Wednesday, April 7, 2010
An Old Cop Gets Ready to Retire
I reached a milestone today when I took my last wellness/physical testing as a police officer. For most of several decades, I have had to take PT tests every April and October for both the military and the police department. After this, I will still exercise, but there won't be a "grader" standing nearby.
The paperwork is in, the decision has been made, and I will finally retire as a police officer on May 31, 2010 at the age of 61. Like the old cop in the cartoon on the left, I must admit that I am watching the calendar day by day. I am still on "A" Squad, working uniform patrol on those wonderful 12 hour shifts.
I keep thinking what it will be like to wake up on June 1 and, for the first time in 42 years, I won't be working at a job, getting ready to start a job, going to college, or serving in the military.
It will be a strange feeling, but liberating in a lot of ways. I plan to work more on promoting my current book, I have an outline for another one, and I want to share more of my days and nights with my best friend on earth, my wife Debbie. Lord knows she has put up with me for all these 36 plus years, but she has always been there, and she knows how desperately I love her still.
Retirement means different things to those who begin this new phase in their lives.
For guys like me, it simply means that the next adventure awaits.
* * * *
I thought a lot this past Easter weekend about all the things I've experienced as a cop. One unique memory also happened on an Easter morning a long time ago.
Another officer and I responded to an apartment complex where a man was waiting with two young boys about 6 and 9 years of age. The boys were the man's nephews, and they had spent the night with him after a basketball game. When the man brought them home, the boys' mother didn't answer the door, even though her car was parked out front.
The man and the boys waited at a nearby apartment while the other officer and I obtained a key from management and entered the apartment. The place was spotless, and we moved from room to room calling the woman's name. As we entered the hallway to the bedrooms, we finally saw her.
Through the door to the master bedroom, I saw her legs folded as they must have been when she was sitting on the edge of her bed. When I reached the door, I could see that she was lying on the bed on her back, with a pool of blood under her head. Her right hand hung off the side of the bed; just below her lifeless hand was a silver revolver lying on the carpet. I seem to remember a woman of about 30, dark hair, pretty dress, with a horrible expression on her face. I checked her pulse, but she was obviously dead and had been for several hours.
On the dresser in front of her was an ashtray with a cigarette that had burned down to the filter. A glass next to the ash tray held the remains of an unfinished mixed drink with the ice melted. A stereo was behind the glass and the ashtray. It was still on, but the cassette tape had played to the end.
As any cop will tell you, although it appeared she had committed suicide, such deaths are homicides until all the facts say otherwise. (We would eventually learn that she was distressed over the breakup of her marriage.) Leaving the scene undisturbed, we walked to the other end of the hall to her sons' bedroom. At the foot of each bed was a large Easter basket filled with candy and other treats. These were her final gifts to her sons.
After the detectives and the crime scene technicians took over, I left the apartment and drove to a fast food restaurant for lunch. Couldn't help it; after hours at the apartment, I was starving.
I took my place in line behind a man in a suit, a woman in her Easter finery, and their small daughter who was wearing her own brand new Easter dress. I was only five minutes from the body of the dead woman, so I was a little surprised when the mother of the little girl asked me, "Hello, officer; and how is your Easter going today?"
I smiled at this beautiful family and said, "Fine, m'aam, just fine."
I guess this is what it's like to be a cop. One minute you must endure one of life's worst moments; minutes later you have the opportunity to witness one of the wonderful things that life has to offer.
After all, it is the job of a cop to try and shield the innocent from the horrors and the evils of this world.
I have been honored to be part of such a profession.
Charles M. Grist