Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Silent Salvation...

All my postings on this blog are provided to me by revelation from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He prompts me to write these events.  This particular one has been prompted to me at least a dozen times but
I find other things to do to not accept the promptings.  I can no longer avoid what I know to be inevitable for
this blog....

In my early years as a traffic officer I thought to be a motors officer would be so much fun and prestige.  Getting to ride a motorcycle instead of a big car would enable me to maneuver in and out of traffic much easier.  Little did I know that this particular assignment was none of the things I thought it would be.  It was
actually very dangerous.  By the time I realized this there was no turning back.

Being 6'1" tall I was able to hold up the big Yamaha motorcycles we were assigned to ride.  They were extremely heavy and  loud.  The roar of the engine was directly under my seat and the windshield was for my protection.  It was to prevent me from getting hit by bugs at whatever speed I would travel.  Unfortunately,
I sat much higher in the seat than the windshield could protect.  At times I still felt like a human grill when the
huge June bugs would strike my helmet or the front of my jacket.
The day I had to qualify to ride the motorcycle wasn't at all as I expected.  It was not on a controlled course but on the highway itself.  The by-pass was not as busy as the main road but there was still some traffic that
would drive past us.  I was so nervous as I knew everything I did would be critiqued by all those on the team.  I later found this to be true everyday of my career.
Nervousness sometimes makes a person blind.  I mean they get tunnel vision and don't really see the whole
picture.  The first test was to ride upright on a straight roadway and to stay in your designated lane of traffic.
Getting on the bike was no big deal for me, and riding it was a breeze.  But there was no other vehicles on the road at the time so it was a false sense of security.  I think I was more critical of myself than the instructors were.  I passed the course with 'flying colors' and was awarded the privilege to be the first female motorcycle officer in the state.  A large sigh of relief and I was on my way.
The uniform we had to wear was much different than the regular one.  There were knee high boots, our pants were tucked into the boots which cause them to balloon out on the sides.  I just was not impressed with a pair of pants that emphasized my hips!  Our jacket, however tended to cover them up a bit.  We were not a fashion statement by any means!  Of course we had to wear helmets too which were hot and heavy.  Nobody could tell that I was a female until I started talking to them.  I was referred to as "Sir", many times.

This position was great during the summer months when the sun would remain out nearly until 10:00 p.m. The rainy days we'd ride in a 4 door sedan for safety reasons.
When working the interstate highway it was mandated that officers on motorcycles would work in pairs.
We'd ride side by side in the traffic lane and make all our stops together as a team.

One evening my partner and I received a call of juveniles racing in a neighborhood.  Little or no vehicle description was available.  The caller simply had advised that we'd be able to hear the loud motors of the cars involved when we reached the neighborhood.  So we went to the area and sure enough we could hear the cars with loud motors and squealing tires.  My partner went straight towards a large group of cars and kids as I drove around the group to get to the other side.  These kids did not know that there were two officers en route to their location.  The motorcycles made a loud very distinguishable noise as he approached
the group. At about the same time he neared the large crowd they all began to drive off and run away.  They all departed south from their location at a high rate of speed.  As I approached from the same direction as they were heading I was forced to stop and let them depart.  It was very very dark along this stretch of road
and my visibility was minimal.  All I could see was headlights and I heard the breaking of bottles on the street and laughter of those departing.  As they were leaving and nearly all gone, I heard a most horrific crash about 300 yards to my left.  The next thing I saw was a police motorcycle skidding down the roadway without it's driver.  I recognized this bike as belonging to my partner.  I watched the bike slide over in to a ditch.  I felt like I was in shock then I turned up the road and went in search of my partner.
The first thing I saw was blood smeared on the roadway but I could not see him.  As I parked my bike and radioed for assistance I began calling his name and looking for him.  It seemed like I had walked a mile when I felt something touch the top of my head.  This road was lined with trees on both sides but it wasn't a tree limb that was touching my head.  It was a piece of  wire that looked like rope.  It was strung across the road at a level to catch the overheads of a patrol unit.  Unfortunately,  It was lower and it caught my partner under the chin as he rode up to the large group.  I knew then that he was severely injured along the road, somewhere.  As I continued to search for him I listened intently for any moaning or groaning from him so as to zero in on his location.  With tears streaming down my face I walked the easement until I tripped over a large object that I thought was a rock.  With my flashlight I shined the light at the point I had tripped and I found not a rock but the decapitated head of my partner.  I never moved from this location until my supervisors and other officers arrived.  My legs were like rubber, I could not walk.  I was angry and I was
crying hysterically.
I was placed on administrative leave for a few weeks to deal with this senseless death.  I refused to ride the motorcycles after this and have never ridden one to this day.  This bleak day in my career was a preparation for the other cruel events that I would be involved in during my tenure.  It did toughen my exterior somewhat and it taught me that it was alright to cry and be human.  I did not know at the time but I was saved from this unexpected fate.  My purpose had not been fulfilled.  Salvation comes in many forms, I have learned.  My purpose on this earth has yet to be completed.
Now that I have turned my life over to Jesus Christ I know that He has a plan for us all.  He prepares us even when we are unaware that HE is with us.  HE does not knock or announce his presence. But I believe HE is my salvation for eternity.    

Monday, January 12, 2015

Some things are not what they appear to be.....

