|Written by Mark Nichols|
Master Patrolman Jeffrey King was recently honored for his life-saving efforts after he saved an 18-year-old woman who had been stabbed 15 times. Four other first responders from Allenstown, New Hampshire were also recognized for helping save the life of the victim.
According to a recent article in the New Hampshire Union Leader, the woman had been stabbed repeatedly and left for dead on the side of the road when passing motorists saw another woman get into a red car and almost run the victim over.
They called 911 and King was on the scene a short time later.
Thankfully for the victim, Officer King is no stranger to life threatening injuries.
He served 10 years in the U.S. Army and 10 years in the Army Reserves and has substantial training in battlefield trauma and lifesaving.
The officer used QuickClot, a hemostatic agent to slow the bleeding, said Allenstown Police Chief Paul Paquette.
“He did a very professional job and served a substantial role in saving her life,” Paquette added about the Jan. 26 incident that led to the arrests of 18-year-old Samantha Heath and 22-year-old Kyle Buffum.
King credited his training.
“It’s not something you experience everyday, even as a police officer, but training and adrenaline kick in and you do what you’ve been trained to do,” King told reporters.
King, a nine-year veteran with Allenstown Police Department, was recognized for his efforts with the department’s Lifesaving Award.
In addition to King, the two unnamed Good Samaritans who stopped to help the victim and call 911 were recognized, as well as Allenstown firefighter/EMTs Jeff Gardner and Heather Hill, Tri-Town Ambulance EMT Cassie McNelly and paramedic Dina Waldron.
(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)
|Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”- William J. Bennett
In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.
Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath–a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
The gift of aggression
|“What goes on around you… compares little with what goes on inside you.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everyone has been given a gift in life. Some people have a gift for science and some have a flair for art. And warriors have been given the gift of aggression. They would no more misuse this gift than a doctor would misuse his healing arts, but they yearn for the opportunity to use their gift to help others. These people, the ones who have been blessed with the gift of aggression and a love for others, are our sheepdogs. These are our warriors.
One career police officer wrote to me about this after attending one of my Bulletproof Mind training sessions:
“I want to say thank you for finally shedding some light on why it is that I can do what I do. I always knew why I did it. I love my [citizens], even the bad ones, and had a talent that I could return to my community. I just couldn’t put my finger on why I could wade through the chaos, the gore, the sadness, if given a chance try to make it all better, and walk right out the other side.”
Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.”
Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. As Kipling said in his poem about “Tommy” the British soldier:
|While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001, when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?
Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.” When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.
While there is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, he does have one real advantage. Only one. He is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.
There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory acts of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.
However, when there were cues given by potential victims that indicated they would not go easily, the cons said that they would walk away. If the cons sensed that the target was a “counter-predator,” that is, a sheepdog, they would leave him alone unless there was no other choice but to engage.
One police officer told me that he rode a commuter train to work each day. One day, as was his usual, he was standing in the crowded car, dressed in blue jeans, T-shirt and jacket, holding onto a pole and reading a paperback. At one of the stops, two street toughs boarded, shouting and cursing and doing every obnoxious thing possible to intimidate the other riders. The officer continued to read his book, though he kept a watchful eye on the two punks as they strolled along the aisle making comments to female passengers, and banging shoulders with men as they passed.
As they approached the officer, he lowered his novel and made eye contact with them. “You got a problem, man?” one of the IQ-challenged punks asked. “You think you’re tough, or somethin’?” the other asked, obviously offended that this one was not shirking away from them.
“As a matter of fact, I am tough,” the officer said, calmly and with a steady gaze.
The two looked at him for a long moment, and then without saying a word, turned and moved back down the aisle to continue their taunting of the other passengers, the sheep.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers–athletes, business people and parents–from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
“Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”
|“here is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.”
- Edmund Burke
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to slaughter you and your loved ones.
I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, “I will never be caught without my gun in church.” I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a police officer he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down 14 people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy’s body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”
Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for “heads to roll” if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids’ school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them. Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?”
The warrior must cleanse denial from his thinking. Coach Bob Lindsey, a renowned law enforcement trainer, says that warriors must practice “when/then” thinking, not “if/when.” Instead of saying,“If it happens then I will take action,” the warrior says, “When it happens then I will be ready.”
