"God Bless the
This piece is dedicated to Sergeant John Smith, who I met on the Christian Police Officer's
message boards of Christianity Online. Also any other Police Supervisor on the streets who has
men and women under their command. It is a big responsibility!
About ten years ago, I was living in a little studio apartment in the downtown area of our city. It was actually the back end of a house my landlord had separated from the main house for the purpose of renting. It was a real quiet neighborhood with a lot of senior citizens living in the area; the rest were young families. I was in my early twenties.
On a warm, breezy, summer
afternoon I was sitting at my drawing board with the ceiling fan whizzing
overhead, when I heard the sound of breaking glass. I looked up through the
side window, through the sheer panels of the draperiesthere were windows
all around the whole apartment. I could barely make out the figure of a man
fiddling with the side window of my elderly neighbor's house, a very friendly,
kind lady. I think her name was Marjorie. As it caught my attention, I assumed
he was a workman who was replacing a cracked pane of glass and was cleaning
away the remaining shards. Still, wanting to make sure, I went out the front
door, cut right down the steps, and right again into the side patio which
was in between my apartment and the garage. My neigbor's window (the kitchen)
was on the side of her house and was obscured to my view somewhat by the
shrubs and overgrown trees. Peeking around the corner of the garage, I watched
as the individual hoisted himself through the window, and into the house.
It's strange how the adrenaline
starts coursing through your body, especially in a situation like this. I
wasn't in any danger. No one knew I was out there. Yet my heart started to
race as it became perfectly clear this was a burglary in progress!
"That little freak is
breaking into Marjorie's house!" I thought. The full impact of what was
happening hit me then.
Scrambling back the way
I came and diving back in the front door, the old, Air-Stream trailer parked
in the driveway blocked my view so I could not see his accomplice who was
standing out in the front and to the side. They had a look-out, a female
with a baby in a stroller, across the street. She didn't see me either.
My heart was pounding now
as I reached for the phone. Where was Marjorie? Was she home? Was she out?
It would be stupid to go in there alone! I needed help! I remember fumbling
9. . .1. . .1!!!
The female voice had an
electronic, professional tone.
"Nine One One operator.
What are you reporting?"
"A house burglary in progress!
My neighbor's house!"
"In progress? How many
"I saw one jumping in the
side window! I didn't see anybody else. I think only one."
"Did you observe any
"No maam. He had
a metal bar, but he left it outside."
"What did he look like?
What was he wearing?" She started taking down the basics and the directions
to the area. I knew she had my neighborhood map up on the screen by now,
her furious tapping on the computer keyboard audible over the phone. But
the impatience still quickly overwhelmed me.
"Is somebody coming?"
"Yes, we have units responding
now. What was he wearing?" I quickly gave her as complete a description as
I could; what little bit I remember seeing as he disappeared into the dark
window. I was now crouched down low on the front porch, with the door half
closed. My elderly neighbor's property was to my right, and I watched her
front porch between the patio fence and the trailer.
"I have your house facing
west and the other residence. . . to the right? Correct?"
"I need you to stay on
the phone with me, okay? The police are responding now."
"Okay. I'm not going anywhere."
I thought the statement on her part was strange. What was I going to do?
Go back to what I was doing? I still didn't know that Marjorie was out of
town and not home at the time of the incident.
"Has anybody exited yet?
Is he still there?" she asked. At that moment, I saw someone duck in the
front door. An accomplice.
"Yes maam! No one
has left. Someone just went into the front!" I was talking in a hoarse whisper.
"Did you observe any weapons?
Was he carrying anything?"
"No maam. He didn't
have anything." I quickly gave her a description of the new player. It was
dead still, out in the neighborhood. Just the breeze blowing through the
trees. Not a bird chirping. Not a peep. The seconds felt like minutes, but
I was starting to settle down. "Is somebody on the way yet?" I figured they
should be here by now.
"Yes, officers are on the
"But there is no one out
here!" I answered back. And there wasn't, not a soul. I figure it was still
under two minutes since I first dialed the phone. I continued to scan the
whole view, what I could see from my position. Not a car drove by, not a
person in view.
"Officers are on the scene
now. You should be seeing someone."
"No maam, there isn't
anybody in sigh. . . ."
The first uniformed patrol
officer was crouched down low as our eyes met. We startled each other. He
had come out from behind the hedge which ran along the sidewalk in front
of my small apartment, with his weapon drawn. A big, solid guy with dark
hair. I was assuming he realized I was the caller as I was holding the phone,
so I held up two fingers and then pointed to the house next door. He nodded
and proceeded forward with his partner right behind him.
Then I looked around
The swiftly unfolding events
prompted me to think later, "Boy, musta' been a slow afternoon!" because
like ghosts, uniformed officers started materializing out of everywhere.
Out of bushes. Out of alleyways. Out of thin air. It was like the whole city's
Zone One force had shown up. And I hadn't even heard a car engine or a door
close as all this manpower and police hardware converged on our little
neighborhood. The noise discipline was amazing! A female officer had already taken the female look-out
into custody, as she had given herself away by waving with both hands in
a "go back" fashion toward the house. Ha! The "wheels had started coming
off" of their little caper. Way off!
"Operator. . . they're
"Yes. Stay on the phone
with me till it's resolved, okay?"
"Okay." We chattered back
and forth, then sometimes saying nothing, as the event unfolded. I answered
her questions concerning what was going on in my sight as she asked them.
