Full disclosure: just like everything else with this charity, all that you see is done by police officers; active or retired. ALL of it is volunteer. None of us are ‘writers’. It’s that lack of formal training or polish that has generated authenticity and pure emotion. Today’s rant will be more of the same. Our thoughts tend to ramble sometimes and they don’t always compress properly, but you can trust and believe that what you read on this site is being written by people who have walked the walk and not some paid intern pulling their ‘knowledge’ from Live PD.
With that said.
A lot of discussion is being had lately in regards to suicide inside of the law enforcement profession; discussion that is basically now unavoidable as the problem is reaching epidemic levels. According to Blue H.E.L.P. , an estimated 180 police officers have taken their own lives in 2019. That is up from 169 in 2018 and we still have the critical holiday months left ahead of us.
It’s a cop out (pun intended) to point the finger at administration. While I 100% agree that our political leaders and administration staff could give two f***s about the mental well being of their police officers, I challenge you to find me a time when they DID. Being a politician has been and always will be about getting elected and, more importantly, STAYING elected. They are trained circus monkeys that will say and do whatever the mob wants them to do as long as the mob keeps voting them in, regardless of how offensive to your senses their action is.
There’s no better example of this than the clown leading the City of New York. Bill de Blasio has single-handedly crippled his own police department, undermining them at literally every turn with both word and action; and, honestly, why wouldn’t he? Hating a police officer nowadays is en vogue. There is absolutely no doubt that the brazen abandonment of the American police officer coming from those who lead has contributed to the decimated morale. But is that REALLY the problem?
Earlier this month, while investigating a potential burglary scene at 2:30 in the morning, Fort Worth (TX) Police Officer Aaron Dean shot and killed the female homeowner who, in response to Officer Dean’s presence in her backyard, pointed a gun a him. This is without a doubt a tragedy on so many levels. I don’t think that anyone debates that. Even if defending your home against someone OUTSIDE of your house isn’t legislated under any ‘castle’ law, I don’t think anyone can really argue with that. If you are trying to break into my house at 2:30 in the morning, you can rest assured I’m not waiting until you actually gain access to my home before I take action. So we all agree that Atatiana Jefferson had every right to draw her weapon and address what she perceived as a threat.
Now, let’s go to the other side of the glass.
You are a uniformed police officer called to an ‘open door’ at a residence at 2:30 in the morning. The condition was called in by a neighbor who clearly thought it odd enough to alert the police. Anyone who has ever worn a shield will tell you that, being sent to that type of call given the time of day, one of the first things that comes to mind is burglary. Hands down. I don’t care what the CALLER – an untrained civilian – wants to label it. That is a potential burglary in progress call.
You arrive to the location and see open doors, just as described by the caller. You quietly peak inside of the home and see a scene that looks like a bomb hit it; a mess that would indicate that some perp ransacked the home. Now, what might have been a burglary call in your head, 10000% is a burglary call.
Let’s pause here, because this is where there seems to be some real misunderstanding.
All of the Live PD trained police experts truly believe that any time a police officer walks into a room, they have to announce themself as loudly as Muhammad Ali used to when he walked into a room.
