Its hard to wear a badge
The Blue Line
I can remember as a small child always looking up to police officers and sheriff's deputies. It wasn't that I didn't like other law enforcement, it is just that these are the two I saw the most of. I grew up in a tiny little town in South Georgia. We had a municipal police force and a county sheriff department. There were the occasional troopers, but I had never met any of them. I remember seeing the gleaming, gold badge that they seemed to so proudly wear on their uniform shirts. The clean, well pressed lines in the uniform and the patent leather gun belt and shoes. They were heroes. These were the guys and gals that came out to save you from the bad guys, never to hurt you.
When I grew up I decided it was time for me to join the police force in my small town. I was excited to be part of something so wonderful. I wanted to people to look at me the same way I had looked up to those officers all those years ago. For me it was a goal that I had accomplished. I was so excited and couldn't wait to start. Knowing that I was going to go out and make a difference in my community. Boy was I in for a surprise.
After graduating the police academy and field training I was released on my own to patrol. I was nervous and excited. I made a few traffic stops that first night, wrote some tickets, gave some warnings. Firm but fair was my motto. The night rolled on. Nothing much going on so I was parked in a closed business’s parking lot watching traffic for violations. I observed a green ford escort driving down the road. The vehicle was bouncing from lane to lane. Obviously this is not a normal driving pattern. I turned my headlights on and went to pull out behind the car. Suddenly the car stopped and pulled into another closed business. So I waited. The car never made it into the driveway entirely. It started to reverse. It reversed all the way across four lanes of road! I quickly exited the parking lot and eased in behind the car which was now moving forward again. I ran the Georgia tag on it. No insurance. Now in the state of Georgia that is a traffic infraction. But knowing that there was probably more behind the stop I continued to follow. I noticed the only occupant, the driver, was not wearing a safety seat belt. Valla another infraction. He soon began to bounce in and out of his lane again. After the fourth time, I turned my emergency lights and bumped the siren at him. Expecting him to pull over, he surprised me by speeding the vehicle up. I quickly called out on the radio that the vehicle was attempting to speed away. Then the vehicle suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. Sat for a second and then drove on again. Needless to say my thoughts were “what is this guy doing?” I continued to update the dispatcher with what I had going on. My Sergeant asked me what the deal was and I could only reply with I don’t know what he is doing. He finally pulled over into one of our local title loan businesses. He opened the car door and fell flat on his face. I cautiously approached him, firearm in my hand, because I wasn’t sure what was going on. He was passed out. Luckily for me, my patrol cruiser had a recording system so it caught the entire situation on camera. My Sgt. Arrived shortly before the man exited the vehicle. We both attempted to revive him. He finally came to. I patted him down for weapons as we are trained to do. No weapons. I noticed he was bleeding from his forehead so I retrieved my first aid bag from the car and started offering first aid. “Get your damn hands off me! You just whipped my ass now you want to help me?” Startled I told him he fell down and was too intoxicated to stand up. He continued to curse and yell that we had beaten him and were dirty cops. To shorten this story he was charged with several infractions to include D.U.I. or Driving under the Influence of Alcohol in this case. I radioed for an ambulance to come check him out due to the injury and his age, he was an older man. They cleared him from any medical conditions and I transported him to book him in on his charges.
Once I arrived at the police station, I escorted him out of the back seat and into the building were we photographed and fingerprinted him. The entire time he was there he began to warm up to the officers, even cutting jokes about how when you drink too much you wake up in the police station. I told him what his charges were and that he could make two phone calls, one to a family member and one to a bail bonds agent to get him out since he was not charged with felonies. He thanked me and the booking officer and proceeded to make his calls. I noticed he had dry mouth so I offered him a bottle of water to which he took and chugged as if he had just gotten off a desert island. He finished it and thanked me.
Once the bail bonds agent and his family member arrived, I had him sign his traffic citations and the bonding sheets. I walked him out to the lobby where his family members were and told him to have a safe night. At this time he turned to me and started telling me how I was a dirty ass cop, that all police are bad. We mistreated him and had beaten him up on the side of the road. How he was thirsty and wouldn’t give him nothing to drink and so on and so forth. His family members all were in grievance with him. I looked at him and asked if he was joking. He said you know what you did to me. Look at my face. With that I told them all to have a good night and closed the door. I buzzed the family out through the secure door and finished my paperwork.
Did it bother me how he mistreated me? Absolutely. I sat in disbelief for a few minutes. What the hell was that? I kept repeating to myself. I was as nice to this man as I could be. I was professional and even gave him water. Dang. I finished my paperwork and continued to do the rest of my shift. The moral of the story is that even when a police officer does exactly what he is supposed to do, serve and protect, he is still going to be the bad guy. Did this stop me from doing my job? Hell no. Do I still love serving and protecting? Hell yes. Do I still look up to the law enforcement officers? You bet I do and that man’s actions remind me all the time that I am here to serve the greater good. Never let one man tarnish how you feel about wearing a gleaming badge. We are the only line that keeps the dark from the light, the evil from the innocent, the line that divides chaos from order. We are the police.