Here’s how it feels…

“Born Brave was the officer shot last night,” my coworker said as I was slipping my office key into the keyhole to start my Tuesday morning.

“What? What are you talking about?” I responded.

“Sgt. Brave was the cop shot this morning. In the Central West End.”

What the fuck? I thought to myself. I hadn’t heard anything about it.

“He was shot at work?” I asked.

“Yep, he was working secondary. He’s going to be okay though.”

Well, thank God for small miracles.

There was a police sergeant shot, ambush style, on Tuesday morning here in St. Louis. Thankfully, he was wearing his body armor and it saved him from serious bodily injury, and probably from meeting his maker, truthfully.

He was working secondary at 4:30 AM when he was shot by one of four buffoons who jumped out of a car and shot at him as he sat in his personal vehicle watching over local businesses in one of the ever dwindling ritzy parts of the city, the Central West End Neighborhood (“CWE”).

The neighborhood is home to all sorts of people and businesses. Its diversity is part of its charm, really. Every day, the young and old, rich and poor, black/white, gay/straight all go about living their lives together in the CWE.

Unfortunately, the criminal element is represented as well.

People from the area may recognize the neighborhood as being the same one where a young college student was shot and killed, ironically, also while minding her own business in her car.

While there are certainly areas of the City that are much more dangerous, the CWE has money, so the businesses and residents pool together funds and pay officers to provide secondary patrols to supplement the “on-duty” cops who patrol there as well.

When you see officers at Major League Baseball or NFL games, etc. across the country, chances are that they’re working what I’m referring to as secondary. They’re being paid by the team, not the City for which they work.

I’ve mentioned my shifts at the Chicken Palace here before. It’s one of the places where I work secondary.

I often have people come up to me while I’m standing around in the parking lot on a pleasant evening at the Chicken Palace to tell me how lucky I am to have such an easy gig. They think it’s my regular shift, and that I’m being paid by the City when they say it. They don’t get that I most likely already worked my eight plus hours for the City, and that when they tell me how lucky I am, I’m already nine or ten hours into what will be a sixteen hour day away from my wife and kids.

But, I smile and agree that I am quite lucky indeed.

In a way, we really are lucky that there is such a demand for police presence, because businesses are willing to pay off-duty cops to work for them since the on-duty cops can’t be everywhere at once. It’s a way for us to supplement our meager salaries in a way that a lot of other meager salary earners in other professions can’t.

Financially, the extra shifts are nice, but I assure you that any cop you see working at a bar or restaurant or ballgame would much rather be at their son’s baseball game or birthday party or at home rather than working extra shifts so that when the officer does have time to spend with that family, they’ll have some money to do something fun after the bills are paid.

Sergeant Brave had worked his eight hour shift before he went to work secondary for the CWE Neighborhood, so he was no doubt already tired and worn out from a long shift on a hot, summer night in North St. Louis City when he started the extra secondary shift that nearly cost him his life.

I went to the police academy with Sergeant Brave. He is a very likable man. I know that he has a young one at home, probably still in diapers, along with a wife.

They are good people.

They are professionals.

They are educated.

They are giving of their time to help others in their communities.

Also, they are black.

It’s passe to say that the color of the officer’s skin shouldn’t matter, but it clearly does to many, many people.

Whites and others on the side of the police quickly assumed that the race of the officer wasn’t given because he was white. They threw out the usual rhetoric about charging the shooter with a hate crime and how unfair it is that the outrage doesn’t apply when the shooter is a black man instead of a white police officer.

Those on the other side of the fence were quick to throw out their usual all police are cowards, oppressive communists, racists, etc. regardless of their skin color.

If you ever want to see the dregs of society showing their true colors, read the online comments after any news article about a violent police interaction with a black suspect.

I don’t follow the news as a matter of course because I don’t have time for any more negativity in my life, but normally I’d have heard about something like this through the grapevine.

As I settled into my office, I did get a couple of texts and phone calls from people either asking me who was shot, or telling me that they’d heard it was indeed Born Brave who was shot.

The story was true, but sadly, it wasn’t shocking.

Several years ago, news of a police officer getting shot was a big deal.

