July 25, 2021
Good morning friends! I hope you are all doing well. We’re already closing in on the final days of July. I’m not sure how that happened so quickly, but the days and months keep flying by. It was a month filled with family, summer fun and happiness. Some anxiety was thrown in too, since I’m still searching for a new house. Thanks to my sister and brother in law for sharing your home. I traveled north this week, driving through Northern California, into Oregon and Washington. I needed an adventure and this definitely fit the bill. I visited friends along the way, saw new sights and enjoyed some solitary moments. I’m currently attending a retreat (of sorts) for men on Whidbey Island. Good times, new friends and fun is always a plus. I’ll write about this journey in the coming weeks. Today, I want to share my insight into my world and career; law enforcement. This is a snippet of me, looking out during my nearly 34-year career; plus now gazing in from the outside during seven years in retirement. It’s my opinion and perspective, gained from years in the street and dealing with a diverse group of people. My intention is to add some personal enlightenment on the subject.
So much of what I see, hear and read; about people, our nation and society, is slanted negatively. It’s makes me sad thinking our nation (and our people) are struggling with so many issues. Crime, hate, racial strife, violence and trauma continue to plague our nation. Don’t even get me started on the virus, lockdown and injections they continue to push. Continual fear and controversy over who’s right or wrong clouds our vision, even when we know in our heart what is right. Our world continues to struggle with so many issues across our planet.
When I became a police officer I knew or understood very little about the communities and people I served. My initial reaction was that everyone, in many communities, disliked or hated me because of the uniform I worn or the law I represented. It didn’t take long for me to realize, from interacting with people (in all communities), that these neighborhoods were filled with good, hard working individuals. Good, God fearing and law abiding people vastly outnumbered the bad. They were interested in living the American dream in peace just as much I. They didn’t like crime, drugs, gangs or thugs lurking around their homes and families. They shared support for us, even when they feared criminal or gang retaliation. Now crime is soaring and violence is raging across our land. If you want to live in peace, without fear, without violence and with less crime; law enforcement needs our full support. Without them and their dedication, our freedom and society will be lost. It’s interesting how the political leaders that screamed to defund and do away with law enforcement, are now calling for the financial support and addition of more officers. It’s sad what their misguided manipulation has created in our beautiful country.
I don’t tell doctors how to operate, attorneys how to practice law, pilots how to fly or anyone how to do a job I know little about. Why do you feel qualified to tell me how to do my job? It never ceases to amaze me how people seem to think they know so much about the profession I dedicated over half my life. Many people have no idea what we do or why. The sad part, is they base their information and perceptions on misinformation, untruths or lies. My immediate observations, from past and present contacts, reveals this opinion. I know you may find this difficult to believe, but law enforcement officers (both male and female), are actually human beings. Law enforcement personnel have parents, were once kids, went to school, played sports and enjoy life like everyone else. Police officers have lives; relationships, families, attend church, have emotions, passions, dreams and seek inner happiness and peace. Like all humans, I have dealt with my share of struggles throughout life. We live our lives, make mistakes, learn and move on. Let’s face it, we all experience similar issues and life events. No one is perfect and neither is life. We either face our challenges, resolve them and move forward, or we continue to struggle. Isn’t that what most humans do?
The difference between law enforcement professionals and other individuals is, we recognized a life path calling to serve. Similar to some other service oriented careers, officers want to give back and protect their communities. Officers dedicate their lives to maintaining law, order and our safety. They leave home, not knowing if they’ll return after their shift ends. Families, friends and loved ones often experience the trauma they deal with daily. I never fully understood the challenges (mental, physical and spiritual) an officer faces on a daily basis. I believed my training in the Los Angeles Police Academy was extensive and comprehensive. When I graduated from the academy and was assigned to a Patrol Division, it became immediately evident I had lots more to learn. I’d been taught the basic tools; local, state and federal laws, patrol procedures, report writing, investigative techniques, interview skills, tactics, self-defense and weapons training. Spanish language and cultural training; along with a myriad of other topics were included with my training. The foundation built in the academy enabled me to easily gain new skills and knowledge, based on my field training. Nearly two years had passed after I was sworn in on my first day in the police academy. A year and a half of field training rounded out my probationary period.
