Sunday, January 13, 2019

Struggling for Words in 2019

This nation has had seven law enforcement officers killed in 2019. Reading this headline from Alabama this morning got me thinking as I sit here in disbelief.

I don’t know what to say anymore. I am struggling for the words. 
https://www.odmp.org/
Perhaps a thought on why some of us made the decision to work in law enforcement. I obviously cannot speak for everyone but I suspect my story is similar to many. 

I wanted to be a journalist. I actually wrote sports articles for a couple of local newspapers for a few years. I was fairly sure this was going to be my career path. Who knows perhaps I could of been the next Miguel Almaguer or Dan Green.

Something happened when I was kid in grade school. I saw one of my friends getting bullied on the playground with racist remarks, shoving and general harassment. I stepped in front of the bully as if it was my job and backed him off (with a right cross).  I don’t know why I did this, but I felt the need to protect him.

My Uncle Jim went to the police academy when I was 11. I remember smelling the leather from his “Batman” utility belt and seeing the super cool uniform on. He was a police officer with the City of Fowler, Paso Robles, San Clemente and retired from Orange County Sheriffs Office. 

When I was just an adolescent I worked in Fresno at a video store. My Dads cousin Ed would stop by my work occasionally. Ed was a Fresno County Sheriffs Office Deputy. He was a professional but he was also very approachable. Ed would sit and chat about his work with me. It sounded amazing. Ed survived multiple officer involved shootings and later retired from injuries sustained in a on-duty collision. 

I also went to college at this time, but my business major didn’t feel like a right fit. I felt Iike I was just plodding along and not really living. That was until I saw an advertisement for the CHP. I read the ad and was intrigued. I didn’t tell my family or friends. I just applied. To my complete surprise, I was successful throughout the process. 

At the end of the background process the local CHP recruiter had a meeting with me. He was talking about the CHP academy start dates and getting my affairs in order to prepare for that. I felt I needed to talk to my family. I called my parents and spoke to them. To say it was NOT my mothers first choice for her firstborn's chosen career would be a bit of an understatement. My parents have always been supportive of all of their kids, but this was a leap. She eventually came around btw. She suggested I call her brother, my Uncle Jim, a police officer and ask him for his thoughts. 

I called my uncle. He was apprehensive but supportive. He had been a police officer over 10 years and knew the dangers. I know how he felt. Its because when I am asked now i feel that same apprehension and need to explain and quantify my thoughts on the subject.

My uncle said "I always be honest and watch your partners back". My dads cousin Ed said the same thing essentially, but with more, shall we say colorful metaphors. Ed's sort of like that. 

Both my uncle and cousin Ed asked me why I was choosing law enforcement. I told them both the bully story. I told them I was intrigued with the idea of helping my community and the people living in it. I liked the fact that there was no routine to the job at all (there is in fact no such thing as a routine traffic stop folks). I said i wanted to do something that would actually make a difference (i theorized then and still do that an arrest can certainly be a positive change).

My uncle asked me why I hadn't considered the regular police academy. I did not have an answer. I had never considered it. He said "the CHP academy is great, but I do not know if you want a job chasing tail lights all the time." Again I had not even considered it. How would I know? 

So the solution for me was to go on some ride-alongs with police officers. I had been a several in the past however never with the thought of actually looking at it from the perspective as a career choice. I arranged several with the local police, sheriffs and CHP. 

I had a blast for the most part. When I rode with Fresno PD and Clovis PD, it was non-stop call to call all night long. It was exhausting yet exhilarating to see these professionals work and actually make positive change to peoples lives on that level. I remember coming home and not being able to sleep after. The ride with CHP was fun as well. Less activity, but the stuff we responded too was big, complex and a few were just horrific (1 fatal and 1 major injury collision). 

I re-evaluated and decided because I did not know what I wanted to do in this career (because I did not know enough about it yet). I probably should opt for the police academy. I remember meeting with Sgt Keller (RIP) at the Fresno Police Academy. Sgt Keller had previously trained Cousin Ed and Uncle Jim. 

Sgt Keller was a gruff, tough old cop. He had a heart of gold but he did not put up with any nonsense. He asked about my relatives and then literally said he wanted me to report to the academy Wednesday evening at 5 pm with a haircut and uniform on and excused me. He handed me a entrance application (stamped approved prior to my filling it out) and told me to get to work. 

