column was published in the North
Shore News on
June 20, 2001)
Million mile march most difficult for cops
By Leo Knight
I get pounded (well, metaphorically speaking, albeit there is
the odd lawyer or politician I suspect who would like it to be
rather more figuratively) by some who feel I take a defensive
role about those who might criticize the police.
those charges I would, and quite happily I might add, plead
would be, of course, a reason for that. Even though it has been
over a decade since I carried a badge and a gun in service of
this country, there are some things you never forget. Things
that forever alter your perception of the world and the varying
examples of humanity who inhabit it.
One of the ramifications of that is the inherent ability to call a spade a shovel. All of the hand-wringing social architects aside, working the streets and enforcing the laws given us by a suspect group of politicians gives one a unique perspective.
is from this perspective that the publishers of this paper bring
you the thoughts, viewpoints and occasionally, outrageous
opinions, of yours truly.
cannot help but be changed by the experiences one encounters as
a cop. It doesn't matter who you are. Tough or soft, liberal or
conservative, you will be moved by the things you see, touch,
smell and feel as a cop.
example, on the last three shifts I worked on the streets of
Vancouver, I had the occasion to try and hold the very life in
the wounded bodies of stabbing victims while careening through
streets of the Downtown Eastside at something just shy of the
speed of sound in the back of an ambulance. Or at least, that's
how fast it seemed as I tried to maintain pressure on arteries
punctured without so much as a how-do-you-do. Three in a row on
my last three shifts.
the first officer on the scene of another drug deal gone bad;
over-exuberant foreplay by coupling examples of why cousins
should not breed; these necessitate some rather
"hands-on" actions by the cops involved.
said all of that, I want to help you to understand why all of
this is what it is.
readers of this space will recall the piece I did entitled,
"A Christmas miracle for one cop." That column
generated a large volume of messages; most saying how moved they
were by the story told by my friend, Tennessee State Trooper
Allan was responding, in his own loquacious and eloquent way, to
a radio talk show on the merits of seat-belt legislation.
the varying opinions about a government mandating that we should
or shouldn't do this or that, came Allan's steady voice of
impeccable common sense and use of the penetrating ability of an
experienced police officer to call 'em as he sees 'em.
started off describing the less than responsible ways we all
behave as youngsters. He referred to the "COD" turn
(Come On Darlin'). It involves a hard right turn and the young
lady not wearing her seat belt. And, well, you get the drift. He
went on to identify the right of the general public to not have
to pay for the stupidity of others.
argument is a valid part of the "wear a seat-belt"
legislation, helmet laws or even the more recent and
"oh-so-politically-correct" no smoking bans everywhere
but your own bathroom and only if you have the exhaust fan on.
are words and they can be fun or hurtful. But for Allan, they
are poignant. He ended his argument for seat-belt laws in this
the seat belt law is there to protect me.
see, there is something police call the million mile march. It
is that march from the door of your patrol car to the door of
the house, where you will tell someone that their loved one is
never coming home again.
matter how close you get that car to the house, it is always a
shoes are made of concrete and your arms are lead. You can feel
every single beat of your heart as it rises into your throat.
look into a set of eyes that you know will never see the world
in the same way again. Your mouth says words that you can't bear
to listen to. You see a look of disbelief, then pure, total,
complete rage. And, if you're lucky, and I mean really lucky,
you will find yourself in an embrace that is pleading for you to
take it back. Begging for it not to be.
my body I carry many scars. Some are from mothers, fathers,
sisters, brothers, husbands and wives. These have healed over
on my soul I carry scars that will never heal and will live with
me all my days.
"So, you see, the seat-belt law is also there to protect me."