Monday, October 6, 2014

A Cop Explains Why We Become Jaded, Cynical and Angry

After I published my opinion piece about the shooting in Ferguson Missouri, I received many emails from police officers and private citizens thanking me for writing it. I also received one message from a police officer who tried to explain how the job has changed him, and why he is the way he is. I thought his piece was well-written and extremely powerful, and received his permission to post it here. I think it might help some people to understand how difficult the job can be, and what can happen to even the best of us after we’ve worked the street long enough.
Again, I AM NOT THE AUTHOR OF THIS ESSAY. Furthermore, I have no way of verifying that the author is who he says he is, or that these incidents truly occurred. But his feelings and experiences certainly ring true.
I’ve written several posts about my experiences as a street cop. They can be found at http://chrishernandezauthor.com/category/what-police-work-is-really-like/. There’s one I haven’t written, about having to leave a screaming three year old boy with his worthless mother and her piece of crap ex-con boyfriend. The boyfriend hadn’t broken the law, but he hated the boy and constantly scared the hell out of him because the boy’s father belonged to a rival gang. The mother refused to let her sister take the boy out of the apartment. And I had to drive away and leave that little boy there. It’s not something I like to think about.
One of the stories this author tells reminded me a lot about driving away from that apartment while that little boy cried in fear. I understand why the author feels so guilty about it.
If you have any feedback I will pass it along to the author. Thanks,
Chris
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One of the reasons that police officers tend to be so passionate in police-related discussion threads is because they have personalized their jobs. Police work is not some YouTube video they watch, theorize about, and then go on about their regular life. For them, it’s not theory. Many police officers tend to define themselves by their jobs and their experiences in policing. Many counselors and LE trainers will tell you that it’s wrong and misguided to do so (“you” being cops in general). They’re right about that too. But such warnings rarely work in the real world. When a cop hears people earnestly criticizing police without knowing all the facts, it stings for some very personal reasons. When we hear others second guessing us, we are prone to simply saying that our critics don’t know what they are talking about. We get angry about it even though we probably shouldn’t. Please let me try to explain why.
This a very small sample of some real-world situations I have personally had to handle while serving as a police officer. Nothing is exaggerated. My experiences are neither unique nor special.
We received a call from a concerned citizen who stated that her friend may have done “something bad” to her family. Her friend had left her a rambling voicemail about “ending it all” and sending her family to Heaven. We responded to the house and made entry with our pistols drawn. We performed a slow search of the house and began to find bodies inside. Our search and the subsequent investigation revealed that the woman had taken a .38 revolver and murdered her husband by shooting him in the head as he slept. There was a perfect hole in his left ear where she missed his skull and put a bullet through his ear and into the bed. The other bullet had landed dead center in his skull and killed him while he was taking a nap. Her daughter in the next room had obviously heard the shots and had piled her clothes and bedding on top of her bed and then attempted to hide under the pile. The women then went into her daughter’s room, pulled the clothing out of the way, and shot her daughter two times in the face. The girl did not die immediately. She lingered for hours. The mound of pink foam that collected on her face and throat was evidence of her labored breathing that lasted for some time before she finally died. After shooting her daughter, the woman went into her bedroom and sat on the bed. She reloaded the revolver from a small box of ammunition. She fired a single “test round” into the ceiling (this is common in suicides). She then fired a single round into the side of her own head and died on the bed. So there we are searching a house and finding a scene with three dead people…a whole family dead. And we’re supposed to act like everything is routine and fine, especially because there’s so much media there with their high-quality cameras and super long lenses. We secure the scene, call CID, call the ME, and do our reports. We help load bodies into the Meat Wagon…yeah that’s what we call it….and then we go home. The man died quick but I try to forget what that girl’s face looked like.
Read More: http://chrishernandezauthor.com/2014/09/05/a-cop-explains-why-we-become-jaded-cynical-and-angry/

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