From Static to Dynamic

Mark Chaparian
Mark Chaparian
Executive Director

The attractive woman has an uneasy feeling about this evening. She has just had the police serve a temporary protective order (TPO) on her abusive husband, whom she believes now lives not too far away from her home. The same qualities that attracted her to him — rough, muscular, large-framed and boisterous — are now the downfall of their relationship. She is tired of making excuses for her bruises and cannot tolerate another beating.

She hears a car door shut outside while she relaxes safely inside her modest home in a not-so-nice neighborhood. Her dog is alerted by something and has now started to bark. The woman peers out from behind her window shade and thinks she sees a glimpse of her soon-to-be-ex-husband walking around to the back of her home. Her heart begins to pound and she panics. She reaches for her phone and walks toward the back of her home, again peering out from the kitchen window. She now sees what she most feared — her ex-husband, who appears to be high or drunk, wielding a knife and shouting her name. She frantically dials 9-1-1, and before she has a chance to speak to the 9-1-1 operator, she hears the rear sliding-glass door shatter. He is coming in, and he is in a fit of rage!

The woman flees the kitchen and runs for her bedroom as the suspect is entering her home, yelling that he is going to kill her right after he rapes her. The 9-1-1 operator hears this from the other end of the phone line and immediately creates a priority-zero call, which will be given to the dispatcher to immediately assign to any available patrol unit(s).

“3 Paul 2 B en route to a violent 417,” blares over the radio right after an alert tone gets the attention of everyone on the patrol radio channel. The 9-1-1 operator is feverishly trying to get more details from the woman when suddenly all she can hear is, “No, don’t! Please don’t! I’m sorry. Please … don’t! Leave me alone!” This new information is relayed to the responding patrol unit, who is now himself getting very anxious. He switches on his Code 3 emergency equipment, thinking he may be responding alone to handle this call, because no other units have been assigned and he knows that they are working short once again tonight.

This patrol cop doesn’t panic. He has handled violent calls alone before, as this has become the norm since graduating field training. The last update the 9-1-1 operator has is a sound of a woman screaming, which has now quieted to a faint whimper. With this new information, the patrol officer drives a little faster, keeping in mind that if he violates policy regarding maximum speed or he wrecks, he will be solely responsible and punished accordingly.

The 9-1-1 operator updates the call to reflect that the phone line has been disconnected and there is no answer upon recall. The responding officer is now arriving in the area and requests that the dispatcher please find him some backup as soon as possible. The dispatcher responds, “I’m working on getting you another unit, let me check the other channels.” The valley has become so violent and they are so critically short on police officers for a myriad of reasons that this officer must now be forced to make some split-second decisions that will impact not only his life, but the lives of citizens he is sworn to aid and protect.

As this cop exits his car, he slips on a pair of trusty old gloves in preparation for a violent encounter that seems inevitable now. He spots the suspect’s truck parked in front of the woman’s home and peers inside to make sure no one is hiding inside. As the officer hustles a little closer to the home, he hears a man’s voice yelling, “You made me do this, bitch!” He is able to peek inside the home from a front window, and it appears the home has been ransacked. With a Code Red on the radio channel and a backup officer finally on the way (yet still quite a distance away), this cop decides it is time to take action and tries the front door handle.

The door is unlocked, and he radios the dispatcher that he is about to enter the residence because he believes the woman’s life is at stake. His backup unit hears this radio traffic and wishes he could make his patrol car fly as he puts his driving skills to the ultimate test to get on-scene as fast as possible to assist his fellow officer. The air unit is not available due to maintenance and the area supervisor is busy and off the air, conducting a taped interview concerning an unrelated “statement of complaint” regarding an officer accused of being discourteous.

The cop on-scene pushes the door open, heads for the staircase, and slowly and methodically walks up the stairs toward what he thinks is the bedroom. The house is partially lit and he is unfamiliar with the layout. Suddenly, the cop hears glass breaking from the bedroom he’s heading toward. As he approaches the room, he sees a male suspect crawling out the window, holding a handgun in his right hand. The officer gives warning to the suspect to “Stop!” but instead the suspect fires one round at the officer, luckily missing him. The officer returns fire, striking him, but the suspect is able to slip out the window and does not stop.

The room has blood spatter all over the bed and walls. The suspect has stabbed the woman multiple times, but she is still breathing. The officer radios in a “444, shots fired” situation regarding the crime committed against the woman, her status and need for immediate medical attention, as well as the suspect’s physical description, his attempt to murder the officer and last known direction of travel. The backup officer has now arrived, a canine unit is en route, and the watch commander is working on setting up a perimeter. The woman’s injuries appear to not be fatal, so the officer joins his backup at the front door, and they sweep the house for any additional suspects. Just as they are completing this task, paramedics arrive and are led to the victim. A neighbor comes running over toward the victim’s home and is intercepted by the primary officer on-scene. “There is someone in my shed and a blood trail leading toward it, too,” the neighbor shouts.

The officers make a tactical approach toward the shed as they send the neighbor away from the scene for safety. As soon as the shed is “challenged,” a male suspect bolts toward the back wall. The two officers are quick to respond and take him into custody before he scales the wall. They find him bleeding, clearly intoxicated, and with a .38-caliber handgun in his pocket. By this time, several other units have arrived and a slew of supervisors are on-scene or en route. A Force Investigation Team and a Critical Incident Review Team have been dispatched. The LVPPA has been notified and a team of representatives (including an attorney) are on the way to ensure that all officers involved are afforded their due process regarding the criminal, as well as administrative, investigation, and to ensure that each officer is treated with dignity and respect.

For a brief moment, before the parade of brass, supervisors, investigators, crime scene analysts and the like arrive, these two cops visually scan each other, take a big sigh of relief and ask each other, “You OK, Bro?” They are a bit in awe of what just happened, but they know they belong to a brotherhood of warriors who are the best of the best, and they have lived to see another day.

This story is fictitious, but obviously represents any given day in the police world. Our lives go from static to dynamic in a split second, and we don’t dictate suspects’ actions, only our own. We are questioned, scrutinized and second-guessed at every moment during a critical incident review. Our tactics are dissected and picked apart like a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. The violence and abuse we are subjected to by the bad apples in our society can be overwhelming.

The LVPPA is dedicated to protecting you, advocating for you, ensuring that you are afforded due process, negotiating for you and sometimes even litigating on your behalf. From the national level right down to local management of our Department, it appears as if we, the people, are under fire. We continue to carry your message to whomever needs to hear it. We diligently work with local and state entities to fend off the wolves who wish to strip you of your rights, benefits and pensions. It’s pretty clear that the battle will continue. Thank you for your continued commitment and support of the LVPPA. Together, we’ve got this.

As always, be safe!