By Luis C. Castillo
Considering that this is the Tarrant Chronicle’s debut publication and in the interest of transparency I find it appropriate to disclose upfront my past profession in this magazine forum. I make this disclosure additionally for two reasons. One is to reaffirm my “support the blue” spirit; and two, to lay a qualified foundation for potential future articles involving police issues.
Long ago and far away I was a police officer. I was a “street cop” for nine years in a rough metropolitan border town in South Texas. During that time period I experienced many horrific and heart-breaking crime scenes. Some crime scenes still haunt me to this very day. I lost a couple of police brothers along the way either by an assailant’s bullet or by their own finger on the trigger.
I should also note that during my police tenure I headed the local police association for several years and as such I was instrumentally involved in representing and defending member police officers in disciplinary matters. This role as head of the local police association exposed me to a whole different aspect – police misconduct. Some police misconduct proved to be true while other allegations were unsubstantiated. At any rate this experience was not only an eye opener but mind boggling.
Some months ago I announced on social media that while I don’t purport to be a writer I had commenced work on a long-deferred project of mine – a book detailing some of my police experiences. My police experiences are not going to be sugar coated but told in the most real life and raw emotion fashion as they occurred and some will definitely “shock the conscious” of the reader. I have tentatively entitled the book, Nine Lives: Memoirs of a Border Town Street Cop. The book is not intended to be the “kiss and tell” kind but rather its intention is to shed light into the immense realities of being a police officer.
In my upcoming book there’s a chapter entitled, “The Drive By”. Briefly without getting into too much detail, this chapter details a particular police call I responded to late one night. The house in the barrio that was victimized by the shooting was riddled with bullet holes. A husband and wife and their three kids living there luckily were not hit by the gunfire. But the sound of popping and crackling lead hitting the living room and bedroom walls must have had a devastating effect on the family particularly the children. After talking to the husband, I searched the immediate neighborhood area for the drive-by vehicle’s description given by witnesses. I came upon the described vehicle which had fallen into a ditch by the side of the road in their haste to get away. There were two male suspects who were trying to push the vehicle out of the ditch. As I drove closer, I immediately recognized the suspects. They were two off-duty police officers and they were armed. I am not going to disclose here this chapter’s conclusion but suffice to say that the events that followed next would forever change my police career.
The aforementioned backdrop is necessary in order to put matters into perspective. My support for the blue is not unconditional. I am a realist and my support for the police is not blind but guided through the principle of righteousness. As much as a strong advocate of the police I may be at the end of the day I possess the reasonable wisdom to distinguish wrong from right. And the reality is that at times police officers commit wrong doings either by intent or misjudgment. Police officers are not perfect. They are human. And to err is to be human.
This qualifying background experience was necessary to disclose as a prelude to future community police issues writings. I want the reader to know that “I’ve been there and done that” and I’m not just being a Monday morning quarterback. I whole heartily support the blue but not blindly. And I hope that the residents of this city can see the validity of the latter.