A Rookie’s Wisdom

I was recently asked to provide some insights from the perspective of a rookie currently enduring the rigors and successes of a California police academy. As such, I will give the obligatory disclaimer that none of my views necessarily reflect those of my department or academy.

Here it goes.

First some background. After working for years in customer service, having gone a small stint in the military, and earned a few college degrees, I decided to follow some good advice and make my way into law enforcement. I didn’t go into it pursuing a lifelong dream or a desire to chase bad guys, guns blazing. I went into it because I am good at talking to strangers, have a profound sense of justice, and  have been told I’d be good at it. I decided to go on a few ride alongs and then I was hooked! After distributing the finer points of my work life and personal history to agency after agency, I was picked up for a corrections job at a local Sheriffs Department while waiting for a patrol position to open up at that same department.

Having gotten my feet wet in corrections for close to a year, I was blessed to be chosen for the academy sponsorship I had applied for. So here I was, about to undergo yet another substantial learning curve and yet finally have a chance to pursue my true career. It was an exciting time!

Then Ferguson happened. Then New York happened. Oh, let me back track a little bit. I am one of a few black recruits in my Academy and should I survive it and FTO, I will be the only black male deputy in my department (that I know of.) That being said, my perspective, much like my mind and body, have undergone some substantial changes in the last several months to a year.

When I was young, my parents taught me to have proper respect for authorities and how to properly conduct myself when dealing with law enforcement. That said, there was always an underlying mistrust there. Add to that, the more generalized or popularized perspective of black LEO’s is overwhelmingly negative, being seen as sellouts or traitors. Though I have had the undoubted support of my parents, this career path was not the first they would have chosen for me. That didn’t stop me however. I wanted to go out and help. I wanted a chance to change the image of black men and of cops in the minds of the public. Then came Ferguson. Then came New York.

The academy alone is tough by design as is FTO. There hasn’t been one week where I haven’t questioned my choice on some level. Questions such as whether I am strong enough, patient enough, young enough (I’m in my mid 30s BTW), or good enough. There hasn’t been one easy week. There hasn’t been a time when I believed this career couldn’t take me away from my family or take my family away from me somehow. There hasn’t been a time since I started the Academy, that the events from out East haven’t made everything more complicated.

All of the above surely begs the question, what then, are my views on said events as a rookie (a pre-rookie really,) who is black? The quotable I suppose would be this:

The mantra “black lives matter” is absolutely true. The underlying implication that “black lives matter more than others,” carried about by rabble rousers and divisive politicians, is absolutely untrue. The more accurate mantra of “all lives matter” is much more preferable in my opinion. Everyone is entitled to a level of respect but no one should ever expect more than they are willing to show to others. This is a lesson I learned long before going into law enforcement but it has been reinforced by seeing what life is like on the other side of the badge.

As a person of color in law enforcement, walking the thin blue line becomes all the more precarious when people try to draw black and white ones on either side. This is exacerbated by  politicians who use the situations mentioned as a political asterisk in their career and a blood thirsty news media desperately looking to inflate their ratings. As a result of this irresponsible behavior, my brothers and sisters of both badge and ethnicity are left feeling disenfranchised by the very same lip service that purports to be looking out for us.

So what am I to do in a nation increasingly hostile to law enforcement? How do I do my part to quell the artificially and unnecessarily stoked fires of racism? I do what I have always done in my life, when an insurmountable challenge is before me.

I carry on, I don’t quit, and I trust God.

This “law enforcement Vietnam” as someone aptly put it, will pass some day. I plan to use this baptism by fire to make me a better officer and member of the community I am working to serve. I plan to prove the haters wrong and change some lives for the better.

– Academy 1 Bravo

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Dealing with it

Have you ever dealt with it?  Some of you may be reading this and may be asking yourself, “What the heck is he talking about?”  Well, I am talking about severe traumatic incidents.

As a Law Enforcement Officer, we deal with sever traumatic incidents routinely and I hate using that word, but it is unfortunately on a routine basis that we have to deal with this stuff.  Now I am not trying to say Law Enforcement is the only one dealing with stuff, but, I would like to share to some of you incidents that have occurred to me throughout my time in Law Enforcement and how it still effects me to this day.

To set this one up I am going to have to travel back a generation.  Unfortunately for me, I am one of those Officers that had several generations worth of Law Enforcement in the family tree.  However, I will only have to go back one to set this up.

