P1 First Person: Keeping your boots clean


By Officer David A. Rhoades
Amherst (Mass.) Police Department

A police officer sits in his cruiser, in the back lot of the police station, just beginning his eight hour shift as the dispatch radio crackles to life. The dispatcher advises the officer of a reported suicide in the south sector and he immediately responds. Upon arriving at the scene, he discovers the body of an individual who apparently, as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, committed suicide. The officer attempts to calm the very distraught family while securing the scene. Hours later, night has fallen and he returns to his cruiser to leave the area and handle the next call. As he closes the door to his darkened police cruiser, he is overwhelmed by the foul pungent odor surrounding him. With the faint lighting radiating from his dashboard the officer is able to glimpse the dog-doo on his boots and covering the cruiser floor board. He immediately knows he must have stepped in it as he exited the residence and knows that it is going to be a long shift this evening. The officer begins to reflect on the emotional toll the suicide has taken on him and begins to realize he “has really stepped in it.”

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