2012 Police & Peace Officers Memorial Day

Today was the 2012 Police and Peace Officers Memorial Day, where we take a take a moment to remember those who have given their lives in the line of duty.

But it’s so much more than that.

We must acknowledge the sacrifice of officers and their loved ones, the impact on those left behind, and how those whom have paid the ultimate price have done so, so the rest of us may learn, and survive, a similar situation.

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This is not a topic I come to lightly.

My father’s friend and team mate, Sgt Larry Young, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1987. The image of my father’s slumped shoulders when he received the news will forever be emblazoned on my memory.

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19 years later, I witnessed the death of one of our finest police dogs, Nitro, as he tried to apprehend a car thief.

I spent a full day in criminal court, testifying as to the car thief’s actions and Nitro’s untimely death. I remember reporters in the courtroom, and one reporter’s sympathetic smile when I finally set foot out of the witness docket.

But the reporter didn’t, couldn’t, understand, even though she clearly wanted to.

This wasn’t a news story.

This was someone’s life.

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So every time an officer makes the ultimate sacrifice and dies in the line of duty, I am snapped back to the devastation left behind.

No officer starts their day thinking they may not be going home at the end of shift, but it is a reality every officer needs to look squarely into the face of.

It CAN happen.

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So to all officers – be prepared and repeat the following words so often touted by Sgt Betsy Brantner Smith as a talisman against those who would do us harm:

“Not today.”

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Throw off the bowlines

Because this quote was too long for Twitter’s required max of 140 characters, I’m posting it here in support of all those officers who have put themselves out there on Social Media.

Is Social Media an easy landscape to navigate as an officer? No.

Do the ‘haters’ try and bring you down with their incessant and volatile comments? Yes.

But remember this – there are HUGE inroads to travel when SM is used properly and effectively. It is absolutely and unequivocally worth it.

And so, I leave you with this:

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“Twenty years from now,

you will be more disappointed

by the things you did not do

than by the things you did do.

So, throw off the bowlines. 

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

   

– Mark Twain.

*

Mistaken Identity

While working early this morning, I was stopped at the side of the road in an area well known for its drug dealers and those struggling with addiction.

The passenger side window of my unmarked/blacked out police SUV was partially down, and I was surveying the goings-on in the block when a woman called out.

“There you are!” she said, as she shuffled over to the window.

There are several old-timers still cruising around who know me from my days walking the beat, so I craned my neck to see who she was, but I didn’t recognize her.

She moved up to my window and halted. I was curious but cautious, so I simply watched her as she realized who she had approached.

“Shit. You’re a cop?”

“Yes,” I replied, making sure to maintain my dead-pan expression.

I wanted to let loose with a sarcastic remark, but thought it was not the right time nor place as this woman was so clearly expecting someone else – her hunger for her fix was almost palatable, and I felt bad about even considering the sarcasm of my first response. Who was I to second guess this woman’s need?

“Oh,” she said, “I thought you were my dealer.”

She couldn’t get away from me fast enough, and a little part of me broke as I watched her leave.

***

Where have we, as a society and a community, gone wrong?

I walked the beat in the Downtown Eastside from 1995 to the early 2000’s. I made dozens of drug arrests, helped those with addiction, put predators behind bars and hunted those who would prey on others.

The first eight years of my career were spent policing the Downtown Eastside and surrounding areas, but in 2012, not much has changed.

Not much at all.

*

 

 

Get-away gone awry

Proper decision making is clearly missing from all criminal endeavours.

Take today.

Two men plan and commit a robbery. They grab their loot, create complete chaos, and make their escape.

But here’s where it goes terribly wrong, at least from the crook’s perspective: instead of having a get-away car, they rely on public transit.

Bless them.

Officers apprehended the suspects within a few minutes and recovered all the loot.

Nice.

*

 

Double Take

In 2005, another officer and I were each paired with young, prospective police dogs Hondo and Knight, litter mates from overseas.

The other officer and I spent the next several weeks testing and getting to know the new dogs to see if they would make the cut. They both did, and we all entered training together.

Once training was complete, PSD Knight and his handler were assigned to one shift rotation while PSD Hondo and I were assigned to another. This meant that even though we saw one another on a regular basis and attended various events and training courses together, we never worked together.

Today, seven years after we entered training, PSD Knight and his handler worked their first shift with and PSD Hondo and I.

Litter mates, indeed.

Are you able figure out which of these dogs is Hondo and the other, Knight? (double click to make the photo bigger)

 

Knight’s handler and I can tell them apart in every aspect other than their barks, which sound identical.

I almost got into the wrong work truck today after thinking the barking dog was Hondo.

That would have been interesting…

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