort to get out. But, their attitude leaves them – and everyone around them – with a ‘Why bother?’ attitude.
Think back to the early days. I ran code every chance I got. Even without lights and siren, driving fast was still a lot of fun. Until one of the older guys discreetly blew in my ear and told me a war story about the time ‘fun’ driving turned into a nightmare.
During that same part of my early days was when us rookies felt invincible. Remember? We took stupid risks and luckily, we survived. Remember the daily false alarm in that warehouse? It became sooooo regular, that you decided to go ahead and check the building on your own?
Your partner was tied up on some bullshit call and you didn’t want to wait. That became habit until one of the older guys caught wind of it and put the fear of God back in you – remember?
Maybe that’s what happened on the night of December 3, 2020 when Jacob Hancher was dispatched to a DV. He was shot and killed by the male half as he approached the residence.
If there had been a guy on that call who had 20+ years on, he might have ‘sensed’ something wasn’t right and held his young partner back until it could have been checked out.
“If” didn’t happen that night. The rest of us lost a brother because with just eight months on, Jacob still believed that he was invincible.
SO, WHAT DO I DO?
If you’ve been a cop long enough to collect your first longevity check – LISTEN UP. I’ll make this short.
Assess your situation. Every agency is different.
Think of Seattle. The chief there told the council that he didn’t have enough officers to keep the city safe.
If they are that short, most of the old-timers have probably already pulled the pin. It doesn’t much matter where they are. Fact is, they aren’t in Seattle to counsel the kids. So, the kids will learn the hard way – which will ensure that some of them will die while learning.
You don’t have to be an FTO or have twenty years on to keep one of your brothers from stepping into a bear-trap.
Side Note: I just got word that a local small agency is so short of cops on the street that a guy with eleven months on was made an FTO.
At eleven months a young cop is still so fucking naïve that he believes that the Chief is God and everything the Chief says or does in perfect.
That’s a disaster looking for a place to happen.
If you’ve got young rookies on your crew, HELP THEM. No, don’t be an asshole about it. No one wants that kind of help.
Your goal is to get them through the invincible stage ALIVE. The guys who have already retired aren’t there to do it; they’re gone. You need to step up and save your brothers’ lives.
Otherwise, we will be listening to the pipers play Amazing Grace while we try to keep it together as another brother’s casket is lowered into the ground.
Think about it.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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