My dear blogger friends, today’s post is based on the comments left on my “About” page by a great poet and a human being John J. Rigo, Texas’ Poet and Commentator (http://texaspoetry.net.). So rightfully, he recognizes and acknowledges the enormous impact of the generosity and caring attitude of Police Officers in his childhood. It surely is a pleasure to read these feelings of gratitude. Since I believe,
“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” Thurgood Marshall.
Winner of the Collin County Texas’ Poetry Award, John J. Rigo
“My greatest memories of police personnel is in Harlem, New York City as a child. My parents were very poor. Each Christmas, the Police organization of New York City “PAL” put on a free one day show for poor kids in the area with a two hour show, presents and candies. It was the only Christmas presents that my brother and I received for many years in my childhood. When I was young my Father said the only two great professions in life were that of fireman or a policeman. I was never neither, but always they held my admiration. One of my poetry works did involve the police personnel of the McKinney, Texas Police Department. Many of the men and woman printed the poem and carried it with them. It brought me great joy to learn of that.”
(This childhood experience of John J. Rigo highlights the kind nature and the spirit of giving of our Protectors. )
“Kindness is a magical spell-performed by enlightened beings-meant to enchant hearts and lift weary souls that they might fly.” Richelle E. Goodrich.
John J. Rigo, Texas’ Poet and Commentator further granted me permission to copy his poem and wrote, “The poem is in the heading of my blog site:http://texaspoetry.net.It is under a prayer to Saint Michael, the arc angel who is the saint of police, firefighters, emc personnel, and paratroopers. So I was told by the former police chief of the McKinney Police Department in Texas. You are welcomed to copy.”
“A Prayer to St. Michael, The Arch Angel” copyright 2009 by John J. Rigo, upcoming “Passion Amidst Apathy.”
Saint Michael the Arch Angel I come before you a soul made in the image of our God and Lord.
Forgive this human form that I bring before you which is but the temporary host of my soul. I humbly ask you to be my Defender in overcoming the temptations of the Devil that approach me each day from my physical life on this earth.
Protect me and defend me so that I may bring greater glory and worship to my God and Lord. When death finally releases me from this world be at my side as I approach the Lord of my future home.
I render you all my praise and joy in His name. Oh Protector that I wear about my neck each day in rememberance of my prayer to you keep me ever mindful of God’s Love for me.
“The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” Leo Tolstoy.
(Thank you John J. Rigo (texaspoetry.net.) for sharing your personal childhood experience with us. I thank you for allowing me to copy your lovely poem. I honor and respect you. Samina.)
Honorable RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson-Canada’s Top Gun
Honoring and Recognizing the RCMP Officers’ services and sacrifices in keeping the Canadians safe, Honorable RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson pays a fitting and inspiring tribute to RCMP and says:
“Our police profession is an essential contributor to the Canadian experience — what we call — the Canadian way of life. Weexist to keep our citizens safe, and our communities secure. Happily Canadians are amongthe safest in the world.This, in large part thanks to the work we do— you do — everyday, every night… all the time. Our work and perhaps more to the point HOW we do this work is the source of great interest to our citizens. Why? Because it must be done in a way that satisfies one overriding condition — respect for the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Charter.
It is no easy task to balance security and freedom, anyone in the business will tell you so. As my father used to say, “Believe you me.” It is an enormous, ongoing and life-altering challenge. Split second decisions, made on the fly, are unpacked and microscopically reviewed, sometimes for years. Judgments are made. Personal, professional and institutional reputations hang in the balance.
Today’s Canada demands that our police responses and strategies reflect the complexity, diversity and modernity of our communities. Public confidence, essential to the success of our mission, hangs in this balance.
Today we recognize and celebrate the men and women who not only understood and achieved this balance but built a career — made it their life’s work to forge new ways of securing our communities while ensuring every Canadian is as free as one can be in this life.
May your accomplishments inspire others to pick up the torchand continue the work of keeping Canada safe, secure and free.”
The job of police officers is one of the most valued and esteemed jobs all over the world. They are perceived as heroes who are presumed to fight injustice and uphold peace and harmony in society. Whenever there is violence, larceny, burglary, and other problems, we are always confident that the police officer will come to our rescue.
“We have an incredible warrior class in this country-people in law enforcement, intelligence-and I thank God every night we have them standing fast to protect us from the tremendous amount of evil that exists in the world.” Brad Thor
“Not Just a Symbol”
The young man came forward, his face drawn and sad And he held out his hand, displaying his badge. The old chief rocked slowly and put his hands in his lap And shook his head gently, and said, “What is this crap?”
The young cop sniffed, and from his eye wiped a tear, “I’ve given you my best for almost one year. But I make no difference, as I once thought I could, There is far more evil out there than is good.”
