When a writer crafts a story on any subject, there is always the possibility for a negative or positive perspective.
Writing negative stories about law enforcement seems to be a current national pastime, almost a sporting event. Some negative police stories are justified, but most are not. Much of the negative press, TV news, and public protest actions are based on defective fact finding or just plain falsehoods with a hidden agenda. Additionally, reporters and the general public often suffer from a lack of understanding regarding the wisdom behind many police procedures and tactics.
I enjoy and thought you might enjoy, reading good things about good people who protect us in spite of possible risk to themselves.
It all started on Friday, February 24, 2017, shortly before 6:00pm. Lakewood Police officers responded to a 911 call at an apartment complex. It had been reported that a woman, with a known mental illness condition, was throwing knives at kids in the parking lot.
Knives and kids – Lives are in danger. In this situation, time is crucial. Five minutes, a minute, a second, a split second can make an enormous difference in terms of life or death for a child or any others involved, including the officers.
Professional officers tightly focus on “knowing their district”. This means they know how to get to where they are going from wherever they may be by using the most efficient route. If an officer gets lost, a life may be lost.
Many citizens might understandably panic and move into Code Black. Code Black describes a situation in which a person becomes frozen with panic. Knives! Most citizens wisely run away from knives to escape danger.
Men and women who are selected, trained and dedicated to protecting the rest of us during their career as police officers, always run towards the danger, which is totally opposite of and ignores our normal human survival instinct.
Having retired from law enforcement, I can relate to the knives and kid scene.
When a police officer hears the crackle of the police radio, full attention is directed to the 911 dispatcher’s words, “knives and kids”.
Lives at risk obviously make this call a priority so the officers drop what they are doing and immediately take off toward the call location. Simultaneously, officers slam the slide control on the emergency equipment control box all the way to the right activating the emergency lights and siren.
Our police officers train to drive fast without crashing into other vehicles or immovable objects. We know we will not be able to help anyone if our forward progress is interrupted by a vehicle crash.
Speed and safety are constantly a delicate balance during what we call a 4-bell run. When citizens see and hear the lights and siren, it is helpful if they understand the lights and siren to be the equivalent of the police officer saying, “Excuse me, I have some really important work to do that may involve life and death. Would you mind moving to the right and stopping so I can scoot around you and get on down the road? Oh, and thank you.” Lights and Sirens = Move Right & Stop.
Before our Lakewood Police officers arrived on the scene, they started receiving updated reports through 911. As if the knives vs. kids problem was not enough, Lakewood officers learned there was smoke coming from the mentally ill woman’s apartment. It was believed she had started a fire in her own residence.
What word best describes this situation involving kids, knives, mental illness, fire, the possibility of the destruction of an entire apartment complex and the potential for injury and death of multiple victims? Chaos is the word.
Police officers often have to make instantaneous decisions based on inadequate information. Officers working together as a team, have to have a strong bond with each other to know what their partners are going to do before they do it.
Upon arriving, police officers must triage the tasks needed to be accomplished and then split those tasks among the available officers on scene. Sometimes this all happens without a word being spoken. At other times either through whispered communication, yelling, or using the police radio, task assignments are quickly executed.
In this incident, as officers arrived, they first made certain the other tenants, children and bystanders were safe. Next, the officers successfully “sweet talked” the woman out of her apartment. She was taken into custody without injury to anyone.
Next, their attention was focused on the apartment fire. More success, which meant people and property were saved from a catastrophic multi-unit apartment fire.
Chaos to Calm. The officers arrived at 5:57p. The woman was in custody at 6:02p. The fire hazard was extinguished.
All of this happened in less than 5 minutes.
Chaos to Calm in less than 5 minutes shows our Lakewood Police officers to be skilled and professional community problem solvers. I know Lakewood Police officers do this kind of work every day, but seldom do we hear of it.
It is not likely we will hear this good news police story from TV newscasters or major newspaper reporters, but now at least you have the story.
Should the opportunity present itself, consider thanking police officers for their service.