Knowing Achievement

While discussing inner departmental politics with a friend I was forced to take a step back, breathe a little and use my brain in an attempt to understand some of the more political things which have occurred in my career. I was not able to conceive of an answer directly, even after multiple attempts which led my ADHD empowered brain to a new chain of thoughts. I asked myself what has been truly important in my career looking back all of these years? It certainly wasn’t “who got that good gig in Detectives” or “Look who got promoted but why?” While some of those questions occupied much of my time during my career years, the more important thoughts garnered some amount of recognition.

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I realized in a grand moment of temporary clarity the things in my career which resulted in meaningful change. It certainly wasn’t the shiny medals or the various accommodations I received from the Department. While I didn’t mind receiving those awards and was proud to have served, there wasn’t much substance contained. Often times a medal can be diminished by unwittingly comparing actions to someone else’s who have received a similar accommodation. The entire thought process seems to dilute the potency of such achievement leaving something to be desired. More importantly i observed great accomplishments in the many selfless acts of my partners which they thought were “no big deal” or “just part of the job.”

So grand realizations of those moments of pride came flowing back to me. There are so many lives touched by an officer serving for the good of the population rather than the good of the order. There are those rare calls for service or events which may spiral into an entirely new positive experience for an individual or victim. These types of effects can be difficult to perceive and takes a certain amount of introspection.

When an officer makes an arrest it is simply part of the job, we don’t get too excited about it. sometimes we get into a foot pursuit, chase somebody down and win the fight but a lot of those times no charges are filed. Sometimes the idiot we arrested just made a dumb mistake or was too emotional to behave like a civilized human being. Sometimes the subject was too socially stupid to Herve Leconte sits atop his vehicle to display a sign thanking all those who are dealing with the King fire while park alongside Highway 50 near Camino, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)warrant any pride from a resultant arrest. Sure there is the “job well done” feeling where Officers pat each other on the back the same way a carpenter looks back on his work and says “wow I did a good job on that cabinet” yet there is more to it than that.

True evil does exist. The willing and malicious damnation of fellow man through unspeakable acts of cruelty are defined as such. If we can nab one of them it is a fortuitous event which can be boasted of. Most of us count that type of arrest on one hand at the end of a long career. When you get to put that one away for good the effects upon time and space are astounding. That serial rapist won’t hurt anymore children. The sick kidnapper who imprisoned his victims for months and induced a feared loyalty upon them will be worshiped via fear no more. These are the events far more precious than a silver medal or a fancy letter from the Chief. The two may coincide and an officer may wear proudly upon his chest a mark of such achievement but the act itself is the source of pride. Everything else is just a distraction or a public relations campaign.

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It doesn’t end there. When an officer picks up a child with a skinned knee who fell off of their tricycle while the parent was inside smoking crank. When the woman whose child was found dead in a puddle by no mistake of her own is hugged by the responding officers who tried to save her. And when the officer places his hand on the arrested juveniles shoulder with a stern but warm look on his face and says “you can do better,” these are timeless as well. For that child the Officer shall never age, even after he has long since left this world. In the mother’s eyes the Officer’s boots will always shine in unison with that badge and those shared tears. Nothing can dry the memory of those heroes who stood with her when the world crumbled all around. And for the demon behind bars, that fiery gaze will forever be tormented by he who delivered justice. Even if the Department or the public didn’t happen to notice that time.

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The effects of a job well done are unending and incalculable. They truly spiral in every direction, undeterred by negative media attention, bad Departmental Policies or negative social attention. Those events are real and exist in a way which is infinitely repeatable yet important and distinct with each occurrence. The events are unchangeable and cannot be destroyed. The good will shown by officers who care is eternal and no hateful group or negative media attention can damage those moral deeds, for they have already been commuted.

Officer’s of the law stand proud during your career and do not minimize the great things you have done. Don’t listen to the garbage being spewed by public figure heads, brave keyboard bloggers or self righteous critics, they haven’t experienced the personal risk and reward system. Think back upon your career with pride and look upon the momentous life changing events you took part in for the better. Nobody can take that away from you unless you let them.
Good job and anybody who doesn’t think so or recognize it would never understand such an achievement anyways.