The old chief stared up into the young rookie’s eyes And tried to recall something clever and wise. “Tell me” he said, to the once eager young cop. “How many DUIs in a year have you popped?”
“Forty-two,” the rookie replied with great pride. “And had you not, how many more might have died? It’s not how many are arrested, now, is it? It’s how many less accident scenes you must visit.”
The kid hung his head, and flexed his strong hands, “But, sir,” he said, softly,” You don’t understand. “We’re greatly outnumbered, the drugs are the worst, The schools are like hell and the streets , they are cursed.”
“Dealers breed like damn roaches. On the kids, they all prey, And even when arrested, they are out the next day.” The old chief set his jaw, and tapped a red finger, And on the young cop, his eyes sadly lingered.
“If one little kid cannot get connected, If one pregnant junkie finds the strength to reject it, If one lousy addict decides he can beat it, If one crack-head in a million says I just don’t need it . . .
Then you have removed his greatest temptation, If only for a night, it might be his salvation, And wars are not won by those who say: Screw it. They are won by the men who decide they can do it.
The rookie pulled up an old wooden chair And running a hand through his shock of brown hair, “But what about the children and poor battered wives? Why can’t we stop it and fix all those lives?”
“Each time you set foot in that same, run-down house Each time you go back to bust that same dirty louse, For the children and wife, the violence has ceased, If for only a few hours, you offer them peace.”
“You cannot dictate their sad chosen path, You cannot stop his booze-laden wrath, You can’t pack their belongings and cart them away But you can prevent murder for just one more day.”
“But sir,” he said, his heart heavy like lead, “I know there are dirtbags who wish I were dead, But the public, the press, the politicians fling mud, And who says thank you when we shed some blood?”
The chief pursed his lips, his answer unknown For he knew it was this pain that hurt to the bone, “There’s no easy answers for the ache that you feel, But appreciation and praise just ain’t part of the deal.”
“The respect, gratitude and admiration, too Will not come from people who can’t do what we do. You ask for a sense of honor and pride, My advice, my son, is to look deep down inside.”
The young cop stared down at the badge in his hand And he knew he would not resign as he planned, For he saw the badge now as not just something he does, It was not just a symbol . . . It’s what he was.
Police Officers are blessed with the opportunity to rescue lives every day. This may include pulling a drowning victim out of water, or getting someone involved in an accident the much-needed first aid and basic life support before paramedics arrive. Daily instances are innumerable. Most significantly, their simple presence and consistent implementation of laws save countless lives. They prevent so many mortalities in the making by checking speeding limits, breaking up the fights and timely responding to calls of domestic violence.
A very tough aspect of a police officer’s job is that they often meet people when they are at their worst. People involved in substance abuse, gangsters, spousal abusers and people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the kinds of people they deal with on an everyday basis. The most gratifying characteristic of a police officer’s job is the distinctive chance they have to show these people an honorable way of life. They are usually an attentive audience and, if treated kindly and respectfully, will listen to what the police officers have to say. What police officers say and how they treat the criminal plays a huge role in helping them make better choices in the future.
“Difficulties Strengthen the mind as labor does the body.” (Seneca)
Police officer’s job is an extremely challenging job. Police work invokes both intellectual and physical confronts. They pursue the criminals and outwit them. Their profession is most of the times about problem solving. Police officers often work with people in conflict and come up with mutually amenable solutions. A great deal of police work involves assisting people solve problems to keep them out of the criminal justice system. In the field, we have seen police officers serve as doctors, lawyers, judges, counselors, babysitters, teachers, and the list continues.
Police Officers are exceptional humans among humanity. They are endowed within them immense inner strength by means of which they are elevated above and given control of their nature to do with as they intend. Their aim is to reach the higher purpose of life by carrying their duties towards humanity in all honesty, to the best of their abilities.
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” (quoting Reverend Phillips Brooks during Remarks at Presidential Prayer Breakfast, February 7, 1963). –John F. Kennedy.
Here is a prayer Our Protectors offer before they set off to their Calling.
Humble Commandant C.K. Ditti Kal addressing the graduating class of 2014.
The Commandant speaking at the annual convention of graduating class of 2014 said, “In the light of high cost of dental insurance, you will be required to keep your muzzles on at all times, except for lunch and dinner time. From now on, you will rely on your Judo and Karate skills to catch and nab the criminals. Money saved will be put in your pension scheme for a better pension, so that after retirement you don’t have to work in the circus as comedians”.
(Below is the Graduating K-9 class of 2014 with and without muzzles.)
