Darkest Hour

Dr. Michael A. Crain I, D.Min.:

Anyone connected to the fire service will totally understand this article. And it’s not just for fire, it applies to law enforcement and EMS too. Give it a read and a follow!

Originally posted on ffbha:

L. Mauser-Ferguson
03/26/15

The Cincinnati Fire Department lost a good man on the job this morning named Daryl Gordon. I did not know him, but have gotten calls and messages this morning from several brothers who did. By all accounts, he was a magnificent man who will be so severely missed. I want to extend my deepest condolences to Cincinnati FD and everyone who loved Daryl Gordon: Myself and everyone I know are sending you a huge combination of prayers, uplifting thoughts, and hugs.

Today was already a dark day, marking the anniversary of the deaths of Boston’s Lieutenant Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy. I remember sitting at my kitchen table listening to the fireground channel last year during the search for both Walsh and Kennedy, yelling silently in my head for my Dad to save them. I found myself doing the same thing this morning listening to the…

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A supporter’s pledge for my Public Safety friends

In the last year, we have seen a lot of articles and social media hastags regarding Public Safety. We’ve seen videos like “I see You” designed to show us that citizens do notice and care about the efforts and sacrifices made by our officers. We’ve seen things like the LEO Bill of Rights, Why We Can’t Stop Talking, and You Are Not Alone, all telling us that LEO’s have rights, why we always talk about our heroes, and what we say to each other. When Officer Perry Renn was killed in Indianapolis, we saw the “I will Always Get Out of My Car” campaign. When everyone wanted to say that any lives were more important than Public Safety, we saw tags like #PoliceLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, #LESM and recently #WarOnPolice spring up because in our hearts we know that Blue lives do matter. We don’t say that to exclude others, nor do we want to put ourselves on some sort of pedestal. We say it because we will not allow people to reduce our lives to second class because of the uniforms we wear. (Rest assured, if our fire and EMS brothers are under attack, we will jump in with #FireLivesMatter or #MedicLivesMatter if we need to, we honor and respect them too!!!!)

So as a supporter of Law Enforcement, Fire fighters, and EMT’s, here are some of the promises I make to my Public Safety friends. As a Chaplain, these are the promises I make to my departments.

1. I will ALWAYS come for you.
What I mean by this is this: When you need me, I will be there. If you get in a shooting and need someone to talk to, I will come for you. If you find yourself at the hospital, all I need is to hear about it, and I will come for you. You need someone to ride with you? Block traffic with you? Treat mass victims with you? Feel alone? Get divorced? Need a friend? I will ALWAYS come for you.
2. I will always be prepared.
Beyond the regular education that ministers have completed, I’ve completed other trainings like Active Shooter, First Aid, CPR, and trauma treatment.
3. I will have life saving materials with me.
For those who have had me ride with you, you know that I always have a bag with me. In it you will find regular first aid items, and trauma items too. I have items ranging from band aids and ibuprofen to Israeli Bandages and QuikClot. I might not be able to do brain surgery, but I sure am going to be able to keep you alive if the worst comes for you. If the worst does come for you I will help you kick it in the rear end. If it comes for you and I’m next to you, we will BOTH make it out.
4. I will always support you. I might not be able to make it the best place to be a cop, Firefighter or EMT, but I’m sure as heck going to try. If you make a mistake and have consequences, you will still be supported. If you need help at 3 AM because you are at the end of your rope, I will do what I can to help.
5. I will always speak up. I will not be silent, and any of you who are my Facebook friends know that. I won’t back down.  It doesn’t matter if it’s fashionable or not . It doesn’t matter what someone else does or says.
6. I will not be offended. I had to put this one because sometimes officers are afraid of saying something in front of the Chaplain. You can tell me anything. Seriously. I’m not offended by language, and although I don’t use it, you will not be shamed or thought any less of if you do. I don’t need shielded from reality or from your thoughts. If you’ve had a bad day and need to yell, I can listen.
7. I will go anywhere needed. When I come out for a visit, you don’t have to keep me in the business district or on the nice side of town. If I’m riding with you, I’ll go with you whenever possible, and when you say “Stay in the car”, that’s what I’ll do…just answer your radio checks! Bad side of town after dark? Scene of a suicide or bad car accident? I’ll go anywhere needed.

I encourage all my “supporter” friends to share this. If you think of other things, pass them along. I also encourage all my Chaplain friends and LEO spouses (and anyone else who regularly rides/visits with officers) , have a bag with you. Get first aid training. Have trauma supplies. Always be ready for the worst. Know their cues. Col Dave Grossman says “If you wake up everyday like it’s 9/11, when 9/11 comes you’ll be ready.”

To My Friends Outside My Police Family: This is Why We Can’t Stop Talking About It.

