Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wow this Blog is getting serious, we have a guest blogger! Today's entry is by a fellow Christian Officer. His perspective comes from a different place than mine. While we are both Christians, he only recently accepted Christ and has only just stepped on the straight and narrow path. I have served in a medium seized department for over fifteen years, our guest blogger, "Floyd" is under ten years with one of the biggest departments in the nation. He is also about ten years younger in age. His submission:
As Law Enforcement Officers we subject ourselves to many dangers on a daily basis. Of these dangers, not all necessarily threaten our physical well being, but our psychological as well. It’s ultimately what, I argue, hardens us. It can come in the form of a stare that you know, but cannot prove in a court of law, the bearer of those eyes is excreting extreme hatred for you. This goes all the way to the verbal attack on our justified, and what we take for granted, everyday part of the job.
Do people like police officers? I can no longer ask that question without a rather amusing smirk form across my face. Of course they don’t. Is it because they dislike us personally? Well, no. Most of those that we encounter don’t know us to make that determination. They dislike what we stand for; what out uniform represents. It’s like the hall monitors from High School. Did we like answering to them as to why we were in the hallway during class time? Of course not, the teacher allowed us to be temporarily excused from class to use the restroom or whatever else your reason was to be out of class. That reason came from a higher authority than the measly hall monitor. Nevertheless, we acquiesced to him/her.
So, when you see those angering, horrible red and blue, or in some cases just blue, lights behind you yes, they are meant for you and yes you will have to present your driver’s license and proof of insurance. You know you were speeding, just disregarded that stop sign about a block or so back, went through a red light, etc, etc. Did you scream and yell at that hall monitor when he asked to see your hall pass? My guess is you probably didn’t. Did you actually beat up that hall monitor after school? Maybe some of you actually did, but are you really going to go to such extremes as to step out of you car now and attempt to beat up the police officer that is now pulling you over? Some may answer yes and it has been attempted. Fortunately for law enforcement, we are equipped to handle such occurrences. Too bad for that young hall monitor, though.
By now you should be asking what’s the point. The point is when you get stopped, most of the time you know what you did. And the next time you want to stand up and take a hard-lined stance against crime and disorder, remember how you treated that officer that was “just doing his/her job” the last time you were stopped. There’s no need for the expletives or the demeaning of his/her position. Trust me, the officer knows that there are girls being raped and murders occurring. And yes, we are now going to deal with the fact that you were speeding. As any detective could tell you, fighting crime in an area starts with making public contact. That contact is usually in the form of a traffic stop or a street stop and then documenting that stop. Why? Simply because it tells those in law enforcement who is in a certain area at a certain time. And when you receive that verbal warning, you know the one you sort of demanded, that doesn’t mean you didn’t actually do what the officer originally said you did. The truth of the matter is, you did it; the officer is using discretion and not writing a ticket. Why? Probably because you were one of the few that didn’t yell and scream and actually admitted to your wrong doing.
Now for the twist. I have put a lot on the citizen. But an equal amount of burden must also be placed upon the officer as well. It’s a fact, people don’t like being stopped. You may have to deal with the name calling from time to time. Perhaps you caught somebody at a bad time. Just as they shouldn’t judge you for “doing your job” you should equally not judge them for being a bit irritated. Document your stop, write your ticket, or make an arrest and move on. Both you and the individual you stopped will, and should, get over it soon. I personally have become hardened over the years as a law enforcement officer, but we should work to maintain our own personal dignity and respect. We should listen to what a citizen says even when it’s clouded with verbal attacks. Sometimes they may just be telling the truth; it does happen. Of course, I usually fail miserably at my own advice and find that the angry stare as I mentioned at the beginning is also coming from me.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
My second tour of midnights has gotten me thinking about sequels. The second time around for a movie, album, book and video game very rarely achieves the success of the first. Since I am in the very beginning of my midnight patrol sequel, it is too early to tell if it will be with the common fate of the sequel (think bad) or the more rare but possible “good” to "great" outcome. The following are a series of sequels; some the beloved younger brother (EB) but most the despised next door neighbor (DNDN).
Equal or Better (EB)
Star Wars…Empire Strikes Back
Wow a great adventure movie with a happy ending followed by a great dark movie with the big reveal. What can I say that has not already been said.
The Matrix…The Matrix Reloaded
Right after the first movie I left the theater thinking, “I don’t know what that was but boy was it cool.” The second movie got lost in its own internal rules and attempt to come up with a relevant plot line that matched the promise of the first. It didn’t. On a side note this may be one of the times that a serviceable movie that could have stood on its own was a victim of the brilliance of the movie that came before.
