Category Archives: Law Enforcement

Access By Faith

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

Consider the word access. Access is the the ability you have to approach or enter a place, to see someone or to receive a benefit. What right do you have to come before God this morning and enjoy peace with him, experience his grace, and rejoice in his glory?
Consider this scenario, which will be familiar to most of you. You are driving down the freeway, late for a very important meeting. You usually always obey the speed limit but this time you are definitely speeding because you need to make it to this appointment on time. As you come up over a hill your heart drops. You see a squad car in the median just waiting for someone like you.
As you pass him you look at your speedometer and realize that you were even going faster than you thought you were. He pulls onto the freeway and begins following you. The squad car lurks menacingly in your rearview mirror as you know what is coming. The blue and red lights flip on and you pull over as your hands start sweating and your heart starts beating.
Now, consider this scenario. The same squad car and the same law enforcement officer returns home at the end of his shift. He pulls that same squad car into his driveway as his three little children come bounding up to him. He puts the vehicle in park, and they run up to the car ready to give their dad hugs and kisses. They are happy to see him in his uniform and delighted with him being home.
What was the main difference between those two experiences? Why was the driver fearful and the children happy? The children had access to come to him as a father, not as a punisher of their wrong doing. The same is true with God.
We can experience God’s peace, his grace, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God because we have access to him by faith. Don’t ever miss that or get numb to that! We have access to a gloriously holy, sin-punishing, wrath-avenging God that would make a volcano look like a wax candle. God’s children don’t experience that. They experience the peace that passes all understanding which he gives to them. They experience the the all sufficient grace which helps us in our weakness. They experience the overflowing hope of his glory.
The only reason we can experience this is because of the faith that we have put in the work that Jesus Christ did. When his body was ripped apart, the curtain in the temple ripped in two. This symbolized us no longer having to go to priests to gain access to God. We can go to him directly, confess our sins, repent, and rejoice in Jesus Christ because he died and rose again and conquered death.


A Talladega Type of Night

I opened the door to the backseat of my squad car and what I saw required every ounce of restraint I had to remain professional.

It all started with a response to a trailer park for an argument between a boyfriend and girlfriend. It was the average, run-of-the-mill, everyday back and forth that cops deal with so frequently. We respond, break up the argument, try to mediate a solution, leave, and return again later that night. Sometimes it’s the next day, sometimes it’s the following week, but we inevitably go back. We can count on it like the afternoon delivery of the mail to our houses.

Two hours later we received a call from a neighbor saying that these two were arguing again in the street. It was around 12:30AM on a warm, summer night. These are times when the beer flows freely, the heart acts boldly, the lips speak freely- and people go to jail for it. I was less than a mile away from the call and told dispatch I’d respond to it. I navigated my squad car through the trailer park and as I came around the corner, I found what I was looking for.

The boyfriend was walking down the middle of the road in cartoon, fleece pajama pants while sporting off his skinny chest and torso. A smattering of people were standing in the yard watching the drama unfold. The price of admission was free. As I got out of my car, my sense of smell was hit with the pungent odor of burned out rubber. I could see a haze of smoke wafting across the road, as if I had just stepped into a five car pile up at Talladega.

Not knowing what had happened, I quickly patted the pajama man for any weapons, and put him in the backseat of my car. I began speaking to his girlfriend and bystanders to get the full picture of what had happened. The lovers had revivied the argument that night, with alcohol and stubbornness being the kindling for their spat. He finally decided to hit the eject button and leave, while she realized he was in no condition to be driving a 5,000 pound object on wheels. However, he would have none of her objections to him leaving in his truck.

He had jumped into his truck while she jumped into his way. As she was standing in front of the truck he thought it a good idea to put a little fear of a Ford F150 engine into her soul. With the brake depressed he pushed the gas pedal down causing the tires to do a brake stand. As smoke began churning underneath his rear tires they were not able to withstand the force of the message pajama man was trying to send to his girlfriend. The rear tires blew out. His plan to leave was now as deflated as his back tires which had just given up the ghost. Chunks of tire were scattered throughout yards in the area.

After gathering the story I went back to my squad to place pajama man under arrest for domestic assault and driving while intoxicated. I opened the backseat of my squad and found a very sweaty and dirty man wearing my sheriff’s office jacket. As anger swept over my face I saw fear come over his. I yelled, “What do you think you’re doing?” Apparently going from the climate of a warm summer night, to the cool air conditioned back seat of a squad car was too much for him. He had found my jacket in the backseat and naturally put it on for warmth. The combination of a smelly, dirty, sweaty suspect wearing my sheriff’s office jacket put me over the top.

