A DAY OF THANKS TO OUR CURRENT AND PAST LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
By Donna Capurso
On Saturday, January 9, 2016, the Oath Keepers of Boundary County put on a Law Enforcement Appreciation Chili Feed to let the local police officers, sheriff’s deputies, border patrol and U.S. customs officers know just how much their service is appreciated. This event was for current and former law enforcement and their families, which are always an integral part of the lives of an officer. It was an honor to be able to help with the Oath Keepers of Boundary County Chili Feed on Saturday in order to be able to provide so little for all that police officers, deputies, and other law enforcement officers do for our public safety in this community. A big thank you to Tia Avery for coordinating this event and the Oath Keeper ladies and guys who helped pull everything together. There was lots of homemade chili, corn bread with honey and butter, salads and oh my, the dessert table was over flowing for those with a sweet tooth. The homemade cinnamon rolls were awesome. Thank you to those that contributed for food and supplies, in particular Super 1 Foods, The Bread Basket, Sharon’s Country Store, Yoder’s as well as the generous ladies of our wonderful community that made and brought food for our guys and gals that serve our community and keep us safe. There was a display of letters from the 4th graders of Valley View Elementary School thanking our officers posted on the wall of Memorial Hall where the chili feed was held.
Most people have little interaction with law enforcement unless they are a victim of a crime or the actual perpetrator, therefore I thought I would share a brief perspective on what it is like to be a cop from personal experience. I am writing this from a somewhat unique perspective. I was a Reserve Police Sergeant with the Fresno Police Department for ten years, and a full time Emergency Services Dispatcher for the Fresno Police Department for nine years simultaneously. I like to think I am still a sane person, at least most of the time.
As a reserve police officer, I went through basic POST (police officers standards and training), and acted as a police officer, except it was a volunteer position without pay with a few exceptions for special circumstances. I wore the same equipment, went through the same on-duty training such as weapons qualifications when scheduled, and was required to work a minimum amount of hours per month. Other than that, I did the same job as a “regular” officer. I can tell you that everyone knows how to be a “civilian”, but it is a different reality when you put on your uniform, strap on our gun belt with all of its equipment, not just your on duty gun, but ammo magazines, handcuffs, side-arm baton, large metal mag flashlight, mace, and radio…about 25 pounds of equipment hanging from the hips. You hope you don’t get a hot call while making a potty stop as it takes time as a female officer to make that happen with all the equipment you are carrying; for the guys a discreet tree would suffice.
As far as I am concerned, being a patrol officer is the most dangerous position in a police department. Once you get in your patrol vehicle, check out all of the safety equipment, including the shotgun, you get dispatched on your first call. Every single call for service is different as you never know what you will encounter. You are trained on basic safety precautions but there is nothing basic that can prepare you for the unexpected. There is no such thing as a “routine traffic stop” because you may have pulled a vehicle over for expired registration, and the driver may have just committed a murder, raped a woman, kidnapped a child, robbed a bank or store, just stolen the car they are driving or just may be stupidly drunk and the driver is armed and has no intention of being arrested.
As a police officer, you never forget the first time you have to draw your service weapon, flip the safety off, and know you may have to pull the trigger and end someone’s life. In the police academy you are taught: “shoot to kill”, not shoot to wound or warn. I was blessed to never have to shoot anyone in my ten years in uniform. I was also lucky to never be seriously injured and just suffered from cuts, scrapes and sore muscles from more than one occasion of having to be in a fight. Being a female officer, I took Karate lessons on my own dime and got good with a PR-24, which is a night stick with a swivel handle. Both helped when I was a 125 pounds (that I do miss) to take on a 300 pound drunk male who thought he would swat me like a fly. Imagine his surprise when he would take a lunge and have a PR-24 meet his gut at full force, and then have to jump out of way, not just to keep from being fallen on, but in case he tossed his cookies from the impact.
The hardest thing for me when I wore my duty uniform were the calls involving children; the children that were beaten to death, the child that fell in the pool with no one around to save him, the three year old boy that had gotten a bathroom curtain chain wrapped around his neck and accidentally hung himself, the little girl that called 9-1-1 when her daddy was lifting weights and the barbell fell across his neck killing him instantly and she was trying to get him some help and then there was the father that took his two young sons, put them in his vehicle with the vehicle exhaust going into his vehicle from a hose killing all three of them. You cannot imagine, unless you’ve been in an officer’s shoes, how difficult it is to remain calm, professional and take care of business when you respond to calls such as this. You have to internalize everything and try to “deal with it” at a later time because you can’t cry the tears you feel coming on or stop the churning of your stomach and know you have to keep the meal you just had on the run from coming up. Just putting these incidents in writing brings tears to my eyes remembering those incidents, but now I can let those tears come for those kids lost to the world.
It was an honor to be able to help with the Oath Keepers of Boundary County Chili Feed on Saturday in order to be able to provide so little for all that our police officers, deputies, and other law enforcement officers do for our public safety in this community. In these times where officers have targets on their backs from those in society that would do them harm, feel free to thank our men and women who “protect and serve.”
In closing, I would like to share this poem written by Kent Fletcher:
It is not just another profession On your soul this job leaves an impression The sights your eyes are forced to see Can make one for their sanity plea
You take an oath to enforce the laws Then in the system you discover the flaws You risk your life each day you go to work Chasing and arresting some stupid jerk
Then there are those moments when you think you understand Why you chose to do this job and to take a stand The look on a mother’s face when you find her missing child Or when an air tight case against a thug you have compiled
Some of the things you encounter you can never forget The thought of them brings on a cold sweat A child’s lifeless body lying on the road People trapped in a vehicle about to explode
Fresh blood steaming on a cold winter night From a young man stabbed to death in a fight A mother’s scream of horror upon being told of her child’s death The strong smell of alcohol on a drunk driver’s breath
What brings a person back to this job each day One thing for sure it is rarely the pay It has to be a calling of sort Because it sure has the makings of a life cut short
Whatever the reason that we heed the call It’s a job that requires giving your all It takes support from people like you On those very tough days to get us through
So when you see an officer in blue brown or gray Take a moment and to GOD pray Pray for our families their support is a must Pray for our safety IN GOD WE DO TRUST
About Oath Keepers
Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial. See the Oath Keepers Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey for details.
Oath Keepers reaches out to both current serving and veterans to remind them of their oaths, to teach them more about the Constitution they swore to defend, and to inspire them to defend it. See below for details on how we do that. Oath Keepers also includes a membership program designated as “Associate Members”, which consists of patriotic citizens who have not served in uniform but who serve now by supporting this mission with their Associate Membership and volunteer activities. Oath Keepers welcomes our Associate Members and appreciates their support of our mission.
Our motto is “Not on our watch!”
* First responders includes fire-fighters, search and rescue, EMTs, disaster relief, and similar emergency personnel. While not all such personnel take an oath to the Constitution, many do, and all are a critical audience for our mission.
For information on the Boundary County Oath Keepers chapter, just enter the name on Facebook or contact Jeff Avery at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Monthly meetings are held on the first Friday of the month in Bonners Ferry at the extension office behind the courthouse at 6:30 pm.