Holding the Line

I restored this old toolbox over the last several weeks. I bought it cheap and spent way too much time on it. I didn’t even really want to do it in a thin blue line theme. I find myself burnt out on blue line stuff. As I sat on my couch last night, screwing in the screws on the top, I heard the news that a Terre Haute police officer was killed. I got to thinking, the thin blue line is so much more than license plates, stickers, shirts, and all the other stuff people slap a blue line on. The blue line I grew up holding in such reverence is still the brotherhood. It represents all of us who have chosen a life of sacrifice, and service, and pain, and continue to come to work every day because if we don’t do it, who will? I recently heard about a shortage of police officers in Indiana. It may be nationwide. People don’t want to be cops anymore. I can’t blame them one bit. But a shortage of police officers means longer hours, more shifts, later retirements. Will we complain? Sure. It’s what we do. But we’ll still put on our vests, drop a gun in our holsters, and go. We’ll go to your unruly kid; we’ll go when your neighbors fence has leaned too far; we’ll go when you’ve locked your keys in your car for the third time this month. We’ll go when you’re hurt; we’ll go when you’re scared; we’ll go when no one else will. We are that thin blue line that faces the darkness in this world. We know that to turn from the darkness will allow it to steal the light of those we’re sworn to protect.

I’ve heard a lot lately about there being a war on police officers. Take a minute to read the social media comments on officer down posts and you’ll see how much support we still have. Listen when people thank you for your service. Take a minute and let someone pray for you when they ask. There are people that wish us harm, but brothers, there are a whole lot more that want us safe. You say there’s a war on cops? Our army is bigger. Our army is stronger. Our brotherhood has been fighting this war a hell of a lot longer than these thugs have and we learn from every single mistake. We won’t lose this war. We won’t falter in the fight. We will lose damn good men along the way, but we owe it to those men to keep fighting.

Hold the line, Brothers, we need to more than ever.

Newhall Incident/Shootout/Massacre, Firefight Friday

In the early hours of April 6, 1970, a series of events occurred that brought about the largest single day loss of life for California law enforcement. From start to finish, it took 5 minutes. At approximately 2355 hrs of April 5, two CHOP officers, Walt Frago and Roger Gore initiated a traffic stop on Jack Twining and Bobby Davis.  They were initially compliant, but minutes later opened fire on the two officers, killing them. Two more CHP officers arrived, James Pence and George Alleyn. They engaged the suspects in a shootout but were also ultimately shot and killed. A nearby citizen, Gary Kness, Marine and bad-ass hero, attempted to assist by grabbing a fallen officer’s weapon and returning fire but he eventually ran out of ammunition and was forced to hide in a ditch. Eventually a third officer arrived on scene and the suspects fled.

One of the suspects, Bobby Davis was located later and arrested. Twinings, however, was able to elude capture until he broke into a home and took the homeowner hostage. LA Sheriff’s Department was able to negotiate the release of the hostage. Twinings subsequently killed himself. Davis was sentenced to death, but California is California, and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He killed himself in 2009.

Several procedural changes arose from the incident. The officers had trained with .38 caliber rounds while they carried .357. The difference in recoil was substantial. There was also argument that speed-loaders would have assisted the officers in getting back in the fight quicker. Standardization of weapons and ammunition among officers became more prominent.  Speed-loaders were soon approved and issued. New procedures for arresting high risk individuals also came about. Bullet-proof vests, not being standard issue at the time, were not worn by the responding officers. 3 of the 4 officers died from wounds that would’ve likely been prevented with effective body armor.

 

Officer Walter C Frago, 23 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/5056-officer-walter-c-frago

Officer Roger D Gore, 23 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/5590-officer-roger-d-gore

Officer James E Pence, 24 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/10509-officer-james-e-pence-jr

Officer George M Alleyn, 24 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/1153-officer-george-m-alleyn

All four had less than 2 years on the job. All told, 4 widows and seven children laid their heroes to rest.

These 4 men did not die in vain. The lessons learned from their deaths have saved countless officer’s lives in the last several decades.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Book Review

So this review might be about 7 years too late, but its only a few days before the movie hits. If you haven’t read Ready Player One yet, you still have time to get it in before the movie comes out.

I had never heard of this book until a few months ago when the IT guy from the department mentioned it. He was an 80’s kid who grew up with the old cabinet arcade games, D&D, and some of the best movies of the last 50 years.

The book is based around Wade Watts. A kid in the not so distant future in a world where everyone’s lives have gotten so bleak and dreary that they escape into a massive multiplayer online world called the Oasis. When the creator of the Oasis dies, he leaves his incredible fortune to whoever can solve a series of riddles and challenges that he has hidden throughout the online world. We follow Wade, through his online persona- Parzival, as he builds friendships, relationships, and rivalries with people all through the Oasis. Parzival is just another unremarkable kid, living his dreary lives both in and out of the Oasis. That is until he is the first to solve the first riddle.

