In 1974 when I first joined the police department, I new there would be special occasions my family would spend without me. Knowing that fact didn’t make the task any easier. The celebrations I missed those first year’s depressed me and sometimes made me feel bitter. Working on Christmas Eve was always the worst.
On Christmas Eve in 1977, I learned that a blessing can come disguised as misfortune, and honor is more than just a word.
I was riding a one man patrol on the 4×12 shift. The night was cold. Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of the holiday: families packing their cars with presents,beautifully decorated trees in living room windows and roofs adorned with tiny sleighs. It all added to my holiday funk. The evening had been relatively quiet; there were calls for barking dogs and a residential false burglar alarm. There was nothing to make the night pass any quicker.I thought of my own family and sunk further into depression.
Shortly after 2200 hours I got a radio call to the home of an elderly, terminally ill man. I parked my patrol car in front of a simple cape cod style home. First aid kit in hand, I walked up the short path to the front door.As I approached, a woman who seemed to be about 80 years old opened the door. He’s in here she said, leading me to a back bedroom.
We passed through a living room that was furnished in a style I had come to associate with older people. The sofa has an afghan blanket draped over it’s back and a dark, solid queen Anne chair say next to a unused fireplace. The mantle was cluttered with an eccentric mix of several photos, some ceramic figurines and an antique clock. A floor lamp provided soft lighting.
We entered a small bedroom where a frail looking man lay in bed with a blanket pulled up to his chin. He wore a blank stare on his ashen, skeletal face. His breathing was shallow and labored. He was barely alive.
The trappings of illness all around his bed. The nightstand was littered with a large number of pill vials. An oxygen bottle stood nearby. Its plastic hose, with face mask attached rested on the blanket.
I asked the old woman why she called the police.
She simply shrugged and nodded sadly toward her husband,indicating it was his request. I looked at him and he stared intently into my eyes. He seemed relaxed now. I didn’t understand the suddenly calm expression on his face.
I looked around the room again. A dresser stood along the wall to the left of the bed. On it was the usual memorabilia: ornate perfume bottles,a white porcelain pin case, and a wooden jewelry case. There were also several photos in simple frames. One caught my eye and I walked closer to the dresser for a closer look. The picture showed a young man dressed in a police uniform. It was unmistakably a photo of the man in bed. I knew then why I was there.
I looked at the old man and he motioned with his hand toward the side of the bed. I walked over and stood beside him. He slid a thin arm from under the covers and took my hand. Soon,I felt his hand go limp, I looked at his face. There was no fear there. I saw only peace. He knew he was dying; he was aware his time was very near. I know now that he was afraid of what was about to happen and he wanted the protection of a fellow cop on his journey. A caring God had seen to it that his child would be delivered safely to him. The honor of being his escort fell to me.
When I left at the end of my tour that night, the temperature had seemed to have risen considerably, and all the holiday displays I saw on the way home made me smile.
I no longer feel sorry for myself for having to work on Christmas Eve. I have chosen an honorable profession. I pray that when it’s my turn to leave this world there will be a cop there to hold my hand and remind me that I have nothing to fear
(First appeared in August 2005)
122 degrees is what my truck’s thermostat registered this afternoon when I got done with training. As you can guess, I’m a just a tad tired and not in much of a mood for writing. However, I will give you a few gems from my day, one of them a funny quote from an instructor.
I’m Officer Ray Smith from the Bomb Unit and I will be your instructor for this block. Our motto in the unit is “we may not be the best, but hey, who else are you going to call?” I have just a little over twenty-two years on the department, minus a little penalty box time, if you know what I mean.
He was a little jaded from his past dealings with management, but still an informative instructor who knew his stuff. And I would think that anyone who volunteers to screw around with unexploded explosive devices made by nut-jobs ought to be at least a half bubble off level to start with.
He brought lots of cool stuff to play with and a few interesting facts. Like the amount of explosive used in the United States each year; 8 Billion (yes, with a “B”) pounds. As you might imagine, a lot of explosives get “lost” and wind up in the wrong hands.