First of all, no such regulation or policy exists. There definitely is no LEGISLATION that says that anywhere on any books. Sure, many departments will insist that you identify yourself to individuals that you’re actively speaking to, “Good afternoon, Sir. I am Officer _______ from the ______ Police Department. Do you know why I stopped you?”. That is in no way the same as giving a potential burglar the ‘heads up’ that the police are on scene. I find it ridiculously ironic that anyone would even mention tactics and alerting a suspect to police presence in the same breath. Is this f***ing Mayberry? Would it surprise you to know that, tactically speaking, you WANT to sneak up on prowlers; that you actually want to surprise burglars in the act; that you don’t want to alert active robbery suspects that you’re surrounding the target location? Now THAT is tactical, while we’re on that topic. In fact, in virtually all departments, if you are sent to a burglary alarm call or hold-up alarm call (especially at a bank), it’s common practice to shut off all lights and sirens when you get in the area; and then, even when you ARE in the area, you don’t pull right up to the front door like Wyatt Earp. Instead, you sit back for a minute or two and assess the location before running in. All of that is to say: the last thing you want to do is alert the perps that you’re there. In fact, you don’t have to even use hypothetical departmental policies for this specific case. You can rely directly on the Fort Worth Police Department’s own policy:
So, you see, even if you throw tactics out the window and have some magical way that YOU think Officer Dean should have responded, once Aaron Dean recognized the scene in front him as an ‘open door’ and a potential burglary, he was 100% in compliance with his own department’s directive to ‘eliminate all means of escape prior to beginning the search of the building’. At no point in time was Officer Dean required by policy or, let alone, LAW to skip into that house and announce his presence. And just as we should all fully endorse Ms Jefferson’s right to defend her home against what she perceived to be a prowler, shouldn’t we all agree that a UNIFORMED POLICE OFFICER shooting someone who is pointing a gun at them from inside of what he believes is likely a burglary location is NOT a murderer?
Well, welcome to policing in 2019.
As this is written, Aaron Dean has resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department and is currently charged with murder. A police officer who acted in compliance with his departmental orders and addressed a weapon being pointed at him while he was on duty and in full uniform is now a murderer. Yep. You read that right.
As if to make matters worse – as if that were even possible – Interim Fort Worth Police Chief, in an act of self preservation and cowardice, mere hours after the incident took place, promised to fire Officer Dean even if he wasn’t arrested and charged. He did this before even HE had all of the facts. He did this in response to the staple angry mob that is drummed up any time a police officer is forced to be a police officer these days. He did this, quite simply, to save his own political ass.
And then you have this new trend of our own eating our own which, you’ll find, is getting you closer to the root of the problem.
For example, let’s look at short-term police officer turned social media funny man, Mike the Cop. Doubling down on the Chief’s premature abandonment of Officer Dean, Mike decided to post this crap in order to ‘maintain integrity’:
While Mike the Cop’s social media presence has always been satire driven, he and those like him fancy themselves ‘social media influencers’, often times claiming that their goal is to ‘humanize the badge’, when in fact, especially in this case, he is humiliating the badge. For REAL police officers with a REAL body of work, we tolerate the quirky dancing around in yoga tights and the making of goofy videos which do more to undermine police authority than mitigate any kind of tension or misunderstanding. However, when you are reaching a point where you begin to really believe in your own legend and then use that created status to not only second guess REAL police officers but also to outright abandon them in favor a few more clicks, you’ve crossed the rubicon. What ‘integrity’ are you honestly looking to maintain, especially when your follow up is sharing pictures previously posted on a page called ‘Worst Responders’ aimed at trashing law enforcement, ya know, ‘as a joke’:
I’ll save you the time and effort. Most of the comments under the aforementioned photo came from anything BUT police officers or their supporters. Most came from people who live to expose the issues that the law enforcement community has with domestic violence amongst our members. That issue IS real and is a problem that needs addressing. It certainly isn’t a laughable topic nor one that warrants satire. However, making a ‘joke’ out of it and catering to people who live to call law enforcement supporters ‘boot lickers’ in favor of a few more clicks is gross. There is nothing even remotely funny, supportive or integrity maintaining about it. When pushed on this, Mike’s only go-to is that we, the active and real police officers, are simply just jealous of him and his internet fame. Clicks over cops.
And while Mike was one of the first to the table, he certainly wasn’t alone. There were tons of seasoned veteran police officers all over the internet immediately trashing Officer Dean. Based on nothing more than a short body camera clip released by an already slanted media, police officers were questioning Officer Dean’s tactics and, even some, his fitness for duty. Think about that for a minute. Without any detailed knowledge of the incident in question and with absolutely ZERO background on Officer Dean or his employment history, there were police officers from all over the country immediately wondering if Officer Dean was even fit to be a police officer.
Do you STILL think that our leaders are the problem?
When you sign up to be a police officer, you accept the fact that there will forever be a portion of the population that will always hate you. It comes with the territory. We are the accessible form of government and therefore bear the brunt of everyone’s dissatisfaction with political leaders that can’t be reached. Moreover, no grown adult likes to be corrected or told what to do.
