By David Hyde, Lander Police Officer
(Lander, Wyo.) – I hesitated, a little, writing this post because it does not really fit the tone set in the others, but, and maybe it’s the heat, sometime I get to thinking “why in the world do we (cops) do this?”
If you recall from earlier posts I got into this field a little late in life, and at that time I took the opportunity to finish a college degree I had been pecking away at since high school (and as they say “that was never yesterday”).
Anyway, I was attending college and still undecided on a major when, during a casual conversation, I asked Dr. Michael Brown, then Chair of the University’s Criminal Justice Department and Director of the University’s Law Enforcement Academy, “Dr. Brown, do you have to be an !@#$%^& to be a cop?”
And FYI, Dr. Brown had spent a considerable number of his years as a street cop in several large Midwestern cities and was a real cop’s cop, not a pseudo collegiate wannabe.
Dr. Brown immediately looked me in the eye and without even a blink of hesitation replied “well of course not Dave…” Then a pregnant pause…and then an ever so slight smirk crossed his face, and I swear I could almost read his mind “…but it helps”.
Now I told you all that not to reinforce the common opinion that all Police Officers are !@#$ %^&, but I must admit after seeing the things we see, hearing the things we hear etc. etc. etc., it does not surprise me when Police Officers can come across as being a little, well, you know…!@#$%^&…ish.
Having said all that, here is this week’s post; I would like to give you a little more realistic insight into what a Police Officer’s day can actually be like. Many of you have read previous C10 posts, with most of them being rather light hearted renderings of some of our local experiences, but really, those are the exception, not the rule. Here is a little something to make you truly wonder “why would anyone want to be a Police Officer.”
On any given day your local Police Officers and Deputies have to haul off the dog you thought was ‘lost’ (really folks, dogs seldom get lost…they might leave home without your permission but they know their way home better than you); we try to coach your kids into obeying your rules after you have spent a lifetime letting them run amuck; we try to find a ride for subjects so intoxicated they can hardly speak just because they have nothing more constructive to do than drink themselves comatose; we advise you we are not attorneys on civil matters that you insist on calling Police about although you have already been told they are civil; we tell you the phone call from the guy with a foreign accent telling you if you send him $300 he will send you $2,000,000 is most likely a scam…all just typical small town stuff…and you will say “ok, yeah, that’s what our cops do.”
But, on any given day your local Police Officers and Deputies also have to observe and witness as a doctor examines an infant that has been physically abused until his liver is damaged and his capillaries rupture making him look like he has measles; we take the call from the family of a pre-teenager whom another family member has sexually abused for years; we stay in a room for hours with a dead person while helping an investigator determine if it actually was suicide and then help the coroner put them in a body bag and carry them out; we assist a woman whose elderly father just passed away right in front of her eyes and she needs a little direction on what to do next; we sit with the elderly wife who just found her husband of many years deceased in their own bed on the very morning after they made great plans for their next day together; and, while getting ready for church on a miserable winter Sunday morning get called out to lay for hours behind a scoped .308 in the snow in single-digit temperatures while an armed and intoxicated subject is negotiated into surrender; and of course, work with the constant knowledge the very next guy we stop for a traffic violation might have just lost his job, his wife, and his sanity and is going to stick a gun in our face and pull the trigger before we even have a chance to speak, …etc…etc…, again just small town stuff, you know.
Oh yeah, and typically for less pay than a public school teacher in Fremont County.
So there you go, something to think about the next time you perceive the cop you just talked with seems a little !@#$%^& ish, or you wonder just what the heck we do all day long in such a small community.
I think I can speak for most of us, from the Chief Weasel on down, the Lander Police Department appreciates your support and feedback.