Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Better change the channel on that emotion.

As expected, when the economy takes a dip, the tweakers start burgling more. There's a group around here that's been kicking in doors of apparently unoccupied houses, to take what they can grab. The other day a member of this group hit a house just outside of our city limits. The lady of the house was actually at home at mid day, and frantically dialed 911 when she heard the miscreant trying to kick in her door. She screamed for the county to send her a deputy, but they were running a bit slow. The dispatcher never thought to send my department, which would have had a probable response time of less than 90 seconds, given the location of the house and our on-duty officers. Too bad.

The lady of the house heard the kicking go on and on. And on. And on. She became frantic. She says that it took 4 minutes, but I'll bet it was 2 or less. Time really distorts in those moments. She could see the attempted burglar through the window. Suddenly, he saw her as well. He ran. As he started to get into his white pickup that he had backed up to her front door, he looked back toward her before driving away quickly.

This morning, she called me at the P.D., begging me to do a close patrol. She had left with her husband that morning to go somewhere, and had seen a white pickup drive past. She was scared that they were coming back.

I told her that I would check on it immediately, and did so. Nothing to be seen. In the new frost, I could see that no one had walked around the house. No tire tracks in the neatly-trimmed yard. I returned to the P.D. and called her back.

I reported that her house was safe. I also remarked that, in the two minute drive there, I had passed no less than six white pickup trucks, it being the morning commute time for many laborers in Texas. I gently explained that her attempted burglar had driven the single most commonly seen vehicle on N. Texas roads. White is the default fleet vehicle color, and pickups are ubiquitous around here. "You're going to have to inure yourself to the sight of them passing your house," I said.

I took a breath, and soldiered on. "Look, you feel violated, and I get that. I really do. I've been there. It's really upsetting. You're scared, and you don't feel safe in the place that was your haven," I began.

"I don't even come and go without an escort, now, and I don't feel safe when I'm at home," she said.

"Right. Being where you were terrified, when you had thought that you were safe there, does that to you," I said. "But are you willing to hear some good news?"

"You caught him?" she said, gushing hopefully.

"No. Realistically, I don't know that we will. We will try. We are not without leads. But here's the good news: You're less likely NOW to have your home targeted than you were two weeks ago."

"How can you possibly believe that, after this?" she asked.

"Well, aside from my degree and three-quarters in the field, I've got a little experience in this stuff," I began. "Let me ask you: What did he do when he found out that you were home?"

"He left," she said simply.

"Did he yell at you? Threaten you? Anything like that?"

"No. He just left," she said.

"Exactly. This guy wants your stuff. He doesn't want to hurt you. He does daytime burglaries because they're low-confrontation. He's probably on drugs, and just wants to sell your stuff cheap to buy more drugs. The last thing he wants to do is come back to your place again. In his mind, the last time he went there, he almost got caught or shot. That's why he looked back," I said.

"The deputy said that he was looking back to see if I was coming after him," she said.

"Sure. He was also looking to see if you were going to shoot him," I said.

"But I didn't have a gun," she said, weakly.

"No, but most Texans do, and you were benefitting from his realization of that," I said, perhaps planting a thought in her head for later. "Here's the thing: at that moment, he was likely more afraid of you than you are of him."

Silence. She was pondering that.

I forged on. "You've had time to prepare for his return, and he knows that. He and his friends you can be sure will NOT return to that residence. Too risky. They will move on."

"But that doesn't make you feel much safer yet, does it?" I asked, rhetorically. "You're scared now. But soon --I hope it's soon-- you'll transition from that fear to fury. Anger is the correct emotion, and much more useful, in my opinion.

"This... punk... came to your house uninvited, and attempted to enter your residence by force. Who does he think he is?!? Be angry. Be furious. Because anger makes you strong. And you could use the strength."

We talked for a few more minutes, and I assured her that we would come help her if she called. I hope she finds peace in her house soon.

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At Wednesday, November 25, 2009 10:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for being the peace officer you are. Not only were you there physically, but you took the time to talk the homeowner through the aftermath. That's awesome.


wv: biallam. No, buy a gun.

At Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:05:00 AM, Blogger Captain Tightpants said...

Thanks for what you said - too many of us out there take the report, offer a few comforting words on the non-confrontational party line & move on.

More of us need to teach people it's ok to fight back, ok to take care of your own, and ok to be angry when criminals target them.

Well done sir.

At Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:16:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Good reinforcement for her Matt, thanks for taking the time to do that!

At Wednesday, November 25, 2009 2:13:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

It really messes with a person's mind. My wife came home and walked in on buglars in our house. We eventually had to move. I felt the fury after the moment of concern for her.

Nice job.

At Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:08:00 PM, Blogger JPG said...

Who knows? Perhaps you DID plant the thought that will result in her obtainintg a firearm. I hope that, if she does, she seeks out competent instruction on how to properly use it.

At Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:47:00 PM, Blogger J-Ro said...

Matt, I am a loyal reader that has never felt the need to comment before - but I had to tell you what a great job you did with this lady. You didn't blow her off, or feed her a line of crap, or pander or patronize - you acknowleged her as a person who has been victimized, but with your words, you gave her the means to begin to empower herself - hopefully literally!! - and prevent herself from ever being a victim again.

My dad was a cop and one of the lessons he always shared was that what you say can sometimes have more of an impact than what you do. You did a great job. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

At Thursday, November 26, 2009 12:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done, sir!

At Thursday, November 26, 2009 9:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent story, and excellent handling of the situation.

Hopefully she will use the event to improve herself and her situation, and by sharing this story hopefully others will do the same.

At Sunday, November 29, 2009 7:41:00 AM, Blogger Roy in Nipomo said...

I remember a study (from the '70s?) which stated that the impact of burglary was only slightly less than rape. People feel "violated".

During my 35 yrs of dispatching for a small town in Calif, I saw many instances of victims selling their houses following a burglary; most commonly when there was some type of contact - even if it was just observing the suspect running away and (if the husbands can be believed) almost always at the insistence of the wife.

We were blessed/cursed with "dumb" burglars who never/rarely planned the burg (to make sure no one was home). They mostly looked for external signs that no one was probably home (or burged their "friend's" house). An awful lot were also under 20 yrs old.

At Sunday, November 29, 2009 8:50:00 AM, Blogger EgregiousCharles said...

I want to move to the town that employs Matt.

At Sunday, November 29, 2009 9:44:00 AM, Blogger perlhaqr said...

To continue J-Ro's line of reasoning...

More importantly, you didn't advise her to continue "being a victim". You showed her the door that leads to the path of being in control. Hopefully she'll walk through it. Or kick it down, as the case may be. ;)

That's depressingly rare in the public statements from folks in your line of work. Well, from the hats, anyway. I don't hear much public speech from the line guys.

At Sunday, November 29, 2009 6:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well done sir.

See Ya

At Sunday, November 29, 2009 9:04:00 PM, Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

So you went out of your way to go out of your way.

It is comforting to know that there are LEOs who continue redefine Above and Beyond.

Good on you, sir.



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