Everyone one is all abuzz about the possibility of snow, sleet and ice hitting us here in the Upstate of South Carolina tomorrow. Since I moved here from Chicago I always get a kick out of how everyone down here reacts to these so called ‘winter storms’. They buy out all the bread and milk, never did know what you would do with that much bread and milk for a one day storm. Here at Furman University all the student want a snow day so they can play and hurt themselves sliding around in it.
I have been watching the events of Ferguson, MO for over a week now. I have also been listening to and reading the comments from people about all of these events. First and foremost, it is tragic that an unarmed young man was shot and killed and my prayers go out to his family. Was it right or was it wrong? I have an opinion but it is based on what I read and see on the television and the internet which, as we all know, is not always the best source of the facts.
Do the people of Ferguson, MO have a right to protest? Simple answer is YES! Do these people have the right to loot, destroy property or assault the police or others? NO! Peaceful protests are a fine line between civility and chaos. The police have a job to protect life and property as well as allow the ‘peaceful’ protests. My feeling is that 98% of these protesters are and have been there with peaceful intentions. Emotions are very high and that makes it very difficult. It’s the other 2% that concerns me. These are ‘outsiders’ and others that are just there to cause problems, to cause injury and to destroy property for no other reason then to be ‘thugs’. These are the people who are causing the aggressive decisions that law enforcement must use when these thugs show up and show out. They hide within the peaceful protesters making it difficult for police to see and then strike out causing police to react to the protesters as a whole. As a police officer myself my heart goes out to every law enforcement officer involved in Ferguson, MO. They are there to protect these people yet they are getting criticized for walking this fine line of chaos while trying to protect themselves from the cowards that hide in the midst of the protesters, their goal, to cause damage and harm.
There is a problem in Ferguson, MO without a doubt, and sadly, it took this tragic incident to set it in motion. The Ferguson Police Department was overwhelmed, and sadly, out of their league from the start. The Chief of Police was not prepared for what was getting ready to happen after the shooting occurred. I could see it from his first press conference. He was nervous, not comfortable in front of the press and basically not ready for the questions he was asked. The arrival of the Missouri Highway Patrol was the best move, although late. Captain Johnson shows great professionalism and confidence from the very moment he arrived and took over the security of the city. He still must deal with the outsiders that are making the protests, especially after dark, a challenge for the officers working this incident.
The police have been accused of being heavy-handed by using tear gas, armored vehicles and other protective gear. Admittedly, it is reminiscent of the protests and riots of the 60’s. The police have a right to protect themselves as well. They have been shot at, had Molotov cocktails and objects thrown at them. The 2% in the crowd of protesters are the ones attempting to draw out the aggressiveness of the law enforcement officers trying to protect the other 98%. The armored vehicles that people are claiming make the police look to militarized are necessary to protect the police that are attempting to protect the people of Ferguson, MO. Now the Missouri National Guard is being deployed to the area, the real military with real military equipment, all because a few ‘bad actors’ that 2% wanted to turn this into a dangerous situation instead of a peaceful protest.
What is the solution out of this mess? Communication and negotiation is key. People have to let the justice system work, let the investigation be completed. None of this will happen overnight. Patience on the part of the people of Ferguson, MO is paramount. As for the other issues that have been brought forward due to this incident those have to be handled through talking with city and state officials and not violence. Until peace is returned to Ferguson, MO nothing else will be fixed. The citizens of Ferguson, MO and the country deserve answers and justice but the violence must stop before that can happen.
I have had several friends ask me about my participation in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Why do I do it? What’s in it for me? To me I thought the answers to those questions were obvious. It all started just after the events of 9/11. I was sitting at home, then in Chicago, trying to figure out what I could do to help. As a former United States Marine I was furious and felt helpless. I considered the possibility of trying to go back to active duty but that was not realistic at that point in my life. I started to look at organizations on-line such as the Red Cross but they did not meet my needs. I then stumbled on to the Coast Guard Auxiliary. I ended up going to a meeting of one of the local Flotilla’s in Chicago. I found out that they perform duties more than just boating safety classes.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed, all-volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard. The Auxiliary was created by an Act of Congress in 1939, and has grown to over 32,000 members who daily support the Coast Guard in all its non-military, and non-law-enforcement missions. We have members and units in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.