The First Run…The Current Run
I love Doctor Who. When it was announced that they were going to start producing the series again, I thought there is no way it will be anywhere close to where they had it with Tom Baker. Eccleston and Rose were not all that bad but did not equal the greatest episodes from the first run. Then they found Tennant and he and Rose were everything that Doctor Who should be. Then they find this Smith guy and it can’t possibly be as good but Amy Pond comes with him and it has me thinking it may just be as good as the Baker years (and if I have been drinking I may even admit that it could possibly be better).
Battlestar Galactica…Galactica 1980
Space battles, the enemies were cool looking red eye sweeping around Cyclops’s shinny metal head, cool nicknames (Boomer), good looking women (I was just starting to find that species interesting), mission to save their race from extinction, a robot that looked like my dog…Lorne Green! Just to be followed up by dudes hanging around earth for no particular reason with no special effects budget. I was young but not stupid enough to follow the second series.
All Creatures Great and Small…All Things Bright and Beautiful (James Herriot).
Two books that where a match for each other. Warm, witty, English, was the reason I tried to name my oldest Tristan and was accepted into the University of Illinois Veterinary program.
The Eye of the World…The Great Hunt (Robert Jordan)
The classic tale retold many different times. Jordan had a village boy who was not important, found to have special powers and needed to save the world but now has to run to stay alive till he can save the world. The first book was well paced, the characters felt and acted real and according to the rules that Jordan had set up. Just flat out fun. Then he got mired in this huge plot line with too many people, too many things to do and too many loose ends. Each book, after the first, got longer and the characters did less, even worse the characters became stereotypes of themselves and started acting outside of cause and effect. Disappointing.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture…Star Trek (2009)
Love me some Star Trek. I even like the first movie even though they went dark and arty. But the reboot caught it just right. Adventure, friendship, humor, the created a world where you would have loved to have actually been with them there participating in it all.
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark…Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. The first movie is an adventure with humor and a plot line that keeps you guessing. It is in my top five all time. The second is a ride at the local amusement park, it just moves from point A to Point B looking to give you a thrill but not looking for a reason to care. It is another reason to keep Lucas doing nothing other than supervise special effects.
Cheers…Fraiser. One is a fun buddy comedy about the times and trials of a group of misfit friends from working class backgrounds. Fraiser is about the times and trials of a group of family members and friends who are misfits, generally from a upper class background. They were excellent.
X-Files…Millennium. X-Files was great gothic mystery theater with a conspiracy overlay. Did Fox Muller’s sister really get taken by aliens or was it the government or a secret third party. Just who was that smoking man anyway? Was that a werewolf? Millennium, first it was about tracking down serial killers at the end of the age. Then it was a conspiracy theory tied to the end of the age, then it was about…wait I quit caring and turned it off.
Shadowrun: Never Deal with a Dragon…Choose your Enemies Carefully. This was my first foray into the world of cyberpunk. I loved it and when it brought in fantasy elements into the story line in the second book it got even better.
Ian Fleming-Man with the Golden Gun and Jonathan Cape-Colonel Sun. I loved reading James Bond Novels growing up. He was cool, he got the ladies, he was gritty, he was deadly and he saved the world, every time. When Fleming passed away they handed the torch to Cape who sent Bond on a bland parody of everything Ian had created.
ACDC Bon Scott…ACDC Brian Jones. What is there really to say. Highway to Hell was followed up by Back in Black. 32 years later and both songs are in my MP3 player.
Van Hallen Sammy Hagar…Van Hallen Gary Cherone. I thought that no one could replace David Lee Roth but Sammy stepped in and held his own with some of their best songs. As comic book guy would not say, “Best transition ever!” Then they tried it again with Gary and promptly blew up. They sounded old, weren’t relevant, didn’t seem to be having a good time and sounded terrible to boot.
Resident Evil…Resident Evil 2. Fantastic. It brought me into the world of horror survival games that I have never left. Then they took everything that captivated me and moved it out of a home and into the city of Raccoon. There were more than a few nights that turned unexpectedly into days playing those two games.
Shadowman…Shadowman 2. The first game created a mythos that was unique and unexpected. The serial killers as bosses was genius. It was also very hard. There were many times were I had to back track for thirty minutes to find the place or device or item I missed. The second game was whipped out, bland game, with no story line, pointless quests and too easy. Well it was too easy till you got to the final boss who was way, way, way, way too hard. A total waste of time.
I could have spent twenty pages on this so I just decided to stop here. I will probably come back to it since the topic is full of examples. As much as I have days of midnights left.
And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Well, I had thought that the good ole midnight patrol shift was behind me eight years ago when I had enough seniority to go to the afternoon shift, then the day shift and finally into investigations. God has a funny way of making the improbable, probable.
