leadership

Live like you’re on the evening news

It surprises people when they find out that I once was a Police officer in Mississippi.

Well, maybe not the Mississippi part, but I have not always been fat and middle-aged.  

I was a street cop, a member on the SWAT Team, and a substitute DARE  Officer.   We were taught at the Police Academy that we should conduct our lives as if we were going to be on the evening news.

One night we were running short on our detail because there was a football game at the university. Therefore, so we were extra busy.  Around 10:00 I was dispatched to a home intruder call on the north side of town without the normal backup. This was not good, but you do what you have to do to protect the citizens.

When I got there the guy was gone, but he came back while I was taking care of the paperwork. The guy was about twentyish and about my size.  I did have a big advantage, he was very drunk.

His state of inebriation had caused him to misplaced his house and was not sure where he had to lift it.  Not having a better idea, he kicked in the first door that he thought was his.

Too bad for him, but you don’t get to kick a door down, walk around drunk and not go to jail.

Remembering that I was alone, the following occurred:

I told him to put his hands behind his back, but he resisted and I had to throw him down to the ground.  After I cuffed him, he refused to get up and I had to drag him to my patrol car.  Then I had to pick him up and lean him on my car, but he had other ideas.

He tried to get up and escape.  After slamming him back down and opening the car door, I gently placed him in the car.  Okay, maybe gently is not the correct wording.  Regardless of how he got into the car, I was hot, tired, and dirty from the fight.

Leaning against my patrol car breathing heavy, I was frustrated because I prided myself for using my brain more the brawn.  I had to use a lot more force on this guy than usual.

You may think that’s unfair when you see a group of officers arresting one person.   The truth is the “overwhelming force” protects the officers and the individual being arrested.   Being by myself, there was only one way to handle the situation.

Sometimes it’s in the presentation.

Not happened next reminded me why the police academy taught that you conduct yourself as if you would be on the evening news.

From the porch next door, I heard the voice of an angle.  You see, I had substituted in the DARE class that morning and one of my students was standing there.  She said, “Hi Officer Coats.”

This beautiful little girl had just seen me manhandle this guy into my car. Thinking very quickly I called back to her, “Hey sweetie, see what drugs do to you?”  She answered, “I sure do!”

The key was that even in a very stressful situation, I still managed to treat this guy with respect and showed my little student that I was there to make sure that she was safe.

Note to self: Even when things are stressful and hard, keep your cool and do what is right. You never know who may be watching.