Just another day at work


It seems to me that one of the most common gripes folks have about their employment is that every day is just another day of that “same-old, same-old” routine. Sure, there are some jobs where such a boring, humdrum day is just fine – being a lifeguard or a bank guard come to mind. But there are lots of other occupations where standard practices and procedures pretty well define and govern a person’s work day – all that is required is to know and follow “the routine.”

OK, so why bring this up? Well, I recently came across a number of news reports which when put together reveal what I think is an interesting account of a one person’s work day – an individual with a job strictly defined by prescribed rules and formal, approved policies. I’ll refer to this person as “Leo” – which is kinda shorthand for Law Enforcement Officer.

Leo’s work day started with a call to the site of a suicide. Upon arriving at the scene Leo and his colleagues likely followed standard procedures such as isolating the area – that is, getting bystanders and curious onlookers away from the locale.

Then there were the logical processes of identifying and interviewing witnesses, making a tentative assessment of the cause of death, determining the identity of the deceased, and notifying the next of kin. In this case these processes were relatively simple. The deceased had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in front of his wife and children. This was not only a traumatic scene with emotions running high but likely a gruesome one with blood, brain tissue, and bone fragments from the skull littered about – which, along with the body, Leo helped to photograph as part of the standard routine.

Leo’s personal sense of duty, if not his official responsibility, also required his doing what he could to console, calm, and comfort the shocked and grieving widow and family – a difficult if not impossible task. And that was how Leo started this particular day – the first of a series of “routine” events. All in a day’s work.

A bit later in the day Leo was dispatched to where a teenage girl was threatening to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of her parents home. The “routine” in such cases was undoubtedly to attempt to calm her down and convince her that suicide was not the way to resolve her problems. A challenging and emotionally charged task with a human life at stake? Sure, but just part of a day’s work – and in this case the efforts were successful . Yep, the girl was talked out of her threatened suicide and Leo went on about his duties.

When a report of a disturbance at a swimming pool first came over the radio, Leo was reportedly “reluctant to respond to a simple trespassing call given what he had just been through” but duty is duty, right? And so Leo responded to a report of a fight and disturbance. A number of juveniles had reportedly crashed an invitation-only pool party, refused to leave, and begun fighting. By the time Leo arrived the unruly crowd had grown to an estimated 150 people.

Leo’s efforts to gather information were hampered by some teenagers who were instructing others to defy the police while he detained a white female. A video taken by a bystander showed Leo chasing some teenagers and shouting at them to go home.

At one point, Leo approached a bikini-clad black girl and a group of other teenagers and told them to leave. When she hesitated he threw her face down on the ground and when several young men approached him Leo drew his sidearm and told them to back off. Officers chased one man who was arrested on charges of interfering with the duties of a police officer and evading arrest. The girl was detained and later released to her parents. All in a day’s work?

Well, that episode put an end to Leo’s day – and his job. According to his lawyer, “He never intended to mistreat anyone, but was only reacting to a situation and the challenges that it presented, and he apologizes to all who were offended.”

Regardless, facing investigation into possible criminal and civil rights charges, Leo, a 10-year veteran of the police department who was once named Officer of the Year, felt forced to resign. At last report he and his family were in hiding fearful of death threats which depict him as yet another brutal, racist, incompetent, white cop.

Well, there you have it – a brief summary of one day in the life of a law enforcement officer. Sound far-fetched, implausible – a fanciful tale? Not really. To the contrary stories like Leo’s are becoming common. If you don’t believe it, just check the news media and Internet – you’ll see for yourself. At least that’s how it seems to me.

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