After yelling at him I paused. I took a breath and collected my faculties. After composing myself I removed the jacket from him and replaced it with a set of handcuffs and off to jail we went.


A Pursuit Story

As I looked back on the pile of glass and fiberglass wreckage, the smell of radiator fluid pouring across the road, and the distant sounds of sirens coming to the scene, I quickly tried to assess the last five minutes of what happened. My legs were shaking but I felt that I was still in control of my faculties. My senses were still trying catch up though and absorb what had happened.

The call had started routinely enough as a domestic disturbance on a Saturday night. Our dinner was cut a little short as we jumped in our squads, flipped our lights to stage 3, and shot up the interstate at 130 miles per hour shrouded with red and blue lights bouncing into the dark night. Cars whipped by as if they were standing still as a 30 minute drive time was cut down to around 7 minutes.

The boyfriend had caused enough fear in his girlfriend to cause her to lock herself and her children in a bedroom as she heard him throwing items around the house. Alcohol and anger are potent mixes that can nearly take over a person and drive them to do things they never thought they would do. This would be the case tonight as we would soon find out.

Blasting through the dark night as concrete and white stripes passed underneath me in a blur, our dispatch told us that the suspect had left the house in a pickup truck, only to return a few minutes later. The interstate gave way to a county road which gave way to a township road which held the address that I was going to. The house was at the end of a dead end road and as I turned onto the road, our dispatcher told me that the suspect was leaving again in his truck.

I backed into a random driveway, flipped my headlights off and sat still. No more than five seconds later did a set of white headlights pop up over the hill as I saw the truck coming from the house. As it passed me flipped my headlights back on and began following it. The truck accelerated more quickly than it should have through a turn which sent the thought through my mind that he was going to run. I remember seeing gravel spit out from his back tires as he took the turn sharply and not even try to slow down at the stop sign.

The red and blue lights shot into the night again, the siren came to life, and the chase was on. My partner had just shown up and he took over radio communications with dispatch updating our locations, allowing me to concentrate on the movements of the driver and our 12 page pursuit policy. The vehicle completely crossed over into the other lane of traffic twice but the night was late and the traffic was non-existent. Still, it could only take one car coming our way at the wrong time.

Within seconds we were leaving our county and heading into the neighboring one at 95 miles per hour. I knew the road would lead us to a T-intersection quickly and I wondered if that would be this driver’s demise. It nearly was. He took his Chevy 2500 through that intersection quickly enough that the truck’s weight shifted to one side in the turn, nearly bringing both passenger side tires off the ground. I thought about moving in for a PIT but he regained control of his truck quickly and was rocketing north again on a new road.

This had to end quickly or we needed to stop the chase. He was driving north bound in the south bound lane but he was going too fast for me to do a PIT maneuver. For a reason that I’m still not sure of, he began tapping his brakes. I saw an opening. It was not the most precise or prettiest PIT that could be done. It was dirty. My front driver’s side bumper met his rear passenger side bumper as his truck slid across the entire front bumper of my squad car.

I tried putting him in the ditch but his truck was too heavy for my Dodge Charger. He slid out of the PIT and started going south. Within three seconds I had used the PIT unsuccessfully and then watched in my rearview mirror as his truck hit my partner’s squad. Immediately the two vehicles were made useless as wheels snapped off on both.

My partner and I bailed out of our squad cars, depressed our holster retentions, and pointed 9MM Glocks at him as he was still in the driver’s seat. Not knowing his entire wheel was gone, he had the accelerator to the floorboards, trying to drive out of the ditch. Donald Trump had a better chance at winning the Nobel Peace Prize than he did at getting that truck back on the road.

He realized the gig was up and got out of the truck but refused to get on the ground. A few swift kicks to the chest and shoulders helped bring the message home to him and we were then on the ground with him, putting on the handcuffs. My squad siren was still piercing our ears and the blue and red lights were still bouncing.

A neighboring agency showed up to assist us and we stuffed our suspect in his squad car much to his protest. My partner and I assessed our bodies to make sure we didn’t have any injuries that adrenaline would mask the pain on. My partner had a sprained thumb that would later cause his hand to swell up. Besides that, we were in much better shape than our squad cars.

