“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.
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?
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?
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?
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.