Sgt Keller and later a TO named Ron Graham (Monterrey County SO retired) shaped us all at the State Center Police Officers Academy (Class 46). There are some cool stories from the academy that I wont get into now, but suffice to say I graduated and was hired out of the academy. 

The rest is history and a story for a different time. But the take away from this little story is my reasons for entering into this field. 


  • a job that truly helps people
  • different everyday
  • satisfaction in making positive changes in peoples lives
  • protecting those that can not do that for themselves

I suspect that my fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement have similar stories that parallel my reasons for working in this field. 

This is not hyperbole, it has been a very fulfilling career. I start my 29th year in law enforcement in just a few weeks. I can say I have had a lot of fun. I have felt happy, fulfilled, scared and depressed sometimes all on the same shift. I am proud to continue to serve you all. 

They say that the assignment of patrol in law enforcement can be described as 11 1/2 hours of boredom followed by 1/2 hours of terror. On some day's, that is pretty accurate. 

Sometimes the media picks up on a story that has racial or ideological negative undertones in relation to a law enforcement action. I do not deny that that possibility exists. Police officers are human. Police officers are not infallible. 

I have not seen much or really any of this stuff in my career however.  I guess its probably always going to be about perspective, so I do not doubt folks when they say that when they see something, it upsets them and when I see the same thing, it seems completely fine. I do not look through their life lenses so I chose to listen to understand and not to judge their words.

My point today is to understand these law enforcement professionals and their motivations. We have had seven officers die in the line of duty in 2019 thus far. It is only January 13th, that is one every other day on average. Unfortunately this number will rise. 

I do not pretend to know the answers. I just know I am scared for our future both for our nations law enforcement officers but always our communities, cities and their people. 

I do not think you can arrest your way out of it (but it helps). I do not think you can legislate it. I think it all happens in our homes with our children. Parents we need to do a better job of setting the example we seek from our children as adults. 

Police Chiefs / Sheriffs / Majors / Commissioners / Supervisors we need to do a better job in communicating with those we serve. We need to show folks that we are exactly like them. We have the same fears, some hopes, our kids go to the same schools, we celebrate the same holidays and go to the same parades and events. We are the folks we serve, 100% of the time.

But that is just my opinion. 

Please say a prayer our maybe just a positive thought for the safety of our communities, its people and of course all of those that serve in the military and public safety. 

Be good to each other,

Chief. 







Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thoughts and lessons

I have been involved in public service more than half my life. Officially, 28 years on February 4th, 2019. Its been a journey. I have learned a lot.

I have learned many lessons of humility and patience. I have seen tragedy, violence, hate, fear, happiness, joy and sometimes something in between all that. 


You cannot be taught the lessons I have learned without experiencing them for yourself. Smelling the fear, feeling the exhaustion, the anguish and the sometimes the hope. 


I do not know what kind of leader I am. But I do hope I am one that folks can learn something from by way of example, by style or just by the way I interact and communicate. I always sort of default on the concept of love when talking about my job. I know I spoke about it in my TEDx Salinas Talk exclusively. But I do feel its absolutely true. You cannot spend a life in public service and be successful without in at least a part by loving your fellow man/woman/humans.


People often ask me why I encourage criticism. Why I thank people for criticizing me or my decisions. My answer, I thank everyone because it matters to me. 


Yes, what people think and say matters to me. It does not bother me when folks do not think like I do and are critical of decisions I make or things I say. The fact that they are saying something and have the ability to do that without the fear of judgement or retribution by the subject (me) they are referring too means everything to me and is what I signed up for when I took that oath (well I have taken many oaths).


I have literally been called every single derogatory name in the book, many multiple times. I have never gotten mad at that. I wont ever. I just wont do negative, because I love people and I choose to live with a smile.


I know that some folks do not think like that. That is ok. I do not have that expectation of others. We choose how to live our lives, we do not choose how others live. 


Thank you, 


Chief


Friday, June 8, 2018

Torch Run / SBC Saddle Horse Show / Jr Giants

Well we are off in running (pun intended) raising funds for Special Olympics. This is the second year we have participated in the North California Special Olympics Torch Run. Our day for our run is June 12th, the Hollister Police Department leg is from the Superior Court House to HPD. I am very proud of our employees that are choosing to participate in this great event for these very special athletes. Anytime we can help lift up and spotlight folks that need our help in this community and region, we are going to try to do something if we can.

