‘I’m Glad Cops Like This Exist’

By Stephen Owsinski

I write this a day before the police funeral for Tampa Master Police Officer Jesse Madsen who was killed when he intentionally veered his patrol car head-on into a wrong-way drunk driver traveling at 100 mph on an interstate, saving countless lives in his final action as a law enforcement officer.

In the process of daily research on the law enforcement institution trying feverishly to perform duties while being bashed by naysayers and their fiction-based anti-police harangue, I come across scores of poignant police news depicting reality-based scenarios of cops getting down and dirty to chalk-up more saves (and apprehensions, too).

While some locales eagerly and recklessly move to defund the police, police service still ensues. And that serves as a win-win for citizens and the cops who stand up for them when times get tumultuous.

The following encapsulates cops saving a man who wandered from a group home and found himself at the basin of a rocky cliff and icy terrain, seemingly immobile in unforgiving inclement conditions. And his status would’ve worsened if it were not for several cops slogging knee-deep in chilly flowing water…ultimately saving a life from perilous circumstances in an unforgiving landscape.

From the Sweet Buffalo site: “At around 4:30 p.m. [on March 13, 2021], officers were dispatched to the area of 810 Union Road in West Seneca to help locate an 18-year-old male who had just left a nearby New York State group home residence. Responding officers familiar with the individual and his affinity for water checked the area […] and found that he had fallen around 20 feet down a steep embankment and into the creek, suffering leg and back injuries and unable to get out. Several officers and fire districts including the Water Rescue Team responded and were able to get the male out and to safety.”

(Photo credit FBNY.)

According to post-incident reports I found, the rescued male was also treated for hypothermia, and a fire department official requested for the involved police officers to be “rehabbed.”

And the beat goes on, even for off-duty cops.

A brief audio/video excerpt illustrating the rescue was published by Fire Buff NY. Despite a pretty steep drop and public safety personnel bearing the wet/icy waters, the save was made.

In somewhat similar fashion on Saturday, one of Snellville’s Finest found himself decompressing while riding home after going off duty (such a fairy tale), bit his down time was a tad short-lived because, well, duty calls.

Per Snellville PD administration: “It was a wet and muddy morning for Mr. David Clendening and Ofc. A. Devries last Saturday. Ofc. Devries was on his way home, a little after 7 a.m., after working his patrol shift. The officer was flagged down by Mr. Clendening on SR81 in Walton County. Mr. Clendening advised Ofc. Devries that there was a vehicle overturned in a creek, and the driver was trapped inside. The two heard screaming from inside the vehicle. Ofc. Devries and Mr. Clendening immediately entered the water, and Ofc. Devries was able to break the window. The two were able to remove the man from inside the vehicle and bring him up the bank. The man told Ofc. Devries and Mr. Clendening that he had been trapped in the vehicle overnight.”

(Photo courtesy of the Snellville, Georgia police department.)

In a follow-up to this save, the freed driver was medically checked, Mr. Clendening is being considered for the PD’s civilian heroism award, and Ofc. Devries had a muddy uniform to launder. I suspect a life-saving award is coming his way, deservedly so.

In yet another heart-grabbing life-saving episode involving law enforcement professionals, a young suicidal man’s life was met with redemption and a chance to turn it all around, thanks to an especially compassionate LEO whose sister succeeded in taking her life years prior. Give a look/listen:

A commenter who viewed the video involving Orange County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Anthony Shea and his colleagues embracing that distraught young man on a rainy and gloomy day shared the following heartfelt experience, also involving a LEO and a life pulled from the brink:

“I cried watching because my sister at 15 years old life was saved by Orange County sheriff when she tried to commit suicide and I’d never forget that officer. It’s so much going on through the minds of mental ill and sometimes it takes that one person to get through. This was so awesome.”

There are several Orange County Sheriff’s Offices across the country, all of which have deputies chronicling their respective life-saving feats, but it doesn’t matter which one is being referred to as much as it matters that a life was rescued by someone who vowed to do so as stipulated via the law enforcement oath.

These graphic scenes may not be reported but they sure do happen, many resulting in saves thanks to caring cops who respond, understand the gritty reality, and exhaust humanity to methodically use training and pure heart to deny yet another suicide statistic.

And although seemingly trivial, the depictions above underscore how cops waste zero time getting down and dirty to succeed the mission of service to humanity. The windswept rainy bridge in Orange County had no bearing on Sgt. Shea getting down on knees (prayerful gesture, in my eyes, perhaps intended for the would-be jumper to see) and patiently spending seconds in time while rapport-building is the essence of our society’s responsibility to each other.

Whereas some people may have strayed from neighborly coexistence, police officials maintain the covenant, as evidenced by unrelenting actions. And, boy, does it feel wonderful when a cop exercises every human scintilla of compassion to enable a troubled soul to see the light. I speak from experience.

Early in my LE career, I was dispatched to a “domestic disturbance.” Upon arrival (and with back-up en route per protocol), I met a woman outside who said she was the caller; she gave me the background: Her life partner was tenured at the company for which she worked for over two decades, suffered back injuries, was addicted to pain pills/alcohol, and was facing termination because of excessive absences/inabilities at work.

Sobbing uncontrollably, the caller said she couldn’t take it anymore and was there to break up with her girlfriend, and, upon telling her lover she was moving on, was met with threats of suicide. There was a “Clint Eastwood-type gun on the table,” per the caller. Back-up arrived; we walked in methodically.

I took lead. I saw the hefty-looking firearm laying on an end table—not necessarily within reach of the individual who allegedly made self-destruction statements, but out in the open. She sat with an intense stare, often grimacing (presumably from back pain), and cradled a sniffer of Vodka in her right hand. A tall Vodka bottle was within reach of the suicidal person.

Although I didn’t have any advanced training under my belt (like Sgt. Shea from the above Orange County bridge scenario), I did have focused eyes and listening ears…and that was all she wanted: someone to hear her side. She admitted the downward spiral and the causal factors leading up to this moment. She wanted help, and with a stiffened pain-riddled posture unrelieved by a concoction of Vodka/pills, she looked at me and began to sob.

She thanked me for listening and helping her get help. Said she’d go voluntarily under Florida’s Baker Act (Mental Health Act)…with one condition: that I not lose any respect for her because of her condition.

That was an easy condition to offer her in return. You see, she was a battalion chief with a county fire department who, earlier in her career, had been injured on the job.

I’m happy to say she recovered well. We remain friends…

Indeed, many folks nowadays are either hurting from seemingly unwieldy matters born of a pandemic or pre-existing conditions exacerbated by the virus’s burdensome impositions.

Some citizens may falter from despair or find themselves in a bit of a rut…and herein we covered a few life-saving examples of cops doing what cops do.   

Defunded, muddied, bloodied, soot-covered…LEOs will be there regardless, chalking up wins in the book of great police work. Like one commenter said —as adopted for our title— “I’m glad cops like this exist!”

(Photo courtesy of the Stony Point Police Department.)

Scroll Up