While driving in town one Saturday afternoon I was in my patrol car behind an older model white station wagon with several children in the backseat.  As we were at a T-intersection and awaiting traffic to clear  so we could turn left the white station wagon pulled forward at an accelerated speed.  The car went straight across the intersection into a large vacant lot.  This lot used to be a mobile home park and was currently vacant.  Traffic on the main road nearly struck this car but thank goodness the on-coming vehicle had good brakes!  As the white car entered the lot the passengers front door flung open and an individual rolled out onto the ground.  The vehicle kept moving, leaving him on the ground.
I was shocked and knew immediately that something was not quite right.  I turned on my emergency equipment and drove to the vacant lot as well.  As I exited my car I saw the station wagon coming back but my concern was for the person on the ground.  Was it a domestic fight and was this person injured?  As I hurriedly walked to the person on the ground it became very clear that he was in the thralls of a Gran Mal seizure.  As I attempted to get close to his head to hold him, the driver of the car screamed at me to leave him alone!  This startled me and I immediately called for a back up unit and an ambulance.  She was becoming hysterical and he was seizing terribly.  The only calm ones on this scene were the children.  By the time the ambulance arrived the man was no longer seizing and he was beginning to come around.  While the paramedics attended to him, I talked to the wife and found out that this is a regular occurrence with  her husband.  The seizures were due to his military service in Viet Nam.  She began telling me about some of his episodes and she began to cry as she described
lovingly the affects this has had on their family.
The husband was transported to the hospital on Ft. Hood due to the road rash he received from rolling out of the car.  I escorted the wife and children to the gate leading on post when she had calmed down enough to drive.  This family came to the police department to see me several weeks later to Thank me for my concern and loving consideration.
In this situation, Heavenly Father insured that this family had the help they needed by putting me there to help.  What it appeared to be was not all what it was. I found great supporters in this family for many years.  Thank You, Jesus.

Working a graveyard shift becomes boring when there isn't much going on so patrol units would get out of their cars and check businesses for anything suspicious. Walking around the buildings often times would rejuvenate us simply by the fresh air.    And of course sometimes we'd find something or something or someone would find us.
One late Friday night, I walked around a small strip mall off the main highway in town.  My patrol car was parked in the front of one of the businesses.  In this mall was a restaurant and a bar, a Harley Davidson dealership, and an insurance agency.  The restaurant stayed open 24 hours so people were usually going in and out regularly.  This particular morning that was not the case.  As I walked to the back of the building it was pitch black!  I had a flashlight, though.  I walked along the building and was in the dark, pretty much hidden, when 3 burly guys came out of the bar.  They were highly intoxicated and hell bent on  fighting each other.  As they were about to fight I popped out of the dark and identified myself.  Their attention was detoured from each other to me. They began to talk to themselves about jumping me.  I knew they were no match for me when they began to move towards me.  I drew my service revolver and told them to stop or I would have to shoot them.  They all just laughed at me!  This is the first indication to me that I might actually be in trouble!
As I slowly moved backwards into the dark corner I began to pray for a way to save myself.  The men began to cajole me telling me that I should just give up that they were going to 'have their way with me'.  They were loud and scary.  About the time I actually entered the darkest area I heard them say, "Let's get her boys!"  At that exact time one of the doors at the back of the building opened up and out stepped 2 HUGE men.  They each were armed and one of them told the 3 drunks that they'd have to go through them to get to me.  The two men were no less than six foot 5 inches tall, with long beards, skull caps, and big double barrel shotguns!  They reminded me of ZZ Top!
The 3 drunks scattered and ran off much to my relief.  When the 2 lifesavers turned around and introduced themselves to me I found out they were the owners of the Harley Davidson shop and had been inside their office and heard everything that was happening outside.  They became my heroes that morning and my friends for life.  Heavenly Father sends help from where we least expect it.  These men were my salvation.  They looked rough as most die hard bikers do but they were angels for me!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Woes of an F.T. O. Part 2

