A salty policeman struggles to lift his hand
to the hand of a stranger.
Community meetings force him
from the comfort of a cruiser.
He walks along an uneven path
through downtown streets
leaving muddy boot prints,
each one crushing his aspirations.
Stress is part of the deal, but where trust once existed,
media has stripped completely away.
The pride once gained by risking our lives for strangers,
is gone. “Stranger” never meant what it does today,
like it did back in the day.
Back when “neighborhood” meant something.
Back when you didn’t ask police to raise your kid,
or scare them straight because they embarrassed you in public.
Back when civil disputes were handled by adults,
when simple things wouldn’t tear at the very foundation
of our society.
Yes, we’re wired for scary things.
Yes, we hunt active shooters
and run toward the gunfire… the evil you pretend
does not exist, that which looms in the back of your mind daily.
Why I risk everything for people who want me dead
is my own mystery. One for me to work out on my own.
My sisters and brothers will continue to protect the innocent,
enforce antiquated laws, and do what we can to crush
So we’re far from simple nuts and bolts,
robotic if you will. Strip away the badge and the gun.
Beneath the pain and suffering is a man or woman,
same as you. Nothing too fancy.
Beneath a ballistic vest and forty-pounds of accoutrements
we want the same thing, and we’re prepared to make
the ultimate sacrifice to obtain or provide it.
-C.L.Swinney (c) 2017
I’m happy to announce the first phase of this project launch. Essentially, I’m going to be selling decals, shirts, hats, and other items in the next few months that are cop-related. Proceeds will be donated to the families of fallen officers. Please check this out.
Watch your six decal with thin blue line. Size 2.75″ X 6″ Cost $5.00
*Always remember to watch your six. Watch your partner’s six. Watch your family’s six. This is the decal to remind you every day to be vigilant and make it home each shift. NEVER LET YOURSELF BECOME COMPLACENT.
“Not Today” broom decal. Size 3″ X 7″ Cost $5.00
“Not Today.” This is for sheepdog to remind them that they need to believe that they will not die today. We SWEEP the streets of evil, law breakers, criminals, and of the stuff no one else wants to deal with. In the process, we risk our lives for complete strangers. Rest assured, there will be no ambush, not today, not any day. NEVER LET YOURSELF BECOME COMPLACENT.
Roman Numeral Six decal. Size 5″ X 5.5″ Cost $5.00
Always remember to watch your six. Watch your partner’s six. Watch your family’s six. Do not become complacent. Recall that Gladiators did not give up until their death. We must do the same when we gear up for duty as well as off duty. NEVER LET YOURSELF BECOME COMPLACENT.
Shirts and hats to follow.
The suspect, after robbing a bank and holding an elderly female hostage, sprang to my left almost daring me to chase. I could hear the sirens of my partners coming quickly but a voice inside told me to pursue. We leaped over fences like Gazelle and I caught up with him with ease. We began to wrestle on the ground, it’s then that I realized he was a mountain of a man. He clearly had MMA training, as did I, and we took turns trying to pass each other’s guard- looking for an opportunity to end this. He made a move for my sidearm and that’s when the bell in my head said, “Do something now!” When it was over, I pulled myself up from the ground and instantly felt shooting pain in my back, shoulder, and arm. Uh oh.
Okay, okay. It didn’t quite go that way…
I’d like to say I was doing something great when I injured myself at work, but alas, I was not- in fact, it was as ordinary of a Thursday as one might imagine. The Ford Taurus (at least the law enforcement version) is notoriously narrow in the driver’s seat. For a fella like myself with many tools on my belt and perhaps a few extra pounds, it’s EXTREMELY narrow. In fact, most guys I know have to twist and contort their body to get out without hanging up on the steering wheel with their gun or radio or some other piece of equipment. And that is what I did. I contorted and twisted and got out of the car near the end of my twelve hour shift and grimaced after something popped in the upper right part of my back. Fearing the fellas would “clown” me, I continued my shift and went home to pop Motrin and chase it with Makers.
Later that evening, I woke up with tremendous pain, but not just in my back, but my shoulder and elbow felt like a jackhammer was repeatedly hitting my bones and muscle. Oddly, my index finger and thumb on my right hand were also tingly and numb. Like most men, I called myself plenty of unspeakable names and sloughed off to the couch “to sleep it off.” I had hoped whatever it was would go away soon as my mom was coming to town for a visit.
