Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Frustration, Disappointment, and Self-Assessment.

I know how ya feel, buddy.

Man, what a week.  I don't want to get too political on here, or add to the noise that is swarming on and on about the situation in Baltimore, but, I would feel remiss if I didn't say anything.

I work, and live in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA.  I don't want to give my exact location, but it is safe to assume that where I work in effected by the happenings in Charm City.

I'm not going into specifics here, but as a nation, here is what we KNOW.

1) An individual was taken into police custody in the form of arrest.

2) The individual in question, was a black male.

3) The individual was placed into a "paddy wagon" or prisoner transport vehicle.

4) The officers on scene failed to seat-belt the individual.

5) At some point, the individual sustained an injury, and requested medical treatment.

6) Medical treatment was delayed.

7) The individual in custody dies as a result of an injury.

Those are the facts.  ALL of the reported facts.  Everything else is window dressing, and speculation provided by the media, special interest groups, and political figure heads.

As a result of a heated political and sociological climate, the citizens of Baltimore have rallied and had multiple protests.  While most are peaceful, certain individuals have taken it upon themselves to use the opportunity to spark violence, and civil unrest (read "RIOT").

As Police, what can we learn from this event?

I'm not the one to speak on lessons learned from the police response to the riot.  That will be studied by department heads across the nation in the coming months.

However, as a Patrolman, an FTO, and a senior officer, I think we should look at the incident that lead up to the in custody death.

1) There were 6 officers involved.  I know it's gotten cliche' but, "if you see something, say something" doesn't just apply to citizens calling us for terror tips.  We should communicate among each other during difficult arrests, and all calls for service.  If one or two of the officers saw something critical that the others didn't see, that needs to be communicated.

2) Refer to your training and procedures.  I don't know what might of went "wrong" in this arrest, but something tells me that it was out of the ordinary.  We need to be vigilant on doing things as dictated by our training, and procedures, especially when things break bad.  It was revealed that he wasn't buckled in.  What does your policy say about seat belts?  Find out, and follow it.

3) Do NOT deny timely access to medical treatment.  If a prisoner asks for medical treatment, I know it has become a stall tactic, and is a pain in the ass to deal with, but we MUST call for the medics IMMEDIATELY.  That takes the liability off of us.  If there is a medical need, it will be met.  If the prisoner refuses, then we at least tried to provide them the necessary service.  It was revealed that there was a delay in treatment.  Timely access to the medics may, or may not, have prevented the in custody death, but it would have been a more appropriate response.

4) If you are on scene, and the rules are not being followed, step up and make sure they are.  You don't have to be a Sgt, or a supervisor, to call someone out on an improper action.  If you are the most senior officer on scene, you are liable to ensure that those junior to you are acting in accordance to the rules.  Now, I'm not saying that you need to be a baby sergeant, but if someone is doing something immoral, illegal, against policy, or unsafe, and intervention needs to happen now, step up. If it's something that can wait, talk to them after the call, and get on the same page.

I'm not sure if someone in the group was grossly negligent, and if someone else saw something, and kept silent.  I'm hoping that it was just a freak occurrence that happened to end in tragedy.  But, if something could have been done, and it was up to you, can you look at yourself in the mirror knowing that you did not have the courage to stop it?

Again, I don't want this to be an article of assumption, but rather an article of reflection.  Are we, you, am I, doing everything we can to make sure that those entrusted in your custody are protected?  Are we making sure that our integrity is in check, and we are doing the right thing?

I have plenty of stories where taking a "short cut" has lead to disaster.  Some of them are mine.  So, I write this as a reminder to you, and me, to do it right, and not to take shortcuts, or keep silent when we can prevent a mistake.

Stay safe,


Friday, April 24, 2015

Tales from the, the OTHER hood.


The police car. To the non officer, it's just a car. To us, it's a car, office, home, safety, comfort, the list goes on. You see the hood, there?  Over the span of my career, I have had many conversations while leaning back on the hood of the car. Some good, some bad.

Recently, I had a good chat with a young rookie officer, while leaning on the hood of my car. I thought I'd share some of that chat here. 