From the Mind of a Third Grader

While the Dallas Terrorist attack was being televised live my eight year old daughter became horrified and asked her mother over and over if Daddy was there. My wife tried to explain afterwards about racism, what it meant and why those Officers were being shot at. It was a very difficult discussion and we spoke about it at length everyday. After the President gave his speech at the Dallas Memorial my daughter was left with even more confusion. She wanted to know why the President didn’t like the Police. These are not words I prompted her with but even she saw through the false empathy. My wife suggested she write a letter to the president explaining how she felt.

My daughter edited her letter multiple times and the original told the President that: “He should dislike the bad guys more, the bad guys who do drugs and hurt children.” I thought this was profound but she wanted to erase it because she felt they were truly not her own words but inspired by her parents. She eventually changed the ending of the letter to simply state “Police are good!” This is meaningful not just for me, but for all Law Enforcement out there, our children will listen to what we are teaching them so let us try and teach them the truth whenever possible. If we let the state raise our children the result is chaos.

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Obviously I am biased here because I speak of my own child but I could not be more proud. After asking all of the appropriate questions over the last week and coming to her own conclusions she hit the nail on the head with deadly accuracy. Of course the president doesn’t have a great reputation in my household and I won’t ignore the fact that her words are ultimately inspired by my own lessons but isn’t that the point? Aren’t we supposed to foster critical thought in our young?

As a cop I’ve been taught to write at the fourth grade level which is extremely difficult for me yet this is third grade writing in its purest form. It speaks plainly to the message she wants to portray “my Daddy is good” and she is insulted by our leader believing anything otherwise. She feels strongly enough about it to mail this letter to the President and is hopeful for a response. The very idea that I or any of my partners would treat someone differently because of the color of their skin does not fit into her logic. She simply doesn’t believe this is true because she has not seen or heard of it. This is the danger of promoting false narratives.

Perhaps we could all learn from the third grade vantage point and learn to observe what is directly in front of us instead of focusing on the imaginary. We as a people can learn many lessons by simplifying the facts and acting on our own logic, deciding what the “truth” is by seeing this for ourselves. If I were a bigot and a racist she would know about it because it is not something you can hide from your own children. The obvious truth in her mind is vastly different from how the President views the world. What experiences has he had which causes him to believe in a universal falsehood that gives rise to racism in cops where it seldom exists?2

Our politicians need to leave their safe, upper class neighborhoods and mansions and view the world for what it truly is. I encourage President Obama to do a ride along with any lawman in any state and think about the things he witnesses. Any of you who are in doubt should also do this, perhaps some of your  questions would be answered and the world would reveal itself for how it truly exists in this realm, not the illusory world politicians speak of. Learn from the simple logic of a fourth grader and stop confusing the simple truth of the world. Racism is indeed real but where is it most prominent? Experience this issues from a wider vantage point if you can. Contact your local law enforcement agency and ask them about a ride along, you will be enlightened.

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Law Enforcement Diplomats

Social media is an interesting armchair style warrior. Lots of opinions and sometimes zero experience or knowledge on a subject. The problem is we Cops don’t always know what someone else might have experienced or what their personal Law Enforcement story is. One reader today regarded this page as a “circle jerk LEO” page which made me remember something. Cops aren’t just Cops anymore we are Diplomats and Ambassadors to society. There is a certain responsibilitiy which goes along with the ideal and is inclusive in the duties of a Law Enforcement Officer.

People who are not cops and have never been cops might never fully understand every facet of our calling. Why become angry with those who are under a differing opinion? Obviously it’s ridiculous to think that Law Enforcement Officers are all racially motivated or on the flip side of the coin that we are all “the right hand of the democratic party’s agenda.” Ignorance can be bliss but I would rather enlighten than insult. All may not be enlightened I realize yet in some occasions it is well worth the extra effort which may benefit the Police Reputation.

1I teach my children to ask questions and not simply obey commands given to them by someone claiming to be a leader. I also teach my children to be respectful in the asking of those questions and most importantly to listen to the answer and make their own determination. When people put forth ridiculous ideas regarding cops we should seek to answer those accusations with logic and truth. We can also do it diplomatically if the misguided person isn’t too hostile. We may not reach all using this method but less will also be turned away.

When working the streets I usually allowed the public to ask any question they wanted, so long as it was safe at the time for me to do so. In one particular incident I had made a felony arrest on a subject with a warrant. Several people came out of the buildings nearby and began yelling at me. I feared they would surround me so while I was mentally prepared to kill all of them if needed, I also politely told them to give me a minute and promised to answer their questions.

