Distribution: Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – Thanksgiving 2016

As always, I want to give another thank you to all who forward this message to your departments and staff. You trust me enough to share my message to others, and I strive to not make you regret that decision.

To all reading this message: For many of us it has been a long year. And in spite of everything going on, you still get up and do a job that is under-appreciated and in some cases ignored. Like I said in my last note, sometimes encouragement is in short supply. I am one of many hoping to change that and make things better for all of us. Thanks for spending a few moments with me, and Happy Thanksgiving!

In this email I want to address a comment I’ve received on more than one occasion. Some people reading this may not feel that they are the heroes that I reference in my ending line. A lot of public safety personnel have the same struggle with being called a “hero”. This is how Doc sees it.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines hero as:

1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life
3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See Synonyms at celebrity.
4. The principal character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.
5. See submarine sandwich.

We can safely discard 1, 4 and 5 since I’m not talking mythology or food. However, I (and a lot of others I might add) see thinks like running into a burning building to check for survivors, going inside buildings to fight a fire that might easily collapse on you, taking on an active shooter, etc. falls into “feats of courage or nobility of purpose” in my book. I think the problem is that we think of “hero” as one who has a cape, some sort of super power or does something that is non-human. And that just isn’t true.  We look at people like the NYPD, FDNY or other high-profile instances who gave their lives say “They are heroes, but not me”. And without taking anything away from those brave people, the only thing that separates your department from theirs is 2 things: location and opportunity. And if “push came to shove” in your community or a community close to you, it would be you that would be pushing up the stairs into the fire, pushing into a school to get a shooter, or pushing through a disaster area hoping to save at least one more life in the rubble.

I had my hometown Sheriff’s Office and Volunteer Fire Department downplay themselves to me at one point. It was just a “job” for them. Until March 2, 2012 when I (and lots of others) saw them make tremendous sacrifices and go to such great lengths to rescue folks after the Kentucky Tornado outbreak. They still may not like the term “hero”, but what they did was nothing short of heroic. And in my mind, what I witnessed first hand was legendary.

Ronald Reagan once said “Those who say we live in a time where there are no heroes just don’t know where to look” and I think he is right. So maybe instead of looking to others, it’s our turn to stand up, accept the mantle, and be the heroes of our stories.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, we all know that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again: You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Distribution: Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – September 11, 2016

As always, I want to give another thank you to all who forward this message to your departments and staff. You trust me enough to share my message to others, and I strive to not make you regret that decision.

To all reading this message: You have a hard job. I know that, as do countless other people across our communities and great nation. Sometimes encouragement is in short supply, and some of us are our out there working to change that, and to turn the tide of negativity.

It is during this time each year that we remember traits that shone through on this day. Traits that make us who we are, and make our country and your professions great.  We remember sacrifice, courage and determination. We remember not only the over 450 fire and law enforcement that died that day, but the hundreds since of related diseases.  We might read their names, go to a memorial, or we learn about their stories.

But what can we do, what can each of us do, to ensure that we help make their legacy count?  I’ll tell a story for an example.

When I saw Captain America: Civil War with my family, I absolutely hated it, but not for the reasons you may think. It had lots of action. The acting was good, as were the effects. There were good lines and funny scenes. It held my attention for the length of the movie. (Spoiler warning)What I hated is (and maybe I’m just too analytical): Here is a bunch of “super heroes” who can figure out each other’s weaknesses and fight each other, but they can not see that the true enemy is not each other but DIVISION. Then near the end of the movie ONE of them figures it out AND KEEPS IT TO HIMSELF. I wanted to scream in the theater. Seriously.

But the more I think about it, the more I think that it sometimes resembles our workplaces and our families. We are close to each other and know what makes them tick. We know what gets to them and where the buttons are. Yet, sometimes we fail to come together and fight for each other and instead we fight each other. Sometimes the reality is this: It’s sometimes easier to “grab someone’s throat” then it is to “have their back”.

And we do it on hundreds of ways. Someone comes after your spouse and you’ll fight to the death, but they have a bad day and instead of being there you want to fight back. Drop a 99 or a Mayday and everyone comes running (as they should), but it something happens on the jurisdiction lines…well most of you know how that works.

Sometimes we are so busy that we fail to see where the real battles of our life are, and how insignificant the ones we choose to fight are. John Maxwell says “Teamwork makes the dream work”, but sometimes we just fail each other.

So I guess the reason I hated the movie is because I have lived it, and maybe in some sense still do. But that’s what all good parables, stories, and lessons do. They show us what makes us mad, and then holds up a mirror to our lives. It changes a “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” to an” Ouch, I guess I do that too. ”

What do we do? Maybe we reach out to that person in the other department that is a pain in the neck.  Maybe we reach out to that department that we see running when there’s a distress signal that we don’t know much about. Maybe we talk to that guy who wants all the training and find out what he knows or why. Maybe we host a training and invite other departments (and we even provide the doughnuts). But more than that, we just help each other, encourage each other.

So what “team” am I failing, what “team” can I do more for? What areas do I need to grow? I know what my answers are. What about you?

In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again: You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

My commitment to you.

