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Officer Alex asks for help before more kids are beyond it.
“Yo man, you gonna dust me off right? I got this grass all over me,” Client #1 stated from his prone position on the ground in front of me where he was taken down and cuffed.
Grass on his clothing. That was his concern. Not the .45 pointed at him before being cuffed, not the .45 he was sitting on in a park with two young boys playing on a slide 50 feet away, not the heroin and masks and gloves in the knapsack that was behind him.
Not the Glock in the trashcan his buddy was at least wise enough to hide before we found the (loaded) gun he’d been sitting on while we approached and began talking to him after witnesses called in two suspicious persons openly carrying pistols in a neighborhood park in an area known for low rent and even lower expectations.
A suspect in murders in both Chattanooga and Knoxville by gang affiliation. Two armed robberies and God knows what else he hadn’t been caught doing, and he’d only turned 18 two months earlier. This is what we’re dealing with, folks. I’d tattoo “sociopath” on his forehead as quickly as he’d have killed me were he given the chance.
This particular column reminds me of why I started writing about The Job in the first place so many years ago…the cathartic actions of such that relieve the pressure of the frustration, the futility of what we do—and by “we”, I mean all 120,000 of my co-workers across the country.
All the training, all the equipment, all the good intentions and all the grant money in the world comes down to dealing with Client #1 face-to-face and his own 5.85 million convicted felon co-workers.
I used to get mad at people calling 911 to address problems with their cable television service, or at being badmouthed for writing a ticket to someone for what they called “revenue generation” (when in reality it was to teach them not to drive 85 miles per hour in a 55 MPH zone because it’s stupid and pretty damn dangerous).
Those are some pretty great things to be upset about after having to flex my hand a few times to get the rigid feeling out of it after nearly squeezing the trigger on a kid that was considering ending my life or someone else’s. Because, my “glass half full” readers, that is what a “kid” is thinking when walking around with a loaded pistol, a sack full of robbery equipment and drugs, and a rap sheet that reads like he’s interviewing to be a demon someday.
This coupled with knowing if he’d pulled that pistol on me, even if I beat him to the shot, I’d be publicly excoriated by some as a baby-killing racist that should have instead found “some other way of helping that poor young man out” despite the madness of such a thought under that situation.
Letting him shoot me first, I suppose, so I can reach out to him with a blank job resume or a card for a counselor to repair his damaged childhood before my final breath passed, because that would be more fair, wouldn’t it? Only God loves a critic, I suppose.Well, God and a news editor or producer.
Yes. You are reading frustration here in case you haven’t picked up on it…but the frustration isn’t born from worrying about public opinion. It is genuinely about how to deal with this mind set. Suspected killer and convicted armed robber or not, I am genuinely upset that he was raised vacant of any moral center.
This is something that isn’t easily fixed by a counselor’s hug or arrest, and that futility just pisses me off.
Dads out there? WHERE WERE YOU? Moms out there? Pregnancy is generally predictable. PLAN it. Politicians? These kids need places to go, and caring souls to man them. Churches? Same thing. Atheists? Leave the churches alone unless you’re willing to step up, too.
In one hour, I’m going to put my armor back on and head back out there, and I’m going to do this again as I’ve done somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 shifts before this. Five thousand shifts…hundreds of shootings, hundreds of deaths. I think I’ve earned being “frustrated” if any of you are penning a complaint at this point. What I’d really appreciate is your help, though.
Let’s fix these kids, or at least break the cycle that’s putting them in gun sights from both my co-workers and theirs. There is already a plan moving forward on Amnicola Highway for us to get behind, but suggestions and volunteers are always welcome.