Thursday, July 24, 2008

Funny Friday- The Zen State Trooper.

This Maine State Trooper is not only the most calm officer I have ever seen, he also has an amazing ability to not laugh his head off with the over reaction of this speeding violator. The speeding citizen also had high hopes that newly elected President Bill Clinton would not only change the world, he would also help speeders across this country.

(Warning there is some explicit language.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Officer Deaths Decrease During First Half of 2008

In October of 2007 I blogged about the 54% increase in officer deaths in 2007. I am happy to report that those numbers have decreased dramatically. So much so that the number of deaths have not been so low since 1965 when 55 officers were killed. In the first six months of 2007, 100 officers died in the line of duty as compared to 2008 where in the first six months 59 officers have died in the line of duty. These numbers include all officer on duty deaths including shootings, traffic fatalities and other line of duty deaths.

Preliminary 2008 Law Enforcement Officer Fatality Statistics as of July 22 according to
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

2008 2007 %Change
Total Fatalities64110-42%
Traffic Incidents3250-36%
Other Causes717-59%

2008 Fatalities - Top 10 States

Texas7 Ohio3
California5 Oklahoma3
Florida4 Several2

Federal Agencies

The last two New Mexico Officers who's names were added to the National Memorial in May of 2008 were: CHRISTOPHER M MIRABAL Patrolman from the New Mexico State Police, and GERMAINE FERRIS CASEY Police Officer from Rio Rancho P.D.. There are now 130 names of Officers from New Mexico listed on the National Memorial in Washington. I have blogged before about the need for officers to pay attention to this statistics if only as a reminder not to become one of the numbers. While Traffic Accidents have been the top killer of officers for a number of years, shooting deaths are not far behind. In the first half of 2008 50 officers have died in traffic accidents and 43 have been shot to death.

Preventing these deaths means a combination of defensive driving and defensive tactics by officers when on the streets. Citizens often do not understand why certain tactics are used when performing tasks which may seem mundane. Simple traffic stops may seem like everyday activities to many citizens, however to an officer it is one of the most dangerous tasks we perform. Officers constantly change and revise how these stops are performed in order to keep one step ahead of the criminals. On the other hand just like when going through security check points at an airport all citizens are subjected to additional scrutiny in order to deal with the few who would do harm.

Officers also need to pay extra attention when going from call to call. Officers spend 10 hours a day, 40 hours a week, not counting over time, driving from one end of the county or city to the other responding to calls for service. Even when it is not a full blown emergency when someone calls the police they expect a quick response. Many times officers end up in too much of a hurry trying to serve the public. I often remind the deputies in the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office that it does not serve the public or your fellow deputies if you never get to the call. Even a minor traffic accident can not only tie up the officer involved for hours it will also tie up other officers and commanders as well. On the other hand when you average out the number of hours officers spend behind the wheel the actual number of accidents officers are in are way below the national average for drivers.

Many of us in law enforcement management are concerned about the economy and its downturn. We are very concerned about the effect it will have on crime across the nation. In bad economic times there are often increases in crime across the board including thefts, robbery's, and homicides which are the result of another crime in progress. Officer deaths could increase during national increases in crime rates as well. I am hoping for the best but at the same time we always prepare for the worst.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Dad First.

I was going to talk today about the decrease in officer deaths across the nation in this last year. I guess I will leave that for another day. It seems like the whole world knows my son was arrested for his second DWI. If I was not Sheriff it would not be a big news story. At least not one that would make all three TV stations and two days of coverage in one local paper and coverage in the other local paper. My official comment "I'm disappointed in my sons recent arrest" really does not tell the inner turmoil and pain my wife and I feel. I have seen alcoholism since I was a young child. I have seen the worst of what DWI does to peoples lives as a cop since 1988. I have seen the domestic violence, I have seen people die with cirrhosis of the liver as young as 40 and I have lifted their bodies soaked with blood filled vomit into body bags. Worst of all I have been to crash after crash with DWI drivers and innocent victims dying on our streets and highways.

Imagine fighting DWI all these years and seeing your own son arrested for his second DWI. Imagine your son is in the hospital after a suspected DWI related accident, all you know is he has a head injury and at first you are told it should be minor and then you learn he may be admitted to the hospital because doctors are unsure. Because I am Sheriff I tell my wife we can't go to the hospital. My appearance there could be taken as an influence against the officers there to arrest my son. We have to avoid any appearance of influencing the outcome of the arrest. Therefor we don't call anyone for information, we wait. I did not call the state police for information because I did not want anyone saying I called them in an attempt to influence the handling of the case. Any other parent could call the police to find out what was happening with their son, I could not. The hospital had only one nurse on duty for the whole emergency room so when I called just to find out if he was ok it was fruitless.

While I am waiting I can't help but think about what got us to this point. My children have always had extra pressure because of my career. When my son was in high school I was a Juvenile Detective assigned to the Gang Unit. I had to do a lot of work at the high schools during this time when Juvenile Gang activity was at an all time high. My son got a lot of hell from other kids about his "Narc Dad". I always told my kids about how bad it would be if my kids were in trouble. My son struggled through High School but graduated anyway. He could not wait to get out of the house when he turned 18. Was I too hard on him or was he tired of living under my shadow? My whole family has to face life in the public eye. Both my kids had to hear lies, rumors, and some downright awful things said about me over the years. When our family had good times or bad times it was always under the public eye. Even before I was sheriff, when I was a union president my kids would read about and hear about controversy's at my job in the papers and from other kids whose parents were cops who disagreed with decisions I made in the union.

I knew what I was signing up for when I took or ran for each position. My family was just along for the ride. They wanted to support me but did they really know what they were getting into? Early in the morning after my sons accident I called the hospital again to see if he had been released, no the nurse said, a doctor had not been found to see him. Apparently the hospital was short on doctors as well as nurses this morning. The nurse also said the cops had left. The cops had left? This usually means the suspect, my son, was worse than I thought. Many times in a misdemeanor arrest, if the person is going to be in the hospital for a while they leave them there and summons them into court on a later date. Officers can not be tied up waiting in a hospital for a person to be released. Only in felony arrests do officers stay with the patient until they are released. This is standard practice but I knew that if this was the case with my son that it could become a problem. Some people would not believe this was standard practice. Here I was thinking about the politics of the situation.

As my wife and I drove to the hospital praying that he was going to be ok I decided I needed to be a dad first. Stop thinking about my career and think about my son. He has been in counseling for alcohol treatment for about three weeks now. He has really been depressed lately having a hard time making ends meet and providing for his two year old child. No excuses though, no one should Ever, Ever Drink and Drive. Now we are arranging for inpatient treatment if our insurance provider decides through an assessment that he qualifies. My wife and I prepare to try and help him with his bills if he goes into rehab for weeks. He wonders if he will still have a job when he gets out. I guess all parents think their kids are good kids, and deep down I know my son is one of the most caring, loving persons I know. I know he is hurting and we need to do all we can to cure him from the disease that seems to have crept into all our lives. My wife and I thank god no one else was hurt and that my sons life was spared. I am prepared for criticism and press articles about whether or not my son received special treatment. The truth is I know he did not and you know what, ........ I'm a dad first.