Service and Sacrifice

san berdoo

I am going to take a bit of a departure from the normal route of posting for which this blog is intended, as it relates to our gym and the strength & conditioning world in general. Instead, the recent events going on in Southern California have my attention and caused me to think about what many people take for granted as offered by those behind a badge on home soil, or our flag on foreign soils – Service and sacrifice.

I’ve been in the law enforcement profession for a long time now, moreso than many people think, and it’s given me plenty of good and bad experiences over the years to reflect upon. I’ve had great assignments in K9 and SED (SWAT) in a large metropolitan agency that have provided me with incredible highs and lows. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but I am very away that every call and crime scene ever journeyed to is a memento left in the minds of myself and the others out there who have sworn to protect complete strangers in order to ensure freedom, order and safety. Think about that for a second. We’ve borne scars for strangers.  If you are not a cop, soldier or fireman, think about that real friggin’ hard for a moment.

Would you really want to see what I’ve seen? Would you really want to do what I’ve done? Would you really want to make the decisions I’ve made? Would you? How would YOU personally feel about the horrible things encountered and dealt with on a regular basis? Those things I and others can’t ever shake from their heads, no matter what they try. Things we’ve seen, done and been a part of all for the personal honor of serving and sacrificing for complete strangers. Wrap your head around that. For complete strangers. People we will never truly meet and probably never see again. Some who truly don’t care about what we’ve done.

We put ourselves out there as a shield so that strangers who call for help don’t have to witness and deal with the monsters in the dark corners of human nature and human psyche. We put ourselves out there to risk our lives for complete strangers, whether they are victims or not. The mere fact that a person poses a threat to innocent strangers amongst us is enough for us to place our lives ahead of others to ensure violence, or the threat thereof, is stopped. How do YOU feel about that?

Would you want to run into a burning building to save people and risk being burned to death? Would you want to place yourself in the midst of a domestic violence call where you don’t know anyone and their mindset but you only know that one party is threatening to kill the other with a knife? How about working on a SWAT team where you are silently staged for a hostage rescue in a room just feet from the armed bad guys and the likelihood of being shot in the process is as high as it will ever get in your life? How about being a SWAT cop in the mountains tracking down a madman who’s got the advantage over you, and neutralizing that threat before other cops you don’t even know are killed, or an innocent person is killed in the rampage? That’s an interesting and incredibly foreign concept to most people. Put yourself in those shoes for a moment.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are aware that over the past few days a former cop has gone off the deep end and decided to carry out a personal vendetta against former police officers whom he felt wronged him and  all those who work for the agency. I am not here to debate those issues, all I know is Chris Dorner decided it would be a great idea to kill some random people with connections to those whom he felt wronged him at LAPD, and then take his show of senseless violence on the road. In the process, more completely uninvolved peace officers were killed and injured and innocent people and kids were scared out of their wits. People prayed for a resolution and hoped they would be saved from Dorner by Law Enforcement personnel who were going to “make it all better”. Those Law Enforcement personnel are and most likely will always be, complete strangers to the general public who were shielded by the body armor and intel of the LEO community.

So what about the resolution and final outcome?

The Law Enforcement community ended up winning the war, but over the course of battle, casualties were amassed.  I could give a flying fuck about Chris Dorner, he got what he had coming to him and I hope it was a slow painful death after all the hell and sorrow he’s run countless families through. I am thinking about the good guys.

Perhaps it’s my overly analytical mind and an occasional sense of empathy and compassion (yes, I have one), but what gets me in these situations is how a fellow Law Enforcement Officer(s) was killed or injured in the line of duty all for upholding his oath of service and sacrifice for the betterment of complete strangers around him and most people just forget about that officer and don’t think twice about the incident. Lives will forever be changed for those families in ways you can’t imagine unless it’s you or called to your attention, as is my effort here. All those sacrifices are made to make sure “people sleep peaceably in their beds only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”, in order to ensure safety and security.

I can most likely assure you the officers tragically taken from us in this event, and in the closure of this incident in the mountains, knew the risks that had been laid out to them the day they were sworn in, all came to a head today. They knew the stakes in the game, and yet, for your safety, they carried on in their jobs. They knew full well what could happen and the incredible, lifelong effect it could have on their families, children, partners, and loved ones. Yet, they carried on. I am sure there was a sense of fear (anyone whose ever said they weren’t scared when it was life or death, is a liar), but the thought of “service and sacrifice” was the overriding concept and those deputies carried on. Fear didn’t paralyze them, they worked through it and used it as a tool to their advantage and as a means to an end. In the end, the battle was lost and the war was won. My head hurts at the cost that was paid and the toll it will have. If yours doesn’t, you’re still standing on the outside looking in.

I took that oath and I know full well the risks associated with my profession and assignment. I don’t have a death wish, but I don’t fear the fact I am playing cards with the Reaper. It’s what I do and I am okay with that. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see my kids grow up, love my wife for the eternity I promised, and laugh with my friends as I grow old, but I know more days will come when I need to use my fear to keep me sharp and remember the reason why I do what I do with my brothers in the stack, all so we can protect the lives of people we will never know. We just know they need us, and we are there to make sure safety and security is found, by whatever means necessary. It’s what those deputies felt and did today on that mountain top to ensure everyone else could go on with their lives.

Goddamn, that concept of action is noble and beautiful, despite the tragedy that surrounds it.

The end story to this is simple. Don’t take those who protect you for granted. Not for a second. I don’t care if you don’t like cops or think they are assholes with a bad attitude and an axe to grind, which might stem from the experiences they’ve had. Hell, there are plenty cops I don’t like, but still I give them their respect. I know firsthand that most people can’t solve their own issues or act like adults, and no matter how much they bad mouth Law Enforcement, they still are going to call 911. Some people might want to think twice about calling to complain about a speeding patrol car and instead think about the fact that car might just be enroute to a call. I can assure you if your wife was home alone and screaming at the dispatcher that someone was trying to kick in the front door, you’d want them to drive faster! A few moments later some cops are going to show up and put their lives on the line for someone they don’t know because that’s what they do.

If you want to pay a bit of personal respect to those who were killed in the line of duty this past week, I recommend the following.

Remove yourself from the safe world in your head and put yourself in the shoes of someone behind the badge. Just imagine what goes on, the life & death decisions made on the fly, the things seen and the fear that can be felt in a strange house or in the darkest of nights. Then think about doing it for someone you don’t know, over and over again. Then put yourself in the shoes of their loved ones as a black sedan pulls into the driveway at 2 AM and a chief or sheriff comes to bring bad news to your doorstep – “I am so sorry, but I regret to inform you….”.

When you are done with your exercise in mental service and sacrifice, don’t forget to look at a flag and silently thank those who protect on your behalf. When you see a cop grabbing a moment of sanity and relaxation at a Starbucks or restaurant, go out of your way and tell them thanks and “stay safe”. You have no idea what that means to us.

Keep in mind all those out there on the front lines, at home and abroad, and make people like Chris Dorner and momentary blip in your mind’s eye, never allowing scum like him to taste the infamy they tried to assume over those who truly deserve to be remembered.

When it’s all over, you will have paid the ultimate respect to those who were brave enough to go in harms way for you, today and in the future. That is all we can ask for and it is everything we can thank you for.

Rest in Peace and Godspeed, brothers.

~ Ian Carver