Cops: We're A Little Different

One of the great things about beginning a blog is that I get to write about practically anything I want. As long as it is relevant to my job and important to you. This week should be an interesting one. As required by state law, I am attending a course of instruction on the administration of a police department. Never mind that I have spent nearly five years on the administrative side of things already. I guess some joys are left to the chief and the chief alone.
That being said, I spent the day being instructed by Lt. Jim Spearman (Ret.) of the Norman Police Department and Chief Gary Rudick of Tulsa Public Schools. While the topic of department policies and procedures is pretty dry and common sense would dictate that every department have one, I did learn something interesting enough it bears sharing. Apparently, at some point in the history of this lesson, a member of the class made a written comment on the critique form. The comment read, “We is a small department and don't need no policy”. I am astounded, although not surprised, that it was received. I still hold high hopes that it was some brilliant chief's attempt at humor. On a more serious note, I am surprised in the lack of understanding that a police department must have some form of policy manual. I hope you feel comfortable in knowing that the Cordell Police Department has been operating from an extensive policy and procedure manual that is continually revised to reflect current law and best practices. In fact, the manual was revised just a few weeks ago with the addition of the “Oath of Honor” required of all sworn officers. We will constantly review our policies to best serve you and keep the community safe.
During the second half of the day, I was enlightened to the real stress of a police officer's job. We tend to have an altered perception of reality. As with all emergency services, we encounter some of the worst scenes of human nature. In order for us to do our jobs, our psyche alters the perception of reality to that of fiction. If we allowed our minds to process the trauma of significant events, we would be emotionally crushed and unable to perform our duty. There are several “pro-cop” websites I have seen which attempt to convey the message of how and why police officers are the way they are. Many are tarnished with the humor or anger of a veteran cop. Others are tarnished by the angry citizen who distrusts all authority. There are few I've found that truly inform both cops and citizens why we perceive the world differently. I was provided with one today that was an interesting read. If you want to have a sneak peak into the mental woes of an officer, visit this link: http://www.heavybadge.com/10reason.htm.

If you took the chance to read the little article, you may be thinking to yourself, “Cordell doesn't have the same crime rate as bigger cities. It can't be that stressful”. While I do not agree with the entire content of the article, I can sure tell you that many of those differences do apply to our officers. Add to that the fact backup may be no closer than fifteen (15) minutes. In a small community, we may have a personal relationship with someone we have to arrest or give a citation.
I'll tell you a little story about something that happened years ago. It was after dark and I was on-duty and set up on the side of the road attempting to catch speeders. I observed a vehicle traveling down Main street at a speed greater than the posted maximum. I gave chase, turned on my red and blues, and followed the vehicle until the driver pulled to the right and stopped. As I was calling out my location over the police radio, I began to realize that this particular car was very familiar. Familiar because I had purchased it a few days before! Knowing that it was my wife in the driver's seat, I continued with the traffic stop as I would any other. The only thing I didn't ask for was the proof of insurance, since I knew the car was insured. I finished the traffic stop as I had with other drivers many times before. I had a job to do – and I did it. A police officer's job is black and white. However, I slept on the sofa.

I hope you've come to better understand what it's like to wear the badge. I hope you realize that our city is not devoid of criminals or the traumatic events experienced by all law enforcement officers. We will continue to develop a relationship with the community through our community policing goals. Not only so you can better understand our perception, but more so that we may understand yours. I'm hoping to write a little tidbit after each day of this week's course to keep you up to date and keep me in touch. I thank you all for your kind words and support as always! Until next time, stay safe and God bless!