Law Enforcement-19 years and counting
Many people use humor to deal with stress which is why I enjoy sharing this story.
There was no backup available. Neighbors reported seeing a flashlight in the window of a vacant residence and the front door was open. Should I go ahead and check the residence or wait for backup?
Two schools of thought on this. I am almost 6-foot-tall and bullet proof and can handle this, or, I am going to go home alive and uninjured after my shift to see my kids. Can I not have it both ways?
Still no backup.
It was a very busy night and I am working North Vidor. Now I have another “in progress” call holding.
I got this. Time to “man up”, “do or die”, “separate the men from the boys.” Insert your favorite adage here.
I clear leather by drawing my weapon and enter the house.
Flashlight in one hand and a .40 caliber Glock in the other. Arms crossed at the wrists just as I was taught in the police academy just 18 months earlier, reminding me, ironically, of a skull and cross bones.
Living room. Clear. Heart racing. The flashlight creating dancing shadows of imaginary bad guys all waiting to take me out.
Entering a bedroom, I detect motion to my left. I swiftly turn and am instantly blinded by a flashlight aimed directly into my eyes. What is worse, holding the flashlight is a large man also brandishing a handgun that is pointed directly at my chest.
Almost, but not quite freezing, I begin to squeeze the 5.5 pound trigger of the Glock. A half inch pull of the trigger and someone’s life changes forever.
So this is how it goes down.
Blood, Sweat and Tears. Yes, they were a great band formed in the 60’s but blood, sweat and tears is also a common descriptor for the daily life of a police officer. You have just read an excerpt of what I consider an example of the “sweat” portion of being a police officer. You may surmise that “blood” is to follow. We will see.
As many of you may guess, the “tears” of this job are no doubt a result of the senseless death of a child or a fellow officer. Something no one wants to experience but eventually will in their career. I have been a member of the law enforcement family for 19 years. About half of those years was spent on patrol while the rest in investigations and more recently, administration. I could sit here and talk about how law enforcement has changed since I started out, but in reality, it has not.
Although technology has improved by leaps and bounds, a higher emphasis on training is prevalent and the equipment has improved immensely, there still remains the fact that there are bad people doing bad things to good people and there are those who have to stop them. That jobs falls upon the broad shoulders of police officers.
This article is more a personal retrospect and how the field of law enforcement has affected me as opposed to an anthology of war stories . Quite simply, I feel no higher degree of animosity towards the dregs of society than I once did as a civilian.
My wife, Linda would disagree. I have always held law breakers in very low regards, even as a civilian. I just can’t stand for someone to “get away with it.” Only now I can more easily recognize them and identify what they are up to and have the legal authority to stop them.
I am less likely to be a victim of a violent crime because I am constantly scanning my surrounds and never sit in public with my back to the door. This is common for all police officers. Even those who are retired.
I feel that I am a better person for having chosen this career path and that it is not for everyone, but was right for me.
To the public I put forth this thought. Every job, no matter how exciting or dangerous, has its share of menial tasks. To you, the civilian, a menial task may be an officer stopping you and issuing a citation when there are drug dealers, murderers and crack heads out there walking the streets. I assure you, a traffic stop is not a menial task but an open invitation to danger. I would say the potential for danger on a “routine” traffic stop is as dangerous as responding to a domestic violence call.
Be thankful that people exist who will take on this never ending challenge to keep you and your family safe and attempt to recover your valuables if they are ever stolen or prevent them from being stolen in the first place.
To any young officer reading this; talk things out with those you trust, maintain a strong faith in our Lord and always have a stress-free outlet.
Law enforcement is a labor of love but a labor nonetheless. Be safe and make sure you go home to your loved ones.
Oh, as far as the first paragraph to this article. At the very last instance before I fired my weapon, a familiarity registered in my brain as I realized the “large man” holding the handgun, shining the flashlight into my eyes was me.
Well, actually it was my reflection in a dresser mirror. It was one of the scariest and funniest things I have ever encountered in law enforcement. I did not have to discharge my weapon that night although I have fired it 14 times in the line of duty since then. Thankfully, none towards a human. If you take nothing else from this, just know we are here for you. To protect you and keep you safe even if it means protecting you from yourself. Thank your first responders. They will appreciate it.
Fred R. Hanauer III
Special To The Record