Auxiliary members conduct safety patrols on local waterways and assist in Search and Rescue with boats and aircraft, teach boating safety classes, conduct free vessel safety checks for the public, provide boating safety literature to dealers, as well as many other activities related to recreational boating safety.
Many of the members were former military. It felt like the right place to be to help my community and my country. Even though it is a civilian arm of the Coast Guard it has the same military structure and pride of belonging. I found a sense of belonging from the beginning so I decided this was what I needed to do. I am now with Flotilla 25, located on Lake Hartwell, SC and GA. I am currently the Flotilla Staff Officer for Public Affairs (FSO-PA) and a Admissions Partner for the United States Coast Guard Academy.
The bottom line is that I think we all have a calling in our lives and mine is to serve my community and country in anyway that I can which is why I choose to be a Police Officer and a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
As we celebrate the 4th of July of 2014 I wanted to wish everyone a safe and sane holiday weekend. I also wanted to remind everyone out there that while you are celebrating the birthday of our great country please remember the men and women that are working to maintain your comfort and safety both here and abroad. It is sometimes to easy to forget those that are working 24/7 to allow us to have these fun celebrations. Take the time to thank a veteran for their service, a firefighter, a police officer, and EMT or any of our active duty and reserve military that are always on call. Our country is full of people who work and volunteer to keep us safe everyday. We are a nation of people who, despite our differences, have always come together in times of need to help one another. Politics and religion aside, thank a stranger for their contribution to this country no matter what their job, their political view, their religious belief , their color or sexual preference because we ALL make up this great country of ours one person at a time. Happy 4th of July!
This past weekend was the Memorial Day Holiday weekend. I had the pleasure of working through the weekend. I say pleasure because I worked the Gallabrae Highland Games that were held at Furman University on May 24, 2014. The games were a celebration of the Scottish heritage as well as a celebration of Memorial Day. The opening ceremonies for the games were a colorful parade of all the military service color guards, the parade of the Tartans and include a detachment of the Royal Highland Fusiliers. There were veterans from every military branch in attendance. I was able to meet some real ‘Hero’s’ during this event. It made me remember what this Memorial Day holiday was all about. to remember those that served and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Winter Storm Pax has come and gone through South Carolina and I survived! I will admit that I am guilty of making fun of how people down here react to these ‘storms’ and tend to make light of their reactions. Most of the state shut down on Wednesday and Thursday with some places even staying shut down through Friday. There was more ice in the Midlands than here in the Upstate so I understand the safety aspect of shutting down schools and such. The South Carolina Highway Patrol still handled more than 1700 traffic accidents in the three-day period during the State of Emergency from Wednesday, February 12th through Friday, February 14th at 12:00 PM.
A comment was made to earlier this year, “don’t you think you are a little old to still be a cop”. I let it roll by me but I did think about the words over the past few months. A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to go through Active Shooter Training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at North Charleston, South Carolina. The training was very intense and very physical and I was the oldest in the class. Each night I could feel the muscle aches but each morning I was ready to start the training again. Admittedly, I am not in the same shape as I was while serving in the United States Marine Corps but I am still willing and able to complete training that keeps me at the top of my profession, a Law Enforcement Officer. I have always had this internal need to serve people, to defend my country and to give back for what I have received in my life. As long as I can continue to do this I will work each day. The training is my gauge, the way to look at what I am still able to do safely, for myself and others. I am always up for the challenge that faces me each day and I am always aware of my limits.
- Philadelphia Police Practice Getting Help To Victims Of Active Shooter (osintanalyst.com)
- Training Day: Law enforcement uses now-closed Nims Elementary School for active shooter training (mlive.com)
- ACADEMI Conducts Active Shooter Response Table Top Exercise for Law Enforcement Agencies (prweb.com)
- Active Shooter Response Protocol Key To Ending Arapahoe High Shooting (denver.cbslocal.com)