I have a friend who made it through the entire police hiring process. After a full years worth of time and effort, my friend turned down the offer to become a police officer. Why? In a moment of honesty, he realized he should not wear a badge and gun, because based on a self assessment of his personality, he knew if a suspect provoked him by word or deed, he would punch the trouble maker in the face. That kind of physical reaction is classified as prohibited excessive force according to law, police policy and police training.
It takes a special kind of man or woman to serve as a police officer. Two key elements required to successfully serve as a police officer are self discipline and restraint. Cops can’t take personally any negative behavior or offensive verbal attacks directed to them. Police officers need to remain detached and simply deal with the cards they are dealt in a lawful, factual and effective manner. Not everyone can do this and that is why not everyone can be a police officer.
In the wee hours of the morning on August 1, 2016, at about 30 minutes past midnight, two Lakewood Police Department, (LPD), swing-shift officers responded to a 911 complaint of a loud party at an apartment complex. The music and noise were so loud, other residents living in the complex could not sleep.
As a former police officer, I know that loud party calls present a range of possibilities running from a polite and apologetic Eddie Haskell from Leave It To Beaver style suspect response of, “Sorry officer. I will turn it down. It will not happen again. Say officer, you look good in that blue uniform.” Or the suspect may trigger circumstances where shots are fired. Police officers always have to expect the unexpected as they never know what is behind the closed door.
Once police are standing on the welcome mat, normal citizens will get the hint and solve the problem by turning the music down without further police intervention.
One of my favorite creative tactics was to politely ask the person in charge of the residence to turn down the music. I further explained that if I returned for a second complaint, I planned to confiscate all their stereo equipment including speakers as evidence. Not once did I ever have to confiscate any stereo equipment.
Back to my LPD story. The man in charge of the party location would not open the door. He would not identify himself. He screamed all kinds of verbal insults through the locked door toward the police.
LPD chose to break off contact thereby deescalating the situation which resulted in the party quieting down.
At 1:26a grave-shift officers were called to the same location for a second loud music complaint. The subject redoubled his efforts to insult and bate the officers. Our grave-shift officers did not take the bate either.
Mr. Party Host stood outside his open door and hurled insults involving individual officer’s looks, sexual preferences, racial epithets along with crude invitations for officers to perform sexual acts on him.
When officers attempted to make contact, the suspect would run back into his apartment and lock the door. When officers moved away from the door and attempted to break contact, the suspect would run back outside and renew his screaming insults distrubing his neighbors in the process.
Towards the end of this incident, the suspect jumped out a rear window of the apartment. As he made his escape there were two things working against his successful flight to freedom.
- LPD had identified the suspect and discovered that he was the subject of a confirmed arrest warrant.
- One of the officers had his eye on the rear escape route.
Lakewood officers apprehended the suspect who had made his way to where the police cars were parked. When the suspect was apprehended, he was trying police car door handles, which, fortunately, were locked.
The suspect was arrested before he could enter or steal a police vehicle. While no one was injured during the arrest process, a taser application was required in order to gain proper suspect compliance.
The suspect was booked into jail for a series of misdemeanor charges and the arrest warrant. The other apartment residents were then able to enjoy some much needed rest.
Lakewood Police officers from both swing-shift and grave shift used maximum restraint and professionalism. The neighbors who, were victimized by the suspect’s behavior, appreciated how LPD officers calmly and effectively dealt with the situation in spite of the extreme verbal hostility and physical escape attempt.
Thank you Lakewood Police for serving citizens of our city in such a calm and professional manner. While it is obvious this particular party host does not appreciate you, the vast majority of Lakewood Citizens do appreciate who you are and what you do for our community.