We were talking about the age differences in our line of work, and how a lot of the rookies coming out are in their EARLY 20's, while I am knocking on 40, and towards the tail end of my career. You see, I used to be one of those young guys. One of the really young guys. I started a month after my 22nd birthday. 

A bit of advice I had gotten when I was young, was to watch the old timers, and do what they did. Now, in theory, this seems like good advice. However, in practice, it wasn't so good. The older guys that I watched were all miserable, disgruntled, cinical older guys. Well. Watching those guys, and trying to do what they did, and being around all that negativity took a young officer, and made him a young, cinical, disgruntled officer. I wasn't happy, I started taking short cuts, I was always focused on what I didn't have, instead of the positives, and what I did. Within my first five years, I had been to Internal Affairs so much that I was on a first name basis with the union lawyer. I was miserable. 

Looking back, I think that this is part of what lead me down the path where I had contemplated suicide. (If you haven't yet, read the police suicide tab up top, it tells the story)  It has taken me a lot of time since to figure out who I am, what I want, and where I want to go. I wish I could have that time back, and do my rookie years over again. I would have followed the advice I gave this young officer a couple days ago, while I was leaning on the hood of my car. 

I told this kid that I find it refreshing that these young kids are coming out of the academy excited, and full of piss and vinegar. I told him that he should turn to the older guys for advice and guidance, HOWEVER, not to get sucked in by the negativity. To seek out the senior guys that seem to be content, and happy with their job. The guys that seem to be squared away. I also told him to make sure he keeps connections with the other younger guys, and to try to stay excited about the job. 

He was asking me if I thought it was bad that he was feeling like he got into a rut last week, after only having a few months of "street time". Here are my thoughts on that. It is perfectly fine to get discouraged and get into a rut. Even when you are still new. However, it is NOT ok to stay there. That's when you should talk to someone.  You need to evaluate why you are feeling like you are in a rut. Is it that you have been to the same house three times that week?  Because that happens. And it gets frustrating every time you go back, and tell people the same thing as the last. But, one day it will either sink in, or it just won't bother you any more. Or, is it that you are feeling overwhelmed?  Because that happens too. And when it does, it's ok to ask for help. It is a priority that you get out of the rut. Find a way, get some help, talk to someone. The good senior guys will be there to help you out of the rut. The miserable older guys will make it easy to stay there. Misery loves company. 

It's too bad I have learned this so late in my career. I wish I could go back. I made a promise to myself that I would be the senior guy who encourages, instead of discourages. That is one of the main reasons I decided to push to get into FTO school.

You know, funny thing about the hood. It is the setting of a lot of joking around, and funny stories. It's also the setting of heartache, pain, anguish, dispair. The same hood that you lean against to tell stories, is the same hood you might have to tell someone their loved one has died, or that you are taking their freedom away. It's also the same hood that catches the palms of bad guys, or the contraband you pull from their pockets during an arrest. It's also the same hood that have caught tears. Tears of laughter, tears of sadness, tears of pain.  

It's been a table. A table where I've shared a pizza, or a meal with my side partners. A table where I've filled out paperwork, or a table that I plotted a course out on a map. 

To some, it's just a hood. The part of the car that hides the engine. 

Take care out there,


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A little thing about stories.....

I don't want to toot my own horn, here (see what I did there?), but I added a new little reminder above good ol' Barney over there.

Be sure to check the "Stories" tab from time to time.  That's where I'm going to do smaller posts, funny things, and jokes.  I added a couple this week, so, check them out.

I'm still playing with the format and having fun with this, so this is how I'm going to do it for now.  If it becomes too hard to separate the two, I might kill the tab, but I wanted the "Posts" to be more serious, and a "behind the badge" (curtain) look at cop life.

I tried to see if there was a way to alert a new addition on a "page" or "tab" but it doesn't look like it.  There also isn't a way to comment on an individual story, that I can find.  So it's purely for reading pleasure at this point.

Do you like it this way, or should I mix the fun in with the life experience stuff?  Hit the comment button, and let me know if you have a preference.