The butcher’s bill would be $5,000 on front end repair for mine and my partner’s squad would be totaled out by the insurance company. The pursuit had lasted four minutes and the rest of the investigation would last six hours. Statements needed to gotten, the domestic crime needed to be investigated, the squads needed to get towed, a crash report needed to get written and a warrant needed to be drafted to obtain blood from our suspect for he was indeed drunk.

Despite it all, it was a good night. We were ok and the bad guy was going to jail.


“Welcome to Christ, And Greater Sorrow”

How does a cop deal with a conveyor belt of sin night after night and not expect to get desensitized to it all? Sin drenched calls seem to come in pairs or triplets. Recently I had the trifecta of three calls that spotlighted the sinfulness of sin and it left me with a sorrow over the brokenness that exists all around me.

The first call was a seemingly easy one in which I was to meet with someone that had been kicked out of his house because he couldn’t get along with his parents. Assuming it was an adult living at home with his parents still, I went to a gas station to meet with the person. Instead of an adult I found a 12 year old boy sitting at a table, crying at 10:30PM on a school night. He had walked a half mile from his house to the gas station in subzero temperatures, all the while wearing a sweatshirt and pants (no hat or gloves).

He had been there for 45 minutes and his mom still hadn’t called to report him gone. He told me about his problems with his mom and how he wanted to go live with his Dad. The whole family situation was a disaster. His Dad was out of the picture, his mom parented from a disposition of anger, and he had no desire to obey his mom. He refused to go back to his mom’s house and it took an hour and a half and every ounce of persuasiveness I had to talk him into it.

The second call came right after that. A girl had been told by her friend that her dad had an ongoing and repeated pattern of molesting her and her sister. I gathered all the awful details of the incident and just as I cleared that call I received a message to call our dispatch.

They had received a call from a man (at first we didn’t know where he was but eventually tracked him down to Texas) who said he had a handgun and was going to kill himself. The area code was not a local one and they were unsure of how to handle it. I took the phone number down and called it, just to see if I could talk to this guy.

A drunken man answered my phone call. Over the next 40 minutes I had a conversation with him about his days in the military and his experiences during the worst part of the Iraq war. He went into details about how he watched his friends get blown up or killed and how he watched them die in his arms. He was medicating his depression with alcohol but wasn’t sure how to move past the memories etched into his mind that haunted his dreams while asleep and racked his brain while awake. I couldn’t hold back on what he needed to hear so I shared with him the gospel. He then said he was going to make himself a sandwich and our conversation ended.

Over the course of five hours I had a front row seat to all of this brokenness and was trying to process it. I didn’t really solve anything during the course of those hours. All the situations were still as bad as they were before I received the calls to my computer screen in my car.

That night I listened to a podcast episode by John Piper where he talked about II Corinthians 6:8-10. His comments rang with deep affirmation in my heart:

One of the most amazing things about becoming a Christian is that it awakens you to more sorrow. You come to Christ and you are not naïve. You suddenly wake up to pain. Of course there is pain for unbelievers, but they have no sense of how big it is, how horrible it is, or how long it can endure. To be a Christian is to be awake to cancer and birth defects and profound mental disabilities and divorce and child abuse including abortion and terrorism and earthquakes and tsunamis and racial hostilities and prejudices and white-collar crime and sex trafficking and poverty and hunger and a thousand daily frustrations that make life very hard. Every Christian is increasingly sensitized to these things.

The gospel brings life, right? And living things are awake and alert and touchable by other things. Which means, welcome to Christ and greater sorrow. I have little patience with ministries that sell Jesus with the promise that he will make your life easier. He doesn’t. I promise you. He makes it real. He makes it eternal. And he makes the joy in it indomitable and invincible, but so do your sorrows rise. Come to Jesus and learn how to weep. The world doesn’t know how to weep for lost people. They are one. They don’t even believe in it. They don’t believe in hell. They don’t see to the bottom of anyone’s pain. They see pain. They feel pain. But they don’t see to the bottom of it. Christians are the saddest people in the world — and the happiest.

So the gospel brings life, and in this life comes sensitivity to reality, and reality is really sad in a not-yet-saved world.

This is how I refrain from becoming desensitized to it all. The gospel is life giving and I am meant to feel the weight of sorrow from a world that is broken. Yet I am also to feel hope for a day coming in which Jesus will make all things right in a new heaven and a new earth. The best is yet to come. So I press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, one more shift at a time.


