Police officers have a shitty job.
Day in and day out, they deal almost exclusively with people having a really bad day – many of whom are carrying weapons and are highly motivated to avoid capture.
They respond to toxic and combustible domestic calls. They’re called to gruesome crime scenes. They’re the first to arrive at horrific crashes. They break tragic news to family members. They’re sometimes forced to work alongside cops who are truly terrible at their jobs, if not outright psychopaths.
Most police officers make it through the day underpaid and underappreciated, just like we all do. But some truly do go beyond what’s required of them, and we want to recognize these competent, humane officers for a job well done.
Trooper Jeff Jones, of the Utah Highway Patrol, helped an elderly woman visit her ailing son after stopping her for a traffic violation. The 87-year-old woman accidentally backed into the trooper’s patrol car during the stop, and Jones determined she couldn’t safely complete the 180-mile drive. So he arranged to shuttle the woman to Salt Lake City with the help of three other troopers. “I just decided she needed help and we do help shuttle people once in a while — so why not her?” Jones said.
Officers A.D. McElroy, Justin Jenkins, Toma Sparks, and Robert McCurry pooled their money to provide a hotel stay and groceries to a homeless Tennessee family turned away from a Salvation Army shelter. The family had been sleeping in their car outside Walmart but sought help when temperatures plunged below 20 degrees, only to find the shelter would not admit their 15-year-old son as a possible safety risk. The four Johnson City police officers chipped in their own money and solicited donations from 911 dispatchers to help the family rent a hotel room, but managers at the Johnson Inn provided free shelter to them after learning of the officers’ assistance. So the cops bought the family dinner and groceries and gave them the leftover cash.
Sgt. Sean Gordon and Lt. Stacey Geik managed to keep their cool and helped defuse a potentially violent encounter with an apparently intoxicated man carrying a rifle and threatening revolution. Video shows 63-year-old Joseph Houseman grabbing his genitals, screaming obscenities at police, claiming a First Amendment right to threaten their families, and providing an obviously false name – Joe Schmoe – during the encounter. But the officers kept talking calmly to Houseman, who eventually apologized and agreed to hand over his rifle to police if he could pick it up the following day. No one was injured, and Houseman wasn’t even charged. Michigan law allows for the open carry of firearms, but Geik said Houseman made a poor example of safe gun ownership. “They might as well put up a billboard right now that says the Second Amendment is junk because of people like this,” the officer said.
Police and sheriff’s deputies arrested — but did not shoot – two apparently intoxicated white men who opened fire inside an Idaho Walmart with BB guns they unboxed and removed from store shelves. This stands in stark contrast to the sloppy police work that resulted in the fatal shooting of a black man holding a BB gun he found unboxed at an Ohio Walmart. Those officers were not charged, although surveillance video shows them open fire almost immediately upon spotting 22-year-old John Crawford holding the toy weapon while talking on his cell phone. Officers in Idaho found the pair had already left the store by the time they arrived, so they set up a perimeter and managed to take the men into custody without further incident. Similarly, police in Louisiana used “minimum force” to arrest a self-described “sovereign citizen” who allegedly threatened city officials in a water bill dispute. Officers said Brandon Gibbs, who is white, was wearing body armor and armed with a knife and pepper spray when officers served an arrest warrant, but police talked to him until he could be subdued. That’s good police work.
Deputy Chris Behnam helped brighten Christmas for a Florida woman who was ripped off when she bought a disabled iPhone off Craigslist. The Jacksonville sheriff’s deputy investigated the case but determined no laws had been broken, so he offered to buy the nonworking phone from her and have it repaired. Behnam’s supervisors wouldn’t allow the deputy to purchase the phone, however, but he returned to the family with $100 cash, some toys, coffee, and books. “(This is) a man who puts his life on the line everyday for us, who isn’t jaded or difficult,” said Autumn Beardsley, a single mother of two autistic sons. “Perhaps we need more stories of when the police get it right, like Chris Behnam did.”