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.

The Night I Got Hit By A Car, What’s That? Wednesday

Ten years ago, this clock was hanging on the wall of a Family Video. That night, I was working, like any other night at that time of my life. I was set to close the store. Part of those duties included cleaning the store. I had just begun to clean up some of the more hidden parts of the store and hopped on top of one of the cabinets to retrieve some items that had fallen behind it.

As I hopped off the counter, I heard a loud noise. I turned and the cabinet holding the entirety of our video game selection was tipping towards me. I was unable to get out of the way and it knocked me over and landed on me. The way I landed, and how it landed on top of me kept me from getting up. There was smoke and dust in the air. I heard a woman shout, “Call 911!”

“Hang up the damn phone. Nobody call 911. I’m fine.” I was more embarrassed than anything. I knew I’d put on some weight, but I never imagined it was enough to topple massive cabinets.  Then I heard a little old lady shout, “Oh my goodness! There’s a truck in the store!” Out of nowhere, a man appeared and lifted this cabinet off me. I was able to get out from under it as I heard sirens approaching. As suddenly as he appeared, he was gone. I never saw him again.  He was either an angel or wanted.

Once I was able to get out, I could see the wall and the ceiling were caved in. The clock was missing. People were milling about, trying to get a closer look when I heard a distinctive chime of the door opening. A woman came in, with a bag full of DVD’s, and casually dropped them off in the drop box and proceeded to browse. I told her, “Hey, you gotta go, we cant have people inside.” Then that little old lady shouted, “That’s the lady who hit the store!” She was either in shock or hoping no one noticed her goddamn Ford Explorer was 3 feet off the ground inside my store! Her toddler of a child even weirdly told us, “I told my Mommy her brakes sounded funny.” Bullshit. Now we knew why it took her so long to come in. She was likely coaching her kid.

The cause of the crash was determined to be “Brake failure.” But she drove against the curb, thought she had more room, revved it and ramped it, and voila she came through the wall. I ended up going to the hospital with a possible broken leg. Turns out, I was just a gigantic baby.

My boss at the time presented me with this clock, which stopped at the moment of impact. We had to close the store that night, but we were open the next day. I wound up with a few days off and an ok settlement. It wasn’t much longer that I left to start a career in law enforcement. I keep this clock handy as a reminder of how quickly things can change.

“What’s That? Wednesday” is a series of posts about quirky things I have in my office that people tend to ask about when they spot them.

The Trident, Jason Redman w John Bruning

This is going to sound like one of the most conflicted reviews you will probably ever read. I loved this book. I hated reading it. I love that I read it and I recommend it to anyone. It made me question and evaluate myself and brought on such self reflection; I put it down a few times and didn’t come back for a while. But it’s fantastic.

First, a little back story on how I came to this book: In October of this year, my fiancé and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Hawaii. On our flight to Honolulu, we were seated next to a gentleman with some noticeable facial injuries. We noticed it, but with me in law enforcement and her in the medical field, we’d seen stuff like this before. As the flight took off, this gentleman opened his laptop. I’ll admit curiosity got the best of me and I looked over.  I saw he appeared to be working on a presentation about “Overcoming.” I whispered to my fiancé, “I think he’s a motivational speaker.” In the previous few months, I had read so many books on leadership, command, and decision making, I was already enthralled. I still had no clue who he was, but I was dying to know. When my fiancé left her seat for a few minutes, he stood up and reached into the overhead bin. That’s when I saw it. The Navy SEAL Trident on his belt buckle. When she came back, I whispered again, “I think he’s a Navy SEAL!” Let me explain my excitement: I tried enlisting in the Air Force, the Marines and the Army when I was in high school and college. I was medically disqualified and never got the chance to serve. I have the utmost respect for those  that did and I have to admit, I’m kind of awestruck by people who have done such amazing things in such faraway places.

After we’d been in there air for several hours, and he had gotten up to stretch, he came back to the seat and struck up a conversation. He introduced himself as Jason Redman. In the ensuing conversation, I was amazed at how soft-spoken, humble, and genuine he seemed. Having never met a SEAL before, this small town cop wasn’t sure what I expected. This wasn’t it. I felt like I was talking to a Genie. I had a million questions, but I knew I probably only had about three before I reached a limit. Believe me when I say, in retrospect, I asked the stupidest questions. Knowing what I know now about the author, I wish I’d asked a dozen OTHER questions. He told us he’d been injured in Iraq. He told us he’d written a book. His demeanor was so impressive; I knew immediately I’d buy it. But then he told me there was a DIFFERENT book I should read. That’s where I got the recommendation for Fearless about Adam Brown, which I have previously written about.

Now, THE TRIDENT. Jason Redman was one of America’s finest warriors. He had joined the Navy, became a Navy SEAL, and fought in intense combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s no spoiler in telling you he was shot in the face and seriously wounded. He describes this wound, and the immediate aftermath in such descriptive detail, it might be the closest description you’ll ever hear about what it’s like to die. But Jason “Red” Redman lived. He survived. He thrived. His story of recovery is one of inspiration. It’s motivating. If a man can overcome taking machine gun fire to the face, why do we struggle to overcome our daily obstacles?

What appealed to me most about this book was Jason’s personal journey that brought him to the night of his injury. His immaturity, his arrogance, and his unpredictable ways almost cost him his place in the SEALs. In no way do I compare myself or my accomplishments to Mr. Redman or his accomplishments, but I related to every flaw he brought up. Making rash decisions and lashing out when criticized, becoming defensive when anyone questioned him, pulling stunts that he thought would earn him the respect of his teammates but actually bringing the opposite result, THOSE I could relate to. Mr. Redman’s journey from disgrace to reviving his career and eventually excelling and earning the respect of his teammates was my big take-away from this book. Several times while reading this book, I was uncomfortable. I saw a lot of my own attitude and previous mistakes. I even saw some of what I am STILL doing wrong. I think what took me so long to finish the book was my reluctance to accept some of my own flaws.  It took me weeks to read the first 200 pages and then, when it all clicked, only 2 days to finish the remaining 200 or so pages. In the Epilogue, Mr. Redman talks about what he does now. He travels the country giving talks about the hard lessons he learned about his own mistakes and immaturity and gives lessons on leadership, communication, teamwork, and overcoming adversity. He will use his story as a “cautionary tale.” Mr. Redman says, “I wish somebody had shared those lessons with me when I was younger. Maybe my road would have been easier.” As a 32 year old man, these lessons are nothing new to me. I’ve heard these tales from people who have never seemed to struggle with some of these issues. To read a first-hand account, from a man who had every reason to be arrogant and cocky, yet in person seemed so incredibly humble, a man who could pinpoint in his career when he battled all of these, and then came out a stronger man, a man who has overcome more in the last 10 years than I will overcome in my lifetime, this has been a redefining book for me.  I hope to hear him speak some day. He mentioned on the plane he might put out another book. I’ll probably pre-order it.

This will be a book I buy more copies of. I think some of the lessons in this book would be good for guys who started much like I did: Twenty-two years old and way too cocky. I wish I’d had this guidance then. Maybe I did, somewhere, and wasn’t receptive to it. I think this book really encapsulates everything I wish I’d known. If you find yourself in a leadership position, and you see somebody starting to throw a career away with foolishness, get them this book. If you are unhappy with where you are in your career, get yourself this book.

“You can’t change the past but you control your future as long as you’re willing to.” J. Redman