I may have enjoyed the book a little more if I was born 5-10 years earlier. A lot of the references pre-date me. That being said, I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as this since I read The Martian a few years ago. The book has action, adventure, friendship, loyalty and betrayal, and enough nostalgia references to take you on a trip down memory lane. It’s a quick read once it hooks you. My biggest worry is that the movie will disappoint.

You can get the book as a mass market paperback for less than 10 bucks. Maybe you can find it used for much less. I highly recommend it!

Blood Upon The Shield, Author Unknown

When I was in my early teens, I remember seeing this poem on one of my Dad’s FOP magazines. I held onto it forever, and I’m sure it’s still around somewhere. The very last part always stood out to me. Jake is being laid to rest today and his procession will pass both the high school he attended and the elementary school his wife works at. There will be a lot of children with questions. Take the opportunity to tell them about Jake. Tell them about Brothers YOU knew. Let them know that although some of us may fall, there’s a whole heck of a lot more of us holding the line, protecting them.

“Blood Upon the Shield 

Blood Upon The Shield
Confrontation in an alley. The Centurion does not yield.
But this time the good guy loses;
there is blood upon the shield.

And the mournful sounds of bagpipes
play out across the land,
drowned out by the sobs of a lonely young wife
and a child too young to understand.

While the killer pleads his case in court,
the thin blue line is one man short.
And we’re one step closer to society’s fall;
another cop’s name is engraved on the wall.

Another state funeral, with an army in blue,
and we know it could’ve been me and it could’ve been you.
We all look ahead to what the future has in store,
front line troopers in a country that’s at war.

At war with itself and at war with its cops and we’re
out there every day ’cause the battle never stops.
It’s not the way it is on TV shows or like
we learned in school; no cool music in the background,
no playing by the “rules;”

We’re disillusioned warriors,
but for right we’ll always strive.
We just pray that at the end of our stress-filled day
we’ll get back home alive.

You stand out on the corner
ignoring the insults and the stares,
close to the point of believing that no one really cares,
when a six year-old boy walks over after watching
you for awhile, reaching out to shake your hand,
on his face a friendly smile.

To him you are a hero,
a protector of our land, and he wants
to learn about you,
as a cop and as a man.

And when he asks you why your badge is covered
by a black elastic band,
tell him about our Brother
A cop who made a stand.

Author Unknown 

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A Brother Was Killed Today

I’ve been in this job for almost 10 years. I’ve been around cops since the day I was born. I grew up hearing stories from my Dad about cops he knew who had been killed in the line of duty. Men he respected. Men he admired. Real cop’s cops. The kind of men he loved working along side. In my 32 years, I’ve never known a cop who was killed in the line of duty. Maybe that’s a blessing in itself. All the men my Dad talked about died years ago. All the cops I heard about in the news died so far from here. The cops that died near me always died in the city. I always knew it could happen here. I’m not stupid. But a part of me thought we were too lucky, too blessed to have that happen.

Today, Deputy Jacob Pickett, Boone County, Indiana, was shot while in foot pursuit of a wanted suspect. He had no chance of recovery. I’ve known Jacob for years. We went to school together. We worked together briefly. Even after he left, I responded to a call and, lo and behold, he was on scene. I tried to talk him into coming back to us. I wanted him with us, in our home county, but he was too loyal to Boone and too loyal to his K9. We shook hands that night and parted ways with a promise to grab a beer sometime. We never did.

He leaves behind a wife and two children. He left behind a broken hearted department. He leaves behind a community recently rocked by tragedy.

He also left behind a legacy. A legacy of bravery and dedication. A legacy of hard work and determination. And a physical legacy in the organs he promised to donate if this ever occurred. Somewhere today, lives were forever changed for the better because Jake was a giver. Tonight, Jake’s lungs will help someone breathe a little easier and his heart will beat in someone else’s chest, continuing his legacy of service. If only his liver could go to his brothers, who will no doubt join me in a solemn moment of reflection and an evening drinking to his memory.

In a true testament to the men and women of this profession, his coworkers will don their uniforms tomorrow, before the sun comes up. They’ll pull their vest on, buckle their duty belt, and holster their weapon. They’ll patrol the same streets where it all started today. They’ll do the same job Jake did today. And god willing, they’ll come home. Why do they do it? At some point in our lives, we’ve all realized how important the job is. If we don’t do it, if guys like Jacob don’t do it, who will? We don’t want a world without Deputy Pickett’s willing to give it all for the greater good. And we better be damn thankful.

Rest Easy, Jake. Let’s grab a beer sometime.