In several businesses you will find family members working with each other and sometimes for another family member.  This is no different in police agencies.  When a brother officer has proven himself to be a dedicated member of his team and a sibling applies to join the ranks it is often given top priority to hire him/her over all other applicants based on an already proven sibling.   This can sometimes backfire as the new hire has to live up to the expectations of his/her older sibling.
A very young officer candidate, Officer T, is the brother of Investigator P.  Officer T is personable, clean cut, self assured, and eager to prove himself.  It is obvious that he isn't happy having to go through the training phases with other officers because he is the brother of Investigator P and he already knows what to do.  Or so he thinks! Officer T makes it through the previous 4 phases.  The officers that trained him in these phases have reservations about several things but nothing specific to warrant remedial training and they pass him along to other officers in hopes that they may see what they see and feel strong enough to recommend remedial training or more drastic action such as termination.
I am assigned Officer T in the 5th and final phase of training.  In this phase I am dressed in plain clothes and I ride in the passenger seat.  I do not interfere in Officer T's duties UNLESS he breaks the law or jeopardizes
the safety of the public or ourselves. I opt out of reading the comments of the previous training officers in order to be completely objective in my observations of this phase.
In the first call it is a domestic disturbance where the wife is the aggressor against her husband.  Officer T approaches the husband while another officer arrives and talks to the wife, in a separate room.  Officer T displayed no concern for the welfare of the husband.  He failed to allow him to tell what had happened to prompt the argument.  Officer T simply became rather obnoxious to the male and told him to 'get a grip' and stand up for himself.  He further stated to the male that he should be the boss in his own home.  If his wife wouldn't listen to him he needed to get an 'equalizer' to get her attention.  I was aghast at his advice to become violent.  The poor husband was in shock too.  Thankfully, the other uniformed officer gave better advice to the wife and there was a peaceful resolution.  As we were departing the scene Officer T became indignant toward the husband and began to laugh at the weakness he felt he displayed.  Then he began to laugh out loud uncontrollably.  I was shocked at this demeanor.  I noted his immaturity and lack of sympathy.
The main purpose in Officer T being an officer was to run radar and write traffic citations.  He was a fast study in the operation of the radar unit.  Currently, he held the record for the most traffic citations written by a candidate officer in training and he was so proud of this.  
On one afternoon we were assigned to the northeast corner of the City.  The roadway we were on was a busy street with 2 lanes in each direction and a turn lane in the middle of the two.  There are several businesses and apartment complexes along this road.
Officer T pulled into the parking lot of a car wash and began monitoring traffic with radar in a stationary mode.  He was monitoring eastbound traffic.  In a few moments he was alerted to a violator speeding towards him.  The speeder was traveling 60 mph in a 45 mile an hour zone.  The violator was 3 lanes from where we were parked.  Of course there was also traffic in the westbound lanes.  Officer T simply turned on his siren and did not even turn on his overhead lights (which is mandatory for emergency vehicles) and pulled into the traffic without giving them time to hear him and respond.  There were several near misses for accidents with his zeal to catch the speeder.  I was petrified that we were going to have an accident.  When he finally cleared this portion of the roadway he then turned on his overhead lights and called in the pursuit.  After traveling about 2 miles he was able to stop the vehicle just outside the city limits.  He got out of his car and nearly ran to the suspect vehicle, he was so enraged that someone would run from him!  I also exited the car and walked to the passenger side so I could hear his conversation with the driver.  Officer T demanded the license of the driver and he failed to ID himself as was procedure.  The driver was an elderly lady who was very hard of hearing and she kept asking him to repeat himself, which infuriated him.  Officer T soon removed the female driver from the car and walked with her to the passenger side of the car which was off the roadway and away from traffic.  She saw me and she relaxed some but Officer T demanded her attention to him.  She told him that she was 88 years old and never had a ticket.  She was going to a hospital out of town as her grandson was in a car wreck and admitted to a hospital, she needed to go!  She also did not have her driver's license with her.  This did not sit well with Officer T.  He then told her she was under arrest for RECKLESS DRIVING.  She asked if she could call her son, he was the school district administrator for the City, to take her home and Officer T told her she could call him from the jail.  He placed handcuffs on this poor lady and placed her in the patrol car and had her car towed.  He was so proud of himself!
Officer T took the prisoner to the jail where I also spoke with the Sergeant on duty.  The Sergeant called the lady's son and asked him to come to the jail and get his mother.  She was released to the custody of her son the very minute he got there.  Officer T was not happy.  The Sergeant spoke with him and what was said I do not know as I excused myself.  Thankfully, our shift was about over and it was time to begin documenting the days events.  I was ready to be done!  But tomorrow was another day.
The next day, prior to our shift, Officer T inquired as to how I would have handled the traffic arrest from the day before.  I told him I would have taken in to consideration  the driver's age.  She was concerned over a family member.  This may not have justified her speed but it was understandable.  I would have written a traffic citation for the offense and called her son to pick her up.  Service to the citizens of the city is part of our job. Understanding and compassion are traits we as officers have to use at times.
Officer T promptly responded to me and said, 'If I wanted to be a preacher, I wouldn't be wearing this badge! I represent the law and people WILL do as I say!'
As he prepared the patrol unit for our tour of duty I began to really take a hard look at him as an officer.
He really had an attitude as to the meaning of his job.  The badge reflected that he was the 'law' and because of that he demanded respect.  Respect was earned not demanded.  He had to prove to others that he was as good if not better than his brother.  He could not afford to fail.
Yet I know that to learn you must fail and you must accept the failure so you can learn from it.  I really don't feel that Officer T is capable of that acceptance.
Once we are in our area Officer T goes to the area of the car wash where he was the day before.  Rather than parking in the parking lot today he stops in the left turn lane facing west and monitors traffic also westbound.  There is no place in this area to make a left turn and I ask him what he's doing, he tells me he is running radar at which time the radar locks in and squeals telling him a violator is traveling towards us from behind. As the violator passes us on my side he begins to pull out with no lights on or siren when I hear a siren and I yell for him to stop.  He slams on the brakes and a police unit from a neighboring city flies by in pursuit of a stolen vehicle. We then follow him as his backup in emergency mode.  This is proper protocol.  After the suspect is stopped and in custody, we return to our police department.  After our arrival I check the unit's radio and find that Officer T had turned off all other channels except ours.  This is a violation of our protocol for instances such as what we were involved in on that day.  Because of it we came very close to being involved in a major accident.  Carelessness in the police world can be deadly.
An emergency meeting with Officer T, the Sergeant, the Lieutenant, and I was called.  Prior to Officer T entering this meeting I informed the Managers of the past experiences involving Officer T the past 4 days.  I specifically told them he was a danger to himself and the citizens of the city and I refused to continue training him.  They concurred.  I also requested that I be the one to tell him in their presence.  We knew that he would be terminated as he was probationary and his reaction to this was uncertain.
As Officer T walked in to the office he was all grins and boasting about how great he was in his duties today!  As I began talking to him I emphatically told him that he was not so great today or all week for that matter.  He was stunned.  As I relived the events of the previous few days and pointed out the flaws in his reasoning Officer T was becoming angry at me because I was weak as most women are according to his beliefs.  He was told that if being compassionate, caring, and sympathetic is weak then how did his brother get to be such a good investigator?  These are the qualities of a good police officer.  In a few years when he matures and develops these traits I sincerely hoped he would reapply for an officer position.  Painfully, I had to remove his badge from his uniform and direct him to human resources.  This was the most unpleasant part of my job.
After he left the building, I read the summations of all the previous training officers.  By all rights Officer T should never have made it to the 5th phase.  Honesty should win out over loyalty every time.  In this instance it was the only answer that provided a solution to keeping safe those I was sworn to protect.   This provided salvation to the citizens and peace of mind to me!

