Ask the Chief
Many of you are aware that I had recently been assaulted while in the performance of my duties as a police officer. This assault occurred when a person who had been arrested spit in my face causing phlegm and spittle to enter my mouth.
This act is a felony under Minnesota law because it is has the potential to expose officers to serious illnesses. As a result of this incident I had to be evaluated by a doctor, have blood drawn for testing and will experience ongoing monitoring of my health.
Many people have expressed sincere concern for me and demonstrated empathy in what I experienced. I thank all of them for their care and concern.
Others have expressed anger and frustration that this happened to me and what seems to be occurring nationwide to officers, firefighters and medics.
Some of these people have commented that they would have used forces against the person in response to the spitting.
Others suggested that the person deserved force to be used against them as a consequence for assaulting me.
To those who feel this way I want you to know that I was also angry and frustrated.
I’m a person just like you and I have the same feelings and emotions as you do when someone assaults me or disrespects me.
However, I have an advantage that you may not have. I have years of training and working with in a legal system that gives me insight and knowledge as to how situations like this are dealt with.
I have learned to exercise great self-control.
I have learned to have empathy for people who I am dealing with because, if the police are involved, their situation has become so out of control that intervention is needed.
I have learned that those who abuse drugs and alcohol have surrendered their ability to regulate their behavior and while this is not an excuse, sometimes they truly can't help themselves.
I have learned that the role of a police officer, contrary to public opinion, the media or TV, is not a role of punisher. Rather a police officer is a gatherer of information, report writer, peace keeper and protector.
If I had unleashed punitive force against this person in response to him assaulting me, I would be no better than them.
I would have made it extremely difficult for the prosecutor to seek justice on my behalf. I would have also become a distraction for the courts and would draw focus away from suspect and his behavior and put the focus on myself and my actions.
I write this asking that you take a minute and consider changing your currently held beliefs regarding the police, courts and suspects. We have a system of law that works when we work with it.
We have men and women who work in that system everyday trying to do their best to obtain justice.
We also have suspects who need to be held accountable for their actions while also given an opportunity to change and become productive members of society.
We need to let the system work and accept the outcome provided. Final thought ... I have no ill will toward the person who assaulted me.
I pray for his future, hoping that he will change and live a better and happier life.
If all of us were a little nicer, a little more tolerant and exercised a little more self-control, this could be the last time on officer is assaulted while doing his duty.