I spent my 34th Birthday at ILEA and was determined to meet and or exceed all of the twenty somethings in my class. My ILEA class was 00-145 (Year 2000-145th Session). I made sure that prior to attending myself and my other comrade from my department would do just that. It was a lot of work, but at the end of the day, I was 3rd in my class and an Honor Graduate. The top three were separated by 0.3 points. It was hard work but it was worth every second of it. Here is a class video from an ILEA class in 2006 to show you why I think that Indiana's academy is one of the best in the nation take the 24 minutes and watch it. My instructors, such as Lt. Randy Davis, Lt. Bruce Baker, Lt. Nick Schivarelli, and Lt. David Younce and I still keep in touch. They taught me valuable skills and lessons as did some of the other instructors: Lt. Andy Anderson, Lt.Norm Camerer, former BPD Maj. Steve Arthur, and others.
I ended my career in 2007, due to losing our 21 year old daughter and following a wrongful order given to me by the Sheriff. It was completely my fault and I paid the price of a childhood dream for it. I fell on my sword because I did wrong. I was not my usual, questioning self, rather more of a drone just wanting to get into the office and do whatever task was at hand. PTSD was present and I should have realized on the occasions I had to work on the road and got very agitated with my brothers-in-arms and citizenry. I should have stepped away, taken a leave of absence, or done something to concentrate on my daughter and family as opposed to being a drone for a Sheriff who had gone astray due to his grief at losing his wife.
But enough about that. I have kept in close contact with a lot of officers here locally and watched a depressing transformation in law enforcement in my small rural county. Officers are scared to do their jobs. They are afraid of lawsuits or reprimand. They cannot drive like they were taught in EVO at the academy. They cannot draw a weapon without having to write a report and face disciplinary charges. It is very sad indeed to see well-trained Police Officers not be able to do their jobs. The attrition rate at all of our departments in this county are atrocious. I have watched veteran officers who are vital to training new officers and pass along their skills to rookie officers retire just to get away from the bureaucracy of departments. This only leads to police officers who cannot police effectively.
I have said for years now that we will have a time when no one will want to become a cop and take on the job. We are now at that point thanks to incidents like Ferguson, MO in 2014 and other incidents. In 2001,both police officers and firefighters alike were treated like heroes after 9-11 by the public and government. It is now a completely diametrically opposed situation. Police are treated like the bad guys and are getting killed at an alarming rate. They are being fired, or worse, charged with crimes for doing their jobs.
Now, back to Houston. Joe Gamaldi, the Union representative for HPD, made a heartfelt comment on TV after the shooting of the five officers in Houston. His words hit me to the core. He basically stated that the cops are the Good Guys, they care for their communities, they have families they want to go home to, they have a basic desire to do good and fight crime and keep everyone safe , yet now they have targets painted on their backs. His words were heard and of course, completely misconstrued by the news media (and I do agree with President Trump: Fake News has been brainwashing you for years, as well as your own government. Abolish ICE? Now there's a dumb move). Mr. Gamaldi put the facts out on Fox News this afternoon about Police shootings in the United Sates last year, and they made complete sense to me. Last year law enforcement agencies in the United States answered 50 million documented calls for service. With an additional approximated 200 million undocumented calls for service. Officers shot 995 people. Of those 995 people 47 were unarmed, but posed a deadly threat and of those 47 people less than 50% were persons of color. For approximately 250 million calls for service, those are pretty damned good statistics and doesn't seem to scream racism at me at all. The 144 officers that were killed in the line of duty, as well as, those that took their own lives does bother me.
And then we have Joe Mathews, a California-based journalist, who thinks that California should just change their Constitution and eliminate Sheriffs altogether. His theory is that the concept of a Sheriff is dated and since they are elected they are innately corrupt from the get go. He further states they cannot be removed from office once elected-WRONG! He also states that his is why we celebrate Robin Hood and the (his words, not mine) Evil and Corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham. Okay Mr. Mathews, time for a Fairy-tale Break and come back to reality. I would also like to just let you in on a little secret, change one thing on your Constitution and watch all of your rights crumble as the domino effect happens. I have several close conservative friends in California that will tell you that the state is a mess and often compare her to the the guy or girl that was so hot that everyone wanted to date him/her, but feel lucky they didn't marry her because she hasn't aged so well.