Affirmative Action

In the early months of the year 1987 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Affirmative Action in police agency hiring practices.  This ruling stated that for every white person hired or promoted there is to be one black person hired or promoted as well.  This ruling was to combat law enforcement departments overt and defiant acts of racism in hiring.
The police department I was working for thought they had the answer to the Affirmative Action law to have black employees in the patrol division of the Department by encompassing the employees who worked the jail.  Many of these were Black or of Latin descent.  With the new ruling this would no longer suffice.
I grew up in the Seattle, Washington area of the northwest and discrimination was not practiced so I did not understand the reasoning for the omission of  blacks or other minorities from being hired.  You can imagine my surprise to learn that I was considered a minority just for being white and female!
Treating people like people was and still is my mantra.  The color of their skin has no bearing on it!

As a Field Training Officer, I was given the responsibility to train the first black patrol officer.  I knew from past experience that there were those that had hoped he would not pass the training.  BUT they failed to recognize that I also was aware of these same feelings from them when I went through the training process.  In my heart I felt that come hell or high water he would make it!  It seemed ironic that a minority officer would be training a minority officer candidate.
Officer S began his formal training for the first 3 phases of the training program with male officers.  He became my responsibility in the 4 phase which was also the longest phase.  I started his training by getting to know him and his aspirations.  He was very determined.  After a few days it was apparent to me that he had no fear in the face of the citizens he was sworn to protect.  He had fear alright but it was of me as I held the power to make him or break him in this job.
I knew I had to convince him that I had no such power, he was responsible for his own destiny. I could teach him the fundamentals of the job but he had to make the job his own.  I further told him that he had to know that pinning the badge on his shirt did not make him anything or anyone special.  He would still be himself.  He had to make the badge mean something to others.  Being true to the meaning of the badge and the job by your words and actions will be what makes you or breaks you.

Halfway through the training phase I let Officer S be in charge of our unit.  He did all the driving and he would be the initial officer of contact.  When we'd arrive at a call I would hang back a little (as I was well known by the citizens) to see how he was received and how he handled it.  At first he was met with angst and disdain by white citizens.  I noticed it but he never acknowledged their ignorance and he provided them with answers and assistance as if they were his family. Of course, there were times where no matter what he said he had to prove that he meant what he said.  In these times we more often than not ended up in a physical confrontation.  We often ended up on the bottom of a 'pig pile' and had to be rescued by other officers but we always did it as a TEAM.  He had my back and I had his.
At the end of the training phase Officer S would next enter his final phase of training.  I closed my 4 weeks of training with him by telling him that from the very beginning there was never a thought in my mind that he would fail.  I want him as a fellow officer and only he, himself, has the ability to make it or not.  Fulfillment as a police officer or a human being comes with sacrifice and service.  The decision is up to each of us.
Officer S went on to become one of the most revered officers in the police department.  He retired about 2 years ago and during a trip to Texas in 2013 I was able to see him again.  Officer S told me that it was my confidence in him and my encouragement and unconditional belief in doing what's right that solidified his successes.  Even in my absence he'd recall my passion for helping others and making the badge mean something.  He wanted me to know how much I had touched him in 4 short weeks that lasted for 25+ years.

I feel that without the Affirmative Action law I would not have met Officer S.  The Lord works in mysterious ways and I believe He had a hand in this as well. This door was opened for a reason and the salvation of our fellow man, no matter the color of our skin, was the purpose.   