I put the bad guy in the back seat of my car and secured him safely while asking for a cover unit. The potential mob was still angry but at a safe distance. Once my cover partner arrived I had him keep an eye on my prisoner and I approached the group with a smile. I asked what questions they had and It turned out these people were relatives of the man in my car, or so they claimed to be. It really didn’t matter, at this point I felt a small obligation to attempt an explanation as to why in their eyes “the government was taking away their friend for no reason.”

It was calmly explained I had a warrant for his arrest, explained the booking process and provided information on how they could contact the jail to schedule a 3visit with the subject. I was then asked about the court process, this time they were much less angry in asking the question. I explained the court process and the likelihood the subject would be in jail until his first hearing which would probably occur on the following Tuesday. I was thanked profusely by most of the group and they returned to their homes. One guy even tried to give me a hug and stated: “now that’s respect.”

Later in the day I had a discussion with my partner who told me it was pointless for me to address the small group. I explained I had only done this when it was safe to do so yet he believed I was wasting my time. It was difficult for me at the time to articulate my reasons for doing so but in short I told him this particular neighborhood might be more cooperative with Law Enforcement in the future if we treated them with a little more respect. I tell this story because I believe it is not a waste of time to explain circumstances which the public may not fully understand. Hell, the whole point of writing here is to hopefully enlighten and educate not just to complain. Otherwise our words only serve to rally those who are supportive and turn away those who may be on the fence.

I started a text conversation with one of my favorite and most trusted beat partners regarding this subject and he summed it up quickly and accurately while heading out the door. In a short text message which took him less than a minute to write he hit the nail on the head and went on to prove my point here. Examine the following text message:

“I think we have a responsibility to speak rationally and logically when we speak for the side of law enforcement. It becomes obvious that we are cops in these discussions, so why portray ourselves as irrational asshats. We both know that law enforcement officers in general are not out there hunting minorities and just trying to f with people, but there are people out there who legitimately think otherwise. We have legitimate arguments which carry serious weight. I think we do us and the real issues a huge disservice when we just yell and down talk people. I think some people start seeing the validity of our points when we calmly explain them.”

 

America’s Rosetta Stone


I read through the news today after a recent terrorist attack upon Police Officers in Dallas. Men and women serving their country and communities were attacked because of the clothes they wore and the color of their skin. Alternatively it is reported almost everywhere these attacks were in response to “two innocent black men being gunned down by police” yet the facts are not yet fully known. To respond violently based upon initial emotion is to discredit the American process and disregards civility entirely.

When historians look back upon the last several years what will our defining moments be? I often consider this point of view because as a student of history I realize the human condition is cyclical. Consider our greatest accomplishments and triumphs where Americans had a common goal, pulled together and achieved wondrous results. These American achievements need not be stated they are so powerful.

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I use the Rosetta Stone as my example of ancient human achievement. The rock was found in 1799 by French soldiers and now resides in the British Museum. Written upon the enormous rock is a series of accomplishments and instructions for Egyptian priests. It is written in two languages and three scripts. It is amazing to me how multiple cultures collided in an era of little technology to create something this long lasting. (You can read more about this fascinating topic at: http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/writing/rosetta.html)

What do the words of the Rosetta stone say? What do they mean? We live in a culture now where it doesn’t matter. Facts are considered  boring while violent emotions are considered exciting and relevant. Idols fuel emotionalism as a movement and as role models to America’s youth. A popular musician of our time, Jay Z has released a new song which he addresses the problem. Here is an example of one lyric: “Got my hands in the air in despair/don’t shoot/I just wanna do good.”Young-Thug-JAY-Z

Perhaps the music is moving, maybe the lyrics are meaningful but they are not responsible. The words themselves are perpetuated by lies and drive further emotion instead of logic. That emotion is endorsed by powerful leaders of the state and the message becomes misconstrued. Violence is the result and ignorance is the tool.

Music, Television and Movies are not seen as entertainment in our time, they are words and actions to live by. Fantasy is our hero and I still wonder what America’s common goal is. We are divided on all things in regards to morality and justice and I cannot fathom what stamp of human achievement our generation has left upon history. If our Rosetta Stone is chaos, lawlessness and anarchy I wish to distance myself from it as far as possible.