The San Benito Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo kicks off this weekend with the Miss San Benito contest June 9th at 10 AM at Bolado Park. This is a free event for the public. June 16th is the Ranch Rodeo at Bolado Park (9:00 AM start) and the Annual Saddle Horse Show Parade in downtown Hollister starts at 11:00 AM, both events again are completely free.

Later on June 16th at Hollister Concerts (Peppertree Ranch / Guerra’s Cellars) 6 PM - 9 PM Miss San Benito will be introduced at the concert. Gates open at 5:00 PM. Los Lobos is the headliner.

June 17th at Bolado Park, there will be the Figure 8 roping eliminations and later the Jackpot Roping event, starts at 8:00 AM - again Free.

The San Benito Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo Association BBQ is later that day starting around 1:30 PM at Bolado Park.

The 85th San Benito Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo begins Friday June 22. Eliminations start at 8:00 AM. The Western Tack Show starts at 3:00 PM (in front of grandstands main gate). The first performance of the San Benito Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo starts at 7:00 PM.

Saturday and Sunday performances start 1:30 PM. The halter Horse Show will be in the Paddock at 9:30 AM on Saturday June 23rd. The cowboy bbq starts at 5:00 PM on June 23rd.

Jr Giants season begins on June 23rd with the first pitch at Dunne Park that morning.

It’s going to be a busy few weeks for all of us in the community. Many local Rodeo families will be leaving for the California State High School Rodeo Finals in Bishop, CA this weekend.

Personally, I will be at every one of these events. Additionally, I am going to Bishop to support my daughter and friends at the State Finals this next week. I will also be running the Spartan race at Toro Park on June 10th and then running the Special Olympics Torch Run on June 12th. I guess I’ll sleep when I die...lol.

I hope you try to come to many of these local events to share some fun with your neighbors, these events bring us closer together and makes our community stronger.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

FBI NA Week 4 - Session 271



Week 4 was incredibly busy!

We had the FBINAA (FBI National Academy Associates) Dinner on Monday night. The steak was great 5.11 Tactical sponsored this event.

We had our first of two International Student Panels with the whole session. My roommate Pedro will go in the next panels in Week 7.
King Neptune at Virginia Beach

We had our third Fit Challenge - "The Cyclone" on Wednesday. I would compare it too the "Fight Gone Bad" WOD for CrossFit folks. It pretty much smoked us for the rest of the day. That afternoon Sheriff Tim Whitcomb from Cattaraugus County, New York gave a talk on PTSD. He was fantastic.

Thursday we split our session in half. Half of us went to the US Holocaust Memorial, the other half went to FBI HQ in Washington.

I was in the group that went to FBI HQ first. This building is big with a large courtyard inside of it. It frankly looks Google-like in the courtyard. There is a full-size Starbucks and a FBI store there. I wasn't able to take photos but it wasn't what one would expect for sure. But it was really cool. we walked up to the second level of the building and noticed a single lane running track that was painted in all-weather coating that snaked around second level and included a full outdoor weight lifting area sort of like "muscle beach" style in California. It was very cold, so I didn't see a bunch of random dudes drinking protein powder shakes, wearing ratty spandex and doing clean & jerks...but I did look.

We got a brief tour and then went into the "FBI Experience". This is a public tour at FBI HQ and I thought it was really good. It would be specifically good for elementary / high school students.
Pre-Plunge at Virginia Beach


We then ate a box lunch and loaded up and went to the United States Holocaust Memorial.

If you have never been, please put this on your bucket list of places to visit in the DC area. Its hard to describe the feelings you feel as you walk through this living narrative of a horrific time in our planets history. For a police officer that works in a Republic like the US, it was jarring to see photos of German police officers and military turn from defending and protecting to an instrument of hate and evil. See the mock ups of the gas chambers and the empty cans of the mixture they used for the gas chambers was pretty intense. Then we came to the room of shoes. The shoes were left from the people they marched into the gas chambers. It was incredibly sad to see the different sizes. Adult shoes, fancy female shoes and children's shoes.

