Trending Topics

When police calls for service become emotionally challenging

There are certain things that stay with you in this job — the screams


Police have to be equipped to respond to any type of incident.


By Motorcop

There are certain things that stay with you in this job. You’ll always remember your first fight. Your first pursuit. Your first arrest. There are other things that simply blend together into a blur or an amalgamation of multiple stories that bleed into one another.

And then there are the things that are crystal clear. The memories you couldn’t cleanse yourself of if you tried. There are the screams. I’ve spent over half of my career assigned to the traffic unit as a motor officer. My primary function is investigating collisions and writing citations. I’m also assigned to the fatal/major injury collision team. About seven years ago, we got called out to a fatal collision near a local college. Never before, nor since, have I seen such destruction.This car was absolutely destroyed. It looked like it had hit a roadside bomb and disintegrated.

As a new member of the reconstruction team at the time, I had the duty of holding the prism pole as we forensically mapped the scene with our total station. That day I marked over 87 points of body evidence. The teenaged female driver had been ripped apart and we were able to identify 87 different parts of her body. Including a de-gloved calf. As we were wrapping up the scene, her mom arrived on scene. How or why, I’ll never know. I do, however, know that I will never forget the pain, anguish and blood-curdling heartbreak that reverberated off of every object within a one-block radius as this mother of a beautiful young woman let loose a caterwaul so powerful it still resides in my memory.

Fast forward a couple years. I responded to a missing toddler. Long story short, the toddler was eventually located. At the bottom of a pool. After at least 20 minutes. It didn’t end well. The babysitter saw the firefighter lift the baby’s lifeless body from the murky, green water. And she screamed.

Friends, I am well read. I am a college-educated writer. I do not lack in the eruditeness department. Still, I do not have the words to describe this scream. When I close my eyes, though, I can picture that backyard. I picture the pool with its water slapping the sides. I see the individual drops of water falling from the now-soaked T-shirt of the firefighter. I see the baby’s arms listlessly dangle and time stands still. Then I hear the scream.

At the time of the call, I had a daughter about the same age. Today, I have three daughters. As I sit and type this out at 0600 on a Saturday morning, I have tears in my eyes because I can only imagine the pain the babysitter must have felt.

If you are reading this story and you are a member of a uniformed service, God bless you for your service and sacrifice. If you are reading this story and you are not one of us, know this: We carry within us the memories of things that most people can barely handle once. And then we go back and do them again and again.

Uniform Stories features a variety of contributors. These sources are experts and educators within their profession. Uniform Stories covers an array of subjects like field stories, entertaining anecdotes, and expert opinions.