I recently had an interesting encounter, actually it was pretty mundane and that is what makes it interesting. I was sent to one of those calls we all hate, the very sight of these calls will make most patrol cops cringe as we frantically look for a car to stop, a suspicious subject anything to avoid getting “that call” I’m no different, problem is I got blind-sided. I sent my log on and BAM! Dispatcher sent me the call right out of the gate (I think I need to make some Starbuck’s investments at the comm center). The call was a sex crime involving child victims, the particulars of the call aren’t important but it helps to explain my feeling of dread.
Very often a call like this can turn into a “One-call-wonder” kind of night. Long statements, lots of very emotional people and uncomfortable details. I know a few people who are geared towards these kinds of situations, I’m not one of them. These calls are emotionally draining to me, again really kind of irrelevant details. It was my turn at bat and time to go deal with what was in front of me.
Driving to the call I mentally prepared myself. The call was in a neighborhood that was somewhere between working class and ghetto, sort of a transition neighborhood if you will. As I walked up to the house there were two guys smoking on the porch, they looked a little apprehensive as I came up the yard. One of them told me to come in and brought out his wife and his mom (Grandmother of the kids in question).
And we were off…..I am got names, birthdates time etc. The call progressed as normal, lots of long stories and parts of the puzzle that make no difference to the overall picture. Mom was emotional, Grandma was emotional, Dad was angry. Overall everyone kept it together the best they could. They stayed mostly on topic and fairly articulate with the facts.
As the story wound to its conclusion and I had talked to the kids and all the supporting cast members there was still one major problem, I don’t know the address of the suspect. The family knew where the suspect lived but not the address. They told me they could show me, they tried to describe it but in the end I needed to locate the actual address. I offered to drive Dad to the location (I ran Dad’s criminal history on my way to the call, he is no stranger to law enforcement but seems to have put most of his troubled past behind him.)
I opened the front door of the car and Dad says (as most people do) “I guess you don’t get too many people riding up front”
“No” I tell him “Not many”
We drove to the area where our suspect was located and Dad began the small talk.
“So how do you like your job? Being an Officer?” He asks
“I enjoy it” I tell him “but it can be stressful”
“I guess it would be, people can be crazy”
“Isn’t that the truth” I comment “seems more now than ever”
He is quiet for a minute then tells me “I guess with all the stuff people do now and all the cops not doing stuff the way they should it probably gets really bad”
I’m thinking the ice is getting thin, “I suppose” I begin “but more often than not most of those stories get blown up before anyone knows the facts. Once they get investigated there is always more than the little video or first story”
“I bet that’s true, I mean it seems like everyone is so quick to want to make their name off the cops doing something wrong it must be hard” He said.
“You’ve got that right, I figure there is always a camera watching me somewhere” I said, “but I can’t let that keep me from doing my job. When I get to a call all I know is what I hear on the radio and what I read on the computer” I motioned to my MDT just as a 245 stabbing call comes out a block away from where we are headed.
“Yeah that’s got to be hard, I mean if you don’t know what’s going on when you get there I guess it would take some time to sort it out right.” He paused then tells me “I mean if everyone would just calm down and let you guys do your job it seems like everything would just work out for the best”
Holy bomb shell Batman!! This guy gets it, he totally understands the big picture. About that time the updates for the stabbing come in, there was no stabbing just people yelling about a stabbing. Dad notices the updates and asks if that’s a good example not knowing what’s going on until we get to a call.
In the end we located our suspect’s address and went back to Grandma’s house. Our conversation continued along the usual topics and near the end he asks
“Do you sometimes have a hard time being a white officer?” (Did I mention the family I’m dealing with is black?)
“Well I figure if I’m not called a racist several times a night I’m not doing my job” I chided.
“Really?” He asked surprised “I can’t imagine anyone calling you a racist, unless they were guilty of something and that’s all they had”
“Yup” I said “that seems to be the normal course of things though, but I really don’t have time to think about race when I’m dealing with calls, it just people”
“Yeah, I can see that it seems everyone is so worried about race all the time”
We got back to Grandma’s house to wrap things up. The family invited me to join them for pizza (gotta admit I was a little tempted).
What’s the point of all this? I guess its just that there really are a lot of normal people out there still. We all get caught up in the headlines of the race-baiting nonsense, the carnival hawkers crying out about their wares. The pictures plastered on the TV or the computer screen and it is easy to get sucked in and constantly think the worst of people.
I’m no better, while I temper my reactions I do (if I’m being honest with myself) sometimes get that “here we go again” feeling. Recently FBI Director James Comey spoke about this very thing. Officer’s can become influenced by the environment in which they work, it can create certain preconceived feelings and change the way we look at people.
I agree there is some truth to that and I (we) have all addressed it before. However, it is so much more than just “race” it is the whole picture, the clothes, the behavior the posture, the location. The problem is that it has become almost Pop Culture to embrace the outlaw life, the Thug culture and walk the walk, talk the talk but not embrace the actual life. It makes it difficult to separate at times.
I guess that’s the whole point of this diatribe (and if you made it this far thanks for sticking with me) is that I shall remain optimistic. I complain and stomp my feet and point out the BS I read in the media, but in the end I know there are more good people who understand what is really going on in the world. Our culture, our society, is going through a transition of a strange kind, I hope that the silent majority will find the strength and the courage to steer us back to center before things get too out of control. We shall not let the race baiters win the day, lets get our focus back on country first, “American’s first” one people made of many cultures, that is what America used to mean and what it needs to mean again.
PS- No info on the original call, Detectives will follow up and handle it and I am confident all involved will be just fine.