Monday, December 18, 2006
Well, friends...I've made it to the next chapter. I just completed my first week on the street with my Field Training Officer (FTO). I've already seen some very disturbing things and for those of you who know me, you know that one thing is certain; that's right...I've been doing a lot of thinking. I was recently asked by a good friend of mine what I thought would be the most difficult aspect of transitioning from military law enforcement to the civilian side. Although I answered his question, I probably should have given more thought to it before I did because I think I may have found the right answer this week.
I went to a call this week involving two adult females. It was the morning after, and we went to one of the ladies homes to serve a warrant for the previous night's going-on's. We were invited into the lady's home (it was a low-risk warrant) and her young child was sitting on the couch playing a video game. For those of you not savvy to the current video game scene, Grand Theft-Auto is a very popular (read dangerous) video game involving a gangster who runs the street robbing, shooting and beating up anyone who crosses his path thereby giving the game its title. The language contained in this video game for those of you who are not familiar, is a very stout R rating.
To be honest, at first it really didn't catch my attention...A child playing a video game. And then it happened...My FTO was explaining the arrest warrant to the lady when I heard "Give me the F-ing ride!" come from the television. "Woah", I thought..."What is this all about". I don't know if it was my expression or my quick glance to the rear that caught the arestee's attention, but she obviously noticed my bewilderment. "Oh, it's alright...", she said. "I let them watch and play whatever they want. Some kids have no idea what goes on in the world...but not mine. I want them to be prepared when they get out there." Now at this point in the encounter, I had to remind myself to remain somewhat focused on the business at hand and not let this lady's comment distract me to the point where I lose my clarity of thought or focus...because truth be told, I wanted to say, "Excuse me? That was the punch line to a bad joke right?" But nope...no joke here.
Right then, I began to sense that I was being introduced to something...a lifestyle, a thought process, an apathy that was going to prove to be very difficult for me to accept. I believe that it's a parent's responsibility to protect and defend a child's innocence. To me, one of the most precious attributes about my daughters is their naivety. They have no concept of murder, thievery, extortion...all the things that this video game was brainwashing this young man to consider as the norm of our society. Isn't this one of the most crucial responsibilities that we as parent's have? To protect the innocence of our children and to shield and protect them from the evils of our world?
Society's parents as a whole, are failing their children. This household I fear, is a microcosm of the bulk of our society. In a great many cases, our last line of defense has been compromised and in this case at least, the enemy has entrenched his forces on what was once our turf. And for me, here's the rub. I must force myself to approach every situation as a black and white case. Either a law was broken or it wasn't. It's not my place to give advice on parenting. It's not my place to offer opinion on parenting. It's not my place to pass judgement on what I believe to be value-delinquent parents. My job is to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth and to protect her citizens. And as bad as I wanted to tell this lady that she missed the bus, I had to bite my tongue.
There are those who are beyond recovery. It's too late to save some and I can accept this. But our children? This blank pallet that we have been blessed with the opportunity to paint? We hand this over to others to paint for us? To me, this is nothing short of cowardice. We are waving the white flag and the enemy is eagerly licking his chops, waiting for the opportunity to claim another victory...to sign his name to what was intended to be our masterpiece. I am not only be the defender of my children's lives, but also the defender of their minds; and I've got news for you...my flag is planted and I will not lose.