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Woes of an F.T.O. part 1

In 1980 the police department brought a new training program in along with a new training center.  This training center used to be a building used by the welfare department and before then it was a satellite fire station.  The training center was on the outskirts of the City Cemetery.
The new Field Training Officer Program was to have trainers that were senior officers that were exceptional in their investigative abilities, knowledge of the traffic codes, penal code (criminal laws of Texas) and had exceptional knowledge of department policies and procedures.  With this criteria officers applied for the position and were quizzed by a board to fill positions available.
I was one of the applicants and was appointed a Field Training Officer.  To distinguish an F.T.O. from the other officers we worn blue and yellow epaulets on our shoulders.
We began our new responsibility by completing background checks of new applicants.  We'd actually go out and interview references on all those that wanted to be police officers.  It was an amazing experience and I found it quite rewarding. Some would make it to the interview board.  There were high hopes for those that made it to the Field Training Officer Program.
There were 5 training phases.  By the end of the third phase if a probationary officer was having a particular problem with any task their training officer could request they be sent for a week of 'remedial training'.  One of the alternate trainers would have the responsibility to re-train the probationary officer for 1 week.  Upon the return to his/her assigned F.T.O. they would determine if he/she was proficient enough to continue in the training program.  If the probationary officer was unable to perform the re-trained tasks the F.T.O. would document all observations and present them to a board of all the trainers for further training or termination.
During the final phase of training the F.T.O. would wear plainclothes.This way the public would address the uniformed officer who should be able to handle the issues presented. The F.T.O. would only get involved if it was a life or death situation. This phase lasted for 2 weeks and the officer would be released to be on his/her own. This training program was much more extensive than what I had experienced 3 years earlier.
The police department was mandated to hire minorities. I was the only female so having me as a training officer for others was a benefit for the program. 
As luck would have it my first trainee was a female.  I will call her Officer MW.  I was assigned Officer MW during her Phase 3 training.  This would be a 6 week period for us as a team.  During our patrol time we learned about each other.  She was a local girl that had grown up in town.  Her parents owned a home in the southwest section. During this phase of training I drove during the first week to acclimate my trainee to what was expected of them when they were given the responsibility to drive.  As the driver that officer would be in charge of the team.  This first week went well.  We weren't real busy and so we were able to cover a lot of area in town and meet some citizens in our area.  It was important that she be exposed to who belonged in the area so she'd recognize someone who was out of ordinary.
The following week was Officer M.W.'s turn to drive.  She was given the keys and she was to prepare the patrol unit for our shift while I prepared forms I would need to complete while observing her during our shift.
She would pick me up at the backdoor when she was ready to go.  This preparation usually took no more than 15 minutes, but after 30 minutes she still had not driven to the back door so I walked up to the east lot, where the patrol cars are parked, and found her standing outside our assigned vehicle.  She had locked the ignition keys in the trunk of the vehicle when she put her briefcase inside and she didn't know what to do.  She never thought to get a hold of her Sergeant or me for help so she just stood in the parking lot.  I attributed this to nerves and encouraged her to shake it off.   All our units operated with universal keys so we always had access to a spare. We finally made our way to our area of town that I was assigned to work.  This area was specific to her residence area so I felt this may be too easy for her to navigate.  We were at the city limits on the very southwest corner of town.  Officer MW received a call from the dispatcher to respond to a major accident on a major road known as Jasper Drive.  She acknowledged the call.  She then was to proceed to this traffic accident Code 3 which was as an emergency vehicle.  Instead she simply took her time.I was very surprised at her response or lack of it.  After a minute I asked her where we were going?  She told me the right location but she did not seem to understand that it was an emergency response.  I directed her to turn on the siren and the overhead lights so people would get out of our way.  She did this BUT she still drove the speed limit.  We eventually got to the scene. Our backup unit had been there for 5 minutes before we arrived so he was in charge of the scene.  He had to tell her where to go and what specifically to do.  She was able to complete these tasks. They were menial tasks as I assisted the injured and the damaged vehicle towing from the scene.
After the scene was cleared we moved our unit to a nearby parking lot to complete our portion of the report.
Officer MW would complete the report.  She did not ask any questions and actually completed the report as was expected.
At the halfway point in this training phase Officer MW was found to have great report writing ability.  She failed to make any traffic stops for citation or warning purposes.  So I thought perhaps it was due to the area we were patrolling.  Maybe it was too close to home, so I requested we be assigned to another area on the northeast side of town.  Hopefully, she'd respond differently.
Upon our reassignment I explained that she needed to be more assertive in her daily tasks.  She verbalized that she understood.
When prompted for questions she never had any.  This was very unusual.  In the middle of the week I drove and had Officer MW put on a blindfold.  I drove the unit out to a back road and I parked the car with the headlights off.  I then had Officer MW remove her blindfold.  I told her to figure out where she was then relate to me that information as if I were the dispatcher.  She looked around, got out of the car and walked around.  She then got back in to the car and sat down in the driver's seat.  "What did you see outside?", I asked.  She was unable to answer because she was crying so hard. This reaction startled me.  So I told her she needed to start the car and drive until she realized where she was.  Then I wanted her to stop and tell me where she'd been.  After driving out of the area to the main roadway she finally stopped at a local mall.  By then she was physically ill and unable to complete our shift of duty.  I drove us back to the police department and talked with the Sergeant.  I requested he allow her to go home.  He agreed and she was relieved to go home for the night.
This was a turning point in Officer MW's training.  I went over all the incidents with her I had observed and documented.  It was then very clear to me that she was just plain scared to do her job.   After an in-depth conversation with the Sergeant and Lieutenant on my shift it was determined that Officer MW would ride with them for the next 2 days for further evaluation.  I was given those 2 days off so they could see if it was different with me not there.  I agreed.
At the beginning of the fourth week's training I was brought in for a conference about Officer MW's performance the previous week with the Supervisors.  According to them she has no sense of direction and she cannot read a city map.  She could not tell east from west or north from south.  She knows the area of her residence ONLY.  She is afraid of the dark.  The one thing they found out truly frightened me!
Officer MW carried the bullets to her duty weapon in her shirt pocket.  Her gun was never loaded.  She hasn't loaded it since she started her training period.  Oh, my goodness!
Now, I am concerned.  Instead of continuing her training I immediately petitioned for a review and I requested for her to be terminated from the program.  This was very difficult for me as I felt it was a reflection on my training ability.  The review board agreed with my findings and subsequently Officer MW was terminated as a probationary officer.
I would later find that it was my training tactics as a female officer that was truly appropriate.  I knew what was needed to be a patrol unit alone. She felt protected by her male trainers and they were able to pass her through the first two phases.  It wasn't until she realized that I represented where she would eventually be, which was basically alone.
Her falling apart in the dark police unit was a form of salvation for not only her but myself and all the other officers in the police department.  She may have made it through the training program and eventually hurt herself or one of us.  Now, I see that the Lord does work in mysterious ways.
Thank You, Jesus.    



