Friday, May 11, 2007

I was ready to quit my job

19 hours ago, I left work, ready to never go back. I've been there two and a half years, and I'm still hearing new and different things on the other end of the phone! The shift started out tame enough, because after all, it was a Wednesday night, and not even a full moon. A couple noise complaints, beer thefts from convenience stores - the usual. It was all routine at least until about 4:30 or so when I heard a coworker say to his caller "your husband's been shot?" My trainee does about 99% of the work between the two of us, so I had time to look up the incident that my coworker and several others in the room were dealing with. I was familiar with the basic details of the story, the location, and the time, which turned out to be a very good thing. Not quite an hour later, a man called asking to speak to a detective about a shooting that may have happened. When questioned further, he said that he shot someone, and within a few minutes it was clear he was our shooter from the incident a short while before.

What do you say to someone who tells you they just shot a man? When he tells you that it was his girlfriend's husband? Or when he asks if the guy is dead? You know he is, but do you tell him that? My job was to keep this caller on the line and talking while the police got there to arrest him. I had to form some sort of a rapport with him, establish a connection. Somehow I didn't think asking him if it was hot enough for him was appropriate. And then I had to tell him to go into the street, lay face down on the ground with his arms and legs out, and listen as the officers cuffed him. This was a first for me! And I have no doubt the tape of that call will be played in court. Did I say the right thing? Did I ask leading questions? Is anything I said going to cause a guilty man to go free? I'm not so worried about causing an innocent man to go jail, because we know he's not innocent. At best it was self defense, but still, shooting someone is pretty extreme. I think I did ok, but now and then the conversation replays in my mind and I second guess myself.

Just as I regained my composure from that, at 6:53 right before the end of my shift, the phone rang and it was another new one for me. A missing 7 year old girl. I've processed several missing child reports, but they've all been older kids. The things that made this hard for me was
a) I have a 7 year old
b) It was literally right around the corner from my house.
c) I had to go home, I couldn't stay to find out if she was located.
I wanted so much to go there and help look for her after I dropped my kids off, but I can't afford to get in trouble and lose my job. Now, this many hours later, I haven't seen anything in the news, I didn't see the police helicopter out looking for her earlier, so I'm assuming she's ok.

Very little of what I hear at work bothers me. It's generally easy for me to leave work at work and think "I don't have to deal with that stuff, that is not my life." These things bothered me. But at the end of the day, I know I'm good at what I do, and I know in some way, I helped a lot of people today. I helped our shooter do the right thing, and I know I helped his victim's 3 children... and hopefully I helped that mom get the help she needed to find her daughter. And for the chance to help, I'm thankful.


Rebekah said...

my prayers for you... I've had those calls that have kept me up for 3 days... reliving every detail. Remember that hind sight is 20/20... let it go and rest easy

aka_Meritt said...

That's a good point, and something I hadn't thought of; you wondering if your questions were ok and if he would get 'off' based on anything you said. I hadn't thought of that roll of a 911 operator before.

Grafted Branch said...

My Grandpa would call that, "feeding the black dog." Now you've got to make sure you "feed the white dog" more or else the darkness will take over the light in your soul.

So...delve into the Word -- more, deeper, more thoughtfully.

I pray for you.

Jessica said...


Erna said...

That would've made for a difficult and challenging night. I hope the little girl is doing just fine.

Janean said...

Thanks for calling me! I still smile when I think about it.

I hope things are doin' better now.

My "anniversary" is coming up in June. 2 years. It may be my turn to call you.

Ain't it great to have friends?