There are many explosives that are impractical in Some City because of our hot and humid climate. One cool little toy is an explosive that has the consistency of caulk, it even comes in a tube like caulk and can be used in a caulk gun. Unfortunately it melts almost instantly. The idea was that it would be great to quickly apply around door locks for forced breaches, but in the amount of time it took to apply it to the door, stick a detonator on it and haul ass around the corner; it had already lost consistency and run in long streaks down the doors face. It’s a shame; it was cool stuff and only cost a $100 a tube.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police has recently endorsed a “shoot to kill” model policy for dealing with suicide/homicide bombers. Of course Some City, being the liberally governed city it is, will only adopt such a policy after we have our first human bomb take out a dozen innocent victims. The instructor had just had a meeting that morning with a counterpart from the London Metropolitan Police and we discussed their policy on shooting suspected bombers.
Also, we learned all about the three-man team tactic that the Israelis use on suspected bombers. That was very impressive. It takes a cool head (especially for the main guy who has two very critical tasks to perform if there is actually a bomb) and a lot of coordination between the team members. We won’t go into details (no sense in giving out the info just in case some bad guys doesn’t already know about it), but I was convinced of its effectiveness.
We saw tons of gory footage of people blowing up, like the Pizza Box Bomber, and since everybody there was a cop we got to see it three or four times, in slow motion even. A ton of photos showing blown up idiots and bombers (is that redundant) who screwed up with explosives. Like the guy in West Virginia who stuck a blasting cap in his mouth. In the photo we saw, he was still alive, but the effect was beyond phenomenally traumatic. The only thing recognizable was one eyeball.
There’s a lesson for you kids – don’t play with stuff that blows up.
Skimming through the blog stats to see what search brings people here can be a trip to…strangeness.
From yesterday’s visitors this little gem popped up as a search term:
attorney for exposing yourself
The internets, helping people since whenever Al Gore invented it.
God bless us, every one.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was born as a free Pole who lived to see his homeland invaded by the Nazis and later dragged behind the Iron Curtain when it was “liberated” by the Soviet Army. Never a fan of oppression, during his career in US Government service he was a strong advocate of standing up to governments that denied liberty and other human rights to their subjects.
While Brzesinski was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter, he frequently battled with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance on how to best deal with totalitarian regimes. Vance preferred something like a “live and let live” stance that ignored the human rights violations of the oppressors while emphasizing arms reductions. (Hey, go ahead and enslave and kill your own people as long as you don’t threaten us.) Brzesinski believed that sort of thing only made the dictators bolder, and he favored a tougher stance that included military strength against what were truly evil empires.
Armed oppressors prefer their victims to be unarmed – it’s sooo much easier that way.
His daughter, MSNBC
talking head journalist Mika Brzezinski, was born a free American. While, like many Americans, she may have differences with government policies and actions, she has never had to fear being imprisoned, tortured or executed for expressing her beliefs. Her father saw that in his childhood and understands that a free people have to defend their rights or risk losing them – even if that means picking up a gun. Mika apparently does not share a similar opinion. Certainly not when it comes to individual citizens standing up to bullies with guns bent on mass murder.
Joe Scarborough: One person with a gun in the right place can make a big difference…for good or for bad.
Mika Brzezinski: You know, that is the most inane statement I have ever heard.
Isn’t that strange? You would think that she would have learned from her father’s experience that kowtowing to an armed oppressor is not the path to freedom. But she was born in a land that has been free for more than two centuries.
Alex Kozinski knows. Like Mika’s father, he knows what happens when evil men pick up their guns and the innocent are unarmed.
He is currently the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. His parents survived the Holocaust and I’m sure he learned something from them about about the need to fight armed bullies. Judge Kozinski was born in Soviet controlled Romania in 1950 and emigrated to the United States in 1962. The lessons learned from his parents’ experiences were no doubt fortified by the experience of living in a country where the rules of the dictators were enforced by T-55 tanks. As many as 80,000 Romanians were murdered in Soviet prison camps set up for thought criminals who believed Romania should be free. During their occupation of Romania during the 1950’s, the Soviets imprisoned untold thousands of political prisoners and stole billions in assets and raw materials.
Zbigniew Brzezinski and Alex Kozinski know what Mika does not. When a bad guy with a gun wants to take away your rights, or even your life, sometimes the only way to deal with them is to go get a gun of your own.
