Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In the Fishbowl

We sit at the coffee shop, focused. My friend has returned from a trip and brought trinkets. They are information sheets made of some kind of flexible plastic. Military officers use them to diagram field problems, jot notes and calculate...well, the things infantry officers calculate. "Permanent" markers are used because good weather isn't always guaranteed when the fray takes place outdoors. Perfect for police sergeants commanding critical incidents.

Around us, the usual cacophony at Starbucks - couples awaiting their lattes, individuals hunched over laptops or tablets, groups of laughing patrons nibbling scones and sipping as the stories engage them.

Our conversation turns to process, training the laminated checklists created by another talented friend. We discuss an arcane bit of tactical reality, how an "immediate reaction team" is constituted. How to cue incident commanders or their subordinates to the material needs of this group?

We are wary of our surroundings, no matter how our conversation draws us in. Another senseless ambush has occurred, two officers murdered as they ate. Everyone in the place knows who we are. The blue uniforms, patches and doo-dads of our profession give us little cover. We drive cars designed to broadcast our presence. It could happen to us.

We've told the employees who ask - "Run. We will be busy. If you survive, we've done our jobs." At one coffee shop, in the aftermath of a similar incident in Washington State, the waitress started to cry as we described what she should do if "it" happened.

The two vile, cowardly people who killed Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck in Las Vegas took honest, dependable men from their loved ones. The assholes accomplished nothing positive when they executed the officers and a citizen who tried to help. The murderers' deaths, and their names, will soon be forgotten.

Our friends will still welcome us to their shops, where we will enjoy the simple gift of being police officers together - lucky men and women among a chosen few who are called to our profession. No one can take that away.

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