What you don’t sign up for or expect is the abandonment from the ones you serve and, more so, the abandonment from the ones you serve with. Keep in mind, this is NOT about cops covering for criminal cops. Contrary to what the anti-law enforcement element would have you believe, there is nothing a good cop hates more than a bad cop. Bad cops make everyone else’s job harder and less safe. In a twist of irony on that topic, have you ever tried to get a witness statement in regards to a crime that occurred in broad daylight in a crowded housing complex courtyard? ‘Snitches get Stitches’ is not a law enforcement slogan. So, it’s kind of disingenuous to be pointing fingers, but I digress.
The new trend in law enforcement today is abandoning the ones we stand shoulder to shoulder with; self preservation over preservation of the group. From the Chief down, how is Aaron Dean supposed to feel anything BUT put on an island; and this is happening all over the country. So now there is essentially no safe zone for the American police officer. We are hated by the ones we punish. We are hated by the ones who employ us. We are hated by the ones we serve. We are hated by the ones we serve with.
Do you STILL think our leaders are the problem?
Oddly enough, this is a great time to be a police officer. The line between those who support us and those who don’t has never been clearer. There are no enemies hiding in the shadows. From the elected politicians to the person you pass on the street, the filter is gone. Don’t like the cops? Just dump buckets of water on them. Why? Why not? It’s also the most difficult time to be a police officer because you will never be able to rationalize your risk vs reward. The end is no longer justifying the means; at least not as much as it seemed too. When a uniformed police officer who shot someone that pointed a gun at him is currently fighting a murder charge, how can any active police officer effectively do their job? What’s the motivation? Couple that with an unattainable expectation of perfection at every turn, both personally and professionally, and now you’re getting even closer to the root of the problem.
13 years into my career, I’ve done it as recent as 12 hours ago: sat in my patrol car, staring out the window while wondering, “What the f*** am I still doing here?” or “What is this really all for?”; when we are all one call away from being someone’s scapegoat or another’s jackpot.
Sworn or civilian, to be at the point where you would contemplate taking your own life, you are in one of the darkest places any human mind can go to. Where we, as police officers, fail is where we fail each other. In a profession that has over 800,000 actively sworn employees across this country, there is ALWAYS someone who has walked whatever road you find yourself on…and, yes, even Aaron Dean’s. The hard part isn’t getting the person to ask for help. Most will drop hints, give signs or even outright beg for it. In the law enforcement field, the hard part is getting the rest of the uniformed personnel to have the courage and fortitude to actually stand by the one in the fire, the one asking for help. THAT’S where the disconnect occurs.
Despite the growing mountain of evidence that is being dribbled out piece by piece, Aaron Dean is still an unemployed murderer; and I challenge anyone reading this to find me the collective and sustained outrage coming from the law enforcement community in his support. Where are the rallies? Where are the calls for the pandering and bogus charge of murder to be immediately dropped?
Our critics and our enemies take the liberties we allow. They are comfortable destroying us in word and action because we allow it.
There is a famous Ronald Reagan speech, A Time for Choosing , that has some apropos guidance. While military driven, the speech prompts the American citizens, through our military, “You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.”
Start taking care of each other again. Start supporting the ones toeing the line again. Start giving the ones standing between the predators and the prey the recognition and support they so justly deserve. Do this, and the rest will fall in line.
What occurred earlier this month in Fort Worth, Texas, is a tragedy; and the loss of Atatiana Jefferson should be mourned. All crimes are tragedies, but not all tragedies are crimes. And until we can have a clear and coherent conversation on what is criminal and what is tragedy, we are doomed to repeat this over and over.
The members of Brothers Before Others stand with Aaron Dean. We continue to encourage the members of the law enforcement community and those who support them to let the process be the process, both now and in the future. Things are not always what they seem to be in the first few hours following an incident. Have the common sense to remember that and keep that in mind before you feed a good public servant to the wolves simply because the wolves are howling.