The Odiously Horrible Reality of Death

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:5-6

Christian, stop and consider this amazing reality. You were at one point spiritually dead. Your death brought with it an impending sentence of everlasting hell and separation from Jesus. Death is a cold, waxy, odiously horrible sight that we often don’t think about.
One night at work I received a call to go to a house and check on someone’s well being. Family members had not heard from this person in some time and they were concerned that something may be wrong. When I got to the house with my partner we found the person’s cars in the driveway. We could see through a window into the kitchen and saw this person’s shoes on the floor and coat hanging on a chair. We pounded on the door without a response.
Thinking the worst, we kicked the door in, and as I stepped through the threshold I looked down the hallway. I could see two feet on the floor; toes pointing straight up. As I walked down the hallway and around the corner I was immediately faced with a cold, gray picture of death. Laying on the floor was the person we were looking for. The body was cold. The skin was gray. Hair was matted to the mouth. As I reached down and touched the shoulder the person’s eyelids started to move!
Life saving efforts were started and the person was rushed to the hospital. What looked like certain death turned into a wonderful story of us being able to save a life. That is a picture of what our souls were like before the gospel. We were dead in our trespasses. Your cold, gray, dead soul was made alive by the work of Christ.
Just as this person had no ability to rescue their own body from the icy grip of death, you had no ability to rescue your soul from the precipice of hell. Jesus raised you from that place and now in some mysterious way we are seated with him in the heavenly places. You were dead but are now alive.
We all come with problems and hardships that we are experiencing in life right now. Consider that you’re biggest problem, the death of your soul, is fixed by the completed work of Christ on the cross. What great love is this? There is nothing greater.


I’m Still Waiting For That Sausage

hate- verb: to dislike intensely or passionately.

I hate deer. I have an intense dislike for these giant, furry rats with tails that seem to sit in a ditch with a suicide wish and wait for the most inopportune time to try and cross a dark road. I have had to kill bears and owls and dogs that have been severely injured by motorists. Nothing comes close to the pleasure I feel in killing a deer, which means I probably won’t get that Christmas card from PETA anytime soon.

Case in point. I was driving my squad car one evening, on my way to serve a civil paper, on the phone with one of my partners. In an instantaneous second a maniacal deer jumped across the opposing lane of traffic and into my grill. I hit it with the force of my Dodge Charger at 55mph, and sent it spinning straight out in front my squad across the pavement. Shoot!, I yelled into the phone (yes it was indeed that word). I got off the phone and surveyed the damage to my car. The front end looked like a crunched up pop can. Limping it to the dealership, I spent an hour and a half finding a spare squad and transferring all my equipment over. The butcher’s bill on that repair was $7,000.

Yet, that wasn’t enough. The suicidal deer had it out for me this year. Two days later as I was driving my squad down a dark road, I spun the old war-horse Crown Victoria around to try and stop a car that had a taillight out. As I accelerated to catch up, another deer jumped across my grill. I was highly motivated to not hit this deer and swerved to miss it (which isn’t preferable since it is the stuff vehicle rollovers are made of). This time I only clipped the passenger side of my squad, busting the turn signal.

The deer fell into a long, steep ditch. I stopped my car, cursing the entire species of deer. I found the deer with its back leg snapped in two after being clipped by my war-horse. With a sense of ecstasy I ended its existence. Not wanting a deer to go uneaten, I asked our dispatch to try and contact someone on our call list who may be interested in coming to pick up the deer.

Within a few minutes I was told that someone was on their way to meet me, receive a permit for the deer from me, and take possession of it. I waited. And waited. It turned out the person had a hard time finding me, and when he did find me he pulled up in a truck that looked as if it had been in a demolition derby in 1996. The driver looked like he could have been Uncle Jesse from an episode of Dukes of Hazard back in 1979. He had overalls and a long, white beard and talked as if he were on death’s doorstep.

I told him where the deer was and he quickly informed me that he had quadruple bypass surgery and several stints in his heart. Wanting to not turn a deer tag call into a heart attack call, I elected to drag the deer for him up to the top of the road. After a five minute hall up the steep embankment, the deer laid on the shoulder waiting to be lifted into his truck.

Uncle Jesse turned his demolition derby truck around in the middle of the road to pull next to the deer and place it in the bed of the truck. Probably intending to begin tenderizing the meat, he ran over the deer with his back tire in the process. He then waddled to the back of his truck with the respiratory sound of Darth Vader. He wiggled the handle to drop the tailgate of his truck and it was rather obvious the entire handle was missing. “This thing has been broke for a while”, he gasped.

