- “Can you get to the PD by 7:00 PM? You’re our chaplain, and we want you to do a prayer with us before we do a raid on the drug house du jour, and then come along for the experience.”
- “Sure, I’m just crossing state lines (still a couple of states away), but I should be able to get home, feed the dogs, put on my ballistic vest, and get up to the PD by 6:55 PM. See you then.”
And that’s how it worked out, to the second. The prayer was about serving those in the community, and about getting back safe and sound with life and limb. This was a first time to participate in a raid. And right near the rectory, and across the street from the town grade school. Here’s just part of the haul, with test kits verifying some substances:
Of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I’m not sayin’ nothin’ ’bout nothin’ no-how, not ever. No. Some were transported down to the jail. Some walked. Some, well, we will see. Everyone gets their day in court.
What I will say is that our PD is doing a great job serving the community. The point isn’t just about the law. This is about serving the community, particularly the grade school kids, keeping them safe, but also about those otherwise involved, giving them also a chance to start anew. Sometimes this is a way that also God permits for people to get tripped while they are running in the wrong direction in life. So, that’s great.
And mind you, these guys in the PD do this as a regular course of affairs, but this is perhaps the most dangerous thing any officer can ever do, breaking down a door and clearing a house while arresting and cuffing. Those inside are immediately filled with adrenaline, making them more unpredictable than ever. And any drugs often mean weapons. Just to say, there were two sets of nunchuks right at hand and a nunchaku guy who knew how to use them to great effect.
What’s the part of a chaplain in all this? To witness the event. To be available to the alleged perps when they’re squared away (yes, that’s very important). To be available for situational awareness in a way that now ultra-distracted officers cannot be. For instance, who, if escaping the house as the raid goes on (there can be way too many to control)… who is jumping through windows and side-doors and through hatches in the floor…), and who is running where, and their descriptions. It’s also to see if anyone comes to the house to disrupt police activity. In this case, one car kept driving by continuously. It’s a thing with me to notice cars and licence plates. Like a hobby. That became important enough for that driver to be stopped and questioned by two of the officers. It’s also to watch over items that walkers-by could grab when contingencies get out of hand, tampering with evidence, or opportunistically stealing what greedy eyes beckon them to steal.
I recall a ride-along the other week in which we did the second most dangerous thing an officer can do, which is to do a “typical” traffic stop. The second we stopped the guy, friends of that guy came from nowhere, walking from across a lawn (in the direction of a drug house), from across a field (in the direction of favorite stash niches), and two more from another drug house, and with also – immediately – two trucks blocking the road by the one drug house, and another truck blocking the road on the other side near another drug house. That’s a bit weird. No violence ensued, but that was also perhaps because a second person was with the officer, chaplain or no chaplain.
These days, everyone thinks they are entitled to interfere with police activity, ganging up on the police. This is extremely unsafe for all involved. Contingencies were getting out of hand. I was happy to have the back of the officer, who, I’m also very happy to say, is simply the best at deescalation that I’ve ever come across. All was well.
The day started with the alarm going off at 1:00 AM. Then Mass was offered in the rectory chapel, this time in French. I was tuckered out by the time the Tail of the Dragon and the exorcism and the warrant serving was all done at about 9:30 PM. I have to confess I did not go along to the jail for the delivery of those in cuffs. It probably would have been 1:00 AM again before hitting the hay. So, having been absolved from that, I went back to the rectory and crashed, totally.
All on the “Day Off.” I’m thinking we priests shouldn’t be criticized so much for taking a “Day Off.” I love a “Day Off.”
That’s me. But the experience was slightly different for one of the officers, who was injured, not seriously, but perhaps really seriously, cutting himself with “sharps” that were used by one of those inside. He must have hit a small vein or artery as the blood was flowing quite freely. That sharps were involved could be really serious. That’s something also faced by officers day-in, day-out, as with nurses in hospitals, EMTs, et al.
I must say that I was quite taken by their concern for each other with the various first aid kits flying open, and at the same time how they took this in stride. They are well aware of the sacrifice they might have to make at any time. That says a lot. Truly.