Back the Blue: Law enforcement deserve community support now more than ever

The Friday before Halloween was a busy night for several brave men and women of the Cedar Falls Police Department. There were loud parties to visit, obnoxious intoxicated college students to talk to and drunk drivers to stop. The job does not make these valiant citizens popular with society.

Jared Mason, an officer of eight years, has a wife and two kids. When most parents go to sleep, he comes into work. While most parents put on a suit and tie for work every day, he straps a kevlar vest and .40 caliber handgun on every day. Most parents seldom risk their lives for random strangers, but for Mason, this is an everyday occurrence. Whether it’s responding to a domestic dispute or a traffic stop, any number of things could go haywire.

He came in at 10 at night and was set to work until seven in the morning, a nine-hour shift where everything and anything could happen.

For the first four hours of his shift, I rode in the seat next to him, for a “ride-along.” He went over the basics with me of what to do, and the gear he carries in his SUV.

An hour into patrolling, we were patrolling the crowded area that is The Hill on a Friday. There were zombie brides, cats and basketball players walking the sidewalks looking to hit the next bar. We were looking for any suspicious or illegal activity to inspect.

We stopped a group of kids after hearing a glass bottle shatter. We stopped the car and turned on the spotlight on the side of it. A group of college students were standing in their front yard.

“You guys throwing bottles over here?” asked Mason.

“No sir, we dropped one.”

We sat for a second, then began to patrol again. “Suddenly they aren’t throwing ‘em when police show up,” Mason said.

He began to explain to me about his strategy of picking his battles. “I could arrest any number of those drunk kids for public intox or for underage drinking, but you gotta pick your battles.”

About 15 minutes later, some concerned citizens on The Hill told us about a fight occurring in between two buildings. We creeped up slowly on the buildings and saw two men with fists up ready to brawl surrounded by three other guys.

Mason flipped the lights on causing the two fighting men and one other to scatter. The other two stayed behind and spoke to Mason. After an attempt to find the men, Mason returned to the SUV.

I proceeded to ask him about any fights he had gotten in the middle of during his eight-year tenure with the Cedar Falls Police Department. He told me about an officer who only a few weeks prior, had to go to the hospital for injuries sustained fighting an intoxicated subject.

“Don’t let your ego get in the way. I’ll use pepper spray or my taser. I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I’m just trying to get home to my kids.”

By this time it was almost 12:30 a.m. We had busted two parties, stopped a guy urinating on a building, broke up a fight and gotten enough dirty looks to last us for the rest of the night.

We were still cruising the areas around The Hill when a call was placed that an arrest was being made on the 2200 block of College. When we arrived, the suspect, a young woman, was fighting and kicking at the officers attempting to arrest her.

Mason hopped out of the car and immediately began to assist his companions in getting her into the back of our vehicle. As they were attempting to get her in, she kicked another officer. A group of bystanders claiming to be off-duty cops came over to help assist in arresting her.

The girl was screaming profanities and insults at the people delivering her into the back of our vehicle. Finally, after the struggle, they got her into the back.

We were all set to take her down to the station. Along the way she cursed at Mason and I the entire time. “You guys don’t even know how to f***ing do your jobs. You don’t get any training. I really hope you guys just f***ing kill yourselves. You guys don’t even go to college. I’m so much smarter than you guys.”

Not a half hour before, Mason had just got done telling me about going to college at the University of Northern Iowa for criminology. Mason and I could have said something back to her, but we rode in complete silence all the way to the station. She continued to hurl profanity laced insults at us,

“You guys deserve the absolute worst out of life. I hope you f***ing die and burn in Hell.”

Mason’s expression told it all. He was quiet. One of the thousands citizens he protects with his life every day, was telling him to burn in Hell.

When we got to the station, Mason told me to stand at the other side of the room as he was going to try to get her out of the back. I could hear them struggling as he tried to get her out to no avail.

Finally, some backup arrived, and they attempted to get her out, all the while the girl was shouting and screaming profanities.

They struggled a bit more, and then the girl bit one of the lieutenants on duty that night. Luckily the bite did not break skin. They gave her a final warning that she would be tased if she continued to struggle. The girl then began to comply.

Mason then took the girl to the Black Hawk County Jail in Waterloo, and I stayed behind at the CF Police Station. We reviewed another officer’s body camera footage and looked up what charges could be brought against her.

After almost a half hour, Mason arrived back at the CF station. He sat down in front of the computer next to me and rubbed his face with his hands. “Long f***ing night man,” he said. It was only 1:30 a.m., and there was five and half more hours to go for him.

Behind every badge, is a human being. In every squad car is a son or daughter. Police officers are not mindless machines. They are real people. They put their lives on the line every day for, at times, ungrateful citizens. The situations they have to deal with on a daily basis are more than anyone can imagine.

Law enforcement officers deserve our respect, now more than ever, with the ruthless murders of two officers in Urbandale and the anti-police rhetoric swirling in the media.

The only thing that separates society and anarchy, is the Thin Blue Line.

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