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I've been working patrol for four years in a town of roughly 50,000 people. I thought I knew what I was getting into when I came into policing, but something happened recently that has my head all screwed up. I don't know if you can help, but I've got to start somewhere because I m thinking about quitting.
A guy I went through the academy with got killed on a traffic stop. He had stopped a car for speeding along a busy roadway and was off to the side of his car when it was hit by a drunk driver. The impact pushed his car into him and crushed him against a retaining wall.
I can't get this out of my head. It bothers me because he didn't do anything wrong and got killed anyway. And for what? A speeding ticket.
It just seems senseless, and I feel like everything I do is a waste of time. I used to enjoy coming to work and mixing it up with the bad guys. Now I just avoid everything. This can t be right, but I don't know how to fix it.
Damn son, that's one hell of a buzz kill. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I'll be up front with you and say I may not be able to help you overcome this. I don't know how close you were with the victim, and I'm certainly not qualified to do much more than give strong and correct opinions.
I'll start with your former compadre. I don't know either one of you, so I'm going to have to make some assumptions. Your friend had been on the job for four years and enjoyed what he was doing. If he didn't enjoy it, he would've been parked somewhere and not out pulling people over.
There may well be tragedy in any death, but to die doing something you enjoy certainly beats going out another way. I can think of two things I would like to be doing when I punch out. One of those is police work, and the other is none of your damn business and happens only behind closed doors.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to screw up and end up on the wrong side of an investigation, but if I'm in the middle of a pursuit or swapping stories with my partners over some hot coffee and a sniper round or a heart attack comes, I'll be OK with it. If I can go out behind closed doors while engaging in the other activity even better!
I'm trying to get you to empathize with the dead instead of sympathizing with the living. We can't interview dead people, so we don't know what they think about their own death. We all die some time, and to die doing something we love may not be too bad.
Let's be clear: If my ticket gets punched on the job through my fault or not, I hope every cop, fed, firefighter, mail carrier, cable guy, milk-man, etc., hunts the person down and sends them to see me. Hey, when I'm dead, the U.S. Constitution no longer applies to me, so don't come to my funeral speaking some crap about how 'Ol Bullethead would have wanted us to respect that guy s rights screw that! I'm dead and all bets are off. If there s some place we go when we finish here, I'll be there waiting for the SOB. They'll catch a beating when I find them. If I was at fault, I ll only give them half a beating because my death should provide training for the rest of you. If some drunk gets me or I go in some other random deal where I did nothing wrong, that SOB will get two beatings.
Let me see if I can translate this to you. Your friend died, and I'm sure that left a huge hole in the lives of many people. If I guessed correctly, at least he died doing something he enjoyed through no fault of his own. You can either be consumed by his death, or you can celebrate his life. If you're consumed by his death, pack your bags and go. You'll see far too many horrible and pointless deaths to survive a career in law enforcement. If you choose to celebrate his life, get over his death and start doing the work you both learned together.
This is a choice only you can make, and don't stay in police work just for a job. Either get your head back in the game, or take this as your cue to exit.