FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
I received a couple magazine-worthy questions this month, and I appreciate them. Keep them coming because I need more.
I was working on one of those questions when I had a personal experience that floored me. I ll get back to the sent-in questions next month. This month, I ll relate this story, and then discuss why we re all here in the first place.
Ol Bullethead is extremely lucky. I work in one of the coolest units in police work. We re a high-profile, multiple-agency unit that does nothing but chase really bad guys. If you didn t kill someone, rape someone, kidnap someone or hurt a child, we don t really care about you. We put our time in trying to find the scum of the earth. And, once we get them, it s nothing but a warrant arrest. You got it right we rarely write reports, and when we do, they re short and sweet.
The folks in this unit are all seasoned cops, problem solvers and the go-to guys for our own departments. When the people in this unit aren t finding super scum, they re fielding questions from troops needing mentoring and guidance or conducting training at their own agencies.
A short time ago, one of our guys, an 18-year cop, identified a location for someone he was chasing for murder. The team headed out to snatch up this creep. Another guy on the team is a 10-year cop sitting high on the sergeant s list for his agency.
The creep we were looking for had moved away from the nasty area where he committed his murder to a distant suburb. We set up on the place, and within an hour, we had identified the murderer. Once our plan was in place, we sprung the trap.
I jumped into a car with the 18-year cop. We were the first element of the arrest team, and we were supposed to meet the other element at the target. For the plan to work, we needed to get to the target quickly and at the same time. Of course, let s not kid ourselves, we ain t the Blue Angels a couple seconds one way or the other won t kill us.
My partner starts flying down residential streets like a NASCAR driver. This is when amateur hour began. We were a block away from the target when a guy stepped off the curb. My partner didn t even tap the brakes. I m not sure what he was thinking, but it was probably I m important, so move or I ll run you down.
Then the law of unintended consequences jumped up and bit us in the ass. As my partner speeds past him, the guy turns and throws a bottle at us and shatters our mirror. Not a reasonable response to speeding, but something that could have been avoided by tapping the brakes.
Now what? My partner is livid because of his I m important complex, but he still has a mission arresting a murderer. That requires a certain level of concentration, which he no longer has, and now he has something else to deal with.
The arrest of the murderer comes together fine because everyone else was still in the game. So, 18-years goes back to arrest the kid who broke his mirror.
Amateur hour kicks into overdrive. As soon as 18-years snatches the kid up, the family starts coming out and asking questions. Instead of answering them, 18-years goes into defensive mode, telling them to copy his name off of his raid jacket and refusing to answer questions.
Then 10-years cop shows up, and instead of helping me deescalate things, he starts stroking up the family even more, and he ends with a straight challenge to fight the kid s family.
At this point, ol Bullethead has lost all belief that I m part of a professional organization that s here to make things better. I m not in charge of this unit, but I ve had it, so I start ordering these jackasses into cars and telling them to clear the area.
What s the point? First, even seasoned cops in a high-profile unit can turn into complete idiots for very little reason. Second, we should remember why we re here. The important work we were doing that day was overshadowed by the stupid actions of a couple of jackasses. We ll all have to kill time in court because this kid is going to fight us, and we ll probably end up in Internal Affairs as well. On top of that, one more family will forever hate cops for nothing more than the ego of one idiot who still doesn t get that our power comes from the consent of the people.
We can all lose our cool from time to time, but when someone does, the rest of us should help bring things back under control, not pick fights. We re supposed to be the professionals.
Got a question or complaint?
Let Bullethead hear about it. He ll give you his opinion with both barrels.
E-mail him at email@example.com
or fax him at 619/699-6246.