Fight, Flight, and Chase
Everyone should be familiar with fight or flight. This is the mode your body goes into when you are in danger. You experience tunnel vision and your brain zeros in on safety. You won’t even realize you have pumped up adrenaline until you suffer the dump which happens after you’re finally out of danger; shaking, crying, and laughing are a few of the after effects.
Police officers have these same responses but we train to fight. It’s very hard to kick in our flight reflex even when we should. “Go home each night to your family,” is our daily motto. This means there are situations we need to get the hell out of, quickly. I think police officers are wired to have more of the fight instinct even before training begins. Disabling our fighting nature is difficult and I’ve been yelled at by supervisors for staying in a situation longer than I should.
I will admit I differ from my younger cop counterparts in one major area now. Cops love to give chase. They love runners; either on foot or in vehicles. Nothing gets an officer in the proper mood more than a good chase.
In my first two years of street duty I was guilty of the same response. Duty pants torn from hip to thigh, yep with everything hanging out, was only one of my many perils. Everyone now knows I wear black underwear beneath my uniform.
Can I outrun, tackle, and torment my escapee? I’ll be honest and say I’ve never outrun anyone on foot. I’ve had some pretty good car pursuits though. All have been short, and most end in the suspect ditching the car and running, I hate that. I was able to Tase a guy while he fought with my old partner Jim after a vehicle pursuit then foot chase. We were in mud and I received quite the electrical shock too. You will never see that video on cops.
When it comes to relying on my legs, I’m older now. My body requires additional coddling. The longer I’m an officer the more it takes to get my adrenaline pumping and I guess I’m wiser too.
A few months ago, my squad poked at me for not chasing a suspect on foot after he took a heavy inanimate object to his roommate’s head.
I was the first one to spot Coco (his street name) and I dispatched my location. Coco refused to get within Taser range but I was using my “Just come to the police department and talk to me” grandma voice when another officer came around the corner doing fifty miles an hour. Coco took off and the officer slammed on his brakes, jumped out, and started chasing.
I calmly got back in my car and began following. Coco is young, slender, and fast. My Crown Vic, is old, heavy, and reliable; kind of like me. Five blocks later I lost the first officer but kept Coco in my sights. He finally slowed and again I got out of my vehicle and started trying to coax him to do as I wanted.
Tearing around the corner, another officer charged our location. Coco got a little rest while we socialized and he took off again. Officer two flew from his vehicle and started running. I couldn’t help my sigh.
Here we go again and within another few blocks I have no backup and I’m following Coco as he slows and starts walking. I call in my location, knowing my fellow officers are heading back to their vehicles so they can find us.
“Really Coco, you want to keep running?”
“No, but they keep chasing me.”
“Then jump in the back of my car and I’ll take you in.”
“I need some water.”
“I’ll take you to Circle K and buy you one.”
“Are you being straight up?”
“Yep, but you better hurry because they’re getting close again.”
Coco jumped in my backseat. I have a cage so he’s separated from me and you can’t open the doors from the inside. I was pretty sure he didn’t have a weapon but I asked him anyway.
“Do you have any guns, knives, or bazookas on you?”
“No guns or knives but what’s a bazooka?”
I am getting so old, “It’s a type of bubblegum.”
“Oh, do you need some gum?”
“Yes, but I’ll pick it up when I buy your water.”
“Okay, thanks man, I mean ma’am.”
“No problem Coco, this isn’t my case but if you want me interviewing you I can.”
“No, I’ll talk to Sanders though.” Sanders is the first cop who chased him.
Gosh, there is no loyalty between cops and crooks these days.
I called in my Circle K location and the parking lot filled with red and blue flashing lights. I took Coco out of the back and searched him for weapons but I told him I would wait to put on handcuffs until after he drank his water. My fellow officers were pissed off but I told them they could buy their own water.
After handcuffing my in custody, I drove back along Coco’s escape route and located his shoe which he lost while running.
I took razzing from my squad for not chasing on foot. They seem to miss the fact that words did more good. I don’t mind. There are days I wish I started this career in my twenties and had the chance to run with the best of them.
Coco was out of jail the next morning and every time I see him he waves.
Sometimes I think police work is not a profession for older people, but then again; brains, laziness, and a good reliable police cruiser make up for it. Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?