Assistant Commander C.E. Wulver Biddy a humble in charge of K-9 Pension department
The Policeman stood and faced his God, Which must always come to pass. He hoped his shoes were shining as brightly as his brass. “Step forward now, officer. How shall I deal with You? Have you always turned the other cheek? To my Church have you been true?” The officer squared his shoulders and said, “No, Lord, I guess I ain’t. Cause those of us who carry badges can’t always be a saint. But I never took a penny that wasn’t mine to keep,
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Though I worked a lot of overtime when the bills just got too steep. And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes, God forgive me, I wept unmanly tears. I know I don’t deserve a place among the people here. They never wanted me around except to calm their fear. If you’ve…
Police are calling Wednesday, June 4, 2014, the “Darkest Day” in the RCMP’s history in New Brunswick when three RCMP officers lost their lives and two were crucially wounded in the line of duty.
“I’m always amazed and moved to tears about how committed the men and women who work for this organization are, who work for public safety.” Honorable RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said the days ahead will be difficult for RCMP members across the country. ” We will need time to mourn our fallen brothers and support their families through this tragedy,” he said. ” Their deaths are beyond comprehension. Their ultimate sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
We are faced with a very painful reality that further strengthens our faith in our protectors and our guardians. We have lost part of ourselves but in God’s good time we will recover and heal and come out stronger than ever in support of our protectors so that such a tragedy must never happen again. May God receive them with kindness and grace for our blessings and prayers are with them and their grieving families.
Profile of Leader Of The Nation-Police Officer
(Posted on February 10, 2013 by saminaiqbal27)
” to each there stands his own day;
to all the time of life is short and irretrievable;
but to extend one’s fame with deeds,
that is the task of valor”.
(Virgil, The Aeneid X. 467-9)
It is not possible for me to elaborate absolutely on the enormous role that the Police Force plays in society for the betterment of humanity. It would be vain of me to think of doing perfect justice to their continuous effort for refining their self and their perfectionistic spirit, to their profoundly realistic and moral fascinations to sense of duty and heroism, to their spiritual understanding of human life and death. They are the polished embodiments of the august and the righteous rulers of men. It would be difficult to fully unveil their unmitigated gifts of gentleness, and the ardent empathy with which they treat humanity by virtue of their nobility of thoughts. They are heroic men and women of the Police Force , and their dauntless nature makes them the grandest human beings. I present my modest effort.
The leading and the principal segment of the law enforcement agencies is the Police Force of any country. What makes a Nation take lead amongst the Nations of the world depends on its virtuous, honorable, principled, exceptional, dynamic and indomitable police force.
The law enforcement officers are the sole promise of hope for the innocent citizens. These are the officers who are continually in the forefront to fight the modern-day warfare in order to safeguard the citizens against harm and maintain public orderliness. The most important aspect of the police work is the knowledge and enforcement of the laws which have been passed by the lawmakers. Police officer is the foremost to make sure that our world remains safe and sound not only by enforcing laws on the citizens but also adhering to them by taking actions only permissible by the law. We have observed them check speed limits, offer counsel, write a ticket, issue a warning, or when mandatory, arrest someone. They preserve the “law and order” of society. There would be no order but absolute societal chaos without the law enforcement agencies keeping checks and balances in place.
The police officers deal with reality every moment of the day. When they receive a 911 call the officers’ effort is to get to the crime scene as quickly as possible. Their adversaries are their own fellow citizens who have chosen the wrong side of law, to live. These law breakers can resort to any means of violence to escape which could prove dangerous if they are carrying weapons or are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police officers are courageous and do not back away, and fight till the situation resolves in an amicable manner. They walk on thin line all the time protecting the innocent after all they are themselves also fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives and brothers and sisters. It is obligatory on society to recognize the magnitude of their role and safeguarding them from harm should be the responsibility of everyone, for harm to a single police officer is harm to the entire society.
Prerequisite to becoming a police officer starts at a very early age in their lives. A dynamic noticeable presence in school covering leadership qualities, academics and sports is a must for future protectors and leaders of the people. Police officers’ profession is like the occupation of educators and doctors who have genuine association with community life, and who perform a prominent role in social evolution, and reformation. The aspiration of the contemporary community policing crusade is to help to make even the down trodden neighborhoods look elegant and refined. They are presumed to be role models in the communities they grow within and are expected to set examples by performance to win the confidence and trust of the citizens within the neighborhood. Excellence and its pursuit is habit for the society’s truly visible public servants.
