Put Yourself in Officers’ Shoes

Put Yourself in Officers’ Shoes

Our APD officers face danger and challenges every shift

It’s 2:31 a.m. on a Thursday night and a 27-year-old Albuquerque Police Department officer approaches a car on a darkened street just off of Eubank Boulevard. The officer has seen the driver erratically changing lanes and has pulled the car over. Rather than stopping on Eubank, the driver has chosen to turn a short ways down a side street, away from the street lights on Eubank. Through the officer’s spotlight, he can see that the driver and passenger are moving around needlessly in the front seat, but he approaches the car.

Two APD officers have been called out by neighbors to a home late on a Sunday evening because of a reported domestic quarrel. They approach the house, and can hear loud and violent arguing between a man and a woman, and there are several children crying. They knock on the door and there is no response. The arguing grows more violent and they feel compelled to enter the home.

Two police officers are trying to subdue a violent and drunken young man who has threatened several people in a convenience store. He has repeatedly tried to kick the officers, has successfully hit one on the side of the head, continues to curse them, and has just spit in the face of one of them.

This is a side of the life of a police officer and the risks they take that we seldom hear about. These sorts of things happen every day of every week of every year. We hear about and read about the shootings and other unfortunate actions taken by officers, most justified and a few not. But those, by definition, are the exceptions. What we don’t hear about are the “routine” risks that our police officers take every day to protect us. And what we hear even less about are the extraordinary professional challenges and standards they are required to observe.

I have a young, 22-year-old friend who was recently commissioned as an APD officer. He is dedicated, conscientious and truly wants to make a difference in our community. I was surprised and then impressed by the 26 weeks of rigorous training he went through. Out of more than 1,000 applicants for his class, only 19 graduated. That’s an attrition rate that would humble the Navy Seals. Since his recent graduation, I have continued to be impressed with the breadth and amount of procedures, protocols and policies he must learn and obey. Clearly, being a cop today is not what it was just 10 years ago. Unfortunately, they have become our first responders not only for keeping the peace, but also for dealing with the homeless and mentally ill. On a daily basis, they have to respectfully, appropriately and equally deal with people who are experiencing the worst days of their lives and those that make a habit of causing that to be the case.

Until I was able to recently understand the formidable challenges facing police officers today, all I knew, like most people, is what I read or thought I was seeing on the streets. There is, however, much, much more to the story, and I have grown increasingly appreciative of their presence in our city and the sacrifices they make on our behalf.