It’s New Years Eve……

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It’s New Years Eve. My alarm will go off at 7:00pm, I’ll make my coffee, hop in the shower, and be off to work.

Line up is at 9:00. The sergeant will give us the low down on stolen cars taken from the area, noteworthy arrests that were made on the previous shift and targeted areas needing special attention or enforcement.

This is my first year with this agency but I know this New Years Eve briefing will be the same as all other agencies I’ve been involved with.

“Prior to midnight find a hole and stay there.” We will probably be on a “Priority One Status” meaning no one goes to a call alone, and we don’t go to ANYTHING unless it’s life threatening. Many cops will head to the station. Many will park under a freeway overpass or in an underground parking structure to avoid falling bullets.

Many will be stuck in the middle of large unruly drunken crowds filled with individuals who think the best way to celebrate new years eve is to get as drunk and stupid as possible. Along with getting drunk and stupid means fights, shootings, stabbings, assaults, vehicle accidents, gunfire and unfortunately that will lead to senseless injuries and deaths.

Rather than drive to the outskirts of town and have an extended response time in case a hot call comes in, I will park under the overhang of my favorite auto body shop located near downtown.

I will close my eyes just for a second and with the sound of gunfire and dispatch radio traffic in the background, I’ll be thinking about…

Parents: The parents who don’t have a clue as to where their kids are at right now, or who they are with, or how intoxicated they are. Why aren’t these kids at home celebrating the New Year as a family? Don’t worry, we’ll be letting you know where your kids were at in a couple hours when we call you to pick them up at the station. I pray to God that we won’t be calling from the County Morgue for a positive identification.

Drunk drivers: I’ll wonder what makes a person drink to the point of getting so drunk that all sense of reality is lost. What makes it possible for this idiot to even think about getting behind the wheel of a car and taking the chance of killing innocent families and people on the roadway? I wonder why the penalties for drunk driving add to the drunk driver death toll and I’m not talking about the death of the drunk driver.

If someone knew that they would get royally slammed for a DUI they wouldn’t do it, and if they did we had better make that such a miserable experience that they never dream of doing it again… I think of the TV commercial where the kid sitting on the bus stop angrily describes all the fines that he has to pay and that he has to find another job. All he points out is the inconvenience presented to his life. Maybe that commercial would have more impact if it showed a victim in intensive care in a coma with tubes coming out of everywhere, while the kid speaks from behind bars wearing an orange jumpsuit?

Crime prevention: I’ll wonder what it will take for people to lock their cars and close their garage doors at night. What will it take for people to not leave laptop computers, cell phones, and purses on their front seats in plain view? What will it take to get people to buy shredders so that street lizards aren’t rummaging through your trash at night stealing your phone numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and your identity! What will it take to get people to put up motion lights or INVEST in an alarm system? What will it take for people to start neighborhood watch groups and take an active role in keeping your neighborhood and your children safe?

Fire prevention: I’ll wonder why people don’t buy and install smoke alarms. How many fires will it take to get people to store flammable liquids outside safely, instead of next to your water heater in your garage? How many fires and deaths will it take before families practice a “fire plan” for your household, instead of dealing with the panic of when it happens.

Poisoning: I’ll wonder how many infants who don’t know better, will die or be rushed to the hospital because of accidental ingestion of poisons under the sink or in the medicine chest.

Drowning: I’ll wonder how many infants or children will die or become lifeless coma patients in their own swimming pools and hot tubs. I’ll wonder what it will take for Mom and Dad to install protective covers to prevent not only death to their children, but to the neighbor’s kids as well.

Disasters: I’ll wonder what Mother Nature will throw at us this year. Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Mudslides and Explosions. What will it take to get people to understand that when these things happen Emergency services are quickly over taxed? YOU have to be prepared to take care of yourself until we can get to you.

Why can’t people budget and buy an Earthquake kit or Disaster kits for your home, car, office, and school lockers? You can look at life as being like a power outage. When the power goes off, you can have safety lights located throughout your home, surge protectors for your computers, and an elaborate few may even have portable generators to run limited household necessities. That’s called being prepared.

Or, you can fumble around in the dark for a pack of matches wondering where your flashlights are at, only to find that they have dead batteries. You’ll sit in the dark and the freezing cold blaming PGE for the trouble but the only trouble is, you weren’t prepared, and that my friends is all about CHOICE!

Race: I’ll wonder what it will take for people to accept each other for who they are, not based on what color they are. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, we are all people who have much to contribute to society. What will it take for people to one-day walk down the street without hateful feelings or attitude? If we can’t like each other we have to at least TOLERATE each other. One of my favorite bumper stickers reads, “Deserve attention, don’t demand it!” Lose the attitude! Is that so hard to live up to?

Gangs, Kids, Attitude, and Crime: I’ll be thinking about how we could have gotten to the point of letting go of our kids and letting them take the paths of crime that they have. They intimidate people. They hurt people. And they kill people. For fun!

If you put your hand on a red hot stove, it hurts so badly that you NEVER want to do that again. If you plug a cord into an outlet with a wet hand, the shock that travels through you drives home the point that you NEVER want to do that again! I’ll wonder why all we offer the criminals and predators of our society is a warm stove. We need to turn up the burner. We need to give criminals real jail or prison time. What we give them now is nothing more than “Time Out”. And we had all better recognize that little criminals quickly turn into big criminals.

The last chapter of “CopTalk” describes all that in detail. I think about how simple the solutions are to change the way we are headed, but we All have to work together for a positive change. Every action has a reaction. The action of ignoring the problem is evident.

Shortly after midnight, the gunfire will quiet down and before I go out on my prowl for drunk drivers I’ll be thinking of all the good people in the world. The good parents. The good kids. The people who live and let live and go about their own business. The people who go out of their way to help others. The people who use common sense and “Do the right thing” just because it’s the right thing to do. We never have contact with you unless you need us for something, but we know you’re out there and we appreciate you!

In 1999, make some positive changes. For yourself and for society. Far too many of us know that life can be way too short. We need to live everyday to the fullest and have no regrets at the end of each day that passes. This is another year. Tomorrow is another day.
Let’s make some changes!

Take care each and every one of you. God Bless and Stay Safe as you celebrate another “Happy New Year”.

Jim Lambert
Netcops P.S.I.

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