Whenever we hear a siren and notice a flashing light we know that a police officer is sent out in the direction where he is needed to protect someone in distress. The officer is cautioning everyone in the pathway to get out of the way and his crusade en route races towards defending a person from harm’s way whether from illness, assault or a gruesome situation. If the opposition is dangerous and irrational the officer is illumining as a well-lit target. The officer faces the enormous crises wholeheartedly and with immense spirit, knowing that it would be obligatory on his/her part to protect an innocent from harm. The officer does not negotiate his/her responsibilities but takes care of them by being ready for the ultimate sacrifice of his/her life in the line of duty. The moment when the officer stands between the impending harm and the innocent victims who look up to him/her like God and his protector on earth, is priceless. In the broader perspective, it is indeed The Police Officer who stands firm and tall in the middle of the advancing decadence and the defenseless society. Is there any procedure to evaluate the economic reward of this sublime reality?
Police officers’ job is both physically and intellectually demanding, and entails operating in wide-ranging unexpected environments and circumstances. Moments after shopping with their family, they could be giving directions to an off course motorist, aiding a senior cross a road, trying to resolve a domestic violence situation, or attempting to grab hold of a trained and unabashed shoplifter. A few instants later they could help deliver a baby on the roadside and in a while they could be apprehending an aggressive and disoriented drug dealer. Proceeding from one situation to another in a span of a short interval of time stipulates remarkable versatility and expertise. This demands flexibility, presence of mind, sound judgment, skill to switch from one situation to another, and tremendous diverse talent to deal with distinct situations in a commendable fashion. Everyday job also requires walking and standing for lengthy intervals, a stern physical demand with no rest or eating schedule. During investigations especially they can over exert for extended periods of time. Rushing after the law breakers and restraining them involves a lot of stamina, vigilance and endurance. The concept of service to people is so deep-seated that they are there for us twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to respond to every form of emergency. What would we do without their assistance during natural calamities or a terror threat? Their multifaceted job also requires them to control lose animals such as dogs, bears, cougars, coyotes and run away animals from the zoos. The physical and the mental exhaustion of the police work can influence police officers’ health in a very serious manner.
They are envisioned to have a sagacity of good judgment and a strong sense of conscientiousness while determining the fate of the citizens who depend on them for righteousness and impartiality. If an error in the evaluation has been made good police officers will rectify it immediately hence displaying a strong sense of fairness and justice which is built in as part of their character.
The stresses of the police officers’ line of work are immense, and on a continuing basis, their job being perilous and traumatic. A considerable danger of harm could be the result of contact with people whether in a social or official environment. According to the U.S department of labor, police officers have one of the highest rates of on-the-job injury and illness. It is commendable how they manage the countless trepidations of their job. They are required to keep the personal sentiments under firm control in the face of extreme danger despite the intensity and horrifying nature of the circumstance. Most of the images of battered, severed and dead bodies of men, women and children are horrific and heart wrenching. They are expected to survive impeccably through moments of rage, disappointment, disagreement, misconduct, bereavement, melancholy and agony. Some police officers become victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a physiological-psychological aftereffect of a traumatic event. These officers suffer from the repercussions of shootings and other unnerving images they witness everyday in their line of work in locations where danger never sleeps. We watch painful stories of police officers who have not only lost their jobs but also their families due to PTDC. On the job they display to have nerves of steel when confronted with the real tragedies of life every single moment of the day. This level of resilience and endurance makes them exceptional human beings. They are perfect men and women who endure the challenges of their life with poise and elegance since next to honor, courage is their greatest asset.
They observe the limits of self-discipline every moment since they know conquest of one’s self is a very sweet triumph which proves worthwhile in the long run. They talk to the criminals in a decisive and firm tone and at the same time turn around and talk to the victims of crime and their families in gentle and sympathetic manner, treating them with decency and dignity, offering them solace and comfort. They understand life and the world around us better than anyone of us, and are aware of the finest ways to live and also to teach people how to co-exist with honor. They are the epitomes of moral excellence.
The atmosphere created by the recent technological progresses has given rise to the culture of litigation making officers’ work a difficult challenge. It is true that every organization has righteous as well as depraved people but the majority of honorable police officers must not be judged in the light of deplorable actions of a few. It is important that we assert our utmost confidence in the institution of policing which stands out as the most prestigious and distinguished organization of our country. We must value the feeling that when we call 911 we know with complete assurance that some one will be there to be of assistance and that we are not without help. Is there a more satisfying feeling than this? For our safety they provide a visible presence to warn off criminals and consequently save us from harm and crime. Just envisage a life with no police to protect us?
The fast pace of technology has augmented more anxieties to the job of police officers since in this day and age they have to defend us from technologically innovative criminals. Technology has unlocked new avenues and generated new intricacies for the law enforcement especially in the past two decades. The look of the law enforcement is changing quickly with the enormous influence of technology. Most police departments have internet crime squads, and they are using new crime fighting technology to be more proficient since it allows them to keep pace with the criminals. Cutting-edge crime fighting techniques have become a must in combating sophisticated levels of crime.