My father was an Officer of 30+ years of service.  Well one day back in his patrol days, a mid air collision occurred between two passenger airplanes.  No we are not talking about just a small aircraft, but a small aircraft and a large jetliner.  To make things worse, both of these aircraft fell out of the sky into a housing track near his reporting district (area he worked).  He was one of many first responders that drove into that horrific traumatic incident.  I will contest anyone who would say they did not earn their full yearly paycheck on that day alone.  I won’t go into a lot of the gory details described to me years later after going to him to confide in him for my own traumatic incident, but instead I will tell you my memories of it as a child.

I can remember my mom picking me up from Elementary school and driving us home to have my mother tell me, “Shh.. Your father is sleeping”, as I entered the house.  I used to get so excited coming home from school because I had a really awesome “He-man” play set and it was always the first thing I ran to when going in the house.  My bedroom was adjacent to my parents so I knew I had to be extra quiet if I where going to play in my room.  One of those days I can remember walking into my bedroom and hearing my father screaming next door.  Well it didn’t even sound like screaming now that I think of it but more of ugly growls and snorts while tossing and turning in his bed which lead up to a loud yell.  I heard my mother enter their bedroom and ask my father, “Was it the plane crash again?”  In which my father, who sounded like he just ran a marathon would answer her, “Yes.”  While this didn’t happen daily, I will say it was quite the common event in my childhood and outlasted “He-man”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Saved by the Bell” and ran all the way up until I left the house.

So, now, fast forward many years until later when I became an Officer doing the same job as my father before me.  I was a cocky, arrogant, little cuss.  Not in a real obvious way, but in the way where I thought I could handle anything.  I had a heart of ice and was able to deal with anything.  Gunshot victim with half their arm blown off and all the gruesome little parts barely hanging onto the skin.  Traffic accident victims with brain matter scattered all over the floor while eating an egg breakfast burrito.  I was ok with all of it.  Nothing seemed to bother me, or so I thought..

One event filled day brought me to my knees.  I got a call of a five year old boy who had drowned.  While at that call the young helpless victim was lying there lifeless wearing the same “Sponge Bob Square Pants” t-shirt my five year old was wearing that night I left him to go to work.  It immediately hit me and when I say “it”, I mean that feeling of grief and sorrow that you just cannot hide.  I kicked the door closed behind me where I was at because I didn’t want anyone to see that I had completely lost it.  I kept telling myself, “Get a hold of yourself.  There is time for this **** later.”  After about a minute or two of gathering myself I was able to pull myself together long enough to finish up my day.  The ride home was a completely different story.  I cried the entire way home.  All the calls I had been to.  Everything I have seen.  All flashing up now and just as vivid as the day they occurred.  A gate had been opened and there was no stopping it.  All of those suppressed emotions just bubbled up and bubbled over onto the floor.

There was only two people that came to mind when wondering how to cope with this.  So I went to my father and asked him, “How do you deal with this?”  That was the first time I had ever seen my father’s eyes turn glossy and said, “..because people need you to.  Well I wish I could sit here and write you all of you and say that my father’s advice helped, but it did not.  I understood it, but it did not make it all go away.  Instead I went on in my career “Dealing with it” on the calls, and getting hit by it emotionally after I punched off the clock.

I will say a few years later I did turn to the second person I knew to help me through these times and that has helped tremendously, but perhaps I will save that for another time..

God bless all of you..  Hug your loved ones tight..  To all of our military and first responders out there, stay safe.

– Frank Three

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“Why” our badge is so heavy

I recently went with the girlfriend over to a social gathering of non law enforcement party go-er’s.  These were long time friends and co-workers of her’s.  Knowing that my girlfriend has no clue what it is like to wear a badge, it was completely foreign to her “why” I made my introductions to her friends slowly and methodically.  At one point she even accused me of “standing like a cop.”  When I asked her what that meant, she said, “I don’t know but you just look scary.” 

I took an evaluation of myself and the way I was standing and I had to really think about it.  I was standing in the corner, so nobody could be behind me (Officer safety first), my arms were folded width wise in front of me resting on my stomach and I was sizing up the party go-ers in the crowd.  Looking at and evaluating everyone.  Checking tattoo’s, clothing, bulges, intoxication levels, etc..etc..  I sized up what I was wearing; blue jeans, athletic t-shirt, running shoes, work watch on wrist, cleanly shaven…you know, the poster child for a Police Officer off duty. 

