As a police officer, there was only one place I was scared of and had avoided it for three years -- until this day.
“Hey, c’mon, don’t park right out front!” I said to my partner.
I had to go in there. She was my victim.
We split up calls like that -- one incident I’d be “contact” or main investigator, and my partner would be “cover”, assisting me.
“Ok, I’ll be three minutes,” I said.
“Don’t forget what I told you,” he said.
I crawled out of the passenger side and adjusted my duty belt – handgun, OC spray, flashlight on the right, two clips of rounds, collapsible ASP baton on the left, handcuffs in back.
I eyeballed my target destination and thought how proud I was to be a police officer -- the uniform, the job, the tradition.
It was July, but I wore my issued navy blue Gortex jacket. Squeezed against my skin by my Kevlar vest, droplets of sweat inched down my chest, like climbers descending a narrow crevasse.
I tugged my jacket lower over my hips as I walked across the sidewalk. I paused at the door and looked up at the sign.
It would have to be this one. Busiest commercial block in the city. Two floors and an open-plan design. Not good.
I opened the door and slipped inside.
Hands that gripped knives froze in mid-air. Throats closed up and hot fluids sloshed in gaping mouths. Thick, red liquid oozed down chins. And white powder floated from ends of fingertips and noses.
I was used to people staring when I walked into a room. “I didn’t do it!” they’d say as they held their hands up. “Oh I think you are the one!” I’d say, with all the enthusiasm of an assembly-line worker. Some men would say, “I’m the bad guy, arrest me officer!” If he was good-looking, I'd say, “not todaaaay.”
But these people would not only stare, they'd blab. To their buddies at soccer. Co-workers at the water-cooler. And the cashier at the supermarket Express Line.
I walked into the crowd and spotted a woman in dark brown pants and white shirt with thin brown stripes -- the ring leader.
“Hello, I’m Constable Michelle Sevigny, may I speak to Emily for a moment, please?”
Emily heard me and waved from the back and disappeared out a door. A minute later she walked up to me with a backpack and pulled out a piece of paper.
“Hello officer," she said, "here, I did the best I could."
“Thank you Emily, I’m sure it's great," I said, "and if I have any questions, I've got your number."
“Thank you again for all your help,” she said. “Would you like a coffee?”
“No thank you.”
“What about a donu–“
“NO! I mean, uh, no thank you, I’ve got to go,” I said, “now, I have to go now.”
I retreated back through the crowds --standing-room only now -- while thousands of camera flashes attacked my eyes.
I yanked open the patrol car and tackled the passenger seat while I back-kicked the door which ricocheted off the hinges and slammed shut.
“Hey, where’s my coffee and chocolate glaze?” my partner asked.
Damn you, Tim Hortons.
Postscript: I was an officer with the Vancouver Police Department from 1998 until 2008 before I resigned to work with dogs full-time.
Photo Source sillygwailo
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