Implementation of moralities is the long-standing function of police. In this way they influence every facet of human life. They keep the social and moral fabric of society intact and in the end whether our society remains in one piece or falls apart hinges on them and the strength we give them. I strongly feel that we need to support the police officers with all our means and in every way possible, since our very survival depends on this. We need them to lead us with their light of wisdom and guide us with their virtues since they are the righteous and honorable leaders of our nation.
Police officers who depart this life in the line of duty are often given grand funerals which are graced with the presence of large number of fellow officers. Watching the funeral of some of the finest and larger-than-life men and women of the world is always heartbreaking.
It will not be a bad notion that the next time you see a police officer do wave at him in an appreciating manner, pray for his wellbeing and if you can fully comprehend the intensity of his job and responsibility he accepts of protecting you, a Salute may be in order.
Finally, I would like to offer my salute to every police officer with the prayer:
“If the divine powers take note of the dutiful in any way,
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — Bellevue Officer Jim Bartley, gets pounced on by Leda, a Lavista Police Dog, during a routine joint training with Offutt handlers and military working dogs on April 10. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Advice of a seasoned limping criminal to his aspiring-to-be-criminal
A military police working dog attacks. (Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery)
young son, “Son, when you rob somebody, hold the loot tightly glued to your body and run full throttle, with the lightening speed like a glistening ghost of throbbing urgency. Soon, a moment will come when you will feel your body mass has turned into pure energy. That’s the moment, if you hear a Police Dog in a distance, or spot him on the horizon, drop the loot like a good habit, get your nose up and start climbing the nearest tree with the highest rate of climb you can muster. Now…
Once upon a time, not very long ago I witnessed a leopard frolicking with a tiny baby monkey on a dense branch of a tree. Baby monkey appeared petrified and scared, holding onto the branch as if he was glued to it. The leopard was cajoling and enticing the baby monkey to play with him and to trust him as a friend. Baby monkey could neither jump nor fly from the situation. All he could perceive was his fearful fate in the glaring eyes of the leopard, signaling the closing stages of his life. Eventually, the baby monkey lifted his tiny trembling finger to caress the leopard in a friendly, trusting way to alter the upshot. Like the strike of lightening, in a quick swipe of the leopard…
I read this true story of a Police Officer and I was touched by the issues that our protectors face on a daily basis. It is so true that one needs to be a super human to undergo so much stress of the everyday job and yet maintain a normal life. I wanted to share this heart wrenching story with my blogger friends.A special note to my blogger friends. Please forgive me for not coming to your lovely blogs to read, comment and to like them. I will be back as soon as I can. A million thanks for the concerns andenquires and support for me. I love you all. I am getting impatient to get back to my passion of life-my blog.Samina.
Life of a Police Officer: Medically and Psychologically Ruinous
The intensely challenging job of law enforcement is linked to many health issues. I met a former officer who tried to protect my high school friend and learned the effect her death had on him.
Police officer Brian Post recognized the 16-year-old girl lying face down in the grass at the Whispering Pines apartment complex in Lynnwood, Washington. He had gotten to know her in recent weeks, helping her obtain a restraining order against her abusive ex-boyfriend. Now, here was Sangeeta Lal, unconscious, with two bullets in her chest.
He knew she was a good kid. Brian had spoken to Sangeeta over the phone just a few hours earlier. He knew her mom worked the early shift, and she would be alone. He promised he would come immediately if anything went wrong.
The call came into 911 at 4:18 a.m. that someone was breaking into her apartment. James McCray, 21, had arrived dressed in dark clothes and a red and black stocking cap, according to police reports. He chased Sangeeta outside. “Please don’t,” neighbors heard Sangeeta scream, before he shot her.
Brian didn’t make it to the complex in time. He found her sprawled just beyond the sliding glass door of her neighbor’s apartment. He looked up and saw a little girl peering through a window at the teenager in the grass. He felt Sangeeta’s neck. It pulsed, and pulsed again. Then, no more. He touched her face.
“I know who the guy is, and I know where he went,” Brian told his partner. As the officers moved in on apartment 265 with weapons drawn, James looked out of the window and killed himself with a single bullet.
It was 1995, and for the next 19 years, Brian would blame himself for not being closer to Whispering Pines, for not saving Sangeeta. Brian was 31 when she was killed, and had been an officer for five years.
“She was in the worst environment, and she was trying,” said Brian, now 50. “You never know when you’ve saved a life, but you know when you’ve lost one.”
