Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Life as we know it

It's been a hectic time in my house this last week. J has had 3 SWAT callouts. We've had two showings. A few appointments that had to be rescheduled or cancelled. Family visiting. Selling the old car. Purchasing a new car.

It's pretty unnerving when you're already feeling kind of frenetic, and the pager goes off. It's loud and persistent. It's not like a cell phone with a silly ring tone that you might not hear given the proper ambient noise. And the adrenaline level in the house goes up several levels. J, in classic sheepdog mode, gets antsy at the thought of doing what he loves best about his job. Me, in classic neurotic wife mode, worrying because I will not know what's going on, nor will we have contact until the situation is resolved.

People have asked, "aren't you worried?" when they learn he is on SWAT. And my response to them is typically along the lines of, "No, I know they're more prepared for the situations, the most dangerous situation a cop can get into is a traffic stop or a domestic, I know they're well trained" yadda yadda.

But every time the pager goes off, I get on edge. And yes, the what-if thoughts run through my mind. I finally succumb to curiosity and troll the local news sites for the latest updates. Often there are no stories until the situation is over and he's home, so it's a fruitless endeavor but almost every time I have done it anyway.

To add to it, the last two calls have been back to back, and both the night before we had showings scheduled during a time we were both out of the house. Which in theory would be fine, except we have two dogs. Now, neither of them has ever even bared their teeth at a human, let alone snapped or bit. They're labs. They love everybody. But one dog is part rottweiler, and he is territorial. What I'm getting at is the fact that when we have a showing during the work day, I have to run home to get the dogs. Just one more stress factor. If you've ever sold a home you were currently living in, you probably know how strenuous it is to keep your house CONSTANTLY in tip-top shape. Throw an almost-toddler and two large dogs into the mix, and it's an effort every night.

Now imagine trying to get ready for a showing, trying to get the baby down to bed, vacuuming the hair tumbleweeds, and mud that the dogs drag in because it's now springtime, do some more laundry, fit dinner in there somewhere, and ***BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP***.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Public attention

There have been a couple stories I have wanted to share here, but haven't been able to because they have made it into the local news. And in the interest of protecting my family's privacy, I decided not to discuss them in the event some kook decided to go hunting and figure out who we are. It's not that we are completely anonymous. If you know us, and find this blog, chances are you can figure out pretty easily it's us. But I am always worried about the evil you don't know. And the internet facilitates that all too easily. I do know the articles are archived now.

But it was some really cool shit.

The first, and in my eyes bigger, story occurred last summer. Some of the details are a bit fuzzy but essentially a felon with six months left on probation escaped the halfway house he was at, broke into a home and tied up the occupants, stole a gun and their car (and asked them for DIRECTIONS), and left. An off-duty officer on her way home happened to see the vehicle, remembering the description from the end of her shift, followed him while calling it in. The deputies were able to catch up and a chase ensued. J used his stopsticks, successfully blowing out the tires, but the chase continued several more miles on the freeway. The traffic cameras on the interstate happened to catch one of the most exciting parts of the chase, and the operator must have known it was coming because the normally static camera follows as the chase passes the station. This part of the chase is very Hollywood style, as the guy is running into cars and causing multiple accidents.

Let me pause here and stop you if you're about to debate the pros and cons of a police chase. The suspect was recklessly driving before the deputies were on his tail. Had at least one weapon in the car. And I'm fairly certain that once stopsticks are used, they can't just let the person drive off. But I digress.

The suspect finally stops when the hood of the car flies up, blocking his view. Someone was looking down and stepped in, because he was exiting the freeway into a very busy area of town. Who knows how much worse it could have gotten then. The traffic camera also catches all the deputies go flying out of their cars, guns drawn, and the subsequent arrest. It was pretty cool to actually see J in action.

Turns out officers get a little uniform decoration when they use the stopsticks, too.

The second story is less severe in nature but equally dramatic and perhaps more debateable.

J is driving around on patrol one warm summer day, and is flagged down by a woman in a Lowe's parking lot. She tells him there are two children locked in this car, and she doesn't know how long they've been in there, at least a few minutes. No parent anywhere in sight. He looks in the windows to see two girls, 2 and 4 years old, unconscious in their seats. He immediately begins trying to unlock the car and wake the girls. The 4 year old finally wakes up, but can't get out of her seat or open the door. I perhaps should mention at this point it is a sports car, so not a large vehicle. Attempts to jimmy the lock are unsuccessful, and still no parent is around. If you are a reader of this blog you might recall our son was born last May, and so J is at this point a proud new father. And naturally even more worried about the safety of a child than he might have been before. He tells the little girl to cover her face, and breaks the window with his baton.

Naturally the father finally comes out of the store right about now, and begins his story about how he only ran in for a minute, they were fine, the car was cool, it was locked, they were asleep and he didn't want to wake them, etc. It wasn't the hottest day, probably about 75 or 80 degrees that afternoon, but any expert will tell you (and any person with half a brain will agree) that the inside of a car climbs in temperature rather rapidly in the sun on a summer afternoon, to easily 20 or 30 degrees warmer. And starts going on and on about how this is going to ruin his career. In the retelling I stopped J at this point to ask if he was even worried about his children. J says no, the guy is just worried about his career.

Ready for the kicker? He's a pediatric specialist.

So even if you buy that the car was cooled when he left, and that he really was only in there for a 'few minutes' (at least 5 had transpired after J got there), there's still a matter of leaving a two year old and a four year old unattended. Which is really the law he was breaking here. Technically there isn't a law about leaving your kids in a heated vehicle (although there ought to be, I know it's just Ohio but it gets hot and humid here too), I suppose if you were sitting *in* the car with your kids there wouldn't be much they could do. But it doesn't take a cop with a baton to break a window and take two kids out of a car. It's not unthinkable that one of them could pop the parking brake, put something in their mouth, hurt each other, etc. If you think it's improbable then you've clearly never been around a toddler. They do these sort of things in the blink of an eye when you're THERE.

I found some livid debate at the time about it, and really it should be a moot point. There should have been no question about an officer's actions in this situation. But there's always a question. Always. It still irritates me that John Q Public thinks they know how to do a cop's job better.

But it is what it is.