I have children though, so I cannot wallow in despair and would like to leave them something to cling to. We spend so much time trying to convince the emotionally misguided that our own children often become neglected from the truth. More and more I disconnect myself from popular media, social media and even news networks. I teach my children how to think for themselves and encourage them to try and leave the Sandcastle-2world a better place when they leave it. More than anything I tell them to suppress emotion and use logic to respond. This is how we build a lasting monument to our prosperity as a nation. A nation not divided but as one people and as unified Americans.

A monument to our civilization needs not be represented by division and destruction. Through our common children we must build something greater than we have now. Utilizing morality and logic we must build a culture which welcomes all as Americans and respects the tenements of our rich history. A foundation which shrugs off its mistakes and moves swiftly and accurately to correct them. A foundation which withstands the decaying sands of time and utilizes a profound goal as opposed to destruction with no purpose.

A Piece of the Pie

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Here is a great example of what America can still offer those who are willing to work for it.

While traveling along the northern coastal roads of California I encountered a positive piece of American accomplishment in a place where I least expected it. A simplistic desire revealed pure through old fashion pride and sweat. Something I had forgotten through all of the negativity towards this Country quickened my slumbering step and refilled a pint of hope missing from my glass.

God bless anyone who can find a measure of freedom in a society where the walls corner us all a bit to close.

Two men and two Shepard dogs free born in this blessed country were herding goats. Approximately four hundred of the delightful animals grazed beautiful grounds burgeoning with growth and all parties received payment for their troubles. To dismiss the event as simple or common would be to veil the truth of realized freedom.

My appreciation for what I witnessed doesn’t take into account any Shepard metaphors or a grand duality of meaning. It was merely wonderful to bear witness to something which might otherwise be taken for granted. Freedom and the American Spirit as it was intended occurred in real time right in front of me. What exactly does herding goats have to do with a free market, entrepreneurialism, capitalism or the Pursuit of Happiness?

Those four hundred goats were bred by the two men so that they could eventually sell them and make a profit. All animals need to feed though so why not get paid for that too? Goats are brought to various landmarks simply to graze. The action feeds the goats without the need for purchasing specific refined or purposed foods and helps to keep things “organic” if you will. The men are paid through various contracts to trim back overgrown government owned lands which saves the tax payers from having to spend inordinate amounts of money for other less natural remedies. Wait a minute, I can hear the screams of protest and so I am thrust into the seat of Devils Advocate.

Is it cruel to transport the goats on a large truck to various landmarks across Northern California? I don’t know, the goats did not make their protests clear to me although they seemed quite nourished when I spoke with them. Does this take away from possible high paying jobs that humans could do? Why are goat herders being paid to do a job when someone could be paid prevailing wage to handle the overgrowth with weed eaters, lawnmowers or some of those big scissor things? I don’t know, the Goats seemed quite good at the job and appeared to be enjoying themselves while getting fatter, so even they partook in a piece of the American Dream. Perhaps a competition could be held to determine who the more productive workers are and we could witness the results for ourselves. Goat Versus Man.

The beautiful thing is two men and two sheep dogs were crafty and hard working enough to find a natural, healthy and cheap solution to fire suppression in some of our protected parks. These men pursued what made them happy and got paid to do work they found fulfilling and enjoyable, like any good profession these men were proud. It is times like this when I am thankful for men and women who think outside of the box and somehow make all of the bureaucratic red tap work for them instead of against them.

Thank you gentlemen and dogs for this great reminder of freedom, I wish you success, wealth and happiness. Working men such as you shall ultimately restore this country to greatness. Do not let anyone diminish your work because it is the heart of an American independence that I still believe in. Perhaps this country is not doomed. Sometimes we do not look in the right places for our values where they might exist right in front of us.
-Arrow

The nature of The Deputy

Courtroom oath

As a patrol Deputy I always insisted on the public doing ride a longs with a law enforcement officer whenever possible. This practice was heavily advocated because of the difficulties I had in explaining the multifaceted angles of the profession.  Today a friend of mine was speaking with me about a tragic ordeal she both endured and participated in and I remarked about the horrific and wonderful strangeness of the profession. It is true that molecularly each human individual awakes as a physically “different” person each day. I propose The Deputy awakes conceptually or even spiritually different as a person each day.