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn’t bring your gun; you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and shame at your moment of truth.
Chuck Yeager, the famous test pilot and first man to fly faster than the speed of sound, says that he knew he could die. There was no denial for him. He did not allow himself the luxury of denial. This acceptance of reality can cause fear, but it is a healthy, controlled fear that will keep you alive:
|“I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.”
- Brigadier General Chuck Yeager
Yeager, An Autobiography
Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation:
|“..denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling. Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.”|
And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.
If you are a warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7 for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself… “Baa.”
This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-grass sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.
|Biography: Lieutenant Colonel Dave GrossmanLT. COL. DAVE GROSSMAN, U.S. Army (Ret.) Director, Warrior Science Group, www.killology.comLt. Col. Dave Grossman is an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime.|
Col. Grossman is a West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger who has combined his experiences to become the founder of a new field of scientific endeavor, which has been termed “killology.” In this new field Col. Grossman has made revolutionary new contributions to our understanding of killing in war, the psychological costs of war, the root causes of the current “virus” of violent crime that is raging around the world, and the process of healing the victims of violence, in war and peace.
He is the author of On Killing, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; has been translated into Japanese, Korean, and German; is on the US Marine Corps’ recommended reading list; and is required reading at the FBI academy and numerous other academies and colleges. Col. Grossman co-authored with Gloria DeGaetano Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, which has been translated into Norwegian and German, and has received international acclaim. Col. Grossman’s most recent book with Loren Christensen is On Combat, the highly acclaimed sequel to On Killing.
Col. Grossman has been called upon to write the entry on “Aggression and Violence” in the Oxford Companion to American Military History, three entries in the Academic Press Encyclopedia of Violence and numerous entries in scholarly journals, to include the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
He has presented papers before the national conventions of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
He has presented to over 40 different colleges and universities world wide.
He has been an expert witness and consultant in state and Federal courts, to include serving on the prosecution team in UNITED STATES vs. TIMOTHY MCVEIGH.
He helped train mental health professionals after the Jonesboro school shootings, and he was also involved in counseling or court cases in the aftermath of the Paducah, Springfield, and Littleton school shootings.
He has testified before U.S. Senate and Congressional committees and numerous state legislatures, and he and his research have been cited in a national address by the President of the United States.
Col. Grossman is an Airborne Ranger infantry officer, and a prior-service sergeant and paratrooper, with a total of over 23 years experience in leading U.S. soldiers worldwide. He retired from the Army in February 1998 and has devoted himself full-time to teaching, writing, speaking, and research. Today he is the director of the Warrior Science Group, and in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks he is on the road almost 300 days a year, training elite military and law enforcement organizations worldwide about the reality of combat.
View additional biographical details.
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Law enforcement in America is under attack. As of November 2, 2007 there have been 150 law enforcement officer deaths, which would put the profession on pace for the deadliest year since the early 1980s. So far this year there have been 58 officers killed by gunfire. The average tour of duty is ten years and 8 months, the average age is 37. Experienced veteran officers are falling for unknown reasons. In 2005 there were a total of 2,150 law enforcement officers assaulted with firearms.
A study conducted by the FBI titled “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers” revealed that handguns were the primary choice for assaults on cops and nearly 40 percent of the offenders had some type of formal training, with many saying they improve their skills with continued training. Around 60 percent of the offenders claimed to be instinctive shooters, point and shoot with a 70 percent hit ratio.
That should prompt us to ask about our training. Too often it’s “stand in one spot and when the target turns you will draw, fire two rounds, decock and holster.” Even though many programs are improving, most agencies provide firearms training to satisfy liability concerns; the ability and skills test required is not realistic. Many others provide firearms training without repetition or realistic settings that should be standard procedure. Most shootings we’re involved with occur in lowlight or darkness.
But when is the last time you had the opportunity to train in this environment? And even more importantly, when was the last time you requested training in this environment? According to the FBI, many offenders who operate a motor vehicle said they kept the firearm on their person. This is another reason why vehicle stops continue to be at the top of the list for officers killed and assaulted in the line of duty.
