There has been a lot of anti-police rhetoric circulating around social media lately. Policy-makers and propagandists rely on the naivety of the general public when it comes to things like facts, statistics, police reports, and so on. As a result, anomalies are given spotlight and wrongly perceived as the norm.
But alas, too much intellectual and emotional energy is wasted trying to bring logic to the table. Hysterics cannot be dissuaded using objectivity, since their hysteria is deeply subjective — a lesson I am still learning.
And so, the best you can do is to cling desperately to the belief that most people are sensible and continue on your merry way. It is tempting to allow the paranoia of ‘everyone hates me’ to take over, but at the end of the day it is better to be scorned and steadfast than silenced into acquiescence.
Hence, in an attempt to provide a different outlook, I decided to interview my husband. He was a Deputy Sheriff for fifteen years; three of which were spent as a homicide detective. I’m hoping that after reading a selection of his first-hand experiences people will take a moment to reflect about the human face behind the institution they love to hate; it seems I still have some idealist blood in my veins after all.
What follows are real-life events; things my husband actually saw first-hand. These are just a small sample of the most memorable cases.
Mark arrives at a suicide crime scene. He sees two halves of a human body, one on each side of a sawing machine. Pools of blood on the machine and the concrete floor. What happened: A man sawed himself in half. He rolled his body through a bandsaw in order to commit suicide.
The Sheriff’s office gets a call about a suicide out on the lake. They arrive at the scene and there’s a headless torso on an airboat. Chunks of brain litter the floor of the boat. What happened: A man takes one final journey out on the water and decides to blow his brains out. Specifics: The way he shot himself meant that the skin of his face had peeled off but was still intact. He placed the gun underneath his jaw with his head forward, meaning that when he pulled the trigger his brains and skull exploded into pieces but left behind the flap of skin that used to be his face.
A 19 year old decided to end his life by driving his vehicle into a concrete pylon supporting an overpass. He was driving at a speed of over 120 m.p.h. Beforehand, he told his friend that he was going to wreck his car so no-one else could have it after he died. His parents had to continue his car payments after his suicide as the damage was intentional so the insurance company wouldn’t cover it. The financing of the car was expensive so they decided to hire a private investigator to prove their son’s death wasn’t a suicide. The investigator was unsuccessful as there was concrete evidence at the crash site. The first responder was Florida Highway Patrol, who then handed it over to the Sheriff’s office when they assessed the scene and noted the deliberate acceleration pattern found in the grass median.
A 48 year old man sits on the edge of the bed in his bedroom, positions his shotgun under his chin, and blows his head off. Mark remembers the brain and skull fragments all over the room; clumps of brain loosening from the ceiling and falling onto the floor.
Mark is given the task of informing his mother. He knocks on the door. She invites him in and they sit down in the living-room. He begins: ‘I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your son is no longer with us.’ The woman looks confused and doesn’t say a word. After a few minutes of sitting in silence, he continues: ‘He took his own life.’ At this, the woman’s expression changes into a grimace and she says: ‘You’re a liar.’ She says it again: ‘You’re a liar’ and reaches for a cane at the side of her chair. She lunges for Mark. He jumps up and backs away to the kitchen table. She chases him around the table trying to whack him on the head with the cane. After a few minutes of this surreal merry-go-round experience, he manages to ‘escape’ through the front door.
The last story there never fails to make me laugh; despite the seriousness of the death of course. The image of Mark running around being chased by a woman with a cane (especially considering the circumstances) is so surreal; you can’t make this stuff up.
I have a lot more material to share with you all about the reality of working in law enforcement.
The next part of this series looks at real-life murder cases and accidental death scenarios my husband worked on or witnessed during his three years as a homicide detective. Here it is, folks: Why I Admire Law Enforcement: Part Two