Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Again. Always.

I am a worrier. Not sure if I've ever mentioned that in any of my previous posts but suffice it to say that I am one of those people who manages to worry about everything and anything. I swear it's turning my hair gray quicker than I would like but alas, I have not been able to find the "off" switch.

I worry about finances, I worry about the girls, I worry about throwing out my back, I worry about the constant pain that has begun invading my left leg, I worry about the bills, I worry about my mother, I worry about whether I'm ever going to be able to retire, I worry that I am going to grow old and die alone, I worry that Hillary Clinton may actually be elected President, I worry about what to make for dinner ... I worry about a veritable cornucopia of craziness while I'm trying to fall asleep at night and then I worry about the fact that I've been lying there for over an hour, I'm still awake, and I have to get up in less than 6 hours!

Now I have one more thing to add to my list of worries thanks to my good friend Miz Cyn (she of the post below this). We were having one of our fairly regular long distance chats last evening when she told me that she had run across an article in the local fishwrap newspaper regarding police response to a fight in a large crowd this past Friday evening in her hometown of Stockton, California.

Stockton, sadly, has a pretty high crime rate though it has come down in some areas in recent years. In a recent blog post by Michael Fitzgerald, Metro Columnist for the Stockton Record, he stated that:
"Homicide – murder – is down almost 10 percent over 2005. Rape is down. Aggravated assault, which put Stockton in the Hall of Shame in 2004 and ’05, when the city suffered the state’s worst rate, is down 2.4 percent. On the other hand – a hand with sticky fingers – Burglary is up 11.7 percent. Robbery is up 11.9 percent."
All in all, Stockton is no longer #1 in the State for crime but has been bumped down to #2 and replaced by Oakland. Good news but not exactly grounds for releasing the pigeons and resting on one's laurels. Rather that means that the police need to continue to work hard at fighting crime and can't really afford to relax their guard.

Stockton had definite crime problems when I packed up the UHaul (well, Hertz-Penske truck actually) along with my 6-year old son and headed East. Unfortunately, when I packed up that truck there were certain items that I couldn't take with me - items in the form of people I cared about such as the aforementioned Miz Cyn and her family, Grandma Edith (my beloved grandmother-in-law from my first marriage), and some people that I still really cared about at the Stockton Police Department where I had dispatched for almost three years before turning in my headset.

I was one of those dispatchers that honestly cared about the people on the other side of the microphone and that made my job that much harder because I was sending men and women I truly cared about into some very scary situations from time to time. For every brave cop out there patrolling his or her beat, there is a very nervous dispatcher sitting on the other side of a console hoping and praying that every one of them comes home healthy and accounted for at the end of his or her watch. I was that dispatcher on many a 5 pm to 3 am shift and I continued to be that dispatcher even when I was no longer dispatching. Once a dispatcher, always a dispatcher ...

At any rate, you're probably asking yourself what on earth events of 20 years ago have to do with the here-and-now and what it said in that article that has me adding to my list of worries. Either that or you're bored to tears and are just continuing to read to be polite! Well, here's the thing - it wasn't so much what was in the article but who they quoted in the article.

Shortly after I began dispatching at SPD, I met a patrol officer who became very special to me. I probably worried about him more than I worried about the others (okay, I admit it, we dispatchers have favorites) and I'd say a special prayer for him each shift. After I left California he continued on at SPD and eventually was promoted to Sergeant while I continued to worry about him always afraid that I would someday get a phone call from Cyndi with the worst news I could have heard. Thankfully I never got that call though I did get a call about another dear friend, Timmy White, who died after being beaten by a suspect with his own flashlight following a foot pursuit. Timmy was a Patrol Sergeant, too. Obviously there was reason for worry; Stockton was not a nice place at times.

After spending a few years as a Patrol Sergeant, my favorite cop became a Detective Sergeant which took him off the road and out of the "direct line of fire" and I was able to relax a little bit. That's not to say that Detectives aren't in danger, too, but as a Detective Sergeant he was mostly patrolling his desk and the paperwork that constantly came across it. I wasn't too worried about a fatal paper-cut or an occasional stapler accident!

Well, now it seems that I am back to worrying as he has now been promoted to Lieutenant (a position I distinctly remember him saying he never wanted) and is back out on the streets with the Patrol Division. It was he that was quoted in the aforementioned article. The man is once again out there with the bad guys with the guns and the knives and Lord knows what else gangs are arming themselves with these days. Granted, he's not patrolling a particular beat and probably spends most of his time behind the Watch Commander's desk as opposed to the wheel of a cruiser but still ... I worry. Again. Always.

I wish I could tell him congratulations on what I'm sure was a well-deserved promotion and to please, please, please be careful but, due to reasons I won't/can't go into here, we haven't spoken in years. I hate that. It sucks. All I can do is worry and say a little prayer. Again. Always.


  1. Anonymous11:17 PM EDT

    I just wanted to say Hi and send a hug.

  2. oh drat! now i am worried too! sorry honey... you know sandee from comedy plus is there don't you? and what her position and her hubby's were?

    smiles, bee

  3. Yeah, I've worried a bit about the same fella myself. I've even worked up the occasional tear now and then, both in and out of his presence (I remember once such time, involving a phone call he placed during a burglary in progress that had me tearing up regularly). Notwithstanding, I do pray for all those guys, every night...along with everyone else in Stockton. #2 is bad enough, but when one considers that California has cities the size of San Francisco, L A., etc...we could all use a bit of heavenly help!

