SHOTS FIRED! OFFICERS DOWN!
First, there’s confusion, shock, and disbelief.
What did he just say? Surely, you didn’t hear that right.
“OFFICER DOWN!!” Comes the scream over the radio.
You did hear it right the first time.
No time to load your squad car. Rifle, heavy vest, duty bag, yeti tumbler, all left behind at the station as you make haste, hop into your black and white, and fire it up.
“SHOTS FIRED! OFFICERS DOWN!”
Code 3 into the unknown, uncertain, future unpromised.
Clearing intersections, slamming on the gas and then the brake, twisting, screeching, roaring.
The cavalry is coming, and today that cavalry is you – riding your Detroit horsepower as fast as she will carry you through the traffic of east Dallas at rush hour on a random Tuesday.
You arrive too late.
“Suspect fled on foot! East into the tree line! I need a perimeter!”
You scour the woods, the creek beds, the drainage tunnels, the brush, the bogs, the culverts, the homeless camps, the sinkholes, the brambles and thorns and poison ivy tearing at your skin and sweat dripping into your eyes. You coordinate your part of the search as best you can, but the helicopters hovering overhead, so well intentioned, make communication difficult and yelling an absolute necessity.
Hours later, you stumble in to the command post, desperate to quench your thirst – for information, for hydration, for meaningful assignment. Your uniform is sodden in sweat, dirt, mud, pollen, and bog water. Your boots squelch with each step, and you have vegetative debris in your hair and clinging to your hirsute forearms.
The suspect is still at large. Officer survival is in doubt. You must DO. SOMETHING.
This is your family. Your division. Your watch. Your people. You know their voices on the radio and their faces at calls. You’ve shot the shit and taught them a thing or two. There has to be SOMETHING you can do to make a difference.
“We’re good out here, we have it all covered. Calls are stacking, clear the scene and get after it.”
And just like that, your part is over.
Your phone continues to blow up in your chest pocket, so sodden with perspiration that the touch screen is rendered inoperable. You manage a choked conversation with your spouse, telling her you’re alright, kind of, physically anyway.
Then, you go back to work. A domestic. A runaway. A mental health call. A drunk homeless lady that pissed herself that you give a ride to a shelter. Another drunk mentally ill lady claiming to have stab wounds where there are none, transported to the hospital so you don’t have to deal with her anymore.
No closure. No resolution. You don’t get to go home until your tour is over, despite the things you’ve heard, seen, felt, experienced.
That’s police work. That’s what you do. It’s what you’re called to do.
Sometimes you lie awake for the three hours you had to sleep, with your mind running an endless loop of the day and everything you weren’t able to do, even though you did all you could.
And sometimes it fucking sucks.
But, the next day, at “o’dark-thirty, next time you’re up, you will drag your weary, fried ass out of bed, you will put on your gun and your vest, and you will do it all over again. You know why? Because this is a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. Can you abuse it? Yes, sir – you can, and you will; I guarantee it. Because it is relentless, and it gets to you, and it seems like it changes nothing. But a day like today, with some interesting capers, and a few good arrests? That’s good. But every once in a while, you get to take a bad guy off the streets for good… and that, my friend, is God’s work.
You’re a cop because you don’t know how not to be one.”
Well, you’re a cop; and you don’t know how not to be one.
The next day starts now.
Get to it.
Quote from Officer John Cooper, SouthLAnd, Season 1, Episode 1.
– Dan Cincinnatus | Staff Writer/Instructor