I have seen more crime in a year than most sworn members of this department will in their career. That's just the statistic. I wonder how long I can continue to see society's worst.
How often the eyes of a new officer are so obvious to me. They flash with a kind of excitement that is between curious and the 'can I take it' look I must have had when I first got here. After a few years I became accustomed, but not numb to what I am surrounded by. It took me a while to realize that the calm pallor I now exhibit is actually noticed. I hear, 'you see a lot of this..' as they look back from direct eye contact with me to the scene. Not until recently did I see my self as the calm one. In my thirties that would not be the case. The only thing that gets me wound up now is if I miss lunch.
There are scenes so horrific that management has had to ask if I'm okay after viewing the photo's I bring back. As though they are coming back from being their I am looked at with a kind of horror and wonder. How odd that I feel the need to be reassuring. I share my short version of philosophy and thank them for their concern. My eyes are on to the next assignment.
I don't always find dead people with their eyes closed. Often the look is a relaxed vacant one. As though they saw the other side and knew it was going to be okay. I found it creepy at first and now find it reassuring. They seem to me to have seen the mercy that lies ahead forever and they just stepped over to the other side, willingly, happily. They leave the shell behind with this world and no regrets go with them.
When I take photos of victims of violence they give me looks that range from, 'when will this be over' to 'please don't hurt me too'. The first is a kind of anger to resolution that is hard to describe. I would say it is a frightened glare, way off into the distance. The second ranges from looking down and away to staring at me, eye brows arched up to their maximum, very close focus. Children stare at me, trying to read what I might do. Those are looks I regard as normal. What wrenches me still is when the child is smiling because pictures are a happy time. Even with older wounds healing over and sometimes skin that reflects malnourishment they are as happy as you might expect them to be if they were going to Disneyland.
Through my own eyes the witness to life’s last pain has been remarkable. I have them set into the future and on a bigger prize. That thought alone keeps me focused, when I need to, on the toughest job I have ever loved.
I think the look I have had the hardest time with is in the eyes of an inexperience officer who has had to use the ultimate power to defend their life. Even the coolest ones know that without the training and teamwork they are surrounded by the deadly duel could have gone against them. It is then they look down the long path of investigation that will involve them wholly. It is a worried, thousand yard stare into an unknown distance saturated by fog. Not even the slightest detail to let them know if the path is windy, or straight and down. No one will ever get the fear of the unknown trained out of them. It's why we call them brave.
History may show some glint leftover of my life. For every thousand words my shutter is worth they are digitized and left for posterity to remember, if it wants too. I have loved ones, I do what I can so they have the best of what I can be to view in their minds eye, when they remember to.