Dec 122009

On December 8th I had the great honor of attending the memorial service for the four officers from Lakewood, WA police department. The service was held at the Tacoma Dome and was attended by over 20,000 law enforcement and members of other emergency services.

My day started at 6:00 AM with the drive to McChord AFB arriving at about 0930. The base had been closed to allow for a staging area for all of the police and fire vehicles. It was a steady stream of vehicles arriving and my understanding is that when the number of vehicles reached 2000 they shut it down and turned vehicles away. I think the vehicles were just told to go to the Tacoma Dome.

Staging area at McChord AFB

Staging area at McChord AFB

At 10:00 AM vehicles started leaving the staging area in procession to the Tacoma Dome. The 10 mile procession drove past the Lakewood Police Department and limousines picked up members of the officers families.

The original schedule was for the service to begin at 1:00 PM but do to the very large number of vehicles in the procession and length of time it was taking it didn’t get started until 2:00 PM. Even then not all of the vehicles had arrived at the Tacoma Dome. Even with temperatures in the low teens many people lined the procession route to pay their respect.

The service lasted about three hours and my words alone could not describe it. I was very moved by the vast support that was shown for these fallen officers. The Tacoma Dome was at near capacity. The RCMP’s were reported to have sent nearly 1000 officers. There were officer’s from as far away as New York, Boston and Florida. I saw patrol cars from Southern California and Missoula Montana.

In the Tacoma Dome

In the Tacoma Dome

The Honor Guard must have numbered around 200 and was the largest I have ever seen. I couldn’t even tell you how many agencies were represented. When the Bagpipe’s played Amazing Grace my eyes teared up. An officer from the Lakewood Police Department sang The Dance by Garth Brooks. Family members talked about their fallen loved ones and there was a touching video depicting each officers life. The service ended with the last radio call for the fallen officers.

Myself and three other officers from my department attended. By the time we got back home it was 9:30 PM. It was a very long day but a memory that will be with me for the rest of my life.

Rest now my fallen brothers and sister. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten.

Dec 112009

The following was sent to me from our department Padre. I just had to pass it along… Keep up the good harassment work.

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Recently, the Chula Vista Police Department ran an e-mail forum (a question and answer exchange) with the topic being, “Community Policing.” One of the civilian email participants posed the following question, “I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?”

From the “other side” (the law enforcement side) Sgt. Bennett, obviously a cop with a sense of humor replied:

“First of all, let me tell you this…it’s not easy. In Chula Vista, we average one cop for every 600 people. Only about 60% of those cops are on general duty (or what you might refer to as “patrol”) where we do most of our harassing.

The rest are in non-harassing departments that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents.. And at any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60% patrollers are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So roughly, one cop is responsible for harassing about 5,000 residents.

When you toss in the commercial business, and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 10,000 or more people a day.

Now, your average ten-hour shift runs 36,000 seconds long. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and then only three-fourths of a second to eat a donut AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to this challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people which we can realistically harass.

The tools available to us are as follows:

PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. “My neighbor is beating his wife” is a code phrase used often. This means we’ll come out and give somebody some special harassment.

Another popular one is, “There’s a guy breaking into a house.” The harassment team is then put into action.

CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or no driver’s licenses and the like. It’s lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.

RUNNERS: Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours.

STATUTES: When we don’t have PHONES or CARS and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called “Statutes”; Criminal Codes, Motor Vehicle Codes, etc… They all spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people.

After you read the statute, you can just drive around for awhile until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, there’s this book we have that says that’s not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy. It is a really cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well.

We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to “harass” some people.

Next time you are in my town, give me the old “single finger wave.” That’s another one of those codes. It means, “You can harass me.”

It’s one of our favorites.

Dec 032009
Fallen Heroes

Fallen Heros

from left: Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Mark Renninger, 39.

On Sunday, November 30, 2009 an animal named Maurice Clemmons, shot and killed these four brave police officers. I have never met Greg Richards, Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, or Mark Renninger but they were my brothers and sister. I can’t explain the feeling inside me over their senseless execution by a man monster that should never have been on the street. I wont get into blasting former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for being instrumental in letting such a beast go free. The media and society will take care of that. I do hope he pays with political death.

Two days later Clemmons was shot and killed by another hero with the Seattle Police. I know I should not feel happiness over the death of another human but I do. As a police officer, society believes we should only bring the criminal to justice but I believe he was. I know if the officer had been able he would have taken Clemmons into custody but Clemmons actions made the decision for the officer. His death was the best possible outcome to this terrible event.

A memorial service will be held at the Tacoma Dome on December 8th at 1:00 PM. I will be there along with an estimated 20,000 fellow officers. Please take a few moments to remember and honor these brave officers and the family and friends they were taken from.