Friday my last class was "online" the topic of the class was "The Apology" click here - The Apology for reference.
The Shoes


It was a lively discussion, facilitated by a few instructor questions we had to answer. I noticed that it was really a question on where you were from in the world as to the content of your answers and how you felt about the Chiefs statement. As for myself, I was actually in the audience for this speech. I drew a lot of correlation to our own State of California, immigration, migrant farm workers and our struggles. I didn't have any issue at all with the Chief's speech. You may or may not agree. I feel we need to acknowledge that there were big problems in the way law enforcement was utilized in the past in relation to how minorities were treated. Further we need to acknowledge that racism, sexism and a bunch of other ism's still exist in the hearts of some folks in this country. Our mission should be is what are we going to do about it today? How are we going to help the next generation in this arena? For me I think it should be one of our top priorities in this country. Remember what Klingon Chancellor Gorkon said in the cinematic classic "Star Trek The Undiscovered Country". He said "If we are to have a Brave New World, our generation will have the hardest time living in it."
Klingon Chancellor Gorkon


Saturday, a group of us drove down to Virginia Beach (about 2.5 hours away) and did the Special Olympics Polar Plunge for the State of Virginia. It was absolutely the coldest I have ever been in my entire life. Wow! It was super fun and glad I could help raise funds for Special Olympics while I am here at the FBI Academy.

Well I have some reading to do and a group project to finish off. I'll blog again next week at the end of Week 5.

Have a great week and be nice to each other.


Chief




Super cool Torch Run car




I think I want one...




Great crab cakes here



Sunday, January 28, 2018

FBI NA Week 3 - Session #271

Week 3 at the FBI National Academy has been busy. I think we have all settled into our classes and have started writing our term papers. I have turned in 2-3 in different classes already. Managing a class of 226 students is done through the University of Virginia. They actually have a large presence at the academy.

Some of us got off base for a little R&R this week, enjoying some of the many sights and great dining.

Wednesday we had our second "Fit Challenge" - Your Not In Kansas Anymore. This Fit Challenge was really fun. There were three stations - Hill Climbs (15-20 meters up a steep grade, stairs climbs (at the FBI Laboratory parking structure) and band-resisted running (25-30 meters) in the track in-field. It was good workout for sure.

I continued rowing, biking and CrossFit wod's daily (nightly actually) this week. I joined the challenge of riding 271 miles on the stationary bicycle, rowing 34 miles along with doing the weekly Fit Challenges and PT.

Wednesday we were scheduled to go to the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC but some sort of bus snafu canceled that trip (it has been rescheduled).

Later in the week we had briefing from a survivor of the Virginia Tech Shooting and a survivor from the Navy Shipyards Shooting. Powerful stuff. Insightful as we had students in our session that responded to the Virginia Tech Shooting.

In my media class we started doing the interviews. Many of my classmates have never done media interviews but despite that did very well. I think our instructors have done an outstanding job.

I know today being Sunday 1/28/18 is technically Week 4...but my blog, my rules. Myself, my roommate Pedro, across the hall guys Rick and Dan "Chicago" went to the National Marine Corps Museum today. It is incredible. I don't know how to describe it any other way. I was not in the service, but I have a deep appreciation for those that have served. If you were a Marine and you have not visited, please do yourself a favor and go. If you were not a Marine or not in the service, please go, its amazing.

After several hours at the Marine Corps Museum, we decided to drive into DC. It was slightly raining and it was a Sunday. We parked downtown and went to lunch first at Ebbits. One of the best restaurant burgers I've ever eaten. After lunch we walked over to the National Mall and saw the sights, the Whitehouse, Washington Monument, World War 2 Monument, Korean War, Vietnam War monuments and of course the Lincoln Memorial.

Looking forward to a very busy Week 4.

Have a great week,

Chief





Sunday, January 21, 2018

FBI NA Week 2 - Session #271

Week 2 at the FBI National Academy began with the three day weekend. The specter of a government shutdown was all of our sessions primary concern, including the FBI (all the way to the top of the Bureau). We kept hearing that back in 2013, the FBI actually sent home an entire session of the National Academy, a FBI recruit class and all staff at the academy. So that wasn't good.

Later in the week. The director of the FBI Academy announced that our session would not be sent home no matter what happened.

Tuesday we started regular classes back after the long weekend. Some of our classes require a lot of reading to prepare for the corresponding lesson (think of it as very compressed / high intensity graduate classes). I personally have multiple term papers in my classes, as well as the regular daily assignments. I like to get my stuff done, so I put a lot of effort into getting the assignments completed way ahead of time so I can enjoy my weekends.

After the 1.47 mile Tin Man Fit Challenge
Wednesday was our very first Fit Challenge. It was snowing. It was extremely cold. I finished about mid-pack which worked for me. We showered and then had our session photos in the afternoon. That evening we had Patch/Pin and Coin night in the Atrium of the FBI Academy. I now have a ton of coins, pins and patches from agency members in my session (maybe 10-12 pounds of items in my locker here).