For the majority of officers who are killed on a vehicle stop, the incident is traffic- related. Again, ask yourself how many law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty while conducting a felony stop? The answer is, “not many.” That’s because felony stops are conducted with lots of information – the number of suspects, presumption of weapons, to name a few. Felony stops involve several officers working as a team with constant communication. Possibly the most chilling item learned from the FBI report is that 36 of the 50 officers in the study appeared to have the situation where deadly force would apply – however, they chose not to engage.
“It appeared clear that none of these officers were willing to use deadly force against an offender if other options were available,” the researchers concluded. There is no legal duty to use less lethal weapons prior to the use of deadly force. Every officer has a different view of deadly force as well as the rules of engagement.
But there are too many stories these days of officers using less lethal weapons against those armed with firearms. “Don’t take a knife to a gun fight.” Deadly force requires deadly force. Your obligation is to stay safe and go home to your family every night.
Big hearts with badges
|Big hearts with badges|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
“’I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” Supposedly some guy called Jesus of Nazareth said something along those lines while he was preaching across Galilee a couple thousand years back. To understand what the meaning of that translation is all about, you can’t do much better than a recent article from the San Francisco Chronicle about a group of police officers that helped out a homeless family in trouble.
A group of San Francisco’s Finest recently went in to their own pockets so a homeless family with no place to go could get out of the rain and into a warm hotel for the night.
It’s the kind of gesture that can to some degree restore one’s faith in humanity.
“You see a lot on this beat, but this one was really unique,” Officer Eithne Cummins told reporters.
It was on a recent Friday evening when the call came in to Southern Station from Salvation Army workers.
They were handing out hot chocolate to homeless people near Civic Center as a nasty rainstorm was bearing down on the city.
“They said they had just served a father and his five children who appeared to have nowhere to go,” said Lt. Teresa Gracie.
Cummins and three other officers who were on patrol nearby responded.
They quickly located the desperate father and five children, ranging in age from 12 years to 8 months.
They were huddled together for warmth against the downpour.
“Here were these five kids, all dressed well but just down on their luck with all their bags and two strollers,” Cummins said.
The family is from Florida and had been staying in a local shelter. But they missed the 8 p.m. door closing and were stranded.
“The eldest daughter, who was 12, seemed to be taking care of the other kids and the dad was just kind of lost,” Cummins said.
Like most cops in these situations, the San Francisco officers did their best. They made several calls to city and charity services alike.
But finding a place for homeless family to stay for even just a night is becoming increasingly difficult.
The officers were told flatly that no one was in a position to help.
But there was no way the officers were going to pack it in and let the family fend for themselves.
There was a hotel nearby and Cummins and fellow Officers Valerie Durkin, Brian Carew and Brendan Caraway all chipped in their meal money until they had the $65 a room for the night costs.
The officers then bundled up the grateful family and got them a room at the Budget Inn. They even went across the street to the CVS and bought wet wipes and formula for the baby.
That alone would be a heartwarming story but the cops didn’t stop there.
The next day, their lieutenant spent as long as it took and got the family a place to stay.
The officers’ generosity was not lost on their lieutenant.
She called the neighborhood burrito shop and ordered dinner for the cops who had given up their own meal money the night before.
Some people think public safety is largely about barricaded suspects and epic shoot-outs between cops and bad guys- and that’s without question a part of the job.
But another part of the job involves going out of your way to help people in bad situations- especially kids. And these officers deserve special recognition for the compassion and generosity they showed a family simply because it was the right thing to do.
As the saying goes, “Courage is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.”
They saved the victim and got the shooter
|Written by NLEOMF|
On evening of November 17, 2013, Officers Stephen Neff and Ratko Aleksis responded to a call of shots fired in Tempe, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb. As the first officers to arrive on scene, they immediately directed bystanders to safe locations and then set out to pinpoint the exact site of the shooting and the location of victims. One bystander informed the officers that the shooting had taken place in the street and the victim was inside one of the nearby residences and appeared to be bleeding profusely.
Not knowing the shooter’s location, Aleksis and Neff used extreme caution as they entered the home indicated. They began clearing the residence until they reached the victim who was bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound to the thigh.