Monday, April 13, 2015

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

I'd like to take a minute to thank and honor the unsung heroes of our job.  The 9-1-1 call center, and the dispatchers that not only tell us where to go, but are our life line while we are out there.

They are the "voice on the other end of the radio" when we are out there.  I know I have needed them when the shit has hit the fan, and I know they worry about me, and my fellow officers when they have to send us into harm's way.

So, a few funny memes I wanted to share...........

Sorry for those mic clicks.  It's not you, it's me.....
I don't mean to be snippy, but that 10-17 really pissed me off, and it's the third time I'v been there this week.

Admit it, it's funny!!!  I don't care who you are, you laughed.........

We couldn't do our job without you and your thankless dedication.  I can only imagine how hard it is to sit on the other end of the mic when those you care about go running off in the distance towards unknown threats, or hearing the small whimpers of a victim on the other end of the phone crying for help, knowing that there is nothing you can immediately do to help, but still have to offer calming and encouraging words.

Like an extension of us, we know that you care, and do the best job you can, and often go unnoticed, unnamed, and unrewarded for a hard job well done.

We out here really do appreciate all the hard work you guys and gals do.  Have a good week, and......

and on, and on, and on......

Thanks again, 

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Figured I'd write about my first, and hopefully ONLY, line of duty injury.

Back in November 2013, while enjoying a nice quiet Sunday morning, on a day 6 (last day of shift) before going on vacation, I was just minding my own business, then my life changed with the crack of the radio.

Funny thing about this job.  You can be sitting in your car, drinking a coffee one minute, in the middle of a shit storm the next.

Well, we get a call for a violent domestic, involving a knife, in this condo complex down the road.  I go screaming down the road, lights and sirens, to the call.  The other officer gets there first, but not by much.  I go running into the first floor landing, and I can hear a lot of yelling and screaming on the other side of the door.

NOTE: **One thing you should know about good ol' Shamus.  I kick in doors.  I was a volunteer firefighter before I was police. I have kicked, successfully, probably hundreds of doors in my 20 years of emergency service.**

So, anyway, I go to open the door, and it's locked.  I still hear yelling and screaming, i bang on the door.  No answer.  I still hear yelling and screaming.  All this is over SECONDS.  Well, what's next?  You got it.  I draw my weapon, step back, and throw up a leg to kick the door.  BAM! goes the door, POP! goes something in my leg.  I look at the door, still closed.  I then feel this shooting pain in my leg, like I was shot, of bitten by a dog, or something.

There is still yelling and screaming on the other side of the door.  I want in, and I want in NOW!

Finally, the door opens.  A younger girl opens the door, points inside, and says, "In there".  I go running in, and see two of my side-partners putting a subject in handcuffs, there is a lot of yelling between the subject and his mother.  I see that everyone is safe, then.............I start to feel it.  My leg.

First, there was throbbing pain.  Then I had trouble standing and keeping weight on it.

I checked with my side-partners, called for another car to back them up, and went out to my cruiser.

On my way out the condo, I look at the door.  Idiot!  Solid core, steel lined door, on a metal frame, AKA:Fire door.  I wasn't gonna win against that sucker.  

Now, here's where Shamus is a bull-headed man.  I call my sergeant, and tell him I'm hurt.  I also tell him, "I don't need a friggin' Ambo, I'm driving myself" to the hospital.  He tries to convince me to take an Ambo, I actually argue with good common sense decision making, and insist on driving myself. seemed like a good idea at the time.

As I drove to the hospital, and the adrenaline started to flush out, my leg started to really hurt.  Bad.  By the time I got to the exit that the hospital was off of, I had trouble putting weight on the brake pedal.  I was using the bum leg for the gas, and my left for the brake.  I usually drive a manual transmission car off-duty, so when I hit the brake with the left foot, my brain thinks I'm hitting the clutch.  Not real smooth at all.

I pull into the hospital, and I cant put ANY weight on my leg.  I start hopping to the door.  Then, that ain't working, so I start crawling.  I crawled about 20 or so feet to the curb, then hopped in through the vestibule, and over to a chair.  A nurse (a male nurse, thankfully, cause I'm a big dude, especially in uniform) helped me up from half on the floor, half leaning on the chair into a wheelchair (with no arms, thank God).

