By Thonie Hevron
As you know, I host this blog every Sunday morning related to law enforcement. Currently I have several retired LAPD veterans who write posts, like war stories at briefing. While their readership is growing, I’ve been thinking of mixing it up a bit—with prompts. I ask and you answer. “Tell me about the time you…”
A retired deputy friend of mine, Will Wallman, gave me an excellent idea: When did you first know you were no longer a rookie cop?
Some future prompts might be like this:
- When did you realize you couldn’t tell civilians what you did for a living in a social situation? What did you say was your occupation?
- Do/did you experience burn-out? If so, what do/did you do about it?
- What do you do to stay sharp on the job? To decompress or blow off steam?
- Talk about the proudest moment of your career.
- What was your idea of the best job ever?
To answer, click on “reply,” then “accept” cookies and type your comment in the “reply” box. You may have to create an identity in Wordpress but you will be prompted if you need to. If you have an idea for a prompt, feel free to PM me or send me your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Situational answers are great, one-liners work, too. My audience is mostly mystery writers and other cop-like folk. Caveat: please, no politics or religion unless it relates to the story.
Here are a few examples of real answers to “When did you know you were no longer a rookie cop?” from a private LE Facebook page I belong to:
TB (Northern California rural deputy): The first time I thought I might get shot on duty. Or, when I drove around the corner after making a death notification for a 5-year-old girl, who was spending the night at her cousins, and started crying. Time on the job sometimes doesn’t mean a lot, but experience does.
WM (suburban municipal police Northern California): It was when I graduated from SRJC (Santa Rosa Junior College) Police Academy! With no prior police experience just 8 years in the military, as a supply clerk. I was on my own about 2 weeks after I was hired. No FTO. I had been on the street pretty much in solo units for 18 months before starting Academy. California police work was a lot different back in the 1960’s.
KG (small northern California municipality): My father died from suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, I knew one day that call would come. I remember it being all business on scene but later it hit me. I didn’t have a meltdown or anything and I’m pretty sure I didn’t cry. As time went on, I actually felt pretty good about being able to do the job and checking my personal stuff at the door. I had maybe two years’ experience then, and the rule was rookie for 5 years, but I knew then I was capable so in my head I was no longer a rook.
CL (rural California sheriff’s deputy): Hired
by HPD after being a reserve for a few months. First day on the job it was me
and the chief. My first call was from the chief and it was “10-50x at Silviera
Pontiac. We were using the old nine code back then and I had no clue what I was
going to and wasn’t going to ask! Drove there kinda fast and it was a VIN
verification. Not a veteran yet.
That took six months and a big bar fight at Norm’s and a head injury requiring a trip to ER, stitches and time off to let the swelling go down.
Please feel free to share (anonymously if you wish). We’d love to see your answers.
Next week, Ed Meckle will be back with a few stories about Wilshire Detectives.
2 replies on “War Stories”
Throughout my career I noted that there may occur numerous times when a LEO with years on the job might find themselves transitioned back from veteran back to rookie. For example rookie on patrol, promote to rookie detective, promote to Sgt. rookie Sgt, promote to Detective Sgt,mrookie Detective Sergeant and so n up the flagpole. Early on in my career , the afternoon of Jan.27, 1984 I came face to face with a double murder suspect who began to raise a stolen 12 ga. Flare pistol at me. I outdrew him and arrested him in a muddy drainage ditch. Afterward I was shaking badly at how close to an OK corral shootout I came. Entered the ditch a rookie, left the ditch a veteran.
Promoted to Detective in the Coroner Unit. My tour was 5 years. I lost my rookie status weekly for 5 years. Numerous occasions I had to stop on the way home and let the tears flow. Promoted to Sgt. Lost my rookie status there at an OIS. Promoted to Detective Sgt. and my rookie bubble was popped at 0200 hours on a rural foggy road on my second time in a month assisting my Detective with a quadruple fatal only this one ended two generations of a family and I volunteered to make the notification. I could tell my Detective was ready to implode and we lost two chaplains who just quit citing, this was not what they signed up for. Really lost my rookie status that morning.
Words desert me. People only see a uniform, badge and gun. They never see the heart behind the badge. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of yours.