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Good Guys vs Bad Guys...

While I never thought much about notoriety as an officer of the law there were always reporters and or camera crews following any major event that happened in Killeen.  Being seen on the evening news was not new but the events of October 16, 1991 brought worldwide attention to this small military town.

Wednesday, October 16, 1991, was 'BOSSES DAY'. 
It was a sunny crisp and cool morning.  It was a day for my regular bowling league at 9:00 a.m. at the Hallmark Lanes on the southeast side of town.  After we finished bowling we all usually go to the Luby's Cafeteria for lunch. We'd be done by 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. and the business would just be opening about then.
The league finished that day quite early so those of us that usually went to lunch decided that this day we wouldn't go as it was going to be crowded with professionals from the Killeen School District for the bosses day celebration.  And it was not going to open for at least another hour.  So we talked over coffee about our scores and upcoming tournaments.  I drove by Luby's on my way home and noticed the parking lot was beginning to fill up with customers.  I no sooner got home and changed my clothes when I began to hear sirens.  There were lots of them!  Something was wrong as this was highly unusual for this time of day.  My home phone began to ring and it was the police department calling in for all available personnel to report immediately. Something major was happening.
The following is a brief synopsis of what we were told;
'At 12:39 p.m. GEORGE JO HENNARD, 35 years old, drove his pickup truck through the front window of Luby's Cafeteria.  As he exited his truck he started firing two semi-automatic pistols at the occupants.  Members of the Killeen Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety arrived less than five minutes later and a gun battle commenced.  At approximately 12:51 p.m., Hennard shot himself after being wounded by police.'
After this chain of events recovery of the wounded during a medical evacuation, we found thirty three people wounded. This was deemed the worst mass-shooting in the United States history as of that date.
Within 3 heartbeats, of the initial crash, everyone knew the unexpected, unbelievable, terrifying truth.  The driver had two semi-automatic pistols and the pops were the methodical discharge of their combined thirty-four cartridges.  From surviving witnesses the shooter was calm and would occasionally smirk as he fired point blank shots to the heads of his targets.  He would shout, 'This is for what Bell County did to me and my family! This is payback!  Was it worth it!' His face was a steel mask of insane determination.  He was a killing machine without logic, remorse, or tangible motive.  
 The crime scene would take nearly 12 hours to process and the bodies of those who were already deceased stayed in the building during the entire processing.  It became apparent that the shooter zeroed in on young blonde females.  The lady that was a local beautician, another lady and her friend, also blondes, were found hugging each other in their death pose.  It was heartbreaking and a war zone that a lot of officers and myself had never been fully prepared for.  The victims worked for the school district, local car dealership, utility company or WalMart and were known to officers.
Removing the wounded from the scene became even more heartbreaking.  As we loaded mortally wounded men and women on medi-vac helicopters, some were begging us to 'not let me die'!  To comfort them we would tell them we were not going to let them die.  Little did we know that as soon as we let go of their hands they died. The chopper would lift off and head for the trauma center only to discover that saving these lives was futile and that GOD had already taken them home.  A moment of reassurance for these victims was all we could give as our Heavenly Father was in charge at this crime scene.    
The shooter was known to me as was his sister and his father.  His father was an Army doctor on Ft. Hood.  The family was very dysfunctional but no one saw this coming.
This is a true tale of good and evil.
Outside the Community Center off of W.S. Young Drive in Killeen now stands a bench with a monument listing the date and the names of the 23 victims of the Luby's Masssacre.  The defining events of October 16, 1991, will not slip from time for everyone within the emotional radius of Luby's four minutes of murder.  This has created a life's mission for all who participated in the event or suffered because of it.  The mission is-HOPE FROM DESPAIR.

A book was written documenting the entire episode of the day.  The authors, Jason and Elinor Karpf, entitled it ANATOMY OF A MASSACRE.  The book is dedicated to all the victims, the rescuers, law enforcement officers, healers, and everyone caught in the shock wave from this devastating act of evil.
 Looking back my memory is as clear now as it was in 1991.  Now, I have reassurance that Jesus Christ was with all of us that day.  He was there to bring home all of the innocent victims and one day they will be reunited with their loved ones.  He brought me to it, he took me through it, and today, I am who I am because of his unwavering love and support he provided during the tough days following it.  Jesus Christ is my Salvation.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

I have the right to........

