Friday, November 27, 2015

It’s time to call it like it is

Baytown Citizens Police Academy Graduates Fall 2015

I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet the last two and a half months as I attended almost ten weeks of the Baytown Citizen’s Police Academy. One reason for this is my friend Natalie Whatley covered it a few years back. Another reason is I wanted to experience the entire class before I wrote about it.

I am by nature a bit rebellious and a loner when it comes to joining or endorsing anything. I am a classic skeptic and make no apologies about what I have observed. Back a number of years ago when I headed up Baytown Concerned Citizens, I was criticized for writing in my column that we needed to continuously watch our police department and hold them accountable. My opinion hasn’t changed in that regard.

The police department is ran in a very military manner and I am not only a Veteran, but also a student of military history. Much of what I learned in this citizen’s police academy, I already knew because I read a lot and have studied martial arts and awareness for many years. I don’t get my information from watching the Lethal Weapon series or CSI in its many spin-offs. I have friends in the police department and as I’ve stated before, obey the law.

We were instructed by the people who do the dirty work and although I think the job would jade most people; these men and women were very professional and appeared to enjoy what they do. I’ve often believed that if I was a cop and rubbed shoulders with the seediest element of society, it would turn me to the dark side. I’m sure in some cases it does, but I observed none of that.

A lot of information was taught and as I’ve stated, I found it to be elementary, but did learn a lot of details anyway. Each week an expert in their particular discipline would go into great detail about what it is they do to fight crime and each week I was impressed with the high level of training each officer portrayed.

The class is facilitated by Stewart Beasley and taught in a relaxed manner that the average citizen can easily understand. We learned about the Swat Team, forensics, gangs, use of force, traffic stops, investigations, live fire, and bombs. We also learned that the City of Baytown is one of the most sought after places for law enforcement officers to train. Our facility on any given day has people from all over the country learning how to do it the legal way.

I am not one to be easily drawn into something just because I have been exposed to it. I am already on the Board of the Texas Geocaching association and Keep Baytown Beautiful, so I refrained from becoming active in the Citizen’s on patrol or the Alumni Association, but easily could have endorsed both as worthy endeavors.

Here is my summary on the entire experience. We are being sold a bill of goods to discredit the police department through constant negative news stories. I don’t understand who is behind it, but to put it in words Harry Truman would use, it is bull crap if the Baytown Police are an example. Lawyers and anti-police advocacy groups have made it where almost everything the police department can do to stop crime works against the officer. The professional criminal holds not only the advantage, but practically all the protection they need to get out of nearly everything.

We watched a demonstration where one officer had his gun drawn and pointed and the bad guy had to raise his gun to shoot. Every single time they fired at the same instant. Almost any approach an officer takes can be turned against him, regardless of how cautious they are. In a high percentage of cases, the officer only draws their sidearm when there is an obvious threat.

The Internet, Facebook, and Youtube show small clips of video which at first appear to be police brutality, when the reality in most cases is just the opposite. The cop is like a referee with his nose in the action and sees things we can’t, but everyone is second guessing them these days ready to scream excessive force.

The bottom line is I think I would make a good police officer, but under these circumstances would I want to be one? Heck no! Everything is working against them on all external levels. It doesn’t matter how much they train, the current aggressive mentality of discrediting the police rips apart the fabric of this honorable vocation.

I have lived in Baytown over 40 years and have yet to be jerked out of my automobile and kicked, tased, beaten, or cursed at by an out of control cop. I think the reason for that is I haven’t given them reason to do any of those things. Another reason may also be that as a rule, they simply don’t treat people they arrest or pull over in such a manner. 

I also understand that if the cops chase you to Cut and Shoot and back and you throw yourself out of your car and run, they are most likely going to hurt you when they finally catch you. It serves you right in my book. If you act up with cops, why would you be surprised when they get right back in your face?


Jim McDonnel said...

Good one Amigo.

I agree that if you just be polite and follow directions, police will respect that. For some reason, and I am pretty sure many have a good idea, racial tensions and situations that are happening today have been a big step backwards. I just don't understand why folks cannot see what is right in front of their noses. You, me and a LARGE percentage of people have no problems in this regard and never will.