To all my Public Safety friends: You know I’d do anything for you that I can and that I’ll have your back as much and as often as I can. But I have something I need to say.
 
I know that we blame the administration, or the media, or CopBlock, or lack of volunteers in the department or community for where we are as a Nation (and I’ll not disagree with any of those), but to quote Dr Phil “Sometimes you have to show folks how you want to be treated.”
 
All it takes is one of us being on the news to make it harder on the rest of us. All eyes are on us and the media and our detractors are looking for reasons to pick us apart.
 
I’ve been public about some of my shortcomings and the demons I fight. And I know that some of you are fighting battles far more complex than mine, and I respect that. I respect you not wanting to put your struggles in the public eye.
 
We have had arrests of some of our own for issues like drug use, DUI, anger and other things on the news (not to mention what we may struggle with behind closed doors).
 
I want to make you a commitment: If you are struggling, and you don’t know where to go, or you have tried something and it is not working, I will help you find help. There are chaplains across the Miami Valley who would agree to help too. I’ve offered to start a Celebrate Recovery session restricted to only Police/Fire/EMS and would still do that if there was enough interest. I’ve offered to come out for ride alongs or address a shift or department, or have a yearly seminar on relationships, stress or suicide (or all the above). I’d do anything I can for you.
I made a commitment that I wanted to make the Miami Valley the best place to be in Public Safety…the best place to be a cop, firefighter, or EMS.  But when you suffer in silence, behind closed doors, you are tying our hands. But now, I’m asking  you: “Help me to help you.”
For a time in my life, I suffered alone. I know what it’s like. You don’t have to do that any more.

Are police safer in 2015?

For those of you who read the Huffington Post article “FBI Confirms 2015 Was One Of The Safest Years Ever For Cops” , they are saying that based on the number of line of duty deaths released by the FBI that “2015 was one of the safest years for U.S. law enforcement in recorded history, following a sustained trend of low numbers of on-duty deaths in recent decades.”

The article stated that the stats “indicate that 41 police officers were intentionally killed in the U.S. while in the line of duty in 2015….but this number marks a decrease of nearly 20 percent compared to the 51 law enforcement officers killed in 2014”

If you look at those facts alone, then it does seem safer. But, let’s look at this further. In 2016 there have been 32 officer deaths attributed to gunfire, and 88% increase, and a lot of those were ambush-style attacks. The percent of felony assault (assaults, bomb, gunfire and vehicular assault) to officer line of duty deaths in 2014 was 41.3% of total officer deaths, 43.1% of total deaths in 2015 and 62.4% of officer deaths so far in 2016. So the numbers show that while police are working hard to reduce deaths they can (heart disease, car accident, gun accidents), the method used by the Huffington Post does not tell the entire story (shocker). Policing is becoming more physically dangerous. Add the fact that since a lot of the deaths have been ambush-style, there is an escalated sense of not knowing who and where danger or the next shot is coming from.

Additionally, officers continue to feel less safe due to numerous factors.

  1. Media coverage. Media is quick to report and make their judgments on an officer shooting. Reporting the facts is one thing, but reporting conclusions and “what seems to be” is another thing entirely.  After the media constantly made judgments in the Darren Wilson case, multiple investigations shows that the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” narrative was completely false.
  2. Fear of losing their livelihood if they need protect themselves like Officer Darren Wilson.
  3. Death threats via social media and the chants “pigs in a blanket fry em like bacon” or the rhetoric by Black Panthers and Louis Farrakhan would have both proclaimed death to officers.
  4. Character assassination and constant commentary by people who have no idea about law enforcement.
  5. Constant attacks from political elites. Comments like Hillary Clinton’s “police violence that terrorizes communities” and President Obama’s comments on the anything but peaceful Ferguson riots “There’s no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

So no Huffington Post, the American officer is NOT safer.

#SupportPolice #BlueLivesMatter #WarOnCops #WeSeeYou #Lesm #Baltimore #Ferguson #HuffingtonHasNoClue

Distribution: Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – Fourth of July 2016

First let me apologize for the lateness of this message. As always, I want to say a big thank you to all who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance. I also want to thank each of you reading this. I hope you will find some encouragement or inspiration. I know you’re busy and you do a lot to get ready for your shift. So thank you for reading.

One of our founding fathers, John Adams, stated that “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.” That statement has remained true for us as a nation since our founding. Throughout our history, our nation has been involved in wars at home and wars overseas. As a nation we have redefined who we are and where we are headed. As a nation, we came from pilgrims, refugees, slaves and people fleeing oppression and we banded together to defeat one of the mightiest world powers of the time. We are a nation of overcoming adversity. We are a nation of people who can lay aside their own problems and come together.

Today our nation is facing challenges that our forefathers never imagined. We have major issues facing us like shootings, drug epidemic, and as a nation we are divided along so many fronts. But as the saying goes “It’s always darkest before the dawn”, and I believe that can be true for the United States today. So how can WE make a difference? How do WE turn the tide?
1) This one seems simple, we just do good things. Author Jeremy Palman wrote “Morality is not hard to know, it is hard to do.” As we, as individuals, go about trying to make OUR world better, it helps make THE world a better place.