As a blanket rule, Deputies do not believe in blanket rules so this multifaceted and angular description can only poke small holes into the container which preserves the entire essence of the topic, yet this is endeavored upon in multiple parts here. While certain examples are used, this is not meant to be a collection of cop stories or law enforcement accomplishments nor is it meant to be used as a political tool in any way. My intent is to simply educate and deduce.

Part 1:  The Bonding Pear
Having taught from time to time at the Sheriff’s Academy I see new recruits entering in to the profession from a perspective of naivety as to what kind of career they are embarking upon. As if looking through a foggy (and perhaps somewhat cracked) mirror I have delighted in realizing once again the varied backgrounds of each individual who believe they desire the job of “Protecting and Serving.”

From all walks of life, we get pilots, ex-military, bartenders, hairstylists, stay at home mothers, college students, college professors, doctors,  scientists and youthful wide eyed teenagers to name a few. They all desire to do something more with their life. The first few days of an Academy class are always awkward as each participant attempts to find a way to bond with others who are so different from themselves. As the Academy progresses individuals learn to function as more efficient groups and begin to motivate each other through various intensive training and testing procedures.

As the recruits learn laws, ground combat, defensive driving, report writing, firearms proficiency and physical education they begin to develop the muscle memory which ultimately kicks in when the body produces excess adrenaline. One might become top of the class in a certain area of instruction yet it does little to prepare the recruit for the actual work. If these skill sets can be learned at a fundamental level, the recruit moves into much more intensive training in the field. It is the field where many people, after witnessing the realities and cruelties of life choose to pursue other work.

In the beginning, it is ensured that Deputies plant the bonds of partnership deep within fertile soil. It was put to me years ago in the Academy that if one did not possess a certain “fire” in the belly, succeeding as a Law Enforcement Professional would be difficult. Within the same speech I was also told if I thought I could get through the academy or field training without the help of others then I was stupid. Deputies do almost nothing alone. We have each other read arrest reports, we bounce ideas off one another during complex investigations, we show up for each other when the potential for trouble exists and we offer a brotherly nod when a good job has been done.

Entire novels, psychological studies, endless theorems and both good and terrible television series and movies have attempted to capture the essence of what Law enforcement is. In an effort to demonstrate the temperament of such circumstances and shed light upon the greater existence, certain “stories” must be told. Those beginning bonds which took root within the elementary training environments ultimately yield the fruit of emotional and physical survival in various ways.  If those seeds have not taken root however, The Deputy is, for the lack of a better term, in a bad way. I thank God for those more experienced officers who came so quick to help me before I understood the overall predicament placed upon me.

I can recall, once while I was relatively new to the job and enjoying some personal relief within the heavily graphitized resting area of a gas station, a clerk shrieked to me about someone being shot across the street. While zipping up I remember thinking to myself how important the situation must have been to have the female clerk run screaming into the men’s bathroom while an armed, stone faced Deputy Sheriff in a black uniform urinated in a supposed secure environment.

I walked outside to look across the street and indeed witnessed a mob of people doing…who knows what. I am still not certain to this day what the angry group of people were doing because most of them ran away when I arrived. It didn’t strike me until much later, but the weight and authority of driving by myself in emergency status to a shooting where an angry mob gathered was much more than I could bear psychologically at the time. The thoughts of what could have happened always come much later, sometimes years later.

I remember calling for my partners immediately. Some of them were guys I didn’t quite get along with and others had pulled me aside to specifically tell me they flat out did not like me. Each one still came, and when they arrived upon chariots of salvation they came bearing fruit from those trees long planted.  I had never tasted fear and relief at the same time yet this was the overwhelming flavor. The fruit nourishes and helps to grow, even at times when it has a rotten appearance or taste. Without it, no Deputy could survive during, after or even before a significantly stressful incident.

Situations like having to kill someone, watching someone die, attempting CPR on an infant, rescuing a half burned corpse from a burning car, or attempting to bring order to chaos after an intoxicated teenager has killed the driver of another vehicle. Events such as these provide nightmares to The Deputy either immediately or many years after the fact. The events cannot be erased and they become part of The Deputy; forever to be carried upon high shoulders along with the radio, shotgun, rifle, Taser, baton, gloves, keys, chemical spray and medical kits. Deputies become weary yet they are always sustained by the fruit.