Thank God for Guns
August 1, 2011 3 Comments
I work at a prison, in the city. It’s not the biggest city ever, and it isn’t the biggest prison ever. In fact, it’s one of the smallest ones in the state. The main point of this prison is to house the worst of the worst that the state has to offer. As you may suspect, this leads to some hair-raising situations, and I’ve seen many. However, last night was a new one on me, because the threat wasn’t from the inmates, we’re prepared for that, this threat was from an area where we have no jurisdiction or authority, the community.
Correctional Officers don’t tend to have many fans. Most citizens never think about us, and those who we come in contact with regularly tend to wish they were somewhere else. Yep, no one wants our job and even we would like to see the need for our job diminish. It’s one of those thankless endeavours that I have built my life around. I do patrol on the graveyard shift.
We had just settled in to work another night when the radio lit up. Talk of needing medical personnel, a stretcher, and an ambulance. Here we go again. After some doing, we eventually had the ambulance on the compound and a crew of people ready to take an inmate to the hospital. All that went fine, but when our officer was on his way back from the hospital is where things went wrong…
A voice came over the radio saying “central control, you’ll need to send someone out to get me, my vehicle broke down. I’m in a bad neighborhood”. I’ll have the change the names of the places and people here for privacy reasons. We’ll say this guy’s name is “Officer Black”.
Then a voice answered. We’ll call him “Sgt. Gray”, “Yeah, 10-4 Officer Black, we’ll send another vehicle out as soon as possible”. All seemed pretty normal, after all, state vehicles break down sometimes. Several minutes passed.
“Hey, I’m in a really bad neighborhood, you need to send someone quick, I’ve got a lot of eyes on me right now” Officer Black said, sounding a little more panicked than before. “Yeah 10-4. Officer White, are you on the way?” Sgt. Gray asked. “Yes, I’m on the way now, I should be there in about 15 mike” Officer White said as he drove off with a state issued van. “Hey you’ve got the shotgun with you right, Officer Black”? Sgt. Gray asked, “10-4 Sarge” was the answer. Several more minutes passed. Sgt. Gray told central control to try to get a wrecker from the Department of Transportation to go to “South Street” to pick up the vehicle.
By this time we were hanging on the radio to hear how things were developing. From the sound of it, it wasn’t going well. Every minute or so the calls from Officer Black became more frantic. “Hey Sarge, more people are showing up” followed by “These guys are armed, get here fast”. At this point, Sgt. Gray informed Officer Black that there was no wrecker to be found at this time of night and to stay calm, we’re calling the police. Meanwhile, a crowd of 10 to 15 people had formed around our officer and were closing in. Each minute seemed like an hour as we did all we could do, listen and wait.
Apparently, the crowd became violent. Officer Black was forced to take action. He evacuated the vehicle with the shotgun, and instructed the crowd to disperse. “Central control, tell metro that I’m armed, these people are armed and they’re not backing down”. Was the next nervous call we heard. The hoard refused to comply, they knew that this officer was alone, that he was from the prison and didn’t have the authority to arrest them. However, they didn’t know if he had the authority to use that shotgun to defend his own life… He did have that authority, and it looked like he might have to use it. Metro was called again, but there were no blue lights in sight.
Things were looking bad for Officer Black as the mob grew more brave, but at that moment, Officer White showed up. The people scattered. “Central, this is Officer White, I’m here and it looks like everyone is headed back inside”. We all cheered, thinking that things were finally safe. Officer White had brought a can of gas and a set of jumper cables to try to get the vehicle working again. Things were looking up… Until the crowd saw that Officer White was unarmed… Either way, the presence of Officer White had changed the dynamic of the situation. The mob saw things in a different light now, but they still weren’t happy at the appearance of prison officers in their neighborhood. Slowly, things started going south again as the crowd assembled once more.
After a few more moments, to our horror, there were now two panicked voices calling for assistance. “This is getting serious guys, get metro out here now, we’re like sitting ducks!” Officer White shouted on the radio. The only thing they could do was cling to that shotgun, and hope help arrived. Sgt. Gray instructed them to stay in their vehicles until the police arrived, then try to put gas in the vehicle or jump start it when the police have secured the area. Little did we know, it would be another half hour before the police would get there as they were held up on another crime on “North Street”.
Several more tense minutes passed, I was now wondering why they don’t have convoy training at the academy and debated trying to explain to them what a box formation was and how to do 360 degree security. It’s hard to do all that with only two vehicles and one gun though. Eventually, there was no getting around it. The armed members of the crowd were back and our officers had to take action since help was just too far away. It’s a good time to note that they weren’t out in some remote area, they were in the middle of a sub-industrial part of one of the largest cities in the state. Officer Black held the mob (About 20 people by now) at bay with the gun again while White tried to get the vehicle running. Unfortunately, it was broke hard and still wouldn’t start.
Luckily, as the crowd was about to try to take the two in a rush, blue lights flashed down the street. The police were here! Well, one was there anyway, but that was enough. In an instant, the crowd was gone, and order was restored. The police called their wrecker to tow the vehicle back to the prison and everyone got back safe.
Situations like this is the reason I choose to carry a gun when I’m off duty. You never know when you’ll be thrust into a bad situation, and in this case, if it wasn’t for that one shotgun, our man Officer Black would have been skinned alive long before help could get to him. No matter how safe your neighborhood may seem, you never know where chance will take you. In the end, criminals don’t care about who you are, they only care if you have the means to defend yourself or not. As I got home this morning, I watched the news only to find that a woman on the other side of town had to use her handgun to defend her life when two robbers broke into her house, The police can’t be everywhere at once. Keep your head on a swivel out there, we’re all in this together.