I asked him if he had a rope or anything to hoist the deer into the bed of the truck. The answer was no. Of course it was no. This call had gone to Bismarck a long time ago. I told him if he could lift up part of the deer, I may be able to dead lift it into the bed of his truck while I was standing in it. I watched as Uncle Jesse bear hugged the deer as if it was his long lost son and barely get it into my reach, allowing me to lift it into the truck by its leg.

By now both of us sounded like Darth Vader. He thanked me profusely and said he would give me some sausage after he had cut the meat up. He then went on to tell me about America’s problems and how it is the fault of President Obama and the last thing we need is another black president.

Ah, Uncle Jesse was a racist. I countered his opinion. Quickly wished him a healthy night and went on my way. I’m still waiting for that sausage.


The Gospel, Not A Cop

Time and time again law enforcement is called on to try and resolve problems we are not designed to fix. One of the reasons we are called to try and answer these unsolvable problems is because people have no where else they know they can turn to. The reason for this is usually a mix of blame that falls on their own selves and a blame for others in their lives not teaching them as they should. Case in point…

I receive a call one evening for a 6 year old out of control. How out of control can a 6 year old be I thought? Spank him. Man-handle him. Be a parent by being tough and tender. When I arrived at the trailer home an exasperated mother came outside to greet me. She was obviously flustered and said that she didn’t know what to do anymore. Her son (who I will call Benjamin) was hitting, punching and kicking his two other siblings and raising all sorts of unholiness in their home. She couldn’t control him and said she was ready to send him off to foster care.

Knowing that her son wouldn’t qualify for foster care but realizing that he was being a significant problem to safety in the home, I really didn’t know how I was going to handle this. I went inside the home and found Benjamin hiding behind a couch. He was crying. A red-haired, pudgy 6 year old that did not want to talk to me. After getting his side of the story (which consisted of him not getting his way) I pulled his mom back outside to explain to her that this was not a law enforcement problem and she needed to discipline her son. Would you like me to provide you the belt?

Within a few minutes I could hear screaming coming from inside the home. The Grandma came out, exasperated, saying that Benjamin had lost it again. I went back inside to find Benjamin sitting in the middle of the living room pitching a raging fit that would put any hungry, screaming infant to shame. I’m not sure what I would have done with this call prior to being a parent, but having a few years of experience I had a couple tools that were grounded in my understanding of the Bible and how boys think.

I stood over him with a wide stance, hands on my duty belt. He looked up at a 5’11” cop, feet firmly planted, who asked him in a firm tone, “Benjamin, are you a baby or a boy?” His yelling stopped. A calm came over him and he replied that he was indeed a boy. “Well boys don’t throw fits like this. Babies do. You are behaving worse than my two-year old right now and it is pathetic. Do you want people to think of you as a boy or a baby?” He replied that indeed, he wanted to be thought of as a boy. Boys want to be thought of as boys.

I realized that this mother had no idea how to parent a boy in a way that didn’t have empty threats and screaming. Benjamin had no dad in his life and appeared to have no model of how a boy and man were supposed to act. It was nearing bed time so I asked him what books he read before going to bed. He pulled out a book (and I’m not even kidding) that was titled, Moods and Emotions. I asked him what chapter he was on and he pointed to chapter 10 in the index- “Anger.” You can’t make this stuff up.

I planned to read him this chapter on how to deal with anger but asked if he knew how to read. He said that he did and I began listening to the best reading I have heard out of any 6 year-old in my life. This kid was smart I realized. We read the book, he got his pajamas on and into bed he went. As his mom and I stood by his bed I told him, “Benjamin, you have treated me with respect tonight and I appreciate that. But your mom is way more important than I am and you need to treat her with even more respect.” Benjamin got a perplexed look on his face and said, “But cops are important too!” The kid melted my heart right there.

I’ve stopped back a few times since that call to check on him and see how he is doing. He greets me with a grin, gives me a hug, and calls me by my first name. In fact, he’s due for a visit again soon. This mother needs people in her life who love Jesus and are willing to be patient with her and teach her how to parent out of a tender toughness and not out of reaction. Benjamin needs godly men in his life to model and teach him about what it means to be a godly boy and man someday. That house didn’t need a cop that night, it needed the gospel.