Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Human beings, when faced with a crisis that threatens their survival, often exhibit what is known as tunnel vision. We concentrate with intense focus on the immediate threat right in front of us, but our field of view narrows tremendously. For our ancestors, it was about focusing on the predator that was about to eat us. For police officers, it means focusing on the man holding the gun who intends to kill us. The rest of the world fades away as our mind gathers as much information about the threat as it can, preparing us to fight for our life.
While this strategy has immediate benefits of focus and singularity of purpose, it also has some long term drawbacks. One of those is not perceiving crucial elements of the battle which may be just outside the scope of our narrowed vision. We just don't see that accomplice standing in the shadows, waiting for his opportunity to attack.
Simply put, sometimes we fail to see the forest through the trees because the trees are just too overwhelming.
Monday, January 23, 2012
There is a contract you enter into with society when you become a police officer. You sign up for the job with the full understanding that you will never be wealthy. You accept the fact that you will work nights, weekends, and holidays. You will work in the blistering heat of the summer and the Arctic chill of the winter. You understand that there will be family events cancelled at the last minute due to a chaotic work schedule. Little League games and piano recitals will be missed. You will consistently see the worst that human existence has to offer. You know that, statistically, you will die younger due to heart disease and stress-related illnesses than the average person (the most generous study has police officers surviving to an average age of 66, compared with 73 for the average US male population).
Thursday, January 19, 2012
In March of 2011, as Wisconsinites were still reeling from the shock of the Budget Repair bill, the Governor introduced his 2011-2013 budget. I attended the Governor's budget address as one of the 20 guests for which the Democrats were allowed tickets. The gallery was packed full of Walker supporters, and there was a noticeable contrast between the mostly working class Democratic party guests and the hundreds of immaculately-clad Walker supporters. I could feel eyes burning into the back of my head when I failed to applaud during the speech, and I was actually hissed at when I failed to rise to give the Governor a standing ovation as he outlined his plan to dismantle our state piece by piece.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Wisconsinites have become very adept at their protest skills during the past year. One of the dangers of these mass movements, however, is the tendency to lose our peripheral vision. What I mean is that we spend so much time on the “big ticket” items, like recalls or protesting a terrible piece of legislation, that we don’t pay attention to other smaller danger signs.
Sometimes real danger lurks in very small packages, like the tiny piece of plaque that breaks free from an artery wall and results in a massive heart attack. These small dangers are often overlooked with catastrophic results.
Friday, January 13, 2012
This blog entry is dedicated to Lori Compas and her Recall Fitz team. Lori single-handedly created a truly grassroots effort to recall State Senator Scott Fitzgerald from Wisconsin's 13th Senate District. She did so on her own, without the backing or machinery of any of the large political organizations until the very end. Lori embodies the warrior spirit I wrote about in "Not your average liberal," and speaks truth to power. Due to my work schedule (cops4labor sometimes has to be just "cop") and being spread incredibly thin among various efforts, I was not able to join the canvass in the 13th District, but I have a tremendous amount of admiration for Lori and her team. This post is for them.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
My journey into the world of political activism during the past 12 months has been a little strange, to say the least. I have reflected on this quite often lately, and am acutely aware of the fact that I am not what some consider a "typical" liberal.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
On Thursday, February 10, 2011, I was living my life in Madison, Wisconsin. My focus, as it was for so many years prior, was on being a good husband to my wife, father to my three children, and police officer in my community. Among my duties with my department at the time was my role as a member of the executive board of the police union.
On Friday, February 11, 2011, those of us on the union board got emails and phone calls from Jim Palmer. Jim is the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Officers Association. Jim told us that the
Please allow me to introduce myself: I am a 41 year old husband, father of three, and cop for the past 15 years. I am a detective by trade, SWAT officer when called upon, and recovering attorney. For my entire adult life, I have hovered just to the left of the center line of the political debate in this country. For the past 15 years, I have been focused on raising a family and protecting and serving my community. I liked to consider myself well-read and somewhat politically aware. Truth be told, I was totally politically inactive, and sat on the sidelines while our nation crumbled.