I tell him what happened, and he, like myself, immediately thought, Achilles tendon.  With great care and ease of movement, we pull up my uniform pants leg.  My leg was red, and swollen from the knee down to the top of my boot.  It looked like it was filled with blood.

They get me to a room, and then get me over to x-ray.  They don't see a tear.  No broken bones.

My Lieutenant comes to the ER, to meet up with me.  First thing he says is to call the wife.  I don't wanna.  I don't want her to worry.  Lt won that argument.  I called the wife.  She worried.

A few minutes she calls me back, she is coming to the ER.  I tell her "no", she won the argument.  She came to the ER, and brought me some gym shorts and a t-shirt.

I'll spare some minutia, here, but the ER sets me up an appointment with an Orthopedic surgeon.  They aren't sure what's wrong yet, might need an MRI.  They splint me up, drug me up, send me home with a script for "the good stuff".

My wife drives me home, and on the way, we stop by Rite Aid to fill the script.  Well, while there, the drugs wear off.  I'm in, real PAIN!

The rest of the night is kind of a blur now, but I remember being scared to death I'd need surgery.  With these type of injuries, it seems like if you cut once, you cut twice...or more.  I don't want to go out like this.  I don't want a medical retirement.

The next day I go to the Ortho.  This dude wound up being FANTASTIC!  If it weren't for the sake of  keeping some anonymity on here, I'd sing his praises to the rooftops.  The Doc was awesome, he comes in the room kinda like a cross between the nutty professor, and Columbo.  Real nonchalant, and unassuming.  A nonthreatening man.  Right away that put me at ease.  The man was not stressed at all.  He cuts the splint thing off my leg, takes one look at it, and says, "Yup, I've seen this before.  I'd bet you ruptured your Gastrocnemius."   I'm thinking my Gastro-WHAT-ius? He goes to tell me that they are a common injury for middle aged, bigger (fatter), men who used to be really active, but are now moderately active...Blah, Blah, Blah....anyway, he describes me to a TEE.

He grabs my leg and rolls the muscle around in his hand....PAIN.  He finds the hole, and sticks his finger in it...REAL PAIN!!!!  I come up off the table, grunt and whence all at once.  He then runs his finger along the line of my Achilles, and tells me it's in tact.

He says that he doesn't feel like he needs to send me for an MRI, because all that would do is show my leg full of blood, and it's a waste of time and money.  I ask him if it is career ending, and he says "No".  Relief.  He tells me that he has even ruptured both of his, and didn't need surgery...WEIGHT LIFTED.  He tells me that he still runs, and jogs frequently, that I will be fine after some rehab, and that I'll just have to stretch before any activities from now on.

He sets me up with a space boot, and an Achilles wedge, asks if I need anything stronger than Motrin, which I had covered, and sends me home.  On the way out the door, he stops me and says, "Corporal, let the rookies kick the doors from now on."  Jokes....but, point taken.

See down there in the picture below, the muscle called a "Gastrocnemius"?  Yup.  That muscle had a BIG hole in it.  

So, Loooong story about healing sped up (because this post has gotten out of control).  I wore the boot for about seven weeks or so, while icing my leg twice a day by filling a trash can with ice and water, and holding my leg in it for 8-12 minutes.  I got to get rid of the boot and start rehab at about week 8.  Did rehab for a few weeks, then conditioning for another month or so.  I returned to full duty in early to mid March.

And, just for the record, I don't kick doors anymore.  I got myself a Chicago door knocker......

'Til next time,

Saturday, April 11, 2015


To the few of you that have subscribed.....

First, Thank you.  I think it's cool that you want to read this stuff.

Second, I don't know why it's not working yet.  I subscribed to my own blog (LAME!!!), and I don't get the emails either.  I have the settings to deliver between 1P-3P EST.

So, keep checking back, I'll keep writing.  If it doesn't work in a week or so, I'm going to disable it, then re-install it.  I'll let you know, because I'm sure you'll have to resubscribe.