What was almost unheard of then, is expected to happen now. It’s always just a matter of when.

I was so happy that my friend was okay, and that he was released from the hospital to go home to his wife and small baby boy, a boy who may never realize how close he came to growing up without his daddy, but a part of me was disturbed that I was mostly ambivalent about the whole ordeal.

I was happy for Sergeant Brave, but sad that at least locally, this near tragedy had become less about a good man nearly being murdered just for being a police officer, and more about this.

This idiot.

Photo courtesy of ABC St. Louis KDNL Facebook Page

Photo courtesy of ABC St. Louis KDNL Facebook Page

When a news station posted a picture of this lone person standing in the middle of the street, it immediately went viral and sent both the pro-police and anti-police factions into their tizzies again.

The media loved it, of course, and played it up so that both sides could froth at the mouth about what morons the other side were.

Meanwhile, the condition of the sergeant and the reasons for the shooting were sort of secondary concerns.

Secondary to covering a single man with time to spare on a Tuesday afternoon asking, “How Does It Feel?”

I won’t waste space on my own blog with his name, but since he’s asking a question that I can only assume is directed at police officers, I feel obliged to answer.

How does it feel?

How does it feel for the officer shot to know that but for his vest and better aim, he would be a dead man right now?

Probably scary.

How does it feel for his wife to know that she was almost left on this earth to raise a tiny baby into manhood without the man she loves enough to call her husband to be by her side?

Probably petrifying.

How does it feel if you’re the wife or husband or kids of the other nearly 1200 officers who serve this city to know that they could be next and that they may not be so lucky?

Probably sickening.

How does it feel for the other officers themselves?

Pick a word, pal.

Frustrating. Sad. Pathetic. Shitty.

I’ve spent nearly seventeen years of my life doing the best I can to help people like you there, holding the sign above. To help people like your mother, your siblings, children, your neighbors, everybody who has called because their house was broken into or their car was stolen, or they were assaulted or robbed or whatever.

Ain’t none of them ever called me to tell me they were robbed by a police officer. Nope.

None of the suspects in any of the hundreds or thousands of reports I’ve written over the years was me.

You see, I’ve never killed anybody.

I’ve never shot at anybody.

I’ve never robbed anybody.

I’ve never assaulted anybody illegally.

I’ve never arrested a person I’ve known to be innocent or lied on the witness stand.

I’ve never done anything of the sort, or personally known any of the great officers I’ve worked closely with to do any of these things either, so when you ask, “How Does It Feel?”and you get your fifteen minutes of fame for essentially trying to be a dick, I have to assume you’re talking to somebody besides me or those officers like me.

Maybe you’re talking to the few bad apples that rightfully should be called out, and I hope they find you and answer your question more clearly than I can.

I won’t waste my frustrations on you or others who think it’s okay to harm anybody to make a point, especially an innocent police sergeant minding his own business while trying to make extra money to give his family a better life.

An innocent sergeant like my friend Born Brave.

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61 Responses to Here’s how it feels…

  1. Mental Mama says:

    I don’t really understand why anyone would ever feel it necessary to be violent towards anyone else, but particularly not against those charged with keeping the peace. And in my book, a douche is a douche and they come in all sizes, shapes, genders, and particularly colors.

  2. Jen S. says:

    Very thought-provoking blog post. Well written.

  3. Paul says:

    I couldn’t do your job Don. I have an enormous respect for the men and women who keep the peace in our cities and towns. I couldn’t tolerate the shit that you guys have to put up with from the very people who you try to help and keep safe. The fact that the idiot in the picture could safely stand in the road with a placard, is testament to the safe and tolerant society that is supported and made possible by those like yourself.

    May the force be with you and all those who keep us safe and free. You have my highest regards and thanks Don.

  4. Jude says:

    Always enjoy your reads…thought provoking. But after some thought, back to FB to find out which grandkid or dog has done something funny. So glad there are guys like you and Sgt Brave to be on our streets to save and protect us morons concerned how fast our internet connection are and if our new cell phones fit in our pockets. Thanks and a big hug to you and all STLPD, and surrounding areas!