Dr. Michael A. Crain I, D.Min.:

For those of you who know me, know that this is a cause close to my heart. I started sending emails to departments and now over 725 departments hear from me. These people are special to me and I will always fight for them. And they have rewarded me by accepting me into their family. They have done far more for me than maybe I could ever do for them, yet I will keep trying because, for me, Blue Lives Matter as well as Gold (Dispatch) , Red (Fire) and white (EMS). So if you sre my friend and I have invited you into my life, before you share that negative story or make those cruel comments, just think about me and not participate in the hate of my extended families.

Originally posted on Humanizing The Badge:

You may be my friend in real life.  You might just be someone who knew me when I was a child.  Maybe we grew up together and we follow each others life through social media. You see pictures of my child and I get to watch as you navigate your way through life.  You see my status messages that talk about how my family and I just took our 3 year old to the park or that my husband was just promoted at work.  Maybe you witness a birth announcement or the death of a family member as you look upon my life via a social media platform.  Either way, I have, for some reason or another, chosen to allow you to be a part of it.

You know I’m a police wife or a police husband.  Maybe I’m even an officer and we’re friends outside of my job.  You…

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Open Letter to a Rookie’s Spouse: Fear Not. You aren’t Alone.

Dr. Michael A. Crain I, D.Min.:

This is a post from a group supporting spouses of officers. There is some really great points here.

Originally posted on Humanizing The Badge:

Your significant other has always wanted to be an officer. They have that “first man in, last man out” mentality. They were born to do something heroic and brave. They have a heart that is so desperate to change the world that their career path is far more than just a job; it’s a calling.  When they sat down to tell you that they were considering the police academy, your heart either soared with pride or sank with fear.  For some people, it was both.

I didn’t know my husband when he decided to go into police work.  He had already been employed by our local police department for several years before he swept me off my feet. When I began dating him, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was new to this world of extra precautions, unforeseen reasons for plans to be broken, and the stress that…

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You Betrayed Them

Dr. Michael A. Crain I, D.Min.:

I saw this article and it brought me to tears. Who betrayed those officers?

Originally posted on House to Home:

police

I was driving to a Christmas party when my phone rang. I heard the words and my heart felt shattered. Every fear, every worry, every feeling of panic came rushing into my throat and I couldn’t stop it. I had to stop it. My babies were with me. I was about to meet new people and see old friends. It was a party. Everyone’s supposed to be happy. My heart felt ripped to shreds. I kept looking at my phone, even though I knew there would be nothing good to see. My face kept smiling, my mouth kept speaking but my heart was racing and the tears were always right beneath the surface.

Today it was them. You don’t know them. They’re just names to you. To some of you, they are symbols of heroism and honor, but to many of you they are symbols of “oppression” and “brutality.”

Today…

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This Chaplain’s take on the events in Cleveland

Warning: This is long.

Disclaimer: This is written as a perspective, not official guidance on the law or police procedures. If you have questions on your laws and ordinances, seek professional guidance. This article (nor its author) may not necessarily represent the opinions and thoughts of the Cleveland Police Department (or any of its members), or the City of Cleveland, or any agency the author is affiliated with.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, here is how I come to the following conclusions. I’ve been around public safety since 2008 and a Chaplain since 2012. I’ve spent over 500 hours in a police cruiser with police. I have been in situations that I thought I might have to use a weapon in defense, or almost hit by a passing car in traffic. I have not come to these conclusions lightly, but I have used my training and experiences, experiences that I know most people do not have or understand.

By now most of us have seen the video of the shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland on November 22, 2014. Two Cleveland police officers, Timothy Loehmann, 26, and Frank Garmback,46, responded after receiving a dispatch call describing a “young black male” brandishing a gun at people in a city park. The officers stated that during the confrontation, Rice reached towards a gun in his waistband. Loehmann fired two shots within two seconds of arriving on the scene, hitting Rice once in the torso.The gun turned out to be an Airsoft gun. Rice died the following day.

  1. He was pulling in and out of his waistband. You see in the video that he was clearly pointing this weapon at people. Those people may or may not have know that the gun was only an air soft gun.
  2. “Rice was just a child”. While Tamir was a child, and 12 years old, his appearance my not have made that easily identifiable. According to the autopsy, Tamir was 5:7 and weighed 195 pounds. Tamir’s appearance was “consistent with the reported age of 12 years old or older,” the autopsy said. I joined the military in 1995 at the height of 5:10 and 185 pounds. So even from up close, he may not have given the appearance of “a child”. In addition, the initial radio contact from the officers on scene was “Shots fired, male down, black male, maybe 20.”
  3. “Children can not be dangerous, especially to grown men”. This has been proven false numerous times. For example:
    This is roughly the age that gang involvement and initiations begin.
    12 Year old kills a homeless man in Florida.
    Boy, 12, stabbed baby brother to death.
    Boy, 12, charged with murder in playground stabbing.
    10-year-old boy confesses to killing 90-year-old woman.