The victim had attempted to use his belt as a tourniquet, but Stephen Neff found it was insufficient to stop the bleeding. He removed the belt and began to treat the victim for shock. Meanwhile, Officer Aleksis used trauma bandages he carried to apply a tourniquet in an attempt to ease the victim’s blood loss and kept paramedics, stationed outside the residence, updated by radio. Concerned the shooter might be hiding in the residence, he kept his firearm pointed into the house as Neff kept attending to the victim.
When additional officers arrived on the scene, Aleksis helped clear the remainder of the house to ensure the suspect was not present. Approximately 10 minutes passed from the time the victim was found until the house was clear and paramedics could enter the home.
Later that evening, a police helicopter spotted the suspect hiding in a nearby backyard, where he was subsequently arrested. It was discovered that the gunshot victim had attempted to intervene in a domestic dispute and was subsequently charged by the suspect who fired a single shot into the victim’s leg.
Ratko Aleksis, a former licensed practical nurse, and Stephen Neff, a former Army Ranger, both carry trauma kits on the job. That was the essential equipment that enabled the officer to provide emergency medical support and stabilization of the victim’s arterial bleeding. Both officers had less than 18 months experience at the Tempe Police Department at the time of this incident and were assigned to separate patrol squads.
Tempe Deputy Fire Chief Gary S. Ells said his agency was convinced that the actions taken by Officer Aleksis and Officer Neff were instrumental in reducing the victim’s blood loss and keeping him alive until paramedics could render advanced life support and transport the victim to the nearest trauma center.
“The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is honored to present Officers Aleksis and Neff with our Officers of the Month Award for March 2014,” said Craig W. Floyd, Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO. “Their on the job preparedness and bravery in the face of uncertainty were a great asset to their department and the shooting victim,” he said. “They are most deserving of the Officers of the Month Award.”
For more information about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award, visit www.LawMemorial.org/OTM.
|The Perforated Cross – A true story|
|Written by Brian R. Arnspiger|
The date was May 15th, 1977 when my life changed forever. I was a police officer with the Burbank Police Department in California. Working a special burglary suppression detail in plain clothes, I was driving an unmarked police vehicle. We had been experiencing numerous business burglaries in the Magnolia Park area of Burbank. I was patrolling the alleys behind the businesses, when I felt ill. It was five o’clock in the morning so I drove to the Police Department to request a few hours off. While standing in the Watch Commander’s office an alert tone sounded. The alert was dispatched as “Burglary in Progress, Price Club.”
The Price Club was just one block away from the Police Department. I ran out the back door to my police car in response to the alarm. Just as I reached my police car, another officer pulled into the station and waved me to his vehicle. I jumped in the passenger seat.
We arrived within two minutes of the call. The owner of the Price Club was standing at a phone booth at the rear of the business. Tony, told us he had come to work early and upon entering the rear of his business, he observed merchandise piled up by the rear door.
He also heard a chair dragged across the floor on the second floor. Tony said, he immediately went to the phone booth next to the rear door and telephoned the police. My partner Robert and I told Tony to go to his vehicle and we took up positions at opposite corners of the building. We asked for backup units to assist us with a search of the building. I was positioned at the N/W corner of the building , adjacent to the alley.
Looking down the alley, I could see an alcove towards the middle of the north wall. Fearing the alcove might go all the way through the building, I slowly inched my way down the wall with my two inch Smith & Wesson revolver, in hand.
There was a telephone pole about ten feet west from the N/W corner, and I slowly moved toward it for cover. I left the cover of the telephone pole and continued inching my way along the wall. I was within twenty feet of the alcove. Suddenly I heard a metallic sound and felt something really bad was about to happen.
Moments later the figure of a man dressed in a leisure suit with long black hair and mustache, appeared in the alley. The suspect was looking right at me, but what riveted my attention was the handgun he held, a gun that was pointing at me! I didn’t know if the suspect was a Security Guard or a burglar. Using police procedure, I yelled out “Police Officer, freeze”!
The words hadn’t left my lips when the suspect fired two rounds at me, both going by my head with a “Whizz” sound. I went into a combat crouch position and fired six rounds back at the suspect. After the first round I was blinded, because of a ten inch flashback from my two inch barrel. I prayed I’d hit the suspect, when all of a sudden his third round caught my upper right bicep.
It felt like I was struck with a baseball bat and I knew I was in trouble. Suddenly I found myself falling to my right and rolling in the alley. It felt like someone had pushed me. After thinking about this later, I truly believed it was my guardian angel who had pushed me out of harms’ way.
