Stacks of old spiral notebooks tell the story of my career in law enforcement. Most of the pages contain brief notations—mileage, oil changes, weather, dates and times, arrests, names of witnesses and suspects, crime scene information, prisoners transported, and strangely enough, ideas for stories. You see, I’ve always wanted to write.
This story is true. It happened.
Sure, there were plenty of happy times during my twenty-plus years of wearing a gun and badge, but I often choose to write about the more solemn tales for a reason. I offer them to you, not to talk about the things we did that were right or wrong, but to show a side to police work that’s not normally seen by the general public.
Believe me, the job is not all cops and robbers. Sometimes it’s about the things that tug at your heart, pulling and grasping at whatever keeps a person’s sanity and emotions in check.
Today I’ve flipped through the pages to an event that’s forever etched in my mind. I’ve always referred to it as The Fire.
Saturday June 9, 1984
Working graveyard shift alone.
11:45 – Relieve 4-12 shift. No serious incidents reported. Slow night.
12:00 – Begin patrol. Mileage 43888.
12:14 – Loud music complaint. Subjects complied.
12:47 – Assist state police with vehicle search and arrest on interstate. Meth.
1:18 – Bar fight. Break it up. Arrest two males. Disorderly conduct and drunk in public. Process.
1:59 – Vehicle stop. Expired plates. Stolen car. Murder suspect from Florida. Arrest and process.
3:20 – Assist jail officers with disturbance.
4:14 – Meet troopers for breakfast.
4:27 – Accident on interstate. Assist troopers. Leave before meal arrives.
4:33 – Arrive at scene.
Vehicle on fire in median.
Too hot to approach.
Man climbs from window.
Trooper pulls him to safety.
Woman stops screaming.
Little girl, in back.
Run to car.
Hair burns away,
Through open window.
In my arms.