  5. Cheryl says:

    Another powerful post, Don. I couldn’t do your job. Thanks for everything you, and all the men and women in your profession, do to keep us safe.

  6. Scott says:

    There is way too much stupidity in this world. I will never understand why people will take out their frustrations on people who are not responsible for them. I want to be a nomadic hermit…

  7. daniheart21 says:

    I hate the way the media purposely fires people up over these kinds of tragedies. In fact, I think they should be held accountable for inciting such behavior, especially since they knowingly do it for clicks and views without a care of how seriously some people take it, or how far they might be willing to go because of some misinformation they heard that feeds into their agenda. I am glad officer Brave is alright. I don’t envy you your job, and I am exceedingly grateful that there are those willing to make the sacrifices you make to do it. Thank you.

    • Journalism certainly isn’t the respectable institution that it once was, but the problem is that too many people still take what they read as truth, so people with an agenda race to get a story out there first so that it’s taken as fact. At least that’s been my experience. Just terrible, but there are some good ones out there still. It’s a tough business right now.

  8. cookie1986 says:

    I just don’t even know what to say about that dumb fuck with the sign. Is he trying to imply that this was payback for someone shot by police? Is he trying to speak for others?
    It’s ignorance like this that make people hate one another. *facepalm*
    Also, glad to hear your friend is going to be ok, and glad that little boy won’t have to grow up without his daddy.
    Great post, as always.

    • Lol, yes, that’s sort of his implication. The very idea that more violence will help to fix the perception of violence he has is indeed silly.

    • Sandra Grave says:

      I agree with cookie1986. I take my hat off to police officers especially in this era! You couldn’t pay me enough to do what they do and put themselves out there for people like this piece of manure with the sign. And I too am sick and tired of the media always fanning the flames of discontent so they can get their information out there first to get a pat on the back from their publisher. I just hope and pray that this doesn’t continue because it would serve the naysayers right if some day when their lives are really in danger and they call 911 they could hear the operator say, “I am sorry but you will have to die tonite cause no cops showed up for work, sorry!” How’s that???????

  9. Anonymous says:

    I blame the media. I have since last August.

  10. Kathy Palm says:

    Well said! I have been a wife of a police officer for almost 20 years. He has been shot at, but never shot at anyone… he has sat out in cold, wet weather to catch guys stealing… he has worked many part-time jobs so I could be a stay-at-home mom and writer. People who don’t understand what it’s like to work a job where people spit at you, yell at you, and treat you like shit DO NOT get to point out all the things they think police do wrong. Police are trained the way they are trained for a reason. Are there cops who mess up? Yup. They are human. Most of the cops out there are doing the best they can in a big mess of hate and violence. The police are not to blame for the state of the world. People are.

    • The police officer is sort of the face of all things people are angry about. We’re easy targets since we’re right out there in public. I get that. Thanks to your husband to all his years of service, and to you for supporting him. My own wife has been a saint throughout this sometimes ridiculous journey.

  11. I’ve missed you, Don. Great post, as usual.

    • Hahaha, I was literally watching you read your poem to the Pittsburgh moms or whatever when you commented. Jinx! I’ve missed you too, dear, but I still stalk you on the facebooks a little bit so I’m hanging in there. Thank you!

  12. ~Easy says:

    Awesome post.

  13. Susan Murphy says:

    Love reading your post. Stay safe!

  14. hollie says:

    You have such powerful posts. I love reading them, even though they make my heart ache and make me shake my head and the incredible stupidity of people. On vacation, my son spotted a soldier entering an elevator and said “mom, can I run over there and say thank you to him?” Of course, I said, flabbergasted as he is only 8. The doors closed before he got over there, but you know what? I think we’ll start thanking the police officers who are the soldiers on the streets, keeping us safe…sacrificing themselves to provide security and safety for everyone, even the assholes, bigots, race baiters, and morons.

  15. I couldn’t do your job either. And doing double shifts is something I thank my stars I haven’t had to do (although, split shifts and rotating shifts more than suck). Thank you for putting the correct slant on media and its sensationalism. With the power it wields, it’s a crying shame it’s not more uplifting and less drama driven. Well written and very moving post! Thanks for all you do.