Now let's return to Indiana again. Indianapolis Metro PD just got a $16000.00/year pay raise for their officers. Why? That's an easy question to answer Martha, I am glad you asked. Officer retention, but it isn't working.
1.) The Mayor of Indianapolis promised 1500 officers and more officers out of the cars interacting with the citizenry (community policing), however more people retired than were hired in 2018 and the same is holding true in 2019 with 65 requested retirements. Once again age and experience gone and valuable lessons cannot be handed down through field training.
2.) The retirees have cited that they no longer want to be working in an under-staffed and under-appreciated environment. Even with the large pay raise, the fear of lawsuits, criminal action, and internal disciplinary action has driven them away. The News Media's reporting of all of these actions have also driven away people that otherwise would apply for positions because they don't want any part of this either. I don't know too many kids who say, "I want to be a police officer/fireman when I grow up!", anymore.
3.) Even with a higher salary incentive the fear of public and internal/administrative reprisal does not make the job appealing anymore and it obviously isn't retaining officers.
This is happening not only in Indianapolis and other large police departments, it is happening all over the U.S. thanks to restrictive policies, News Media "jumping the gun" (no pun intended), calling any tragic action some sort of "ism" or brutality and police administrators and mayors running their own employees into the meat grinder. The list is a lot longer of other "self-proclaimed experts or religious leaders" that love to appear "on scene" to stir the pot, but that is a whole other novella.
Can the problem be fixed?
Optimistically, I would love to say yes, but I think we are way too far into the brutalization of police mode instead. (Remember when it used to be Police Brutality?) A police officer used to be a respected person and I still like to think here in our community they are.
How do we fix it?
1.) Realize police officers are doing their sworn job. Protecting life and property, investigating and acting on crimes committed. While you are realizing that also remember they have loved ones too. Remember that they will see things that you never will (hopefully) that they will not be able to "unsee". Some officers will learn to cope and some officers will not and will possibly take their own lives
2.) Administrators/Government- Stand by your officers. Believe them until otherwise proven wrong. This is the great thing about the car and body cams..They have proven more police officers right than wrong. There have been too many officers immediately thrown under the bus immediately by Sheriffs/Chiefs/Councils, before and investigation is even complete
3.) A police officer should never ever feel constrained to draw his gun if he feels threatened.
4.) We call them emergency vehicles, they have lights, sirens, and are made to go fast. pull to the right and let them get to the call they are on and possibly save a life. They are trained drivers and should be allowed to perform that skill.
5.) News Media- Stop jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst.. Maybe wait until you get the story from the Public Information Officer before you report a sensational story using an ism or the words brutality or wrongful. Get the facts before reporting the wrong story and causing panic or ruining someone's life and /or career.
6.) And I am big on this, TRAINING! All of the psycho-motor skills learned by an officer are perishable skills and training should be frequent and up to date.
7.) Say hello to police officers, strike up a conversation. You might make a new friend or unfortunately you may be the last good memory he has because he didn't make it home to the wife and kids.
8.) REPEAT OF #1- Let them do the job they trained for! They are the experts. Unless you have walked that "Thin Blue Line" you are just an armchair quarterback, the news media is going to report sensationalism, and all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. If you really want to see a lot of innocent people at once, visit a prison, everyone is innocent there.
9.) Just throwing this in here because of a couple of viral videos. If you see a police officer on the ground struggling with someone and asking for help- JUST DO IT! Go help the guy. If you aren't physically able to fight , get your cell phone out and call 911. don't pull it out and record......CALL FOR BACKUP!
The lesson here is simple- Police Officers go through rigorous amounts of training (at least 600 hours at the Academy plus yearly in-service), let them do their job! Have I said that enough? I am so sick and tired of posting Officer Down Memorials on my Facebook page it is ridiculous. The numbers just keep going up.
It would be nice to hear a small child say," I want to be a cop when I grow up!" again.
Rant Over Thanks For Reading ,