Heroes (Part 2)
The topic of heroism has always fascinated us. We look for examples to emulate in doing great things. The quarterback or home run champ? The firefighter carrying a child out from a burning building, the cop – or civilian! – subduing a killer? Sure, but how about the parent reading a bedtime story after an exhausting workday, the sanitation worker, the utility worker in a storm. Some are daring greatly, some just persisting in dull or draining work because it has to be done. Heroism comes in many forms.
By Ken Fischer
Heroic efforts are not always front page.
In the course of many years of dealing with tactical and high stress incidents, I’ve had occasion to witness heroic acts. Again, the principals in these incidents regarded themselves as ordinary people doing what they needed to do to resolve a crisis.
Women in police street level work were fairly non-existent even into the seventies. Lakewood was progressive so female agents were on board, but could not work solo until 1975. No chief wanted to be the first to lose a woman in the line of duty, so women had partners or worked support assignments, never alone. In 1975 a female officer was killed in the line of duty in Washington DC. Soon after, Lakewood had women working the street solo.
A couple years later I was asked, as a street supervisor, how I felt about women in combat.
While differing in the work environment from combat, parallels do exist between the police and the military.
My response was that my troops, including several women, faced combat issues regularly. If they were not up to the task, they usually redirected their career in a short time frame – men and women alike.
Toward the end of my tenure, I monitored a burglary in progress alarm at a marijuana store. The female beat agent – flying solo post-academy for just a couple months – had been close and responded to confront an exiting suspect. Our police agent was athletic and avid, but ran about five feet tall, just over a hundred pounds. She was the daughter of a fellow ranking officer from another agency. I recalled her as his newborn baby in the eighties when she and her mother came to watch our Police Athletic League football practices.
The suspect was twice her weight, intoxicated and confrontational. He would not obey commands and charged her. No opportunity for a Taser. Seconds seemed like minutes as this 22-year-old woman confronted real life danger in a hands-on assault.
Backup got to her as she was riding the back of the suspect and hanging on for dear life. Custody was accomplished with some additional “dancing.” I arrived and found my first responding agent to have two shredded knees, bumps, bruises, facial cuts and a hair scheme that looked like a bad bird’s nest.
She had done her job and now wanted to follow through with booking this suspect, who showed minimal damage and no concern for her at all. I assured her that he would be waiting at the station for her after she was treated for injury. She won her spurs that night as fellow officers got wind of her performance. Of course we had her new husband respond to the hospital. Her assignment for the rest of the night would be rehab at home. I advised her to take the time she needed to get everything working again. She was back at roll call the next day with a new hairdo, new pants and applause from her peers.
She’s now a seasoned veteran and still out there serving and protecting you and me.
I am proud to have lived and worked in the company of heroes.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series about heroes. In case you missed it, here is Part 1.
Ken Fischer holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Iowa and was involved in organizing Iowa’s first Law Enforcement Training Academy. He was on the SWAT Team in the Lakewood Police Department, and retired as a Senior Sergeant. A longtime resident of Southern Gables, he is an experienced woodsman and now runs a firewood business.