A JOB WITH CONSEQUENCES

For Police Officers, Death Stalks The Night

            There certainly has been an abundance of criticism about policing and police officers over the course of the last ten years.  Some of it with merit, some of it baseless.   Through the numerous discussions that all of us have had with the non-informed, there often appears to be an impenetrable wall, which blocks our capacity to communicate our thoughts, experiences and concerns to many civilians.  Some say that the wall was created by the police and is a product of a lack of trust.  Some of that is undoubtedly true. However, part of it is also due to the unwillingness of many people to face stark realities about our society, and more profoundly, human nature.  One such reality is the ever-present danger to a police officer of being murdered. It is real.  One of our members had a recent encounter with this reality over the weekend.

          Our member works as a police officer for medium sized city.  On Friday evening, he was called to a local retail establishment.  The business layout consisted of a single store block with a medium sized parking lot in front.  The lot was lighted and there were security cameras present.   As the officer walked from the lot into the store to take the complaint, he observed a lone male individual leaning against the far wall of the outside of the store.     The officer walked into the store and met with the owner and was told that the man outside had urinated in front of the employee service door and employees were afraid to enter through it.  The owner was able to show video footage to verify his complaint.

          The officer’s investigation revealed further, that several employees had witnessed the man’s conduct and reported that they had been shocked by it. They also said that the man was preventing them from entering the employee service area.   The officer approached the man, who was still loitering outside the store and found him evasive and hostile.  Attempts to obtain name, date of birth and social security number, were met with increasing hostility.  The officer conducted an examination of the physical area and found that other damage had been done.  Survival Instinct began to kick in.

             The officer called for backup and then made the decisions to arrest the man on vandalism and disorderly charges.  Upon his return to the station he took some criticism for the apparent superficiality of the arrest. However, the booking process began.  Part of the process required the arrestee to provide fingerprints for transmission to NCIC.   While the mundane but always dangerous process of booking the suspect continued, NCIC responded that the man in custody was wanted for murder in Philadelphia.  Needless to say, the nature of this booking was no longer mundane.           

On Sunday, two detectives from the Philadelphia police department came to the station. They identified the man in custody as their suspect.   Both detectives knew the subject and engaged him in conversation.  The man never denied, who he was. He went willingly back to Philadelphia to face his murder rap, and while he was leaving, he told the detectives that the officers who had arrested him, two nights before, should consider themselves lucky.  He said that he would have killed them both, if he thought he could have gotten away with it. Our member came out on the good side of the odds this weekend.  Officers in Georgia, Louisiana and Minnesota did not. While the push for reform is absolutely necessary, we cannot forget that there is a reason we have police officers.  Their role in our society must be appreciated and never trivialized or ignored.  

END

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