While rolling, I lost my portable radio but was able to eject the cartridges in my handgun and reload using a speedy loader from my belt. I feared the suspect was going to approach me while I was on the ground, and fire a bullet into my head. I was helpless and blinded by my own handgun.
Suddenly my eyes began to clear, and I looked down the alley to see the suspect running towards the mall area. I rose up from the ground and picked up my portable radio. I broadcast the suspect’s flight path and requested an Ambulance respond. At that moment my partner Robert came around the corner and yelled for me to get into his patrol car. My right arm was bleeding and I had blood oozing onto my jacket sleeve from the bullet hole. I applied direct pressure on the wound.
Enroute to the hospital, I heard another officer report that the suspect was in custody. We arrived at the hospital moments later and I was placed on a gurney. Doctor Jones, the Emergency Room Doctor approached me. I told him I’d been shot in the upper right bicep area. Doctor Jones removed my hand from the wound and cut away my jacket sleeve and shirt sleeve. I looked away fearing the wound was bad. Doctor Jones patted me on the shoulder and said, “It’s just a deep flesh wound”.
I was relieved and thankful that I’d survived. While Doctor Jones was attending to my wound, I heard one of the officers on the radio requesting an ambulance for the suspect. A few minutes later the ambulance arrived at the hospital and rolled a gurney in with the suspect. The gurney was blocking the doorway where I was being treated, and I could clearly see it was the man I’d faced in the alley. His hands were outstretched with gloves on and there was a pen light protruding from his shirt pocket.
I thought to myself these were common burglar’s tools. Doctor Jones approached the gurney to check the suspect’s vital signs. At the same time the acting Sergeant came into the room and told me one of my rounds hit the suspect in the chest area. I knew it had to have been my first shot. Moments later, I saw Doctor Jones lift the sheet on the gurney and pull it over the suspect. I heard Doctor Jones say, “He’s dead; take him down to the morgue”. At that moment I felt all the emotions in me well up at once.
I reached down and grabbed a white cloth to cover my face to hold back the tears. I thought to myself, I’m alive but another man is dead by my hand. After the initial shock wore off, I asked to see my Pastor. He responded quickly to my side. He told me I had no choice in the matter, and that God forgave me. Those words helped me more than I can say. When I got back to the police station, and went down to the locker room, I fell to my knees and thanked God for saving my life.
After being interviewed by my Lieutenant I was sent home to my family. I was grateful to be alive and home with my wife and three children. Later I was told the suspect I’d faced in the alley had recently been released from prison for the third time. He was in prison for robbery. He not only robbed people, he liked to pistol whip his victims. He had confided in his prison cell mate, that if he was ever caught on the street again, he would never be arrested again; he would hold court in the street.
At night, for days I would relive the shooting and wake up in a cold sweat, knowing how close I came to death. I truly believed I had divine intervention, when I felt pushed and rolled in the alley. Because I’d done that, the suspect apparently believed he’d finished me. The suspect then ran down the alley with two bullets remaining in his handgun.
The suspect was stopped by another officer with a shotgun as he ran down the mall. Three days had gone by, when I thought to myself, I have to go back to the scene and see what the metallic sound was just before the suspect appeared in the alley. I found the window the suspect had crawled out of. Next to the window or point of exit, was a metal drain pipe. Hanging down from the metal drain pipe was a metal perforated strap.
Apparently when the suspect crawled out the window, his shoulder brushed the metal strap which banged against the metal pipe. That sound alerted me to the danger I was about to face. They say God works in mysterious ways and I know he was standing next to me on that day, protecting me from the evil I had faced. I cut about a twelve inch piece of the perforated metal strap from the pipe. I went home and made a cross out of the perforated strap to remind me of how lucky I was to be alive.
Since that day, the cross I’d made, has been given to three people who have cancer of some kind. After hearing the story of the strap, each of the cancer patients wanted to hold it and pray with it. Believe it or not all three people are now free of cancer and truly believe the perforated cross was the reason.
When I am troubled, I pray with my perforated cross and everything seems to work out. I truly believe God has given me a gift to share with other people.