2) Live like you are always being watched, because you are. In today’s society, those of us in public safety are being watched more and more closely. So to quote Bonnie Raitt “Let’s give them something to talk about.” Let’s go out and give a little extra when we can. Give the kid a sticker, a sucker, or a stuffed animal from your vehicle. Tell the attendant at the gas station the joke of the day. Make it your goal to make five people smile or laugh each day.

3) Do something unexpected. Surprise someone for paying for their lunch. Bring in fruit to roll call. One of the departments I helped with recently sent me a small gift in the mail. It cost them a few dollars, but it made my day.

Someone might say “Why should I try harder? I mean, I’m doing my job. Isn’t that enough?” To quote one of my favorite writers “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” I know that those may not be big things, or things that will make the evening news. But you just might change someone’s mind about those “public safety people”. Little things can mean more than you think. As Margret Mead put it “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Sometimes, even the best of us lose that perspective. We all need a “shot in the arm” from time to time (or maybe a “kick in the pants” if you’re anything like me). So if you find yourself struggling, ask someone you trust, ask a Chaplain, ask that trusted co-worker, or you can ask me, my contact information is below.

So Happy Independence Day, America! Let’s go out and live it!

In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again, you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

 

Dr. Mike A. Crain I, D.Min.
Chaplain
Huber Heights, OH 45424

Blog: https://chaplainthoughts.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DoctorMichael

Thoughts on the Dr Phil interview with the mother of Michael Brown

I used to like Dr Phil. I mean, catchy southern expressions, and a “say it like it is”  discussion, what’s not to like? But after the recent interview with the Mother of Michael Brown, I’m not sure I can support him any longer. Brother Kenneth Hagin used to say “Be as smart as an old cow, eat the hay and spit out the sticks”, so I can tolerate some things from people that I disagree with.But his seeming anti-police (and in this case anti-Darren Wilson) thoughts can not be tolerated.

Look, are we still sticking by the “he was a good kid” story? Haven’t we seen the videos of not only the store robbery moments before, but other videos that testify that his character wasn’t quite as wholesome as some would have us believe?  Come on, both investigations cleared Wilson. The actual facts, scientific evidence, lines up with his story, not the “hands up, don’t shoot” lie that was told time after time. it’s been said “If you tell a lie long enough people start to believe it”, and the “Hands up” is just that kind of lie.  so I am asked to make a choice between an officer with a good record whose story is backed by facts, or the story told by a criminal about a FELON (which is what Brown became after his assaults) which has no basis in fact. I think I know which story I would choose.

Then he asks”Has anyone apologized?” I seem to recall Darren Wilson saying he was sorry it happened in his interview. But even if that is not the case, why should I expect a man to say “I’m sorry that I chose to defend my own life against a much larger man that was attacking me?”

The apologies need to come FROM the Brown family and those who surrounded them that kept the lies going. To Darren Wilson for having to defend his life from a criminal attack.To the city of Ferguson of which they said “Burn this @#$%@ down” and to the shop owners in Ferguson who lost their livelihood because the crowd was incited by the lie that Brown was just a good kid and Wilson was the monster. And an apology to every cop who has hesitated in the moment when they have to choose to defend themselves from a criminal attack because they are afraid of being the next Darren Wilson. And to every one of us who were called racists, bigots, or backwater hillbillies who dared to show their support for Darren Wilson.

Sorry Dr Phil, this one was over the top.

Captain America : Civil War

I saw Captain America: Civil War tonight with my family. I absolutely hated it, but not for the reasons you may think. It had lots of action. The acting was good, as were the effects. There were good lines and funny scenes. It held my attention for the length of the movie.

(Spoiler warning)What I hated is this (and maybe I’m just too analytical): Here is a bunch of “super heroes” who can figure out each other’s weaknesses and fight each other, but they can not see that the true enemy is not each other but DIVISION. Then near the end of the movie ONE of them figures it out AND KEEPS IT TO HIMSELF. I wanted to scream in the theater. Seriously.

But the more I think about it, the more I think that it sometimes resembles our workplaces and our families. We are close to each other and know what makes them tick. We know what gets to them and where the buttons are. Yet, we fail to come together and fight for each other and instead we fight each other. Sometimes the reality is this: It’s easier to “grab someone’s throat” then it is to “have their back”.

And we do it on hundreds of ways. Someone comes after your wife and you’ll fight to the death. She has a bad day and instead of being there you want to fight back. Drop a 99 and everyone comes running ( as they should) , but it something happens on the jurisdiction lines…well you know how that works.

Sometimes we are so busy that we fail to see where the real battles of our life are, and how insignificant the ones we choose to fight are. John Maxwell says “Teamwork makes the dream work”, but sometimes just fail each other.

So I guess the reason I hated the movie is because I have lived it, and maybe in some sense still do. But that’s what all good parables, stories, and lessons do. Show us what makes us mad, then holds up a mirror to our lives. It changes a “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” to an ” Ouch, that hurts. ”

So what “team” are you failing, what “team” can you do more for? What areas do you need to grow? I know what my answers are. What about you?