Sangeeta’s death marked the beginning of a downward spiral in Brian’s health, spurred on by a psychologically and physically challenging law enforcement career. Brian had been a healthy and fit ex-airborne infantry soldier when he began his policing career. But he eventually developed hypertension, anxiety, peripheral neuropathy, hearing loss, arthritis, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
When he was starting out, Brian says he wasn’t warned of how the career could do such damage. In 2012, an unprecedented study of 464 police officers, published in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health linked officers’ stress with increased levels of sleep disorders, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide.
Other studies have found that between 7 and 19 percent of active duty police have PTSD, while MRIs of police officers’ brains have found a connection between experiencing trauma and a reduction in areas that play roles in emotional and cognitive decision-making, memory, fear, and stress regulation.
In squad rooms full of cops, Brian would compare blood pressure meds with his colleagues. Most, if not all, of the police he knew with more than 10 years of service were dealing some kind of medical or psychological issue.
At night, Brian would hide his drinking from his wife. He went from sipping whiskey, to downing cheap 100-proof vodka.
“You see nothing but bodies, I swear, dead people,” he said. “Car accidents, hangings, suicides, murders, SIDS deaths.” He remembered a diabetic who killed himself by overdosing on chocolate. And then there was the conversation with a tongue-pierced meth user with an enlarged heart who had told Brian, “I’m white trash until the day I die.” He assaulted people in a parking lot and died in custody after deputies restrained him. The next day, Brian found himself close to fainting after viewing the autopsy photos of the same kid’s esophagus, and pierced tongue.
“I was so angry at this one woman for dying, that I yelled at her,” he said. “I just didn’t want to see another dead body…I should have recognized at that point, it’s time for me to back up.”
Years passed, and every once in while, Brian would Google Sangeeta Lal’s name. He wondered who else remembered her. He wondered if anyone had memorialized her.
* * *
Every few years, I would Google Sangeeta’s name too.
She was my friend, and high school classmate. We were the same age. Like the rest of her friends, I had known about her abusive boyfriend, who was gang affiliated, and how she had broken it off, which only enraged him more.
Sangeeta had the face of a child, round and cheeky, with long wavy black hair that she smoothed down with coconut oil. She usually showed up to school in lipstick the same shade as her nails, and jeans four sizes too big for her 5-foot frame, cuffed at the bottoms and held up with a long belt. Her family had relocated from Fiji to our town 22 minutes north of Seattle.
Our campus sat between a grove of evergreen trees on one side, and a run-down mall on the other. It had all of the makings of a public school caught in the throes of a changing urban city. Gangs had begun infiltrating the area, and with them came the occasional drive-by shooting, drug deal, or murder. My freshman year, murders, robberies, rapes, and assaults jumped by 18.4 percent in our county from the previous year, according toThe Seattle Times, and our 29,000-resident city of Lynnwood had the highest crime rate in the county per capita that year—about 110 crimes committed for every 1,000 residents.
Sangeeta’s apartment complex was about five minutes away from mine. Police referred to Whispering Pines as “Whispering Crimes,” Brian later said. On slow nights, officers would drive through the complex and inevitably find someone breaking the law. Sangeeta’s single mother worked an early shift at the Nintendo of America headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
Sangeeta was killed on the same day that Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168.
That afternoon, I waited for news of Sangeeta’s death to come over the television set. But all channels went back to firefighters and frantic parents in Oklahoma. When the newspaper mentioned the murder-suicide the next day, it printed her age wrong. It said she was in her late teens, or maybe 20. It didn’t mention her name at all. So I wrote a front-page story about Sangeeta for The Royal Gazette, our high school newspaper. She was the first person I had known and cared about who died violently, and the first death I ever covered as a journalist.
I would go on to become a national reporter, covering many more shootings, deaths, and high profile news events. Sixteen years after Sangeeta died, I ended up writing about a college class on death. It was in New Jersey, taught by Dr. Norma Bowe, a registered nurse who also held a master’s degree in health administration, a Ph.D. in community health policy. I also became a student in her class.
“Most of you are here for a reason,” the professor said on the first day. “Maybe someone’s story in this room, or someone’s experience, might press on some scar tissue for you. So that’s okay. We’re sitting in a circle right now because we’re really beginning a bereavement group.”
She gave out the first assignment. Everyone opened up their notebooks and waited for her cue to take notes: “Write a goodbye letter to someone or something that you’ve lost,” she said. “I’d like you to say whatever you need to say to that person and then I’d like you to sign and date the letter. Whatever popped into your head first when I said those words, that’s where you should go.”
“Any questions?” she asked. Students shook their heads and began zipping coats and bags. “Alright, have a good week.”
A few days later, I opened a blank page on my computer screen and sat there for a moment remembering what she had told the class. Then, I began to type: Dear Sangeeta…
I held on to the letter for a couple of years, and then, last December, at the suggestion of the professor, decided to post it online.