So here I am in my second week, back in uniform, back in patrol and back on midnights. It is a place I never thought I would be without sergeant stripes on my shoulder. Midnights (well really 11:00 pm to 7:00 am) is a strange place and creates a strange existence.
The first thing you notice is how you awake in the dark and go to sleep in the light. It really throws you. Every time I get up I have this one second of disorientation in which I try to figure out how early in the morning I am getting up. Is it three or four in the morning? Then my brain gets properly warmed up and I realize, oh, yeah, its 8:00 pm. The other thing is that at the end of your day its sunny out and yet you’re really tired. Since all of us has been programed from the beginning of our lives to be active during the light and sleep during the dark, you find yourself foolishly fighting to stay awake because you can’t really be that tired if the sun is out or so your brain lies to you.
The second thing that has struck me is how isolated and alone you feel. There is no one out here. In my eight hour shift I pass more deer, fox and opossum than I ever do with human beings. It brings out a Twilight Zone-esq feeling of living among people but not with them. When you are coming home from work, they are going to work. When you are sleeping, they are awake. Your breakfast is their dinner and your dinner is their breakfast. Your news is never current it is just a recap of the day. Etc.
The third thing is now I sleep alone. I have been married for more than fifteen years and only five of them have we not shared a bed together. Yet now when I come home, she is jumping up and getting the kids ready for school and she enters the bed right when I am walking out the door at night. I have to admit I have searched for her in my sleep, with that sleepy outstretched hand thing and came really close to falling off and hitting the floor when she was nowhere to be found.
Finally just some observations and situations that have come up:
“Why are you drinking a beer right now it’s 7:00 am!” But honey it’s the end of my day not the beginning.
“Why are you eating breakfast cereal for dinner again?” Well for starters it’s my breakfast time.
“Let set that appointment for 1:30 pm.” Um no that would be the same as setting it for 3:30 am for everyone else.
“Aren’t there scientific studies that show the midnight shift takes five or more years off your longevity?” Yes but so far the department has not accepted my proposal to have robots fight crime from 11 to 7.
“Aren’t shifts picked by seniority?” Only if the union will fight it when they are not.
“Don’t you pay a lot in Union dues?” We have a great BBQ once a year.
“What are you going to do for this whole year?” Keeping working and be joyful and remember all my friends that don’t even have a job to be irritated with.
“How is working midnights as a police officer different than the other two shifts?” It is easier; there are not any good or legit reasons to be out and about this time of night. Just ask your grandmother, she's right in her advice.
So as you can see I am in the process of coming to grips with it all and it will be interesting to see where this journey takes me. God is in control and he never seems to ask my opinion first before he acts. So when I have the ability to look back and see the context of this current situation I will understand, to a very tiny aspect, how our great and glorious God’s hand was moving to bless me. Until then, well…persevere and convince my daughter to stop asking questions at the foot of my bed at 4:30 pm.
1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Image Credit: NASA
Friday, February 3, 2012
The life expectancy of a law enforcement officer that retires with at least twenty years on the job is 66 years (Link ) while the average life expectancy of an American is 77.5. One of the reasons for this, I believe, is how sick days are handled in law enforcement.
I receive one sick day a month that is rolled into a bank. However, once you reach a hour threshold in the bank (it takes usually 7 years of no sick days) there is a six and six split. So six days are placed into the bank but the other six days are put into a medical mutual fund. The medical mutual fund is tax free going in and if it is a medical expense, it is tax free coming out. Then after another threshold is met, the bank is maxed and all twelve days are rolled into the fund. At retirement the bank is paid off at the current salary rate and the fund leaves with you.
Thus the days are incredibly valuable. The tax free nature saves about 28% of the value of the money and the bank is an investment, that unless the governing body of the jurisdiction goes bankrupt, with pay off with a profit.
The bottom line is basically for every sick day not taken it will be worth about five days in a 20+ career.
The idea was that the city would not have to cover a shift at time and a half to fill the slot of the sick officer. However, in the long run the city will end up paying much more than one shift at time and a half. The officer knowing the value of the sick day will also go into work despite any current aliment and "ride it out". A result of that is a delayed recovery. It would be an interesting study to see if officers are sick more often and for longer periods of time. If that is the case it has to be a cause of a quicker physical decline as seen in the life expectancy in this profession verses the public at large.
So off I go into work tonight, sick as a dog. The flu has hit me and my family full force. I will put in a good nights work, it will not deviate from my normal production and I will be sick a few days longer than if I just stayed in bed and slept. Further, I hope I do not spread it around the station but there have been shifts were every squad was a virus vector.
2 Chronicles 21:15
and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.