Behind Closed Doors—Swiftness of Cops Saving Lives

By Stephen Owsinski

One of America’s best stopping powers going up against malevolence is the law enforcement institution and its roughly 850,000 cops trying to preempt and/or mitigate bad actors from inflicting harm upon innocents. As the mantra goes, cops can’t be everywhere at once is a static truth belying logistical utopia underscoring our massive population of about 334 million.

Yet despite the odds, we learn of case after case whereby police professionals run like the wind, often against the wind, to score saves with bold and swift voracity. Although ill-reported by mainstream media (surprise, surprise), law enforcement agencies exercise responsibility and proactive principles by availing successes from gruesome circumstances so that the public is not only mindful and cognizant of what their police force is doing but also wary of societal perils and maintaining self-awareness.

On Tuesday, the Boulder, Colorado police department released reports of a swift save stemming from scant information and diligent police work, culminating in a real-life win colorized by sentiments all cops experience.

What Boulder police executives labeled “A Tough Call,” the gears of law enforcement working in-tandem

and with posthaste saved a woman from a horrid case of sexual assault and other felonious behaviors:

“One of the reasons we do this job also makes it one of the hardest: seeing some of the horrible things a person can do to another human being.

“We had one of those calls this past week, but thanks to the combined teamwork of our dispatchers, patrol [officers] and detectives, we were able to find where the crime was occurring, apprehend the suspect and charge him appropriately.

“It started with a 911 call from a cell phone. All the dispatchers could hear was a disturbance then what sounded like an assault between a male and female. Their quick work determined the location to be on Folsom Street and Patrol officers swarmed the area.

“Around that time, the female was able to escape, and she and the male ran in two different directions. Officers were able to help her and take the male into custody at gunpoint.

“Though the male refused to identify himself, good investigative work led to his identification and him being charged with felony sexual assault, felony 1st degree burglary and felony 2nd degree assault. He is currently being held on a $500,000 bond in the jail.

“We share this story for several reasons. We want to be transparent about crime that occurs here, and we also think it’s important to talk about how BPD works together to help our community.”

Crystal clear example of the nature of police work and success stories which would otherwise be avoidably tragic if police defunders and abolitionists have their way.

Although we were not blasted by anti-police sentiments back then, reading about the Boulder PD catch reminds me of a strikingly similar case when I was a newly minted field training officer (FTO) with a rookie under my wing, assessing an identical situation which was swiftly concluded thanks to all criminal justice components working together to save/free a foreign woman whose saga had a bittersweet conclusion.

The police investigation started via a walk-in at police HQ; a colleague of the victim explained that her coworker (with whom she worked at a supermarket deli department) is in a “Russian mail-order bride type situation, oppressed and, well…being physically and sexually abused by her American common-law husband.”

She cited her suspicions grew, and that her Russian coworker’s black eyes recently compelled her to report to police.

Several times, she emphasized the suspect “has guns, lotsa guns hidden in the house. Oh, and he doesn’t like police.” All things good to know given the circumstances; she punctuated the situation with the fact that this ordeal has been going on for many months…and that her Russian friend harbors distrust for the police “due to her life in Moscow and the KGB” and doesn’t speak “good English.”

Undeterred by a reportedly hostile, armed male suspect and a maybe not so cooperative female victim, our investigative efforts commenced.

Paring down the multitude of details of the investigation, I will hit upon the highlights. We started with a knock on the door (my trainee was lead, with experience as a county deputy prior to joining our department). Movement could be heard from inside, followed by a man’s voice, “Who is it?”

“Police,” replied my trainee.

More noise ensued inside, localized to the immediate right of the doorknob (keep that in mind). Right at that moment, we heard a female voice screaming inaudibly, then immediate sounds of what could be defined as someone being stifled (we later found that to be accurate).

Additional police units arrived after conveying the above details via radio. A supervisor joined as well.

Scant moments later, sounds of physical assault emanated. As several cops took tactical positions around the exterior of the clapboard home, with me, my trainee and supervisor to the sides of the front door…it flew open and Tatianna thrust forward, falling down the three creaky wooden steps and onto the lawn. She managed to break his hold on her and flee to the exit. (She would later explain he was trying to drag her to the back bedroom.)

Right at that moment, the male suspect lunged for the washer/dryer combo —against the wall, right next to the front door where we earlier heard some activity— as Tatianna blurted “He’s guns” in broken English.

To our advantage, the male suspect lost his footing on old torn carpeting and fell forward. We rushed his large-size body, linked two sets of handcuffs (girthy midriff), and secured him in a prone position on the floor.

What role did the washer/dryer play? My trainee’s instincts and prior police experience were on the mark: she flipped the washer lid, peered inside, then turned around holding up six fingers while uttering the police code for “guns.”

He stashed six handguns in the washer, each fully-loaded with chambered rounds ready to fly. (That was the noise we heard minutes earlier, just inside the locked front door.)

I remember a victim’s advocate from the state attorney’s office responded; she liaised with our PD and heard of the ordeal from police detectives who were on scene. In turn, the victim’s advocate notified her supervisors, resulting in two district attorneys physically coming to the crime scene.

Social media wasn’t much of a conduit back then; news stations employed radio traffic hawks who listened to scanners, would overhear police chatter, and figure out what was going down and where. Hence, news reporters and their mobile studio vans showed up and went live from the scene.

Our understandably shaken victim Tatianna didn’t want to be interviewed by anyone, especially not the media. Once the arrested suspect was carted away in a backup officer’s police cruiser, we re-entered the home with crime scene technicians performing their feats.

Tatianna sort of shut down, crying, looking down, nervously playing with her fingers as she sat, stealing quick glances of all the strangers standing around the kitchen.

She murmured to my female trainee officer that she didn’t wish to talk. Conversely, she took more furtive glimpses and whispered to a female district attorney who prosecuted domestic violence cases that she wanted to talk to me, offering that she saw my nameplate and thought that, with a European last name, I’d understand her better. Whatever works, I thought.

I switched places with my female rookie officer and the other officials from the state attorney’s office.

Tatianna slowly opened up, offered details between intermittent sobbing, and incrementally came around to exposing the entire sordid story. Candidly, she told me she didn’t trust police because of abuses she and her family were subjected to in Russia (that played into the abuser’s favor, figuring she wouldn’t report to authorities). Knowing rapport was necessary to build a solid case and to protect her from here on out, I opted for an organic flow of evolution, letting her grow comfort and muster confidence…assuring her she was safe and in the right hands.

Within a few hours, with the prosecutors intently listening in, Tatianna shared everything with me. In so doing, officials from the state department were notified by two prosecutors; assurances of meeting Tatianna’s immediate and subsequent needs were granted.

Getting this frightened, enslaved, abused woman who endured unspeakable tragedy in a non-native land was the ideal trophy cops see as “just doing the job.” Subsequent unit commendations for all police personnel involved in this widely publicized case were thought-provoking and demonstrated our Why.

In a post-incident meeting with the victim’s advocate and prosecutors, Tatianna bashfully smiled, nervously toyed with her fingers like a young child, and uttered. “American cops are, how you say…different,” followed by another mild smile.

Actions toward an organically unfolding perilous situation culminating in saving lives manifested by the swiftness of justice is paramount for victims facing dire straits behind closed doors.

Out in the open is just how imperative law enforcement officers’ life-saving roles are in our country.

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