Friday, April 10, 2015

Officer Down!!!


Today was one hell of a day.  I am working 3p-11p this week, and I woke up this morning to hear on the news that one of the officers in my department had been shot over night.  Of course, the cop in me wants to get dressed, rush out the house, and join the manhunt.  But that is not how it works in real life.

I don't know how much people really know about police culture, so I will explain it like this; we are all like siblings.  Jealous, childish siblings.  We hate when each other get the better toys, and fight over stupid shit.  BUT, if you hurt one of us, we will defend and back each other up until the end.

Being off duty when a big incident like this sucks.  You only know what the media puts out there, you don't get any real info until you get back to work.  The news just said an officer was shot in the upper body, not in the vest.  Officer was in critical condition.  Suspect at large.

I get to work, I finally find out who the officer is.  I work in a big department, so I don't really KNOW him, I know OF him.  He is a good guy.  Has a wife and kids.  Good officer.  I also find out that he was shot in the neck.  He has been in and out of surgery, and consciousness all day.  

All this before we have to go out and do our jobs. On a busy Friday night.  I have had this incident in the back of my mind all night.

I have also had another incident in the back of my mind all night.  Last week, while I was on vacation, there was a police involved shooting on my shift, in the post next to mine.  My side-partner, and one of my supervisors were involved. They are still out on administrative leave while this is being investigated.  It's a clean shoot, so career wise, they will be good to go.  But, that's only one part of the equation.  They still have to deal with the mental anguish of being involved in this incident.  The public scrutiny, in a time where the cops are wrong, and the suspects are right.  They also have to deal with the "what if"s.. Damn those "what if"s.

I know the public sees us as a necessary evil, but the officers I work with are good, hardworking guys and girls.  We generally care, and try to do a good job.  We took a job that we know may hurt us, or may even KILL us.  We know that some people feel it's all "part of the job".  

I leave with this thought.  We are all humans.  We are all trying to make the community we live and work in a better place to live.

Keep my co-workers in your thoughts.  Pray for my injured officer, as he fights to recover.

Stay safe out there.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

It's the little things.

I'm not much for "chasing ribbons" or going on high profile calls, just to show up and be seen, in order to get an accommodation. I also don't seek accolades for what I do from day to day. So, imagine my surprise when I was told by my Lieutenant that I was being put in for officer of the month for my district.

Now, let me start this off by saying, I've been involved in some sort of emergency services since 1995, when I signed up to volunteer at a volunteer fired department, about a year out of high school. I was trained as an EMT, and a Fire Fighter. I loved it. Riding the Ambo, and the engine, going on calls, doing the work. I was not one of the "cool kids" or the ones that had to be on the nozzle, I just wanted to do the work, and as cheesy as it seemed, I wanted to make a difference. And help people. 

You see, ol' Shamus was just a normal kid, a Boy Scout, taught to do my best, and serve. I really had a passion for service when I started out. 

Fast forward about 19 years, and here I am. A Police Corporal, assigned to patrol in the busiest district in the county. If you haven't read the earlier stuff on here, take a chance to read up. It tells a little of the struggle I've had. Long story short, I had been jaded for a while. I was starting to feel like I was just spinning wheels. 

Well, I was on an upswing on a personal level and my moral was improving during the summer of 2014. I was back after an injury (another story for another day) and was actually having some fun on the job again. 

August rolls around, and I was a "floater" car. We have more cops on the shift than posts. If someone who has a post takes off, a floater fills the spot. If there are extra cars (it's rare, but it happens) they work as umbrella cars, and pick up calls. 

One 3-11 shift, I am filling in a post I don't work often, and enjoying the change of scenery. The end of shift rolls around, and we get a call for shots fired. This type of call is not uncommon, and is usually someone playing with fireworks, or if it's in season, it's hunters in the area. Well, another officer and I go rolling towards this call, like its a routine shots fired, and then we get updated that a dude was just shot in the face, and a description was broadcast of the shooter. For reasons I'm sure you can figure out, I'm not going to go into too much detail here. But needless to say this call turns into a soup sandwich pretty quick. We get there, it's a hectic scene, it's me, one other patrol guy, and a plain clothes officer. Dude is in a bad way, we have family screaming for help, I glove up, find no pulse, and start chest compressions until the Ambo gets there.  We had a dozen witnesses, I'm calling for the chopper, crime lab, k-9, basically the world, and giving direction as to where the bad guy had run off to. Well based on info I gathered, and put on the air, we got the guy. Good ending. My supervisors were happy, I felt proud I did a good job.  We go home. 