When I was a teenager I used to carry a picture of a young boy on a ship. The boy was standing behind the ships’ steering wheel. God was standing right behind him. The picture read: “God is my Co-Pilot”. God was my co-pilot on that dark day. Ninety-six days before the shooting, I’d pulled a man from a burning vehicle, just before it exploded.
The man suffered severe respiratory distress from inhalation of smoke; but lived. I had experienced both a life and death situation within a period of ninety six days. In 1977 I was awarded the first Burbank Police Department Medal of Valor for both incidences. God is real and always with us through our guardian angels.
“There but for the grace of God go I.
|Old habits die hard- recording interrogations|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
|Best patterns and practices have determined the best way to reduce one of the major flaws in the American criminal justice system: wrongful convictions. Getting something done about it is another story entirely, however. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, incoming Illinois State Rep. Scott Drury has introduced two bills he hopes will make a difference. Drury is a former federal prosecutor. Now he represents part of Lake County, which has a history of convicting the wrong men.
Drury’s bills would require police to record more interrogations than they do currently and also switch to lineup methods that would keep officers from steering eyewitnesses toward specific suspects.
Law enforcement authorities agree reducing wrongful convictions is worth making a few changes.
But the bills Drury has proposed face resistance from agencies including the Chicago Police Department and Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
Prosecutors say the recording proposal is “logistically unrealistic,” despite the fact that it’s common practice in other jurisdictions. Chicago police say the lineup measure is impractical and could hinder witness cooperation.
Drury argues the bills will help authorities make stronger cases in court while at the same time preventing misconduct and unintentional police errors.
On the recording bill, prosecutors and Drury agree more interrogations should be taped, both to protect suspects from coercion and even more importantly to dismiss bogus police abuse claims.
Law enforcement groups and reform advocates praise a 2003 law mandating recording of interrogations in homicides and agree the requirement should be expanded.
And that’s where the progress stopped in getting the stakeholders to agree on what other types of cases should be taped besides homicide.
The state Senate just recently passed a bill that seeks the same goal as Drury’s proposals but takes a “softer approach,” to having more interrogations recorded.
But the state senate’s bill actually relaxes rules governing voluntary taping. State legislators say that by making it voluntary police will choose to do it more often.
That’s a long shot at best says Drury.
“If we want to prevent wrongful convictions and we want to prevent the next (former Chicago police commander Jon) Burge, we need to require recording of more interrogations,” he said.
Drury, a Democrat from Highwood elected in November, takes wrongful convictions so seriously because he’s seen them up close.
He describes Lake County’s spate of wrongful convictions as “horrible.” Four defendants in major felony cases there have been exonerated by DNA evidence since 2010.
That’s more than every state except Texas and California, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the Northwestern University and University of Michigan law schools.
|Written by Tom Wetzel|
|We certainly want those perspectives to be positive. Understanding this better should help influence an agency’s community policing strategies to include how to best connect with young people. Developing their trust and support early is important.
There are all kinds of different ways that cops reach out to kids from programs that teach them Internet safety like e-Copp, how to look both ways when crossing the street through Safety Town or how to avoid drugs through DARE. Sometimes it may involve cops reaching out to teenagers through athletic leagues.
Other times, it may be a friendly wave or stopping to chat with them during a foot patrol. But many of these officer friendly contacts can be enhanced when a cop hands a little gift to a kid. Now the positive memory is enriched further due to the child getting something along with the kindness of the officer.
When looking for a reasonable priced item that can fit in an officer’s uniform shirt, consider police sticker badges for little tykes. Having handed many of them out, it is easy to see the value these have for both kids and their parents. The fun looks on the faces of young toddler to early primary grade kids and the appreciation of their parents will make it obvious to an officer just how special this community relations opportunity can be.
I have occasionally noted at times what appears to be an initial suspicion particularly from a parent when I begin to approach them. This may be the result of negative contacts they have had with cops over the years or disinformation they have heard or read about.
Entrenched bias can be a particularly difficult fence to hurdle for a police officer. But doing an act of simple kindness toward a child of someone who feels this way can be a fine start. An officer will likely find that the initial suspicious or contentious look almost always washes away when a law enforcement officer suddenly hands their child a small gift. The initial look may change to a genuine smile.