The town where I worked is only in existence because of a large military installation at its borders.
So a large part of the population are either military personnel or dependents.  Typical military is that this population isn't stagnant by any means.  Nearly all of the soldiers move in for 2 years and then they move on to another location.  Usually, if I'd come in contact with them I would not see them again unless it was a felony case where they were detained in the County jail.

At one time there seemed to be an influx of military moving to town with wives from Korea or Cambodia.  These women were subservient to their husbands as is the custom in their homeland.  The husband would attempt to keep them out of the American society as much as possible out of fear that they would become 'Americanized". 

Soldiers spent several days and nights in the field at Ft. Hood, Texas and they were not allowed to go home until the maneuvers were completed.  This left a lot time for the wives to get lonesome and seek friendship from other wives.  There were bars and clubs galore in nearby towns, bingo was very prevalent as were churches.  But, churches were not open late at night so other entertainment was pursued.  All these things cost money that these families did not have a lot of.  When the spouses would come home from the fields and either didn't find their wives at home or they discovered all the money in the bank gone this caused trouble.  Domestic disturbances can be deadly for police officers as spouses who argue and fight with each is one thing but when an officer gets involved he or she has to respond according to the laws and not according to emotions. 

One night my partner and I responded to a domestic disturbance called in by neighbors.  Upon our arrival we heard the fight in the parking lot.  The lady was screaming loudly and we were able to hear her being slapped by someone.  A male voice was yelling at her, "I am going to send you back to your parents! You spent all our money and now you will be deported!"  As we walked into the residence through an open door we found them in a bedroom.  We separated the husband from his wife.  She was a very small Korean girl probably no more than 20 years old.  Her face was bruised and red and she was visibly upset and crying.  When I calmed her down she related to me that her husband had left her some money when he went to the field and she had to use it to get a ride to go to the doctor in his absence.  She had to use it all and he was angry about it.  She begged me not to let him send her back to her parents as she'd be disgraced.
I contacted my partner to find out what the husband's story was.  He had related nearly the same story.  He was upset that she'd spent the cash he'd given her.  I asked if he was aware of what she'd spent it on and I was told it didn't matter why.  It was his money and she was to have saved it for him. 
As we calmed down both parties in this dispute we eventually brought them together in the same room.  The husband told us that it was 'his right' to strike his wife if she disobeyed him.  He brought her to the United States and he could have her deported whenever he wanted.  I was taken aback at his cockiness and total disregard for his wife as another person.  So I politely told him that he was dead WRONG!  As long as she has an alien visa she would not be deported on his word alone.  As for the money it was as much hers as it is his.  She is his spouse and Texas is a community property state which means that 50% of what he owns she owns. I recognize that law and so does the military. 

I further explained to him that I as an officer of the law have rights to protect both he and his wife from harm.  The harm may be from either of them or another.  By the look of the bruises on his wife's face it is doubtful in my mind that she received them from herself so in order for me to fully protect her you are leaving the residence at least for the night or maybe more.  Of course this made him more angry and I told him if he continued to be abusive he'd be going to jail but because of his financial issues I would be dropping him off at the east gate of Ft Hood where the military police will deal with him. This is my right!   After a few phone calls the arrangements were made and my partner took the husband to Ft. Hood.
After they'd left I made sure the wife was going to be alright and I even called a friend to come stay with her.  As we were waiting for the arrival of her friend we visited.  I reassured her that she would NOT BE DEPORTED.  She was relieved.  Out of curiosity I asked her how much money did he leave you while he was in the field for 2 weeks?  She told me it was only twenty dollars!  She further related that she was sick everyday and had to get a taxi to take her to the doctor where she found out that she is pregnant.  This child is having a child and her husband needs to grow up! 
I truly hope they make it.
As was usual the wife did not want to file any assault charges against her husband.  We had the ability to either arrest or turn the issue over to the military at that time.  I hoped that I made the right choice as I brought the young family some salvation from harm.

For a short time I was an investigator with the detective division and I was able to work all different types of criminal cases.  This is truly a learning experience that has stayed with me even to this day.
The following case was very difficult to investigate but the outcome is true justice.

A young girl, 16 years old, had told a school counselor that she had been sexually assaulted.  She refused to tell the counselor who had committed the assault.  The school called the police department and reported what the young girl had related to them. This is a heinous crime and we respond quickly to them.  Myself and another investigator went to the school.  We asked the principal to contact the girls mother and to have her come to the school right away.  We also requested that she not be told the issue over the phone and to reassure her that her daughter was alright. 
While awaiting the arrival of the girl's mother I gathered as much information about the child's full name and address and parents name as I could.  I found that her father was a military officer and her mother a business professional. 
When the mother arrived at the school she panicked when she realized that we were the police even though we were not in uniform but plainclothes.  As we sat in an office with the girl and her mother the girl told us all that she had been raped.  She was visibly shaking and crying.  She even seemed to be in a catatonic state as she stared straight ahead as she spoke. Her mother immediately asked," Who did this to you?"  Her daughter did not respond, except to cry.  
My partner explained to the mother that we would be transporting her daughter to a local hospital for medical attention and to obtain evidence via a 'rape kit'.  She would be taken in an unmarked police
vehicle and she was welcome to ride along, if she desired.  The mother stated that she would go but she needed to call her husband first.  The young girl then started begging her mother not to tell her father what had happened.  Over and over again she'd beg, "please don't tell him!"  The surprised mother relinquished and told the girl that she wouldn't tell him.
Upon our arrival at the hospital the young girl was taken to a solitary exam room by my partner as I stayed with the mother.  After the proper paperwork was completed for the hospital record I began to interview the mother.  I asked questions about her daughter's social life and home life.  The mother spoke with a lot of pride when she related that her daughter was an honor roll student, had lots of friends, and went to church faithfully each week.  She is a 'good' girl and mom can't understand how this could happen.  I learned that there is a brother in the family but he is older and away at college. 
When I asked about the outburst over the father being told of the situation the mother said it was probably because her daughter is a 'daddy's ' girl. 
Upon the completion of the evidence processing we brought the mother and the girl to the offices of the detective unit where written statements were completed.  The young girl asked her mother if she could go stay with her grandmother for the night and weekend?  She had no school on Friday (the next day) she didn't want to be alone.  Her mother granted her request and gave me the address and phone number where her daughter would be staying.  Due to the time of night that it was I dropped the mother off at the school to get her car and I then took her daughter to her grandmother's home.
Finally, this day was over!  I went home but the events of the day played over and over in my mind.