Trust me, there is no giant poster of Zbigniew Brzezinski hanging on any wall in my house, but I was able to cherry pick this gem that I enjoyed:
…the use of violence has to be a last resort, that you have a right to self-defense and therefore even to kill in self-defense.
Zbig was speaking about the concept of national defense, but his authority was based on the principles of Christianity. And while that doesn’t necessarily tell us where he comes down on the right of individual self-defense, I totally dig his feelings about a nation’s moral right to defend itself.
Judge Kozinsky’s opinion on individual self-defense, however, is something we should have on public monuments and in textbooks:
All too many of the other great tragedies of history–Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few–were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece…If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.
The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for re-election and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees.
However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake free people get to make only once.
What do you suppose it would take for Mika to appreciate the views on self-defense of men like Alex Kozinski or her father? A few tanks in the street? The secret police hauling away the thought criminals? A crazed gunman loose in her neighborhood?
Individuals and governments don’t just have a right to defend themselves – it is a moral obligation.
A few years ago the chief of police at my former agency came up with a most brilliant plan. He decided he would further
reduce his liability protect the public by changing the vehicle pursuit policy. The new policy, in essence, was that we would no longer chase people except in life threatening situations.
…when Police Chief XXXXX pushed a policy that would call for officers to back off speeding suspects. XXXXX told officers they should take down the fleeing suspects license tag and pursue him through other legal channels later.
As you would expect, more idiots than ever decided to press on the gas rather than the brakes when they saw red and blue flashing lights. The police union was critical of the new policy.
However, the [Some City Police] Officer’s Union called the chief’s policy asinine. It placed four billboards just outside city limits, blasting what it calls a ‘no chase, no catch’ policy.
There was immediate public uproar, which sent the politicians into fits of fear that they might have to get an actual job and work for a living. The policy lasted for two weeks before it was rescinded “for further review”.
Coming up with asinine ideas is not just the realm of US chiefs of police. The disease has evidently broken out in the UK as well. The North Wales Police, concerned about liability when police canines bite combative suspects, has initiated a “don’t bite” policy:
‘Instead of biting, the dog is muzzled and launches itself like a missile at the midriff of the target,’ said Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales, Clive Wolfendale. ‘It is one of the additional options open to us to muzzle our dogs and get them to use a head butt,’ added Sgt Ian Massie. ‘We believe it is a safer option for an offender to be head-butted.’
Although I’ve had many occasions to get assistance from SCPD canines, I’ve never actually seen one bite a suspect. Sure, I’ve seen it on television but not in real life. What I have seen is the handler announce that he is going to deploy the dog and remove the muzzle – which sets the dog to barking like a crazed demonic beast. On every occasion the next thing heard is from the suspect:
No, wait! I give up. Don’t sic that dog on me man! I’m coming out.
Maybe the new tactic of the North Wales puppies will bring about a similar high rate of offender cooperation. As soon as the handler announces his intention to launch his dog, missile-like, at the suspect, the effect will be immediate. The crook will fall to the ground, laughing uncontrollably and pissing on himself.
Wait! Stop! I give up, my sides hurt and I can’t breathe. Don’t tell me any more jokes, please, I beg of you.
You will have to follow the link to see one of the funniest crooks in action videos I have seen in a while. Click here to see how not to rob a liquor store.
This guy is hilarious. Hell, he’s so funny that I would pay good money to watch him go commit some more burglaries. Notice that despite falling three or four times, he appears unhurt at the end. Crook’s luck.
There was a call I responded to one afternoon while in patrol that involved some guy blowing the 220 voltage to an entire apartment building. He was trying to steal electricity by interfering with the meter to his apartment. He removed the meter and was rooting around inside the power box with a hammer.
Boom! The power goes out.
I took a witness statement from a neighbor who saw the whole thing.
..then there was this big boom, like thunder, and a funny green flash. The dude flew backwards like twenty feet and landed on his ass with smoke coming off him like everywhere. Then he ran up into that apartment.
I was still there when the Some City Lighting and Power guy showed up to fix it. When I told him the story he was in astonishment and refused to believe that the guy in handcuffs was the idiot who had stuck the now somewhat charred hammer into high voltage land.
No way. If I did something like that my arm would have exploded.
Stupidity must be able to provide some kind of magical protective power.