Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fallen Brothers

On Halloween night a Seattle police officer was gunned down and his trainee partner wounded by an assailant whose purpose was unknown. The trainee officer managed to get off a round or two at the fleeing vehicle. The alleged killer was wounded and is now in police custody awaiting court proceedings.
November 29th four police officers were assassinated at point blank range at 7:43 a.m. as they sat in a coffeehouse in Lakewood, Washington. They were preparing for their patrol shifts and reviewing the latest Department information on their laptop computers. One officer managed to return fire, wounding the murderer before succumbing to his own wounds. About sixty six hours later a police officer shot and killed the suspect as he reached for a weapon in his waistband. That weapon turned out to be a service pistol taken from one of the dead officers.
Impromptu memorials spontaneously appeared. Hearses carrying flag draped coffins along with mournful processions of hundreds of emergency vehicles followed routes lined with stunned citizens waving flags. Tears streamed down onlookers faces, newscasters choked up and couldn't speak. Emotionally draining memorial services were held in cavernous stadiums filled to capacity with officers from all over the country and the world.
The thin blue line seemed a bit thinner to many, but officers will close ranks and if the line is a bit thinner, its tensile strength is up by an order of magnitude.
I know a bit about cop culture. My father was a charter member of the Idaho State Police. My grandfather on my mother's side was a county Sheriff in Idaho. I have an Administration of Justice certification from Monterey Peninsula College. I've worn a badge. I've even been shot at a couple of times. I don't know by whom on either occasion, but I do know they missed--but not by much. My grandfather retired. Like a lot of Sheriffs in rural areas, he also was a farmer and later a shopkeeper. Law enforcement didn't pay very well, which is why my dad left the force. He just couldn't make ends meet on patrolman's pay with a growing family. The fact that he was the only State Policeman assigned to an area about the size of Delaware may have had a bearing on his decision as well.
My career in law enforcement was truncated by a California initiative. Proposition 13, more commonly known as "The Taxpayers Revolt" rolled back property taxes and caused widespread panic among public budgeteers. Departments froze hiring and laid off new hires (guys like me) until the dust had settled and people realized it wasn't quite the crisis it appeared to be. In the meantime, I, like my father, had to make a living and never did get back to law enforcement.
What did my grandfather, my father and myself have in common with the five officers killed in the last month and half? We all shared the desire for service; the calling to help. We are part of the community; parents, kids, neighbors, friends.
Cops run toward the gunfire so citizens won't have too. Firefighters charge into burning buildings to save those who cannot flee by themselves. They do so willingly, sometimes tragically, to help; to serve.
Mostly, we don't know why we do these things. Some call it altruism, some call it patriotism and some call it lunacy. But for whatever reason the thin blue line is what stands between the darkness and the light. If you hide in the shadows of darkness, beware; my active brothers will work tirelessly to expose you, apprehend you and make the streets safer. If you live in the light, the next time a cop pulls you over, do what he says. And after you've signed the ticket, thank him for his service. For you, you've just paid with a wallet, for us sometimes we pay with our lives.
And from generations past, and those yet to come, I can tell you: We would do it all again.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Out of service

Just in case anyone was wondering, I haven't run out of ideas for posts, but my computer is wonkered right now, so I won't be making any entries until it is fixed. Here are some of the things I'm working on at the moment:

Incarcerationville, U.S.A.

Restaurant Reviewing & the Art of the Good Meal

The Substitution Principle

Thanks to all of you who regularly read my posts, I'll be getting back at it when I'm on my own computer with my own resources at hand. Here's a little teaser for you though, I'm working on putting together podcasts of my posts, which will link to a website and my Face Book page. But that is in the new year, and probably a few hours of tech help down the road.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a joy filled New Year to you all.