    • Thank you! The media doesn’t seem to realize how much power they have over what people will believe, so they should be more careful instead of trying to be “first” all of the time.

  16. Bill Schweitzer says:

    Been there, done that for 25 years till retirement on a metropolitan P.D. Still have many recollections of the job and “off duty” employment wearing me down. There is also the satisfaction in doing the right thing for all citizens and the family!

  17. hobgoblin238 says:

    I blame the nagnogs. Whenever blacks are 50% of the population or more it destroys the city.
    Someone needs to do a cost-benefit analysis on all the millions pissed-away on non-violence programs for Blacks. And gibs for midnight bakketball, yuof centers, etc.
    The total should be so mindboggling even most DWLs should give pause. It may not change their evil ways but should at least shut them the hell up for 5-10 minutes or so.

    No amount of money will change these amoral barbaric hordes. None. I may as well expect my cats to change the oil in my car.

    It. Ain’t. Happening.

    I couldn’t help noticing that Google has imbedded an ode to some female negroe in history today. As it turns out, the biggest thing she was able to accomplish was in not giving up her seat to a white man on a train to Memphis. Now for those who can appreciate what real accomplishment looks like I would like to highlight a couple of historical occurrences of significance: On this day in 1969, at 9:32 a.m. EDT, Apollo 11, the first U.S. lunar landing mission, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a historic journey to the surface of the moon. Also on this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Gosh, if I were an african in America I wouldn’t want to know about either of those two YT acts of genius. We discovered the secret of the Atom and altered the course of human history. We breeched the confines of our atmosphere and visited another body in the solar system. They got on a train to Memphis.

    • Paul says:

      Hobgoblin238 You need your mouth cauterized so no more filth spews from it.

    • Marty says:

      Anecdotal racists are the worst… they have bullshit “stats”- and they spew them like “facts”. There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. You don’t have to do this nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmm… hobgoblin, you have kind of an “asshole” perspective. Bigoted combined with misogynistic. Not welcome. 😦

    • Don Kelly says:

      Your racist comment is as useless and stupid as that guy holding the sign. Intellectually, you guys are closer relatives than the rest of the people who actually read and understood this post.

  18. Very good Read !! It has always been off limits to do anything to a Police Officer. Nowadays these Brainless Twits, have No Feelings if they Shoot any Man, Women are Child.
    Then they complain the Police can’t have Armored vehicles, and Military Weapons to protect themselves. They need this equipment to Protect themselves from these Low Life’s. Then to Protect themselves, and the regular people from the Terrorists that are starting to invade Our Home Land. GOD BLESS each Police Officer and Their families that all stay safe !!!

  19. Karen says:

    I have not heard any of the media coverage about the man with the sign. I find myself wondering if he is talking to the people of the “ritzy” neighborhood, as you call CWE. As in “shootings happen in my neighborhood all the time, how does it feel to have it happen in yours?” Not a condemnation of police, but a wake up call to those who think gun violence is someone else’s problem?

  20. mistyslaws says:

    As always, a wonderfully written piece. Just a shame that it’s needed. Be safe out there, my friend.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow this is such an amazing and touching story. To the officer and his family stay strong and be as safe as you can and come home that is what I tell my husband in blue. From my police family to yours thank you for all you do and keeping us safe. Great article to the writer:)

  22. lisanewlin says:

    Beautiful piece! I’m so sorry this happened to your friend but glad he’s doing okay. Poor guy was just trying to make some extra cash.

    P.S. A few of my friends shared this on their timelines and I don’t believe they know you, so yay for exposure! (But not indecent exposure. That’s totally different.)

  23. claywatkins says:

    As always your post is a good read, you write well and your style is perfect.It’s disturbing the amount of violence – needless violence – in our communities. I love in Chicagoland, though i don’t live in Chicago – just the suburbs. needless crap that goes on – most of it perpetrated by kids who don’t have good things going on in their lives and someone making sure they are home, Nothing good is gonna happen between 12 and 6 AM. Thanks, it was a pleasure to read. Hope the officer is doing well.