Fast forward about three weeks. 

It's now September. A permanent post opens up, and I take it for some stability. I go back and forth. Sometimes I like to float, sometimes I like a perm post. 

This time I'm working 7-3 shift. It's about 1000 hrs and we get some cluster of a call where the caller doesn't know what's going on, but all we know is there is a dude hurtin pretty bad, and he somehow got himself stabbed. I'm the first car there, lady comes running out, screaming, and leads me into this small kitchen where a dude is laying on the floor, covered in blood. The whole scene is a mess, blood everywhere. I glove up, feel for a pulse, find a faint, thready pulse. I start chest compressions until the Ambo gets there. While doing compressions, I manage to get some info on the bad guy and the situation.  I turn the dude over to the medics, and start doing cop work. Long story short (again), I get the bad guy identified, get BOLOs out and we get him, and those involved. My supervisors are happy, I feel proud of a good job. We go home. 

Both these scenes were extremely chaotic, fast paced, and fluid. A lot of things going on all at once. I'm not saying that I'm perfect, and did everything right, but in both cases I was able to revert to my training and experience to get the job done, with somewhat happy results. Now, unfortunately, both victims died. There wasn't anything that would have changed that. But my platoon worked together as a team, and I had the support from my sergeant to do my job. 

Sometimes you get these calls that are pure shit. Absolute chaos. It's when the officer can rise above all that and do their job in spite of all that's going on, that makes them stand out. Well, apparently, I stood out, and I was awarded Officer of the Month for October 2014 for my district. 

I'm very proud of that accomplishment. It is the little things like that ribbon that reminds me that we are appreciated for the hard work we do out here. 

Now, I don't need a ribbon to feel good. Sometimes it's something small like seeing a kid smile when he walks over to you while you are eating dinner, and you give him a few minutes of your time. 

It's the little things. 

Be safe out there, and find the little things to keep you going. 

Officer of the Month ribbon.

What I've been up to.

As time goes by...where the hell have YOU been?!?

Well, it's been over a year and a half since I've written, so let me catch y'all up to speed.

I originally stopped writing because I was deep in study for taking the sergeant exams. Well......... I passed.  Since then there have been a couple rounds of promotions, and I am sitting about #12 on the list.

One of the cool things about taking the exam, and qualifying for promotion was that this time, I was invited to sit in the first line supervisors training class. I learned a lot, and was really impressed in the training.

A few other things I have done lately was attend Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. This training helps teach officers how to deal with people who are in emotional, or mental crisis. This was an excellent course, and if anyone ever gets the chance to attend this type of training, I HIGHLY recommend you go. The course dealt with brain injuries, mental disorders, substance abuse, dual diagnosis, PTSD, and homelessness.

I was also selected to go to Field Training Officer (FTO) school. After completion, I am now a certified FTO. Which means I will be training the "Rookies" when they graduate the Police Academy, but before they get "cut loose" to ride on their own. My department runs single officer patrol cars, which puts one cop in each beat, or post. So, we need to get these  "kids" ready to respond solo to calls for service before they are cleared as officers.

So, what does this mean to you, the reader?  Well, there are going to be opportunities to share some new stories. So, keep checking back.

Well, other than a few other events, this brings y'all up to speed on what ol' Shamus has been up to. Keep comin' back and checking in, I'll try to write more often.

Oh, before I sign off...... I was selected as Officer of the month in my district for October 2014. I guess I impressed some folks with my work, and I was truly honored to be chosen. I'll tell that story at another time. It will be a main post, not in the stories section. I may work on that over the next few days, and post it up next....

Well, 'till next time, Shamus, signing off.