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.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

We aren't playing the music just to hear the applause of others.

Domestic disturbance. A teen boy put hands on his mother. I arrived, along with a couple of other cops from our shift, because it was shift change, and I was the swing shift supervisor.

I found the shrugging mother, who was unhurt and refused to give a statement or press charges,  and the almost-unhinged 17 year-old son, who was carrying his stuff downstairs to put into his pickup. The mother told him that he could not take the pickup. He protested profanely that he made the payments of said pickup. I informed him that the pickup, and his possessions, until he was 18, were under her control. I told him to sit down.

He stood stock still for a minute, and then sat down reluctantly at the tall kitchen table.  I sat down, too. I've found over the years that both of us sitting down seems to bring a chance of calmness, even though it destroys any tactical superiority that I might have. Well, there were some other cops there, too. I asked the kid to take a breath. He was shaking. I told him to try to calm down. His jaw was clenched. He was furious. He asked if he could leave.  I told him that he could, but not with the pickup that his mother had decreed was not to leave. He walked out.

I spoke with his mother for a bit. She was at her wit's end. I told her to keep her chin up, and asked a few more questions about the event, which really was pretty much a non-police matter.

I walked out, and found my fellow officers talking to the boy on the sidewalk. He looked a little lost and somewhat petulant. His clothes and boots were in his arms, and we was going to carry them... where?  It was 104 degrees out. One of our officers, who was past her shift's end, offered to give him a ride to his father's house, in the next town over. It was a kind offer, typical of her, but also a savvy way to clear the call. I had 6 hours left in my shift, and asked the boy if he had eaten anything. He had not. I offered to buy him a Coke and a hamburger. He responded, barely in control of himself, that he did not wish to have anything to do with me, at all. It was clear that he was furious at me, which I didn't understand.

One of my officers, who is junior in rank to me, walked me away from it. "You told him to 'calm down,' Matt. You know that doesn't work. You told me that!" He wasn't wrong. The other officer, whom the boy was responding well to, gave the boy a ride home. I tried to figure out how I knew this kid.

Wait. Context!
For some reason, I hadn't focused on his name, and I had never actually been to this house before this. I had only met him once, at the high school, when I had interviewed him. I had worked for a month on his case about 8 months before, when his out-of-town girlfriend had accused him of raping her. I had worked hard on that case, and over weeks of investigation with witnesses and phone reviews and site visits had proved up that he had NOT raped the girl who had made an outcry. If the initial officer's report had been a little stronger, I would have charged his accuser with perjury, in fact. I had obtained an affidavit of non-prosecution from the "victim," and had cleared his name entirely, and labeled the case report "Unfounded."  I just had not associated that boy with this boy-- one and the same.

I was befuddled. Why was this kid focused on me as a thorn in his side? I had busted my butt to save him. The answer, of course, is that for 4 weeks, I had interviewed, and investigated, and collected evidence, and put off his mother's anxious calls for updates... and he thought that I had been gunning for him. In his mind, I had come after him with everything that I had, and missed. I thought back to my interview of the accused, which had taken place in a conference room at the high school. It had been more of an interrogation than an interview, to be honest. But it had given me some leads that I pursued to prove that the accusations against him were groundless.

In the end, do I want to be appreciated by the people that I serve? I think that's pretty natural to want. But honestly, there is NOTHING that I would have done differently about the rape case, because I arrived at the truth. In this case, I would have skipped telling him to "calm down."

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At Saturday, August 04, 2018 6:17:00 PM, Blogger Robert said...

Y'all don't sound at all like the cops that are frequently in the news. Good.

At Monday, August 06, 2018 1:39:00 AM, Blogger Boots said...

Good review of a complex nesting doll problem that seems like it might've been emotionally charged at the time. I imagine that, for rural/regional cops, this must be a similar problem to that faced by rural/regional medicos - a few years into the job, you've got history with an awful lot of the people you regularly encounter.

At Friday, August 17, 2018 7:23:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Doing the right thing doesn't always mean one is appreciated. But good on you for following through on the initial one and clearing the boy, whether he appreciates it or not, you 'may' have literally saved his life.


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