* * *
In the years after Sangeeta died, Brian continued to self-medicate with alcohol. He sealed off her death, and all of the others, in a mental chamber he tried not to open.
“By sealing off, I mean I let it fester,” he said later. “I went through a very dark time.”
His job continued to plague him. Brian was one of the officers who closed in onLonnie Cedric Davis, who went on killing spree in Shoreline, Washington, in 1999. Davis stabbed his mother and 18-month-old nephew to death in their home, before driving 100 miles per hour on the I-5, and crashing into a 64-year-old motorcyclist who lost part of his leg. Davis escaped into a Shoreline neighborhood, breaking the neck of an 82-year-old woman and beating a 63-year-old retired nurse to death.
“He went into a house that had guns in it,” Brian recalled. Police would later find five weapons, including a semiautomatic assault pistol, and lots of ammunition. “Then the fight was on. It lasted a couple of hours… fragments of my round hit him.”
Lonnie fired up to 50 shots at police, until a sniper round finally killed himwith a gunshot to the head.
Brian’s drinking worsened. While he was on the force, his mother had died of cancer, his sister had committed suicide, and his father had died in a skydiving accident. His marriage ended.
All of the death. All of the misery. “What’s the point?” He thought those words would be carved into his tombstone.
After 10 years with Lynnwood Police, Brian spent seven years in the sheriff’s department, until one day in 2008, when he came to work drunk.
He could have given up on life right then. Instead, he gave up on alcohol. It was the last time he drank.
Brian got counseling. But it was too late. He couldn’t get his job back. He went to work for an organization called Safe Call Now instead. Established in 2009 by former police officer Sean Riley, it is a confidential 24-hour crisis referral service for law enforcement and emergency services personnel, which also works with the FBI National Academy Associates Inc. to do mental health training for first responders.
“How do you prepare or train an individual to see 26 children who have been murdered?” Sean said. “Those tragedies. Newtown. Aurora. For any human being, how are they supposed to handle that?”
Sean had previously worked as a homicide and sexual assault detective, and got to the point where he was taking 40 Vicodin a day. Too often, officers will try to cope on their own,” Sean said. “In the profession, they often have been trained to think, “I can’t show weakness, I can’t break down.’ You’ve got this shield, this bullet proof vest, because you have to do your job. Where is your outlet?….You think, ‘Is someone going to report me? Am I going to lose my job?’ You have to keep up this façade.”
Last month in Nevada, Sean led “emotional body armor” training for 30 police and correction officers, dispatchers, and military personnel. Similar trainings take place around the country. After two-and-a-half days, these normally guarded professionals were “crying, reflecting down on their knees in the program,” he said. “We can break them down in about the first hour.”
Five years since Brian was fired from the sheriff’s department, he now answers calls from struggling law enforcement personnel across the nation. The organization averages 70 to 150 calls per month. He can relate to their concerns of not wanting to appear weak.
“You see these bright shiny faces in the academy, and you think, ‘Oh, you poor bastards. You have no idea how fun and how bad this is going to be for you,’” Brian said. “They get to play cops and robbers for real. They get to shoot bullets and drive fast.”
They have no idea yet which lives they will lose.
In February, Brian Googled Sangeeta’s name again.
If she had lived, she would have been 35 years old.
* * *
I got an email in my inbox on Feb. 12. It read:
“My name is Brian Post, I’m a “retired” former Lynnwood police officer who knew [Sangeeta]. I was the officer who talked with her about the Protection Order, I tried to stay close to the apartments, and I made sure the other officers on the crew knew about the situation. Unfortunately, I was also the officer who found her and felt her last heart tremor.
There’s more I suppose, and I’ve felt enormous guilt for being so far away… until now I’ve always been so saddened that there was apparently nothing to memorialize her. It was a lovely letter, I’m glad people will know her name.”
A week later, I met Brian at a Starbucks in Lynnwood. “It’s not Mayberry,” Brian said, referring to the idyllic small town from the Andy Griffith Show. But Lynnwood is a different city now. Crime rates have dropped, and gangs have been quelled. The mall has been upgraded and beautified. The old Lynnwood High School, demolished. A bright, modern high school built not too far away. Wealthier residents have hung on. Families from Somalia, Ethiopia, West Africa, India and beyond have moved in.
Brian towered over me, a barrel of a man with close-cropped blondish-white hair. I could see how he might be intimidating if you met him in a dark alley with his gun, but on this rainy day he seemed gentle.
About two-and-a-half years ago, he went through a period of mourning. He’d thought about trying to reach out to Sangeeta’s mother.
“I don’t think I will ever accept it,” he said. “In my perfect world, I would have been closer…I knew exactly where her apartment was. I’ve thought about how I would have approached him.”
