Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Brotherhood behind the badge....

As I proved myself working the streets to the citizens I also proved to the male officers that there was a place and a purpose for me as an officer.  The acceptance finally came after about 2 years.  As I slowly became 'one of the guys' the acceptance grew not only from the men of the Killeen Police Department but from the Sheriffs Department and the Texas Highway Patrol.  Neighboring cities were also keeping an eye on me from afar for their future hiring of women.  I learned about making arrests for Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant so well that  I only lost 1 case in 17 years.  Our County Attorney loved receiving my cases as they hardly ever went to court and if they did the County won every time.  The State of Texas incorporated a field sobriety test after arrest and prior to the breath test.  It was done inside the police department in perfect conditions.  The officer conducting the test had to perform the tests prior to giving the alleged intoxicated person the opportunity to do them.  The majority of the guys had problems with standing with their eyes closed, arms stretched out to their sides and touching their noses with designated fingers so usually I'd volunteer to complete them with the arrested person.  There was one incident where the arrested person just couldn't seem to walk a straight line without holding on to the wall or stand on one foot.
He was aware enough though to tell me that he could recite the alphabet backwards!  I stopped and looked at him and told him to go ahead and do it.  He staggered over to the front of the camera and began with ABC...and he abruptly made an about face as he continued to the letter Z.  I was dumbfounded.  He thought he'd be able to go home after that and I hated to tell him that he still had to give a breath test before that decision could be made!  Unfortunately, he stayed in the 4-bar hotel for the night.  The officer that arrested him laughed and said he hoped we got to go to court on this one.  But we didn't.
Before long all the outside agencies were bringing their DUI arrests to our department for processing.

   While I was in the police academy I became real good friends with a co-worker by the name of Carl Levin.  He worked for Killeen about 1 year after the academy before he moved to a neighboring city to work.  Carl was my backup on numerous calls when we first started working the road.  I was happy for him if he was happy but I really missed him.  He had been in Harker Heights for only a few months in 1978 working a graveyard shift when he received a call to investigate an arson at one of the local nightclubs in the city.  Carl was a good officer but there were times that he trusted too easily.  A crook or a con is just that, they make their life conning people.  Carl stopped a suspect named Thomas Andrew Barefoot that had been seen running from the burning club.  He exited his driver's door telling Barefoot he wanted to talk to him.  Barefoot was standing to the immediate left of Carl as he reached inside his car to get something.  As he came out of the car Barefoot shot him in the left temple at point blank range.  Barefoot then ran off.  Carl was killed instantly.  He never knew what hit him.  Thankfully. As is in most officer deaths (on duty) Carl contributed to his own demise.  He failed to pat-down Barefoot or he may have found the .25 cal gun hidden behind his big belt buckle.  Being too trusting can be deadly if you are wearing a badge.
There was the biggest manhunt ever in Central Texas for this cop killer.  I was on vacation in Alabama when this happened.  The department called me and told me to get back to Texas ASAP.  Highway Patrol officers provided escort from Alabama to Texas at lightning speed to insure I was there to participate in the manhunt and the services for Carl.  August 7, 1978 is a date I will never forget as I lost a true brother.
This loss was felt so close to home.  Police funerals are the toughest services to participate in.  With the support of the brotherhood we all got through it with a profound respect for those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
I truly believe the Lord must have a special place in Heaven for fallen peace officers, at least I hope He does so  I can see Carl again one day.  
Barefoot was executed by lethal injection on October 30, 1984 in Huntsville, Texas.

In the early 80's Killeen police worked single officer units.  For the majority of calls the dispatcher would only send 1 car.  If there were weapons involved then a supervisor would also respond or another closer unit.  The shift I worked on soon realized that there weren't too many calls that I needed help with.  As domestic disturbances became more violent it became policy to send 2 units just for our protection.  If both parties were present I usually responded with the guys to assist with the woman.  If only one party was there I would go alone.  There was a time though that while I was counseling a wife that her husband came home and he was so very irate.  He resented me being there as he did not allow me to be there.  He ordered me to leave but his wife begged me to stay as she was afraid that he was going to hurt her.  He went to the phone and picked it up to call his 'buddies' to help get me out of his house.  As he picked up the receiver I went to him and disconnected his call with my finger.  He went off and needless to say the 'fight was on'.  We fought to gain control of my flashlight that he was going to use on me.  At some point I was able to call for help on my radio.  After a second I heard sirens coming from everywhere.....
The backup units had to kick the door down to get in the apartment as I could not release the hold I had on the husband.  I was banged up a little but he was too and he went to jail.  His wife went to a Crisis Center and she was uninjured.  Several others also went to jail that were friends of the husband as they tried to stop my comrades from getting up the stairs.
This was the most excitement we had all night.  Whenever I called for help everyone comes with lights on and sirens blaring.
These guys were always willing to be my salvation because they got to get in on the action!!  I was just glad they were there.