I walked into the living room and said, “you do know the dog in the corner of the bedroom is dead, don’t you?” Yes, came the reply, Rex died about a week ago.
It was the most filthy house that I have ever been in…I immediately told the dispatcher to call Child Protective Services. It seems the family was really attached to poor old Rex and couldn’t let him go. A rotting dog in the bedroom was not the only problem. There were dishes stacked all over the kitchen with rotting food….bugs were everywhere and evidence of rats. I asked the two kids where they slept and they pointed to piles of clothes on the floor. They were removed from the house that day.
It was always interesting coming home after a shift as a police officer. Generally family members or a spouse will ask how your day went…what happened? I used to tell about 25% of what I actually did or saw….why spread the misery? I know quite of few of you that read this blog think cops are all assholes. And believe me, after working in police departments for eight years….assholes do tend to gravitate towards the profession….it is, in fact, an asshole magnet. But there are also really good and decent folks that pick up the job that enables you to help people and make a difference in lives, on a daily basis.
One of the departments I worked at had a program called Save Our Seniors, or S.O.S. People could sign up old folks they knew in town that lived alone. Once a day an officer cruising the beat where they lived would stop by to check on them. A social program that worked and help spread some good P.R. for the department. I started out hating it, along with all my buddies on the force. We wanted to be out kicking butt and taking names….not sitting at your Grannie’s kitchen table. But something strange happened after about a month into the program. Everyone involved started liking it….friendships were formed, our service to the community got an expanded definition.
I had one lovely lady that gave me apple pie and coffee…just for sitting with her. We talked about The Price is Right television show and the Texas Rangers…her two favorite things. I found myself chatting it up with geriatrics in between DWI arrests. It made some days really strange because of the juxtaposition of my contacts…but it was a good strange.
We had an Explorer program at the police department. The Explorers are a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America. It is a career oriented program for young people interested in law enforcement. They do ride-alongs in the patrol cars and generally learn what it is like in the field of public service. During my career I did have young people ride-along with me, but otherwise did not participate heavily in the program. Why? The Boy Scouts of America discriminate against gay people and do not allow them to be scout leaders. This discrimination bleeds over to the Explorer Program and because of this, I could not/would not participate more than the department made me. It continues to be a great program, I just wish it wasn’t associated with the Boy Scouts. I guess queers can’t be Eagle Scouts or Scout Leaders….and they certainly can’t aspire to be police officers. (insert sarcastic grin)
I had this one older woman in town that was in a wheel chair and was independent, save for the fact, she couldn’t get in and out of her car. Her husband had a bad back, so you guessed it…they called the police department when they needed help. Most citizens don’t know all the extra services police department sometimes do in the course of a day. Small towns are more apt to help out in things like this, I admit…but you still would be surprised. So about 3 times a week the woman would call the dispatcher and one of us would go to her house to do some lifting. I had set the police academy record for females in the bench press, so I came well equipped to help her. Evidently she liked how securely I lifted her one day…so she requested that I be dispatched every time thereafter. The dispatcher would call me on the radio, the running joke was that to send me she just repeated the words the woman said to her. “Send the girl!”
Both police departments that I worked for had a service for citizens going away on vacation. Prior to leaving an application was filled out that outlined all the specifics of the trip…and the house they were leaving behind. The department would then put the house on extra patrol and at least once a day we would walk the perimeter and jiggle the doors. It was really a good, free service….call your local police department and see if they offer this perk before you fly off next time.
I guess my point in writing this blog today is that being a police officer has many facets. I know I have written about the exciting calls previously…they are really crowd-pleasers to read about…I get that. But I want to paint a broader picture today of what it means to decide upon a career in public service. The officers you see today cruising around your city are really doing a great amount of good for you and others. Helping your fellow-man is what it is all about….and for most that is why they signed on to be a part of the thin blue line.
Oh yeah, one more thing. If you get stopped today for pushing it and running that red light. It won’t hurt my feelings if after signing for the ticket…you drive away from one of my brethren and utter the one word that might make you feel a little better. Asshole!!!