“Why do you stand like that?”, the girlfriend fires off.  So I took the time to explain to her all the reasons I had for being a social stand-off.  So I started with the lack of knowledge of the group of people at this particular event and the implications/repercussions for me as a Law Enforcement Officer.  She of course advised me that “they are not druggies.”, in which I replied, “Would you bet my job on it?”  I had to explain to her that not knowing these people had serious potential to become a huge problem for me.  It’s not as if we are in public place where I have no control over certain possessions and my involvement around those possessions.  No, this was someone’s house that while, not intimately known, my girlfriend is well versed with and associates.  Can you imagine trying to explain to your supervisors why you were at a party where illegal substances were being used?  Not saying that was the case in this instance, and in-fact I can say there wasn’t, however, the scenario is a real potential.

The freedom and liberties of the average person that is not a Law Enforcement Officer is the ability to remain gullible.  Our training and experience makes it so we have no valid excuse.  Imagine your Lieutenant asking you, “So why were you hanging out with a wanted felon?”  I guess you can play the, “I didn’t know he was.”, but how far is that going to get you?  Days off maybe?  Internal Affairs investigation?  Fired?  Bad reputation?

Normal social conforms for an Officer is so much greater than the average person.  There is so much risk and responsibility involved.  If someone is smoking marijuana, you can’t stay.  Why would you?  As a person growing in this day and age, marijuana is perceived as a little above a cigarette.  It’s “no big deal” to most people now.  But something as minor as a “no big deal” to them, can cost you your livelihood.

Now take all of your fears and worries aside and say no one has or is doing anything illegal.  Do you tell them you are a “Cop?” If you don’t, give your girlfriend a glass of wine and she will.  Even after telling her NOT to say anything.  Now once that information has been let out, there’s no way to put that cat back into the bag.  “My brother got a speeding ticket. Can you write off tickets for me?”  “Most cops I know are assholes.”  “Did you ever break the law?” – The questions just keep coming.  It’s funny, a show that debuted in 1952 still has a clip that carries the same weight to social events today.  Ever watched that infamous Joe Friday clip “What it means to be a cop?”  That clip hits home to this very day.  But the average person doesn’t realize it.  If you haven’t seen it, I advise you to youtube it.  Joe kills it.  There is a reason L.A.P.D. buried that man with full honors.

Now you take all these awkward social missteps that Law Enforcement have to navigate in their home life, then you add it to the stress of having to deal with the on the job stress of knowing and retaining thousands of laws, policies, case laws, etc..etc., it’s enough to drive anyone to insanity.  Well anyone except the hundreds of thousands of us that are doing it every single day for a low-adequate pay with decent benefits.  So the next time you run into a “Cop” at a party, do him/her a favor and talk about something interesting besides his/her job. – Thanks..

Stay safe all.. and when a Police Officer tells you something, please listen and do it.  They don’t know you or your intentions.

– Frank Three

https://youtu.be/IMc3RS_afSE
Joe Friday Clip

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The Police Wife Life

Does America not understand that there are scared family members of our Law Enforcement Officer’s around the Country ?

As a wife myself and someone who sends her husband out to walk in these boots that have become so misunderstood, judged, critiqued, criticized, and scrutinized. It’s a frightening thought that America is at “war” with our men and women who do a job that many could not do or would never chose to do.

While, I send my husband out to work in a world where few appreciate and respect him. More want to threaten, bash and be ungrateful that he just left his family that would pay to have him home where they know he is safe and sound to go deal with another family that will only shit on him for what he didn’t do. I’m along with many other wives and husbands the listening ear when he gets home from working a 12 sometimes 16 hour shift. There is no filter when our husbands get home. We wives hear everything.

The yelling, screaming, and crying that you did in his face. The hits, punches, and kicks you tried to do to him. The spitting that you try and do in his face. We hear about the fact that you just loss your child in a tragic accident, about the death of your mother or father, about your teenager being raped and battered by her boyfriend, about the car accident that you were in when, you were hammered drunk and how you were stumbling around. How my husband saved you from hurting yourself or others even further, about the murder of your friend, about the infant that was beaten, about the suicide that he was called to today of your loved one.

We see the hurt, sadness, frustration, anger, in our husbands faces. We feel the emotions that you don’t see when, these men are at your door helping you from a scary, harmful, or dangerous situation. These men who do this job don’t do it because, it was just a spur of the moment type thing. The few that do chose to do the job are men and women who’ve had the dream since they were little. It was a calling for them. They’re not out there patrolling the streets for the money because, as a wife I know he doesn’t get paid near what he should. They don’t do it for the safety that the job guarantees because, I know that any day could be his last. They sure as heck don’t do it just for fun. These men and women are out on the street because, they care for the public.