Cops and kids have always had special relationships as police officers often have a role of a Guardian Angel and role model for little ones. Most people are familiar with The Runaway painting by Norman Rockwell that shows a kid sitting next to an officer in a diner. The fact that the little boy feels comfortable next the officer speaks volumes about the role model we serve as for kids.
We protect them and they trust us. The fact that these stickers are police badges also present an early recruiting opportunity for us as the young runaway may one day grow up to be a cop.
Handing a kid a little police badge sticker is a natural extension of our special relationship and an officer will quickly recognize the mileage these simple sticky pieces of paper have to build on that friendship.
Tom Wetzel is a lieutenant with an Ohio law enforcement agency.
|Written by Ed Stamelos|
|When good cops retire and ultimately settle down to what they envision as life of fewer demands. Naturally, thoughts will revolve around their continued existence, and what the future will hold in store. Before retirement becomes a gleam in the prospective beneficiary’s eye, memories revert to the recruitment poster that haphazardly hung in the barbershop, or the words from a respected family member who themselves joined the department long ago. They remembered a flyer that called for self-starters, those that can work under pressure, with little supervision and ones who are able to make instant decisions that will triumph following the most stringent review.
Some decisions will face harsh scrutiny from the country’s highest ranking judicial body. Oddly, never once are the defenders that made that controversial assessment considered; only the decisions they made.
If successful, the academy training course will be a sobering wake-up call. It is if the devil himself offered a personal escort onto the downward, ever spiraling, greased slope of disaster; into what could only be described as a nightmare. From the first day, it was not what any expected.
For most, at least while in training, it is what many would come to revile. Some would fold under pressure. Most would exceed even their own expectations. There would be several weeks of hard work when muscle fiber would tear, where profuse perspiration could have irrigated the academy commander’s lawn, and where the dream of completing this masochistic exercise was almost unimaginable.
Once graduated a bond will be formed with co-workers. It can only be severed death. The former fledgling has been transformed into a confident, raptor ready to leave their safe and protected nest. Asked if ready? Collectively, and in unison they shout “UUH-RAHHH!”
From the start, the new officer is expected to perform with maximum effort. The lives of family members, the public as well as each they work with depend on the decisions made. They must be spontaneous and spot-on. It is only now they realize why the recruitment flyer was so accurately specific.
Before one can be entrusted with the department’s full resources, the recruit must meet the department’s chosen inspiration, tolerably known as the “Field Training Officer. If the trainee had prior law-enforcement experience, they may have been used as the spark to ignite the dampened powder that lay dormant in the belly of the old cannon. It was a well intended jab at rejuvenation, most often unsuccessful. Instead, the first words imparted to the polished and eager to learn were, “Trust no one and get them first, before they get you.” Followed by, “forget everything you learned in the academy.” Field training officers love to impart that knowledge to the impressionable new officer. It gives them power and the assurance that everyone they run through that seemingly never ending break-in crucible will remember them by. It has been the mantra sung by field training officers since the days of Sir Robert Peel.
After weeks of hard work, they are finally on their own. They have the full resource and support of their peers, their supervisors, and the department. Badgering from the older, apathetic and complacent officers suggest they should not try to set the enforcement world record on fire. For now the words go unheeded.
At last, there is true independence. The officer may not see a supervisor the entire shift. The more callused officer may be able to avoid a chance meeting altogether. For them, a successful workday is one spent “Ditching the Ferret.” However, even for the most astute subordinate, supervisor avoiders are no competition for the three-striper with silver hair.
One supervisor, who was aware that a particular officer was often away from his assigned sector, called and asked for the patrol car odometer reading. Suspecting the mileage was needed to schedule a vehicle replacement the officer willingly complied. The supervisor asked for the officer’s location. One was given well within the assigned sector. Once reported, the supervisor directed the officer to remain in place. When they met, he was asked if he had moved. He had not. The sergeant checked the car’s odometer and found it to be errant by 47 miles more than originally reported. The officer was directed to explain the discrepancy in writing.
A few departments publish in-house, the sustained transgressions committed by employees (names withheld). They are fondly referred to as, “The Funny Papers.” Some are humorous in nature. One incident described a pizza parlor owner who reported an intoxicated off-duty officer that was swinging from a chandelier in his restaurant. The officer, wearing buccaneer boots and swishing a pirate sword, was shouting “Prepare to be boarded.” Ironically, he boarded the plank of suspension for a day.