  4. Living in the central valley, I'll second that!!! The thing that really tweaks my beak is that they just don't pay these guys and gals enough money for the work they do! My daughter and son-in-law work for the feds at Victorville in the prison. But the cop on the beat has the worst job in the world as far as safety goes, and the stupid football player (sorry, sports fans) gets compensated millions for grandstanding. Makes me ill. Then the stupid judges either toss out a good bust on a technicality or they get out on a "over-crowding" excuse. Something has got to happen, folks! Like actually obeying the law and if you can't do that, pay the price!
    My prayers go with your friend!!!

  5. This post got to me Linda, having just read in the paper that one of our policemen was stabbed to death 20 minutes into his shift, leaving his wife and 11 month old daughter.

    No point in saying don't worry, it would seem you have reason to, especially as you are such a caring person. x

  6. I used to be a worrier too Linda, so I know how tiring it is to always be worrying for someone.

    You're such a nice person. And your prayers, I am sure, help.

  7. Interesting post, Linda. Cops are tops in my book. I'm sure those folks in blue must've felt pretty darn good most nights when they heard yours & Miz Cyn's voices over the airwaves. Those out on the road seem to have a sense of who @ the console genuinely care - or who's just "there". I'm sure your devotion to those officers must've radiated straight through the "mike" every time!

    Here's a question for ya...how do you feel now that you dispatch EMT's & Paramedics as opposed to cops? Is your "worry level" higher or lower because of the difference in actual job specifics? Not trying to put you on the spot...just curious!

  8. You worry because you care and that's one of things about you that we all love.

    Luckily in my life I haven't had to have too many talks with dispatchers. But I have watched a detailed show about what happened when those bank robbers, better armed than the police department, went crazy outside a bank. (I can't remember where.)

    On that show they played the dispatcher's voice as she was trying to account for the officers on the scene and how she stuck with one of them who was bleeding so badly he was passing out.

    She was amazing.

  9. I do understand this, that is life and the good people always wind up protecting the rest of us from the bad people, best wishes for your friend.

  10. Linda, I too am a worrier. I wish I wasn't but I am. Will add your friend and his family to my prayers.

  11. Linda, I hate worrying to. It seems to be the make-up of our life. Worrying about everything. I don't know how we get over this. I think we don't. This may sound a little corny but you need to trust in God. What will be, will be. We can't change what will happen. But, we can live our life and take care of ourselves to the best of our abilities. I feel for you my friend being the soul provider of those beautiful girls. They love you and you love them. You'll get through this sometimes it doesn't seem so, but you will. If the girls have to eat Peanut Butter and Jelly so be it. I really hope since it's summer they are trying to help you, but alas they are teenagers it's kind of not in their makeup. I love you girlfriend. Try not to worry so much. I know it's easy to say hard to do.

  12. I've always been the worrying sort all, thinking of all disasters!

  13. Hey girl-the crazy life steered me to the desk again today, so I had to check in & apologize. My semi-snarky 1st response didn't really address what I know to be your very strong and specific feelings here. I also forgot to thank you for remembering Timmy even though I know it wasn't easy to do so in this venue.

    Bulldog: Linda & I have discussed the differences between dispatching EMT, Fire & PD many times, but I too would love to see her express them in her inimitable style. The majority of my career was in PD, but I had about 2 years total with Fire & EMT, both at 911 & for private companies-and I worried about those crews as much as I worried about my cops, my kids, etc.-same feelings, but for different reasons.

    Sarge Charlie: You said it all, and in so few words! Thank you (do you give writing lessons?).

  14. OH yeah--if you DO decide to do a bit on the concerns of dispatchers for our varied troops, I double-dare ya to tell the world about how you used to announce our arrival on the desk to our 4th watchers...

  15. Gosh darn you, Cyndi! You can't double-dare a person to do something that they can't remember! Haven't I told you time and time again that my brain has become like the proverbial slice of swiss cheese and is full of holes? I may not remember much anymore but I do remember telling you that!

    I would be more than happy to do a post on the differences in worries between police dispatching and emergency medical dispatching as per Bulldog's request because, trust me, there are still worries there - just of a slightly different nature. I'll add to my list of things I want to write about and should be able to get to it very soon.

    In the meantime, my dear friend, you are going to have to refresh my memory on the 4th Watch greetings!

  16. Linda,

    I just tagged you with the "8 Things I know" meme

    Have fun.

  17. Answer the phone, dear girl, and I will enlighten you--although you are far too young to qualify for Senioritis. I think you are being coy on this one.

  18. "Fretter" could be my middle name so I know what you mean about worrying about everything...me too. I wish I had some brilliant words to help you cope but, if I did, I would be sleeping a whole lot better every night.

  19. I have never thought about the dispatchers being worried about the policemen. That makes total sense...I would be a complete nervous wreck all the time. Thanks for sharing this...

  20. Well, then we will all worry for him. Lieutenants are usually out of the fight so to speak so it should be okay. You just have to promote if you want a decent retirement.

    You are a very caring person, and law enforcement (yes, you were part of that family) are a tight knit group of folks. They worry about each other, and do what they can to cover each others backs.

    It is getting so dangerous out there and the gangs are going to take over one of these days. Stockton is about 30 minutes from where I live.

    Oh the big shoot out by the bank robbers was in Los Angeles. They were way outgunned, but both the bad guys are dead! I have watched that tape so many times. It's frightening.

    Okay, I'll shut-up now. Very nice post Linda. :)


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