FBINAA Sept/Oct Magazine.2018

DarkPlace? Take amoment andclose your eyes. Now imagine not having the tools to open your eyes to see light. Imagine trying to look around but all you see is dark. You can still see figures and life, just not light. You see gloom, depression, sadness, hate, all the things that detour light into your life. Light, is happiness, support, love, and all those things we need to survive in life. Imagine these items are there, but you can- not see them because darkness has taken over. You start to ask yourself if light will ever come or if darkness is your future. M any people who suffer this type of feeling suffer what I be- lieve is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder . Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb said, “Bad things happen to good people,” (Whitcomb, S. (2018, July 16). The question is, how many bad things can get a good person to this level of darkness? What kind of bad things can drive the light away from a good person? How does a good person handle the darkness and gain the ability to get the light back? What bad things drove the light away and what abilities did the good person lose to fight off darkness? These are questions that I never knew I needed to answer until the darkness caught up to me. ROAD MAP TO THE “DARK PLACE” I cannot answer the questions above for others and truthful- ly could not answer them for myself until I hit my breaking point. After hitting my breaking point, getting the help I needed allowed me to reflect on just what events in my life led to this dark place. Unbelievably, the events started at an early stage in my career. In 1999 I was working patrol with Sergeant Maxey . I heard what I be- lieved were gun shots. We both investigated it and a subject start- ed shooting at us from a residence. I was standing next to a wood beam and a bullet struck me and the beam. Sergeant Maxey and I both took bullet fragments from a 30-06, which was just a few feet away when the suspect shot. I took bullet fragments in the head he took them in the eye. I was taken away from the shooting scene and transported to the hospital where I received medical treat- ment. I was then released and taken back to the shooting scene after the suspect was taken into custody. I was then debriefed by administration and then taken back to the sheriff’s department.

Shortly afterwards I was told to go home, so I drove myself. I was given a week off, then went back to work. I was young, had no idea what really happened, but had that attitude that it was part of the job. Suck it up and move on. Other major events occurred throughout my career, but 2008 was the breaking point. I went through a divorce in 2005 which put a lot of stress on my life. It was not a good marriage from the beginning but like all marriages with kids you try to make it work. In 2005, I left. Two years of court battles, financial struggles, and normal police work events made my light very dim. In 2007, myself and other officers responded to a report of fe- male driving from Chico to kill her husband. My assignment was to aid the husband and children in leaving the residence to a safe place. The husband was a State Fish and Game police officer and the suspect was his ex-wife, who was a registered nurse. While aiding the husband, other officers told me the female was driving down the street with a weapon. I told the husband go inside and secure his door and left towards my patrol car. I then saw the ve- hicle and female holding a gun. She exited the car while it was still moving and pointed the gun towards me. I was forced to use lethal force. I struggled with this. They had kids that were close to the age of my children and I, in my heart believed she was a good person who had just reached that dark place. I never told anyone about my struggles with this, my divorce, and other issues. I sucked it up, kept it to myself and just figured it was a part of the job. I sucked it up for a good year before I finally hit my breaking point. BREAKING POINT “When I became a cop in 1985, we were told nothing should bother you, just keep it moving,” Dibona recalled in an interview with The Crime Report . “Cops don’t like to show their emotions,” (Thomas, T. S., TCR Staff, & Crime and Justice News. (2018, March 22). This is a great quote on an article written by Tiffany Thomas about PTSD in law enforcement. The theory really did not change in 1999 in my first shooting and in 2007 on my last shooting. You did not show your emotions, you just shoved it down to a place where no one could see and continued to work the streets. That is, until you have reached your breaking point where the darkness has completely taken over. In 2008 I hit my breaking point. Between personal life, finan- cial issues, and work-related events, the darkness took over. It is funny how some past events you cannot recall but others you could describe step by step. It was my first day off after working 15 straight graveyard shifts. Emotionally I was struggling because I was only allowed to have two of my children 2 ½ days a week and I was struggling financially. My oldest daughter and I had just gotten into an intense argument, and she left the house. I tried to call my other two kids, but they were not available. I did not sleep the night before because of nightmares from the earlier shooting. It was at that point I decided the light was not coming back, and I needed to join the darkness. I left my residence in my personal vehicle with my service weapon on my side with full intentions of never returning. These thoughts had been through my mind in the past, and I always told myself I would do it where no one could find me. That was my full intention. Ironically, the profession that had driven me to this point was the profession that saved my life, for the time be- ing. I was driving when I received the phone call, “Graveyard call in sick, can you work.” Of course, I will because that is what we continued on page 20

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