I managed to make it to Saturday morning. The pain made my eyes water and took my breath away at times. I went to urgent care, and although I know the doctor meant well, he managed to make the pain almost unbearable. He shewed me out of his office and like the pill junkies I used to chase, I drove as fast as possible to Walgreens to “get my fix.” Unfortunately, the pharmacist reminded me I couldn’t drive if I took two of the medications. I drove a bit too fast and rather rudely home, ripped open the pill bottles, and took them hoping for a miracle. NOTHING HAPPENED.
Fast forward through six weeks, three doctor visits, three physical therapy sessions, two changes in medications, a pending acupuncture session, and STILL, the same pain in the same spots (and no x-ray or MRI). The only change being that instead of sleeping like a posed murder scene on the couch each night, after four weeks, I finally managed to sleep one night in my own bed. I’ve been going through Kaiser because the injury is work-related and being handled through workman’s comp. I originally bad-mouthed some of the staff to my wife, but honestly, it was the pain, lack of sleep, and my own lack of understanding my injury that was talking. Overall, the people there seem knowledgeable and friendly.
However, the pitfalls of workman’s comp is that THERE IS NO ONE TO TELL YOU WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE. Sure you can ask around and put bits and pieces of the puzzle together, but that’s not enough.
I’ve worked most of my life, beginning in high school. I’m known for being a hard worker and helping others- it’s what I do. So sitting at home has taught me a valuable life lesson: You must be about you, and not about your job. Your job cannot define you completely. You must realize that family and friends, coupled with other interests, must remain your focal point, not the job. I’m not saying my job isn’t important and I’m not saying you shouldn’t do your very best every single shift. But, if I don’t ever go back, no one will miss me. The machine will continue to run…and prosper. My employer will actually save money if I’m forced to medically retire. I’ve left no legacy at the office. I’ve built a strong and admirable reputation sure, but some kid coming up through the ranks will meet and eclipse what I’ve already done in a shorter amount of time- making most of what I’ve done obsolete. And, THAT’S OK.
I’m making dinner, even recipes off Pinterest (don’t judge), more these days. I’m reading more, helping more around the house, helping more with the kids, and I actually feel better. Having said that, there’s been moments where I’ve walked the block looking for mischief and my eyes have burned from watching too many shows on television (many of which I had no idea would EVER be on television. I’ve even cracked a few brewskies, helped my buddy with his startup company, and sketched out the outlines of a few more books. This has been an eye-opening event, one that I started out wishing like hell never happened. But now, I’m enjoying the change and looking forward to the future with an open mind.
Crushing Tin chap book Release! http://ow.ly/O29GT June 22, 2015. How many cops do you know writing poetry?? This is blue collar poetry and prose and I guarantee it will shock you. You may even get emotional from the words…
This chap book made #1 on amazon for inspirational poetry. To celebrate, I’m gifting ten paperback copies. I’ll sign all of them. Here’s how to get involved:
Check me out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grayghostotp
Share the Facebook link for one entry, purchase a copy and post a review on Amazon for two more entries (for a total of three entries).
BOOM. MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Justice Shall Be Served, an anthology.
You ever get tired of seeing things going so bad that you make a stand? I did. And I’m happy I did. You guys know I’m a Deputy Sheriff and I am proud of my profession. Hoping to shed some positive light on law enforcement, corrections, and our military, I developed a plan to collect/write short stories in these professions and put them together in an anthology. The proceeds will be used to help the families of fallen officers and military members.
The political and public image of what law enforcement and our military is and does in the United States is under continual scrutiny. It will likely always be this way. Certain recent events such as what occurred in New York, Ferguson, Florida, and Arizona, have ignited passionate and heated discussions, violent protesting, and in some cases, rioting and the loss of life. When the President of the United States forms a committee to provide insight as to what needs to be changed within law enforcement, everyone, including cops, should to take notice.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the people who distrust the police, are irritated by police, and sadly, hunt and kill police, have no idea what the job entails. We can’t afford to hand out badges and a gun, pat you on the back, and send you on your way…those things are earned, just as respect should be.
In this collection of short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, the reader will read first-hand accounts of what we do and why we do it. The stories are candid and are meant to promote thought. Just as I have no idea what it takes to be a school teacher, trucker, or computer programmer, most of you reading this currently have no idea what it means to work in law enforcement. That’s to be expected. However, keep an open mind and read the stories. They provide a glimpse into the profession you might not ever thought possible. Change is certainly needed, but not just by law enforcement, but from all of us.
You should know we love our profession and the people we serve. The majority of men and women serving our communities are caring and strive to do right each and every shift and deployment. We care about life and swear to protect and serve our communities.
Bold writing requires bold readers. This body of work will not be easy to read at times, but, should you have the courage to forge on, allow the words to be digested, you may find an inner peace. After all, we bleed red just like you.