  24. Cathy says:

    WOW! To bad this doesn’t become viral on all social media platforms. Well said and thank you for your years of service.

  25. Connie says:

    Good job well said!!

  26. Elyse says:

    Don, i’ve started this comment a bunch of times, and can’t quite get out what I want to say.

    First, thank you. You are far away from me, but you and your buddies help keep me safe. Thank you all.

    Second, what kind of world have we created? There are bad cops, I am sure, and they have dominated the news, especially lately. That does not make the shooting of an officer “justice.” That’s what we have courts for.

    Third, when did gloating over another’s — any other’s — misfortune become something to be celebrated?

    We’ve become a nation (a world?) of myopic morons. (Like hobgoblin above.)

  27. Anne says:

    What an awesome well written piece! Thank you and all the other police officers that put their life on the line to keep us safe!

  28. Don Kelly says:

    Thank you. Your thoughts on the subject are well presented and go well beyond those of the bottom feeders we too often see on message boards and social media. I hope Sgt. Brave makes a quick recovery both mentally and physically. Thanks to both of you for your service.

  29. Barbara says:

    Sad state of affairs. It wasn’t always like this. I’m old enough to remember when cops were always trusted and admired as the default. As kids, we saw anyone in a uniform as someone special, someone to admire and trust. Heck, even the milkman (Yes, I’m that old),

  30. Man, Don, buddy. I haven’t been on this thing in a long, long time. But all this recent attention to police brutality got me thinking of you. Please stay safe out there. I’m going to share your side of the story with my friends, because as we all know, there are always more than one side to a story. Thank you for your service and for being a wonderful man. But that Bud Lime shit, you gotta cut that out. Drink some bourbon, okay. Miss ya buddy. My love to you and your family.

    The Dimwit Dingaling

    • Hey buddy! How are you? I’m glad you stopped by and I’m interested to know what you’ve been doing my friend.

      • I don’t even know where to begin, Don. I’m mostly the same. Highly functioning insane batshit crazy person. But, buddy (not to be confused with butt buddy), my oldest brother died unexpectedly in May. He had a heart attack and left behind a wife and 3 kids. It’s rocked my world a little. I’m doing okay. Chin up. I had sex with a black girl finally, and it rocked my world a little, too. You know what they say…I won’t say it. It’s out of line even for me. But you know, I’m good, thanks. Enjoying this short life the most I can. I hope the same for you.

  31. markbialczak says:

    Bravo for answering the fool so calmly and intelligently, Don. It feels like the pot-stirrers wanted worse from everybody involved. I hope Officer Brave continues to recover well, my friend, and the community comes together to realize communication is better than any of the alternatives.

  32. claywatkins says:

    Don – I read this post when you wrote it and promised I’d leave a note and didn’t. I am glad you and many others like you are enforcing the laws and keeping the peace. Too often we read about something bad going on when the police need to engage. We never hear about the good the force does, it doesn’t pay for the media to spread the good news, only seed dissension. I know there is far more good going on than bad – thank you. I teach kids and I know some of the stuff you have to deal with – just dumb stuff. it would be easier to just follow along and jump in line,but some folks ain’t wired that way.Life would be better for everyone – if folks just did what they were asked to do – this first time, maybe even the second time. Love your posts, even when I read and re-read them a little on the late side. I hope the officer who was injured is doing well and back on patrol. Have a great week.

    • Thanks as always, Clay. I appreciate it a bunch. The officer is doing good, but he’s not back at it yet. It’s a mess again as an officer shot somebody yesterday, so we’re back to high alert around these parts. Sigh…

  33. J Brown says:

    i happened upon your blog through a story posted by a STL media source. I’ve read two of your stories and they’re very powerful. Thank you for your service.

    In reading the last story, I see that you fall into the same trap that the protesters, hate groups, etc. fall in. The fastest way to discredit and dehumanize someone is to call them names. It’s akin to the difference in how you would feel if someone came up to you and said ‘hey pig’ as opposed to ‘hey officer.’ The change starts with the man in the mirror.

  34. Pingback: It happens…another shooting | don of all trades

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