Our day starts early as we clock in at 8 a.m.  We discuss the reports from the night before of the 16 year old victim. Crisis intervention  and counseling for her is very much needed. We decide that we need to contact her father and ask him to come to the station so we can talk to him.
I call the civil liaison office at Ft. Hood and ask that they escort this officer to us.  The Sergeant on duty tells me that he is not an officer that he is only a Warrant Officer which is actually a civilian contractor that works with the Army because he specializes in a field that the military needs. He is working through a contract (of sorts) for the Army.  I guess this might mean something to the military but it really means nothing to me other than he has a job and I have to ask for his presence in my office through a liaison.

After about 2 hours of making arrangements for his daughter to receive counseling her father arrives at our offices. He is questioning us as why is he here?  We are somewhat confused and ask him if he had spoken to his wife last night?  He looks at us and tell us that he was already asleep when she came in so they didn't speak. So my partner takes it upon herself to tell him exactly what had happened to his daughter.  He sits quietly and listens to everything she says.  His expressions never change and he doesn't say a word or ask any questions.  This is highly unusual.  When she is finished we tell him that we are leaving the room but will return shortly.  He nods his head.  We leave and go to the next room to watch him react, if he is going to. We watch him through a one way mirror that resembles a window on his side.  This man doesn't even move. 
Because of his lack of emotion we decide that only one of us is going to return to the room and speak with him.  The other is going to simply listen and watch.  We toss a coin and I lost so I get to go back and talk to him. 
I apologize to him for taking so long and tell him that I will be the only investigator talking with him today.  This time he smiles!  I begin by asking him when was the last time he saw his daughter?  He tells me it was Wednesday evening. They were all at home out in the swimming pool.  They'd cooked outside then they swam and lounge until after dark. His wife works at a business where she has to travel a lot so she goes to bed rather early which she did that night.  But he and his daughter stayed out at the pool until well after 10 p.m.  I them asked him to tell me some things about his daughter.  'Like what?', he asked.  Tell me about her social activities.  "Well, she has a lot of friends.  No boyfriends yet, though as I won't allow it", he says.  I say, 'she is a pretty girl and no boyfriend?'
This time when he responds he is cocky and self righteous in his tone and he proceeds to tell me in no uncertain terms, the follow: "I am her father!  I brought her in to this world and I have raised and provided for her for 16 years.  I have the right to be the first man she ever has.  She was a virgin until Wednesday and this I know for a fact because she wasn't raped.  I had the right as her father to have intercourse with her and I did!"  I know I was totally surprised by his outburst.  I had the good sense though to read him his Miranda warnings before I said another word or he did.  After I read his rights to him he said he understood them.  I next asked him why was it not rape?  Did she consent?  (She is a juvenile and can't give consent but he didn't know that) He told me it was not rape because he is her father and it was his 'right'. She fought him the entire time until he overpowered her and he told her it was going to happen so she had better stop fighting him.  He laughed as he proudly told me of his conquest of his virgin daughter.  I was sick to my stomach when he was done.  I wanted to wring his neck but I took out a statement form and a pen and asked him to write a statement of everything he just told me.  
He looked at the paper then he said, "Listen, sister.  I am Warrant Officer*Smith which means I am no dummy.  Once I write down what I just told you I am in jail.  I won't write one word.  What I said in here is simply between you and me.  My word against your word.  There is nothing you can do about it." 
I calmly responded, "Mr. Smith, my name is Investigator T and you will refer to me by that name only.  Warrant Officer means nothing to me as I am a civilian and you are too when you are off the military reservation as you are this minute.  You are correct you do not have to give me a written statement because verbal confessions are biding in the State of Texas.  Mr. Smith please stand up." He stood up. As he did I walked behind him and told him he was under arrest for the rape of his daughter, C Smith."  I clamped those handcuffs on him so fast!
Of course he demanded an attorney and began calling me names which always happens when the guilty are caught. 
I this case I have the right to see to it that he is sent away for a long time.
I made a difference to the little girl he raised as I watched her grow to be a beautiful and successful counselor for victims of violent crimes. She is now their salvation.

Thank You, Jesus, for giving me the strength to be there for her when she needed me.
* (Smith is not the real last name )