Time on the job passes quickly and seasoned officers may find themselves at a career fork in the road; they either become a career officer, become a part of management, or resign and move on. Each spoke in the career choice trinity offers rewards and consequences. Of the first two choices, there is little more rewarding than to present the most favorable image of the department in which they represent. Conversely, there is a line between positive conduct and appalling bad judgment. The scrutiny an officer will suffer affects not only their individual verve, but the reputation of the entire department. All will feel the repercussions of the employee’s wrongdoing.
Once close, retirement must be given serious consideration. The thought of leaving something to which one has devoted time, energy, and deep feeling cannot be taken lightly. Transitioning from something exciting, and challenging, to a non-productive, more or less recluse existence is almost unconscionable. Realistically, part of them will be taken forever. It means parting with a piece of their soul. Old cops do not like to leave things they love.
For the young, it is not a problem. Every new day is a wild and intense liaison intravenously pulsed into the throbbing vein of destiny. They want to be there for each and every electrifying second. The new officer, still somewhat impetuous wishes to brim his basket of experience yesterday. Little do they know, retirement will face them faster than it takes a divorce attorney to ask for a retainer.
A cop has a lot to think about before retirement; anticipation yes, but also the heartbreaking downside that is a close kin to rejection. The last day is one of mixed emotion. They realize the gate leading to the pasture only opens one way. A return to the office even after a short time can make the retiree feel uneasy. Now, they must enter through the front door, and most assuredly, there will be new faces.
Years pass and as inflation catches up, the fiscal silk thread of economic solvency becomes so thin, it can no longer support the weight of the sacrificial worm that wove it long ago. The only golf played now is miniature golf. The former officer is no longer unique. They become a blade of grass in a meadow fertilized by the manure that seems all too memorable of times past.
When the monthly retirement stipend will no longer cover the inflated cost of living, a sobering chat with the demons that circle the comfortable existence globe scream for a financial resolution. The local Wal-Mart greeter position, the position they swore never to seek, the one in which duties include collecting and separating Wal-Mart carts from Safeway carts suddenly becomes attractive.
It is understandable how the spiraling financial demise reluctantly happens. One reason was the recent divorce that split the ever fragile post-retirement marital bliss. No longer is the soon to be ex-spouse willing to have a beer drinking, demanding, balding, sorrowful blob of order spewing minutia close by, let alone full-time. It has been the other’s domain for thirty years and no one is going to impose on that sanctioned, consecrated ground.
As for the geezerette, her spouse suddenly becomes unwilling to perform as if he was a balanced ball on the nose of a rampaging, menopausal sea lion who has fed upon great white sharks for the last twenty-five years. It won’t happen in his sea of tranquility.
Once the former guardian of peace realizes that half their salary, half their retirement, and possibly a tad of spousal support will be leaving the fold of their wallet or purse each month, the moths they harbored will have nothing to feed upon.
In a few years, however, the retiree will resolve life’s pressing issues and find a happy place. With a sense of pride, they hold dear the remaining photographs of days long past when they were the center of attention, when they were the resilient ones that others looked to for direction. Now the TV and an old, slow computer are the items centered on each day. They are the only lifeline to the outside world. Even the cell phone had to go. To avoid embarrassment from being without, they wear a garage door opener.
In a brief attempt to revitalize lost remembrances, a compassionate friend will drive by the office where they left so many memories; a place that filled their heart with joy and sadness, all within the same nano-second thought. It will always be the same, but again, they are quick to realize, it could never be the same. There are different people in that building now.
They gaze at the well trained, energetic officers standing proudly beside the department’s latest state-of-the-art patrol cars. They remembered being that young fry who swam their strongest against the tide of crime, wrongdoing and misdeed. They did one heck of a job too! It’s a shame they were the only ones that recognized it.
Moments later, they will return to a life of silent recollection. Their pride and self-respect will provide sustaining nourishment to get them through the remaining days; to the day when the last glimmer of light along with their last thoughts of past glory fade into darkness. Only then will there be a genuine and final release from their profession. How well those of us who have traveled that journey understand.