    I could go on, but you see the point. Minors can definitely be dangerous. The other factor is this: If the minor has a weapon and knows how to use it, they are armed and dangerous. If they do not know how to use it, the weapon is still dangerous, because it can fire due to neglect or carelessness and hurt/kill anyone around them.

  4. “Killed because of a toy gun”. What people infer is that since we NOW KNOW that the gun was a Airsoft gun, the police did not have to shoot. While this statement is true, it is only true at face value. The officers were not aware that the gun was an Airsoft gun. Only after examined up close were they able to determine that fact. So based on the information they had, they thought someone was pointing a gun at people walking by. In Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), the United States Supreme Court held that the “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. The Fourth Amendment “reasonableness” inquiry is whether the officers’ actions are “objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. Pp. 490 U. S. 396-397.

    In an initial statement following the tragic incident, a Cleveland Police spokesperson said, “Upon arrival on scene, officers located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands. The suspect did not comply with the officers’ orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso.”

    So the point here is that given the information they had, did they do what a “reasonable” officer would do in the situation. Is it reasonable to shoot someone who attempts to go to their waistband for a gun? I would say “Yes it is”. Is it reasonable to do it when it is a child, even if it may be (or even looks fake)? I again would say it is. And while some would like to rush to judgement based on the facts as we know them now, the Graham v. Connor standard mandates that officers be judged on the information they have.

    I hope this article is informative and help put the Rice shooting in some perspective.

    If you are one of my LEO friends and you have additional thoughts, examples or clarification, please let me know and I’ll update the article.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic, Fire and Dispatch personnel – Merry Christmas 2014

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators, and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. For those of you in stations or cars working during the holidays, we appreciate the sacrifices you and your family are making while ensuring our safety and security. It does not go unappreciated or unnoticed.

If anything marks the holidays, it’s a sense of gratitude (hopefully). I know that we sometimes see the worst that society has to offer, and the holidays may seem like anything but gratitude. But what I’m coming to know more and more as I get older, that gratitude can be anywhere, and will be there when you least expect it. Sometimes you just have to know where to look. Just like most people, I can get disappointed, agitated, disillusioned, or just plan cynical. Sometimes we have bad days. Today, as I write this email, it was a bad day for me. Horrible really. But then took time to read a card I got in the mail. It was from a dispatcher far away from where I live who read my email and took the time to reply and it turned my day around (and if that person reads this before you get my reply, it is coming!).

So what do we do when we get to the end of the year and our “tank is empty” so to speak?

  1. Count your blessings  – A wise person challenged me to do a gratitude jar recently. So you get this jar and every time something good happens to you, you scribble it down and put it in the jar. Someone buy your lunch? Out it in the jar. Someone shook your hand at the gas station? Put it in the jar. Find a $5 bill in a parking lot? Put it in the jar. Then when you have those bad days, look at the jar. Maybe even read some. Use than money to buy your lunch.
  2. Open your eyes – If you tell me nothing good ever happens to you, or that no one ever cares, I challenge you to look closer. It might not happen every day but I bet that more happens than we notice! And the mid has a funny way of working. If you start noticing even the small things over the next few weeks, guess what will happen. You will see more good things than before.
  3. Don’t wait for big things – Some people wait forever for their “ship to come in” and it never does, so they get disillusioned. Life is too short. Take note of the small things. If you wait your whole life to win the lottery, you will be passing up so many good things that others would give anything for.
  4. Have “A Person” – Have someone in your life that can call you out when you are in a dark place. I have a few that can do that. When I start the “woe is me” they get to tell me what I am failing to see. Let me be honest, no one likes being called out. But it just might help you see how good things really are.

In closing, I know that some of you think that this is all crazy. You “live in the real world”. Maybe you don’t see anything good in your life right now. Just give what I said a try. What do you have to lose? If I’m wrong then all you are out is a few minutes and a dollar for a jar. But, if I’m right, you can be happier this time next year.

During the holidays, I always put in this information, because I know that someone may need it. The holidays are meant to be times of joy, happiness, time with those we love and hope. While it can produce stress for even the best of us, for some of you can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. It can be hard to balance out what you have to deal with and still know that there are great people in society as well. I also know that it’s hard for us to reach out sometimes (and I’m no exception to this rule). 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, and any other Supervisor available for help. There is also other Clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. My phone is always on and I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, send an email. Reach out if you need to.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for 2015. 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.