If James had shot at them first, Brian would have swiftly killed him.
Sangeeta’s death changed the way he policed, and he carried her memory with him in every domestic violence case that he encountered. Losing a domestic violence case at trial, or when a victim declined to prosecute, became almost more than he could take. “I became unreasonably frustrated,” he said, “almost panicked, feeling that I’d failed again.”
Brian now teaches firearms and tactics classes, in addition to working with Safe Call Now and Code 4 North West, a similar program aimed at first responders in Washington State. He attends regular therapy, has remained sober, and has overcome his PTSD.
Often, he feels lost in the civilian world. “I still have to admit, I do struggle,” he told me. He still thinks of Sangeeta. He still doesn’t know whose life he may have saved over the years.
But he saved his own, and I am so grateful that he did.
When Baltimore Police officer Dan Waskiewicz responded to a ‘vicious dog’ call, what he found instead was a new best friend!
When he arrived on scene, officer Waskiewicz found a frightened, obviously neglected pit bull, being chased by children that were yelling and throwing bottles at him. He called the scared dog over, his tail tucked between his legs and panting heavily, and offered him some water. The so-called ‘vicious dog’ quickly sat down beside him and began licking his pants. Realizing the pit bull was no threat, he put the dog into his squad car – that’s when the real kisses began!
Rather than call animal control, who Waskiewicz feared would euthanize the affectionate dog, he drove him to the local animal shelter himself. During the ride, the pit bull sat…
Honorable RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, talks about his number one challenge, and says,
“Public trust. I don’t think people know how urgent it is in our organization. I’ve had officers say to me when I travel that they don’t like to talk about what they do sometimes when they go to new areas, when they are with their neighbors….The lion’s share of our members and employees, day in day out, come in and do enormous public service to Canadians. I can’t be seen as the new leader to be running around and saying the place is falling down. I have to be persuasive in making the case to everybody, those 90 percent of employees, and say I can’t do this by myself. So all of us got to go to those folks and we got to knock ‘em on the head….Without the public trust, you are not going to be effective in your core business. If people don’t have some confidence in our ability to close investigations-market enforcement investigations, homicide, and organized crime cases-they are not going to participate.”
Vancouver Coastal Health says the quick action of police officers in a stabbing last Friday saved a man’s life.
Officers were quickly at the scene of a fight between the two men at Main and Cordova Street. They found a victim on the ground suffering from a serious stab wound, and applied a tourniquet to the victim’s upper arm, stemming the flow of blood.
“If the VPD member(s) had not deployed his (tourniquet) in an attempt to attenuate the bleeding, the patient would not have survived,” said Dr. Erik Vu of Vancouver Coastal Health.
“It isn’t often VPD is given credit for saving a life – but this officer, and the training he received from you and Force Options, deserves a lot of the credit that kept this individual alive.”
Police believe the attack was targeted, but no charges have yet been laid. A suspect in the case was…
Excellent article that touches upon the issue that is becoming more and more crucial with time. I fully agree with erinjcs that Police have a job to do and they need to be respected. We must honor and respect our protectors and try to be of help to them whenever we can rather than hinder them in any way.
It seems to be happening more and more that people think it is okay to fight with the police. It’s not! The police have a job to do and they need to be respected. We should be standing up for them on issues like this – since the only reason they even have to use tasers is to protect society from people who cannot be controlled in other ways.
Why should a police officer have to weigh in with uncontrollable troublemakers and risk getting walloped or injured when they can use another safe mechanism that allows them to keep their distance? There are hundreds of police officers that are killed or injured on the job each year while on the job protecting our cities/towns because of individuals that think that it is okay to resist them.
“We need to increase women coming into the force, we need to increase women in the senior executive ranks,” Commissioner Paulson said, explaining his goal is to have “more women in our decision-making process”. He further emphasized, “The value of having women in a Police Role is that you take the interaction with a citizen away from the Force Dynamic, and you put it in the behavior, Thoughtful Dynamic. It is quite a Powerful Force to be reckoned with. We have this sort of traditional notion that we are wrestling people, jumping on people, putting handcuffs on people. The woman’s view of the world is a much more Powerful, Persuasive Force than just an arm around the neck.”
Canada’s Top Cop pledged to increase the number of female recruits, and to promote more women to senior ranks. Commissioner Paulson said he wants half of all recruits to be women within two years to help reach the goal of having a national police force that is 30% female by 2025.
“It would not be a bad notion that the next time you see a Police Officer do wave at him/her in an appreciating manner, pray for his/her well-being. And if you can fully comprehend the intensity of his/her job, and the responsibility he/she accepts of protecting you, a Salute may be in order.”
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Honorable RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Commissioner Bob Paulson
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