While, most of America feels like the Police are not being held accountable for certain things lately. That America knows how to do their job better then the actual Police do. That Police are racists, corrupt, killers, shady, among many other things I’ve heard over the past several months. What America doesn’t see are the Officer’s behind closed doors. There are men and women and whole family behind the badge, boots, and uniform that has been made out to be perfect.

America doesn’t even begin to understand  the amount of hours both physically, mentally, and emotionally, that these Officers go through just to get to where they are patrolling the streets. For any family member it is one of the most stressful times and yet, exciting times if you are related to an Officer. But, America doesn’t see this. They don’t understand how highly trained these Officer’s are. They don’t understand that the hours that are put in at the Academy and on FTO ( Training on the streets) is literally just the beginning.

Training for these Officers occur all the time. They take the Officer’s away from their families yet, again. As if it’s not enough that these Officers are gone 12 hours sometimes even 16 hours out of the day away from their families. The training that these Officers do to further their education and refresh their skills takes additional time away from spending time with their families. It’s tough on the Officer’s but, it’s a strain on the family members and it’s the ultimate testament as to how much a spouse is in love with someone to live this life style that so many women and men know as the life of being with a Policemen.

America has forgotten that while, these Officer’s are wanted, needed, and sworn to go out and protect and serve the streets of our Country. We wives and husbands also want them home where we know they are safe and sound. That’s more true now then ever. We send our Officer’s off to a job on a daily basis that is highly dangerous and demanding. We send them off knowing that, there are others that also need them and maybe even more then we do. America needs to remember every single time an Officer shows up at their door step, car wreck, death of a family member, domestic violence, etc. That there is a wife at home with his children. A mother, father, son, grandfather, grandmother, etc. Out there in the world that wants this Officer’s safe return home.

It’s easy to forget us wives. While, it is easy we shouldn’t be forgotten. We are the reason why, our husbands are at your beck n’ call. Our nights are spent worrying as soon as he walks out that door. Our mornings are spent spending time alone with children trying to be quiet so, that he can be 110% for you that night. Our afternoons are spent letting our children be with their daddy. Lack of sleep isn’t from being sick it’s worrying about our husbands and if we’re going to hear his foot steps come in the door and the door shut behind him

None, of us chose this life. We signed on for it knowing , who we were falling in love with. So, don’t feel sorry for us because we don’t regret the life we live. We just want you to understand that we hurt when our Officers hurt. Show some appreciation to our loved ones. Loved ones that we want at home. Where they are safe and sound. The men that we as wives love aren’t a badge and boots to us. They are husbands, fathers, sons, and grandsons, cousins and nephews. They are men that we admire and don’t take for granite.

The next time you want to bash a Policemen. Think about who they are leaving behind at home to be with you. Instead of bashing them … take a minute to thank them. Because, really… what would you do without them. They are the reason we have safety on our streets. It’s so disheartening as a wife to see the pain that our Officers are feeling of not being appreciated.

Time to wake up. Realize that Cops are humans and wonderful human beings doing the toughest job out there.

Show them some respect and appreciation.

Please!

Sincerely,

An Officer’s Wife

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Letter from an LEO daughter

The first post from our reader submissions:

The Thin Blue Line:

Too many civilians think that the Thin Blue Line is just a symbol for law enforcement officers. To me it symbolizes much more than that. To me, the Thin Blue Line represents integrity, strength, valor and camaraderie.

People don’t understand the kind of lives our LEO’s and their families lead. They wonder if their loved one will come home at the end of every shift, and know that their own lives might be in danger. They worry about backlash from a disgruntled client, or someone who felt they were ‘done wrong’ by the police, and they worry that a high-profile case, such as Ferguson, may cause people to think that it’s OK to target LEOs and their families because “That’s what’s fair.” Families that feel like they have to stay silent for fear of retaliation from the masses, and to be honest, that’s what’s not fair.

LEO’s are one of the few professions that are judged as a whole. Not all cops are bad, just like not all nurses are bad, and not all mechanics are bad. Think about your own families for just a moment. You love your family. They may not be saints, but they’re your family, and you love them, right? You want what’s best for them, to help them when they need you, and protect them the best that you can. It’s the same for us. The only exception is that we are a part of a much bigger family.

There’s a camaraderie there that most people won’t understand unless they’ve lived it. We rely on their partners, and other co-workers to bring each other home every night, safe and sound, because that’s what family does. Sometimes they might get in trouble, or have bad days, or struggle with something in their personal lives, but that’s when we stand beside them. We get them back on their feet and try to steer them in the right direction or get them the help that they need.

