Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Broken Glass Story

 

And on the dance floor broken glass
And bloody faces slowly pass
The numbered seats in empty rows
It all belongs to me you know – lyrics from The Who

In the quiet moments some of the things I’ve seen as a police officer come back to me.

There are many different calls that you take as a police officer. Welfare checks, traffic accidents, domestic disturbance, suspicious activity, fight calls, a fight call that turned out to be a homicide, loud party, and the; “I didn’t get the hamburger I wanted at the drive-through window.”

Each of those calls presents their own problems but the calls I hated most were the incomplete calls or kiddie calls. The incomplete call was a mystery. Most police officers do not like mysteries, at least I didn’t. The caller had hung-up on the 9-1-1 dispatcher and you were sent to find out why. You never knew what to expect.

Kiddie calls could mean a descent into the pit. Trying to comfort a child, and then wishing an adult would resist arrest is not very good for the psyche. The child has experienced enough violence and your desire to play a little catch-up with the parents isn’t going to help the child. Someone has to represent what an adult should be and that is you.

One night I was on a kiddie call as one of four officers that examined rope burns on the necks of two children. On that call four of us counted the cigarette burns on their arms. Those children were about five and three-years-old. Three police officers that didn’t say a word to their parents. One police officer questioned the parents and then told them they were under arrest. Four police officers who were lost in their own thoughts, and they were not very nice thoughts. About an hour after that call I pulled someone over for a traffic violation. When I walked up to the driver’s window the driver said, “Don’t you have anything better to do?” My reply was I did about an hour ago.

I walked back to the driver and handed him his cite. I said “I cited you for running the stop sign. Your court date is on the ticket.” He told me, “I’d like to discuss this.” I told him that he could discuss it with the judge in traffic court. The inevitable I want your badge number comes next. I told him my name and ID number was at the bottom of the ticket. As I walked away he exclaimed: “I’m not done yet.” I replied, “Sorry I’ve got to find something better to do-like getting a cup of coffee, parking the car someplace, lighting up a cigarette, staring into the night, and waiting for Officer Friendly to reappear.”

Published in Policing
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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    About ten miles off of I-70 at a little past midnight and headed away, I got pulled over by a county mountie. I swear that I have concert tee shirts older than he was. I think he thought I was lost, what with the out-of-state plates and all at that time of night headed off into the Big Dark.

    “Well, I’m going to stay on 56 here till I reach US 22, which I take into Circleville. Then I pick up 23 south to 361 and stay on that until I’m just north of Kingston. I take 280 east …”

    I lost him at Kingston, if I didn’t lose him at 361.

    He wished me a pleasant evening.

    I didn’t even get to the stretch about the gravel road.

    • #1
    • February 27, 2020, at 3:55 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. jmelvin Member

    I can only imagine the emotional turmoil you’d go through after being through a few of those kiddie calls, because I know what I’m thinking only considering it and it’s pretty hard stuff. I’ glad there are folks like you who are willing to be the caring adults the kids need (or needed) at these times.

    • #2
    • February 27, 2020, at 4:11 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I can’t imagine the restraint it took to keep silent with those parents. I’m screaming at them and all those parents who abuse their kids in my head right now. To actually have to view the cruelty–well, as always, Doug, I thank you for the work you did. And I loved how you responded to the idiotic driver who thought he was the center of the world. Well done.

    • #3
    • February 27, 2020, at 6:48 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Franco Member
    Franco Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Well how can anyone possibly question your service to society when you save children from abuse?

    Let me try…(Lol)

    Of course the driver was insulting and stupid.

    However, just like you came from a heartbreaking situation, maybe he had a recently negative experience with law enforcement or with people who work for the government. I’d probably have done the same as you BTW, but objectively speaking, I don’t think we should pass on our previous negative encounters onto others.

    I just spent 2 hours at a DMV in New Jersey trying to be in compliance with state law. The place was so crowded they made announcements that they would be closing in 3 hours and they said they might not get to everyone today…..

    While listening to a podcast I watched a man who was probably the boss, or very high up talking casually to a security guard for at least 45 minutes. Smiling, laughing, he had all the time in the world. He did nothing to help anyone. I had half a mind to ask him what his function there was and if there was some reason he couldn’t help expedite things to make the lines move faster. But I’m smarter than that because these people absolutely can and will retaliate. 
    It turns out that I’ve come down with something – cold or flu – and it probably came from being 2 hours in the same space with 150 random people who live near Trenton. 

    So maybe if you stop me for a broken tail-light as a pretense for wanting to catch me with some weed, and I get a bit snippy you’ll give me a break? I didn’t think so. And don’t worry, I’m very polite and compliant. Most cops are good, some are drones – neither good nor bad – but some aren’t. I’ve had a full range of experiences.

