For the past couple of weeks, we have heard so much about the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. The whole situation is heart breaking for both sides. What parent wants to think that their child provoked a police officer to shoot their gun; on the other hand, who wants to think that a police officer shoots his gun whenever he doesn’t get his way.
This whole mess continues to bubble up, because folks (1) do not want to hear the truth, (2) think that they are targets of racism, (3) while others riot, steal, and burn businesses just to be part of the story. Even the St. Louis Rams could not stay out of the frenzy by running on to the football field with their hands in the air. “Wide receivers … came on the field displaying the pose (Hands Up, Don’t Shoot) during the pre-game introduction” said a Newsmax reporter on Monday, December 1, 2014. Spokesman of the Rams stated, “… the players had not read the evidence vindicating Darren Wilson, who was cleared by a grand jury of any crime.” Fact: several eyewitnesses testified at the Grand Jury that Michael Brown never raised his hands. “13 Facts About Ferguson the Media Will Never Tell You” December 2, 2014.
I really love this part: “All week-long, the Rams and the NFL were on the phone with the St. Louis Police Department asking for assurances that the players and the fans would be KEPT SAFE FROM THE VIOLENT PROTESTERS who had rioted, looted, and burned buildings in Ferguson.” Did the Rams and NFL think the police would all go home and leave the city (and the previous football game) unprotected? That is ridiculous!! Police officers do their job under all circumstances and calls for help no matter whether their lives are in danger or not.
For two and a half years I rode-out with Officers of the Fort Worth Police Department. Each week there was something new. A lady on drugs walks the street with her top off. When the male Officer stopped and told her to put her shirt back on, she was more upset that I was in the patrol car (female) than the male Officer standing in front of her. I had the experience of an adrenaline rush when an emergency call for help came in, and we took off going 80 mph down city side streets. When we got to the scene a man had his estranged wife as a hostage. He was holding a gun to her head. The police were able to get him to put his gun down and let the woman go.
Twice while we were on patrol, we found men walking down the middle of the road, stepping out into traffic, and generally being rude to everyone who passed them. The Officer pulled up to the men and told (yes, told not asked) them to get on the sidewalk. The men in both cases continued to walk down the road ignoring the Officer. The Officer repeated himself two more times. The third time, in each case, the men turned on the Officer screaming at him … “Why don’t you make me… (really don’t want to use the language they were using)?” “I am an American citizen, and I can walk anywhere I want … including down the middle of the … road.” In both cases the men refused to move to the sidewalk until the Officer pulled up in front of them, got out of the patrol car, and repeated himself once more adding, “If you refuse to move to the sidewalk, you are going into the back of my car!” I was very concerned for the Officer’s life. I didn’t know what the men would do, and you could tell by the Officer’s stance he was also concerned. Both men eventually moved to the sidewalk.
First of all, there is no reason for a person to walk down the middle of the street. I don’t care if you are on drugs, drunk, or American citizen. Second, the Officer has legal power in handling a situation. When he/she tells you to move to the sidewalk, you move to the sidewalk. And third, Officers are aware that any situation can escalate into violence.
My very first ride-out was on July 4, 2012. I had finished the CAPA Training (Clergy and Police Alliance) and was excited about my first ride in a patrol car. As a CAPA person, you get the nasty calls anywhere in the city. The Fort Worth Police Department is divided into five sectors. I was in the Central Sector. Most of the time a CAPA person patrols with the Officers. Each Officer is assigned a route within their sector. However, when that Officer has a CAPA person (or there is an emergency call for help from another sector) we can go anywhere in the city limits especially if there is only one CAPA person on duty.
We had been out for about two hours when a call came in of a suicide in the West Sector, and they needed a CAPA person to be with the family. The address was all the information we had going into the situation. We got to the apartment complex pretty quickly and the Officer and I went to the second floor apartment. Police were everywhere. Patrol cars with their lights flashing took up pretty much all of the parking lot in front of the complex. When I got to the apartment there was a young woman curled up in a ball in the hallway in front of her apartment door. All we were told was that her husband was active military. They had a fight, she went into the kitchen, he went to the bedroom. Then she heard the gun go off.
I got her up off the floor and moved over to the stairs leading down to the parking lot. She slid down the wall and curled up in my lap. All tears no words. And for the next three hours I sat with her in my lap. At one point, a couple of the West Sector Officers were talking with the Officer I came with. He was just shaking his head. A while later I looked down the stairs where my Officer was standing and tears were running down his face. I learned later that the Officer was also military, and he heard that the young solider who killed himself had just got back from the Middle East.
I did not intent to write a long blog today. In fact, I was wondering what I would write about until I saw the article about Ferguson sitting beside my computer. We have to realize that Police Officers are human beings just like us. Sure they may have more adrenaline runs than the average citizen, but their job calls for them to be ready at any minute to respond. Every day they go into situations where they do not have all the information of what happened and are expected to protect the public. We gripe when we get pulled over — your speeding, that is breaking the law — but the Officer is protecting you and others from getting hurt or killed.
We need to stop and take a deep breath. Then we need to be grateful that there are men and women patrolling our streets making it safe for us to go about our business. If they were not there, we would be living in a land of chaos.
Today do something that challenges you, Linda