Very proud of you and your involvement in the community. A man's life is judged by the effect he has on the lives of are making a difference.

Anonymous said...

Rick Mauk: I am sure I would not have posted that. sounds like you are going rouge. I am sure you have attracted some attention. If I didnt know you, and had read that, I wouldnt let my kids go to school or the movies.

Anonymous said...

Kurtiss Elder: Good read, thanks for a positive take on our local LEO's. Too many believe the broad strokes of the media cover all officers. They are, by and large, good people doing a tough job.

Anonymous said...

Ren Fitts: As you know as a vet Bert, many who have did nothing for their country or community are first to Bitch about those who put their lifes on the line for others in Our Military, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighters & EMT's.... Like it was once said Don't Do The Crime If You Can't Do The TIME..... I have relatives in Law Enforcement , and after I got out of military I was accepted to Houston Police after applying but instead I worked construction at that time and like you Bert not sure if I would be able to have control if someone hurt a kid, lady or elders after what I seen in military.... Nuff said... As a Vet I will help police anytime any place .... good article Bert , I may apply for this training class... smile emoticon

Anonymous said...

David Alford: Good article Bert, we appreciate it. :-) Happy Thanksgiving brother.

Anonymous said...

Mimsy: Very good son.

Anonymous said...

Kirk Ritch: Bert you're awesome. Keep up the good work we all need true talk.

Anonymous said...

Mark Ritter: Did they teach any Verbal Defense & Influence aka Verbal Judo? Departments that use it have less complaints.

Your comment about deserving to be hurt is incorrect. Cops are doing a hard and almost thanklessness job, but that's what it is. A job. Payback has no excuse. The general order is to use no greater force than is necessary to gain compliance and yes sometimes folks will get injured, but if the intent goes beyond the general order then the officer is wrong.

I have worked and trained with every branch of law enforcement in North America through VDI and I have several friends who are LEOs. They are people. Some are really good, most are average which is still good, and there bad apples in every barrel. I know what I'm looking at when I see the videos getting posted on the Internet. I can spot spin and won't hesitate to call a spade a spade if I see excessive force.

Like you, it's a job I wouldn't want to do but much respect to those that do and do it well.

. . . . . said...

Mark, let me clarify my last statement. If you run like h3ll don't be surprised if the cops don't ask you politely to lay on the ground when they finally catch you. Yes, it was stressed time and time again that keeping a cool head and talking is the best solution.

Anonymous said...

Asst Chief David W. Alford: BPD makes Verbal Judo and many other classes mandatory.

Anonymous said...

Dandy Don Cunningham‎:

Your column in The Baytown Sun this morning was very good, Bert. The media just loves to get on a particular group, assuming that what a few are guilty of includes all of them. We all know that horrible incidents do happen, but who are we to stand in judgment of someone based upon a 3 minute video. We have no idea of the circumstances which led up to the incident. I cannot imagine what the police officers endure in their jobs every day, the things that they witness, the things that people say and do that they must swallow because of the regulations placed upon them in their line of duty. i'm not making excuses for them because I know that, just like any profession, there are people who should not be in their line of work. I know that you have seen that in your profession, as well. Thank you for your columns today and every Friday. I pray that you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Well said, my friend! We truly have some of the finest trainers and training right here in Baytown. The classes are very informative and a great way for average citizens -- constantly barraged by anti-law-enforcement sentiment -- to see and hear for themselves what's behind the badges. People can draw their own conclusions when they are fully informed, and having been a part of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Assoc. I met many who reached the same conclusions you and many others have: law enforcement is a tough job and one most of us wouldn't want to do. The "rules of engagement" if you will, are highly skewed to the criminal element and it takes a certain personality coupled with specific training to walk that tightrope. I couldn't be more proud of the men and women among the BPD ranks and how they walk that rope each day. Keep up the great columns, Bert!

Anonymous said...

kester coleman:

Bert. right or wrong,it's best to give cops your utmost respect. they carry a gun(s) and license to KILL

Anonymous said...

SB: I read your article in the paper. Thank you for the kind words. I enjoyed having you in the class and although I know you stay busy would love to have you return for some of the classes you have not seen yet.

Thanks again for the nice report.

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