    Have a nice day.

     

    • #4
    • February 27, 2020, at 7:19 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Franco (View Comment):
    So maybe if you stop me for a broken tail-light as a pretense for wanting to catch me with some weed, and I get a bit snippy you’ll give me a break? I didn’t think so. And don’t worry, I’m very polite and compliant. Most cops are good, some are drones – neither good nor bad – but some aren’t. I’ve had a full range of experiences.

    You bring up an interesting point, @franco, that I think we all can relate to. We encounter someone who is downright rude. We have no idea about why, but we dislike being treated that way. I’ve sensed what you’re talking about right here on Ricochet, and certainly in my work when I trained and consulted in the area of conflict. And I’ve had a couple of times (yes, I know, even nice Susan does) when I was rude to someone, possibly because of the mood I brought into the exchange.

    Still. We are all responsible for our behavior. Regardless of what has happened previously (and the person we’re interacting with has no idea what happened, and in fact the nasty person may not know he or she is being affected by something that happened earlier), we are responsible for how we treat each other. We can make the effort to be empathic, but I don’t think we are required to be.

    • #5
    • February 27, 2020, at 7:32 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Kay of MT Member

    I worked for Los Angeles County AFDC as a Social Worker then – Eligibility workers now, and the police sometimes brought the “kiddie calls” into our office, so we could clean them up and try to find temp foster placement for them. Once they brought in 2 children about 4 and 5, found in a motel tied to the end of a bed, by their hands. They had enough room to move around a bit, and to use a potty chair. The parents claimed they were only going to be gone for several hours, however, they didn’t return for 3 days. By this time the children were in full distress from hunger and an over flowing potty. Their hands had been tied so tightly that the swelling was so bad you could not tell if they had fingers. Several of us were assigned to bathe and clean them up and feed them, which we did, and by then protective services had arrived to take charge.

    I picked up my children from day care, went home and had a complete meltdown. My mother, a supervisor of a protective services unit in Norwalk, came to the S. F. Valley to get me under control. As some of you know, when I see children being abused I go into a black rage and have actually attacked the parent.

    • #6
    • February 27, 2020, at 7:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    I am sorry you have to experience that. Thank you for your service.

    • #7
    • February 27, 2020, at 12:22 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    This is one of the reasons I could not be a police officer. There’s a part of me I keep locked up – under control. The part of me I’m too scared to get rid of in case I might need it, but dare not let out. Seeing kids being tortured would wake up the monster. I’m not sure how you do it, maintaining professional around people who deserve to suffer.

    • #8
    • February 27, 2020, at 2:47 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Kay of MT Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    There’s a part of me I keep locked up – under control.

    As a young woman I had trouble keeping that same part of me under control. Now as an old woman, I have better control and am able to contact proper help. But the inside rage is hard to keep down, by any decent person, and it takes it’s tole.

    For a number of years I went to every thrift shop to find soft and fluffy stuffed animals. I washed them, brushed them up, put new ribbons on them and gave them to the local sheriff dept to keep in the trunk of their cars.

    • #9
    • February 28, 2020, at 7:21 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    There’s a part of me I keep locked up – under control.

    As a young woman I had trouble keeping that same part of me under control. Now as an old woman, I have better control and am able to contact proper help. But the inside rage is hard to keep down, by any decent person, and it takes it’s tole.

    For a number of years I went to every thrift shop to find soft and fluffy stuffed animals. I washed them, brushed them up, put new ribbons on them and gave them to the local sheriff dept to keep in the trunk of their cars.

    What a great thing to do as far as finding and restoring the old plush toys. A simple and loving way to offer kids some joy.

    I still find myself about to lose it. Of course, maybe if I am on the planet another 10 years, as I then approach my 80th birthday, I will finally have the anger thing under control.

    Last week, I picked up a large food order at a local Carl’s Jr’s, and this guy was out on the stoop, surveying the parking lot. He started to head to his car, and his toddler was stalling around, as toddlers do. The cute little boy was some 25 feet behind him. Why a big strong macho man, with tattoos probably proclaiming his gang membership, believes that it must be machismo- deflating to hold onto a toddler’s hand while cars are going about, I don’t know.

    I wanted to give the guy a piece of my mind. Only what if I did that and it only made his behavior worse?

    • #10
    • February 28, 2020, at 11:05 AM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Kay of MT Member

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    I wanted to give the guy a piece of my mind. Only what if I did that and it only made his behavior worse?

    In my experiences it didn’t make the behavior worse, but it did give them something to think about, “people are watching.”

    • #11
    • February 28, 2020, at 12:36 PM PST
    • Like