Monday, June 01, 2015

Men and Women in Blue

"If you run, you'll only go to jail tired." - Unknown

There have been quite a few stories in the news about law enforcement. Good stories, bad stories, and quite a bit of inflamed attitudes on both sides. People of concerned with their civil liberties and the actions of various law enforcement folks resulting in death of individual. There have also been stories of law enforcement folks doing their job at a very modest salary being killed in the line of duty.

It is a very saddening conversation with both sides very impassioned. And I would not suggest that I have an answer to all of this. There are going to always be bad guys and a need for law enforcement officers to risk themselves for our protection. There are also going to be innocent people getting caught in the middle of a rogue law enforcement officer. Again, no easy answers.

A friend of mine spent thirty some years on a large metropolitan police force in Gwinnett County, just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Not an "Andy Taylor from Mayberry" type of place.

The types of gang, drug and every other manner of crime you could imagine occur within its county lines. There are so many things that go on in the life of a police officer, you might think twice about doing so for the salary these men and women are paid.

The days can run from the boring paperwork of reports one minute to the heart racing moments of trying to stop a drunk driver on a school day afternoon. There are also lighter moments these law enforcement officers get to enjoy which are legendary stories within the walls of each police precinct.

Many of stories are likely unrepeatable outside of those walls.

I remember one amusing story my friend told me regarding early in his career. During those days, the eastern edges of the county were very rural and the next county over (Hall County) was very, very rural. A truck carrying live poultry had tipped over. Law enforcement officers arrived from both county jurisdictions, one of which was my friend. Surveying the situation, it was determined the accident had occurred and was contained within Hall County.

It was asked who would be chasing and gathering up the live poultry. My friend said with a slight grin on his face that it appeared all of the chickens were on the Hall County side of the line. It sure looked like a Hall County jurisdictional problem to him. But knowing my friend, he stuck around and did what he could to assist.

And this friend, David Spell, has hundreds of stories.

The stories range from the funny to the tragic and all stops in-between. He has so many stories, he wrote two books detailing those experiences.

Street Cop

Street Cop II: Reloaded

These are books which tell the tales from his years in law enforcement. A life you thought you may have understood a police officer goes through. But this is more personal and brings you right into the action. And it is because of that action I am thankful for people like David Spell.

Each day we get up and go to work, the store or any of a hundred different things. The visible life of police officers are the ones in which we see them involved in catching speeding cars or showing up at our fender benders. It is a life many criticize as interference in their daily life.

Dig beneath the surface to find the truth.

What we fail to see and maybe choose not to see is the life of a police officer when people do really bad things, ugly things to other people. These bad people are the ones who rob, beat up their wives, sell drugs to our children, shoot and kill in bloody messes. It is these same bad people who are confronted and stopped every day by good folks just like David Spell.

Every day this goes on.

David writes and tells the stories which will make you laugh, gasp and even cry in the pain he saw. And each day, he returned to a wife who supported him prayed he would be safe. "In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC (National Crime Information Center)" is a quote I read by another police officer. Law enforcement folks are trained to expect the unexpected and react on a moment's notice to protect the public.

That means you and me.

Yes us, the law abiding folks who just happen to be driving by that traffic stop with our kids in the car. That very same moment when a drug courier decides to pull a gun in desperation.

"TO PROTECT AND SERVE" is not just a line from a movie, it is real life.

Grab hold of David's books today and see what happens all around you in a typical day. Then go thank a police officer next time you see one. Thank your lucky stars there are men and women in uniform out there chasing down the bad guys and the occasional dog or chicken.

Stay inspired my friends.

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