They are human, and humans make mistakes, just like anybody else. They have lives, and family and friends, just like anyone else. They just want to make it home safe, and spend time with their loved ones. There is a heart behind that badge. That’s what I would want the general public to understand. That is what the Thin Blue Line is to me.

~Lia
A LEO daughter

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Confessions of a Corporal: Cynicism, Copblock, and a kind word

Stop the Cop Haters is made up of a collection of people throughout the United States. Some of us have regular jobs in the public sector and want to show support of officers, others are current law enforcement or retired law enforcement officers.

Our goal is simple, to show people the many kind and wonderful things that police officers do everyday. Lately with social media and hate groups like Copblock, police have gotten a bad rap. Sure there have been some incidents of bad behavior, but by in large, the majority of officers are good people. If you have a bad visit at the dentist or doctor, do you hate all doctors and wish them dead? Of course not, only a sociopath would think that mentality is acceptable.

Officers are people just like you. People with families and children. They are somebody’s son, daughter, brother, sister or friend.  No one should hate another simply for the color or their skin or the color of their uniform.  Always remember there is a human being behind that badge who loves and bleeds like you.

That was the paragraph I penned a few days ago for the About us section of the webpage.  It is a truth I hope everyone understands but sometimes I do not actually believe myself.  They inform you in the academy that people will look at you differently, treat you differently and you will have a hard time maintaining the friendships you used to have.  At the time I did not quite understand it.

After nearly a decade policing, I have come to the realization that it does not matter how well I do my job, someone is always going to hate me.  This is not a regular type of hate, it’s a seething, rabid and disgusting hate that only someone inflicted with evil could have.  How else to you explain it?  They don’t really know me.   They don’t know who my favorite sports teams are,  my favorite food,  my family or financial status.  They do not know that I pride myself on being a good father and husband.  They do not know the many things I have done in my community on my days off to help the citizens of my jurisdiction.  Nope,  all they know, is that I wear blue and have a badge.

They will make all kinds of excuses as to why,  from previous confrontations, to family members being arrested or to enforcing marijuana laws.  They always have an excuse,  and not a single excuse points to them.  It’s always someone else’s fault as to why.  Reading through Copblock posts is like reading Charlie Sheen’s hate mail.  If all they want is accountability, then why does our Facebook page get death threats whenever we mention Copblock.   The truth always comes out.  It is there right now if one wishes to look for it,  but this isn’t about Copblock.

This is about being cynical after months of being on the defensive with Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other high-profile incidents.  I was starting to believe that maybe the public was viewing us like the pathetic members of Copblock do.  I had even considered moving on into a job in the private sector.  A person can only put up with so much before they decide to take leave of their situation.   That’s exactly whats happening.  Good Officers are leaving the career because anti-police people and the media are making them out to be the bad guy.  I was contemplating being one of them.

Then something happened.   I went to eat at one of my favorite places while on duty.  It was a Friday night and the place was fairly busy.  I would normally grab something small and avoid crowds at all costs,  but I was really hungry.  I find my place to sit,  no spots available with my back to the wall, dang it.   I sit down and look around.  I can feel everyone’s eyes on me.   In my mind, they are thinking,  “great,  a damn cop just ruined our meal.”  Then it happened.  God gives you what you need, not what you want.

As the other tables around me began to leave to pay their bills,  almost every person within a 40 foot radius of my table,  stopped at my table and offered beautiful words of encouragement.

“Thank you for serving our community.”

“Please be safe out there.”

“I appreciate what you do for us.”

“Police are getting a bad rap,  there are many of us who support you, don’t forget that. “

I was practically dumbfounded.  Reading Copblock’s page for our Facebook page, sorting through hate mail, seeing comments on news stories, and 10 years on the job, had made me cynical and made me believe that no one cared.  That one meal showed me it was the furthest thing from the truth. There are many, many, many more good people out there than bad,  The bad ones just make the most noise,  the good ones salute you in silence. Those kind words were all I needed to rejuvenate my resolve to continue helping and serving others.  Its something we should all remember.

I will now go out of my way to let other officers know I appreciate them and their sacrifices are not in vain.  Remember,  sometimes all it takes is a kind word to inspire others.

If you are one of the cop-haters, copblockers, or just all around bad guys who can’t judge a man on his merits, but instead, on his career choice,  well then I feel sorry for you.  Hate is an awful thing.   A strangers kind word will always mean more than your hate filled rant.

BE INSPIRATION

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Authored by:

Admin S (formerly Nightrider)