What I encountered during my first 18 months as a patrol officer was beyond what I imagined. My expectations of life on the streets was limited to what I saw from the news media, movies or television. I never realized the lack of conscience, empathy or humanity of criminals. There is an evil lurking in some individuals that indicates a true absence of a soul. Experts have a difficult time explaining the rationale of criminal minds. My very first shift on the streets of LA began a day after academy graduation. My training officer and I respond to a grass fire in an empty lot next to a convenience store. I watched the fire fighters extinguish the flames. I detected an odd odor to the smoke that morning. I recognized the detestable smell from my previous job as a fire fighter with the US Forest Service. The fire captain approached and stated, “You need to see this.” We walked through the smoldering field. I saw a partially burned body of a man face down in the charred brush. The other immediate detail I observed was the back of his skull had been broken open. The weapon was most likely a steel pipe laying close to the body. The burnt field quickly transitioned to a murder investigation. This was day one in the streets of many years to come.
Violence, carnage, death, destruction, sadness and trauma continued throughout my career. There were times I cried on my drive home after my shift. Witnessing the brutal acts committed by thugs, parents, friends, strangers or just criminals; especially when directed at children, women, elderly and helpless individuals damaged my soul. At some point in time, tears no longer flowed as they needed so I could heal. The only tears shed were for my fellow officers killed doing a job they loved and believed in; even when others mocked our service. There have been far too many of those deaths and murders over the years. I always envisioned life as being beautiful and wonderful. I knew evil existed in the world, but not in these forms. When I became a police officer of the streets, from that point on, I realized life wasn’t filled with peace; but with trauma and heartache. There came a point in time where my emotions reflecting the sadness, death and trauma, were buried under a protective shield. Closing myself off and protecting my heart seemed to be the best solution. I could not allow emotions to cloud my judgement during critical incidents or investigations. If I allowed emotions to enter my mind or body, it would make the completing of my job much more difficult. Potential moments of interrupted concentration could spell tragedy in the safety of myself or those around me. When all you witness daily is trauma and sadness, it alters your perception of the world. It takes constant effort to maintain my mindfulness and serenity. I thank God for all the amazing and wonderful officers and personnel I worked with and around during my career. We assisted in keeping each other safe, sane and focused. Without them, and all the law enforcement professionals around our globe, life and society would be very different.
If you think being a law enforcement officer is an easy or simple profession, please rethink that mind set. It’s much easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize everything you dislike. I’ve listened to ill-informed individuals; news media and politicians criticize police officers and decisions they make in critical situations. When fractions of seconds are all you have; decisions are never easy, simple or clear cut. Some individuals have no clue what it’s like to make a decision, let alone a decision made under stress in a critical life or death situation. Law enforcement officers don’t have the luxury of sitting behind a desk, weighing options, researching information or taking as much time as they want to render an opinion. An officer must react to prevent death or serious injury, defending themselves and others. I’ve been in situations that required use of force. It’s not something I wanted to do, but was necessary for my survival or apprehension of criminals. Yes, officers receive training in tactics, use of force and critical incidents, but nothing fully prepares you when you encounter it during a physical confrontation. Training, training and more training to form muscle memory is helpful, but like many skills, it’s perishable. Many agencies, especially after the recent defunding effort, do not have the personnel or budge to provide necessary recurring skills training. This is sad for all parties involved and can place them in jeopardy. Protecting the community and all people who reside there is our job.
I suppose it’s easier for some people to deny that atrocities exist in our world. When was the last time you responded at a vehicle accident with mangled bodies? How often have you comforted a child or woman who has been abused, beaten or sexual assaulted? Have you been at a suicide or murder scene, then had to notify family members of the death of their loved one? There are countless other situations, events and traumatic incidents I could tell you about, but would it open your eyes further or just make you turn away in horror? That’s the life of our law enforcement heroes. The next time you wake up in the morning, go out to lunch, have dinner with your family or lay in your bed at night; we (police officer) are out there placing our lives in jeopardy to insure you can sleep well and enjoy your family. If you think you’re better qualified, please come out and join our ranks, to protect and serve. Good people are needed both in the departments and in our communities! It’s time to step up, take action and do what’s right, every day!
There is so much more I can say and share about this subject. Needless to say, it is a topic (and profession) that is near and dear to my heart. I’ll have to follow up with additional parts to this story; or just write a book. For now, stay tuned for Part 2 in the near future. I wish you a happy and healthy day. Get outside, enjoy some nature and cherish life. Our time on this planet passes much to quickly; often ending before we said and did all we wanted that we deemed to be important. Live in the present, with gratitude and happiness. Sending love and positive energy to you. Follow your dreams. They know the way.
Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more! The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation. Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!
Thanks for your love and support! Embrace Life! Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!