She was feeding the information to the officers on the scene as it became
needed. The officers had come in from every direction in stealth and were
now coordinating their movements and assessing the over-all situation. The
house was encompassed with police officers. The only sound I still heard
was the breeze relentlessly blowing through the trees. The officers' radios
were turned down to a whisper. It was almost eerily quiet, what with so many
people in one area.
"THIS IS THE CORONA POLICE
DEPARTMENT! WE HAVE THE HOUSE SURROUNDED! COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE
The Sergeant in charge
of the scene barked out the challenge over his patrol unit's PA. The battle
was engaged. Not a movement from the house. Those inside had to know they
were cornered now.
"THIS IS THE POLICE! YOU
ARE SURROUNDED! THERE'S NO WAY OUT OF THIS! COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS WHERE
THEY CAN BE SEEN!" he shouted again.
Still no response from
the house. The officer who later took my statement said he was at the back
door when one of the suspects swung it open to run for it. He laughed because
his 9mm was pointed straight into the guy's right nostril he had come out
so fast. He immediately retreated back into the house in a panic and locked
the door. They were not coming out.
I have seen barricaded
situations like this before where the K9 team is called and the dog is sent
in to retrieve the suspect or run him out. But they didn't do that in this
situation. Not being familiar with K9 tactics, I couldn't say for sure why
they didn't choose to do so in this particular situation. The Sergeant on
scene continued to shout commands at the suspects holed up in the house.
I continued to relay the blow by blow to the 911 operator.
It was decided then to
enter in force, as a neighbor had a key to the front door of the house. Several
officers cautiously approached the front door as one unlocked it.
"WE'RE COMING IN! STAY
WHERE YOU ARE! DON'T RESIST THE OFFICERS! the Sergeant bellowed again.
From my position, I then
saw what seemed like a half dozen officers pile in the front door. Like a
bunch of hungry tomcats finally breaking into the pigeon house. I could feel
the tension rise. Outside, you wait for a gunshot or a cry of alarm from
the inside. But the poor slobs inside had no idea what was coming after
"They're going in," I said
to the operator.
"Understood," she responded
quietly. My landlord came up and asked what was happening and I quickly told
him the details.
We waited, my heart thumping
quietly, as they conducted the interior search. I knew the procedure for
clearing a house because a friend had been a MP in the Marine Corps and had
been trained in this type of work. Proceeding with extreme caution from room
to room, checking the corners and in the closets (it was a small house),
everyone wound tighter than a banjo string. Covering each other's backs till
one suspect was found cowering in the shower stall and the other dragged
out from under the bed. They offered no resistance whatsoever and where hooked
up and brought out. The arresting officers filing out of the house were smiling
like a group of kids coming out of a candy store with the loot.
The two suspects were a
couple of sorry looking characters; hypes it turned out, looking for something
to sell to support their drug habits. They had some cheap jewelry piled up
on the bed; some hot-dogs half eaten in the kitchen. Both where stuffed into
the back of a police car and taken away. The 911 operator said "they have
them" before the officers came out, thanked me in a relieved tone for my
time, and hung up. The officers on scene continued to fade away, back out
onto the streets of the city, and then the Sergeant left after giving us
a warm thank-you for getting involved. The officer who took my report said
one suspect had a prior felony conviction, so he took down every detail of
the event, saying he had "seen to many of these slip through a crack" because
of some technicality. We laughed about the situation and he told me a couple
of "war stories" about previous arrests and then he took off to the station
to file the reports.
It was dark when it was
finally over; all together it took about an hour and a half. The neighborhood
was quiet again. The breeze had died down too. That night I couldn't sleep
because I was so keyed up from the event. The sight of those police officers
piling in the front door, into an uncertain, precarious future, is even now
still vivid in my mind. It was a very heavy event to see, a very profound
thing to watch anyone go through.
Marjorie came home and
thanked me for making the call. She then signed the complaint to make sure
the bad guys were put in jail.
And every so often when
a police cruiser flies by, I still simply pray,
"God, protect the protectors
. . . God, bless the Cops."
This was a true account of a police action and an arrest that I was directly involved in as a private citizen, one of a few I have been involved in that ended in solid arrests, with felons taken off the streets. One of many thousands of arrests and police actions that take place all across America, day and night. Arrests that go down without a hitch, flawless in their execution. Arrests that don't make it into the newspapers because the are thought not to be "news worthy." No shots being fired. No minorities being beaten up or shot. No multiple gunshots ringing through the quiet air. No "sensationalism" or "scandal," no video tape being shot and one particular clip being shown again and again on the national evening news.
Hmmm. Criminal situations
that could very easily end in the death of an officer of the lawbut
don't, so fade into the memories of even the very few involved. Yet, I wonder
if sometimes we are taking advantage of them.
These are arrests and police
actions that are engaged in by normal, everyday people. I have talked to
many of them. Ordinary people that are not perfect and that do make mistakes.
The thing that is different is they are wearing a uniform of the local
law-enforcement agency. No covert "political agendas," no "new world order"
conspirators. No, they are just doing their job. Protecting the lives and
interests of those who cannot. Walking into situations that they know could
mean death should they even blink an eye or get a little sloppy in their
tactics. Yet continuing on, getting up every morning and going back to it.
A lot of the time loving it. . . sometimes not.
These are the grunts, the
true front-line foot soldiers in the war on crime. You don't know most of
them, yet they are critical in the continuing peace in an ever turbulent
society. The "Thin Blue Line," they should not be taken advantage of or
corporately attacked because of the sins of the few. Because someday they
just might not be there, to stand between the weak and defenseless, and those
who would victimize them. To stand against the anarchy and lawlessness
of the few.
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