On Thursday we had our for forum in the auditorium. I think we are scheduled to have this each week. Our first speaker was Major Douglas Burig of the Pennsylvania State Police. It was a very moving and insightful talk on his experience at the West Nickel Mines Amish School House Shooting. Major Burig was the on-scene commander at this horrific incident. This one made me really think. We will be proactive in Hollister, there were several things I learned from this particular talk on school safety and I honestly thought I had a really good handle on it.
Session Picture Day

Friday was got back to regular classes. I am busier in some classes than others. The Cyber Threats class I am taking is very good. It is a lot of technical reading, but that's necessary with the materials taught in class. Additionally I have a class on Media and Image of Law Enforcement. It is outstanding. I know that its in my wheelhouse, but there are a ton of things I am learning in this one.

Next week, we have another Fit Challenge on Wednesday morning. That night we are visiting the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington (after class).
So many stairs here

I want to thank everybody for keeping me up to date on the happenings back home in Hollister. I am still trying to raise a few bucks for Special Olympics in Virginia. I will be participating in the polar plunge in a few weeks as part of a fundraiser - if you want to help me go here Chief Westrick's Special Olympics Fundraiser

Ok I'll do another blog for Week 3 next Sunday. Have a great week, be good to each other.

Chief

Sunday, January 14, 2018

FBI NA Week 1 - Session #271



It is Sunday January 14th, 2018, the FBI National Academy Session #271 has completed its first official week.


This week we all went through orientation, bought our uniforms, found our gym lockers and began all of classes.
Famous Hamsters tubes here


My schedule is as follows


  • Fitness in Law Enforcement (physical training)
  • Managing Organizational Change and Development
  • Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement
  • The Cyber Threat Landscape for Law Enforcement Executives
  • Media and Managing Law Enforcement Image
  • Contemporary Issues in LE - Seminar


All of these courses are graduate level (except for physical training)



We all had to get accessed and then run and qualify in the fitness test, I qualified. That means that I can now participate in the weekly challenges (every Wednesday). Most of our session qualified. Those that didn't will have a chance to re-test on Week 8.


We had to learn the hamster tubes (pictured) and take many wrong turns as we made our way to classes. At the NA if you have a BA/BS degree you must take graduate level classes. The cool thing is all of the classes are essentially in same building (even the gym) for the most part.


I have to say that I am extremely impressed with the level of instruction at the FBI academy. These professors are literally the best of the best. The PT instructors all have master’s degrees (Some have multiple degrees).  Very high level folks.


Everybody knows I love going to the gym and frankly that training has helped immensely here. However, the workouts they do here are no messing around. For crossfitters, we essentially did a Tabata style "Fran" (different movements but you get the drift) for our very first workout. I was fine; I felt like I always do after a benchmark WOD....I felt awesome.
KBS in the FBI Gym


About the gym, its super nice. There is a large weight room with every single machine, piece of equipment and about a zillion dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and some bells I'm sure....very nice. There is a very large room that we use to workout in. Its about the size of two basketball gyms. Its huge. They have large mats that cover the floor and we work out on those. Around the perimeter is multiple rowers, bikes and treadmills. There is a cardio room in a trailer just outside of the gym door. Beyond on that is the all-weather track and field house (its huge and used for over flow on busy gym days).


For my Media class I report to the PCL (media room). This room is essentially a TV studio. It is very cool and I can’t wait to get this class going.


I have already turned in 4 assignments for my classes. I've read all the books / references that I can. I just have to wait until next week’s classes so I can get the next set of assignments and get more done.
FBI Library


Food - the food here is outstanding. Curiously, it seems the FBI absolutely loves tater tots. I like them too, but they are served breakfast, lunch and some dinners, so I have had enough of them. Seriously, it’s a tater tot lovers heaven here at Quantico. I feel like I'm in the Land of Tatertotalonia with only a packet of ketchup to keep me alive. The food is really good though. We had pan steaks last night for dinner. Everything is labeled for caloric content, which is nice.



The weather is sort of nuts here for a guy from California. The other day it was almost 60 and folks were out in shorts and tanks enjoying the summer weather (in January in Virginia). Today its 15 degrees. The air bites you as you open the door outside. Literally takes your breath away. There is a little snow here and there, but mostly it’s clear. I plan on doing a little exploring later today and check out more of the base.


I’ll write a how to/what you should bring/prepare for the NA blog later. I have a few suggestions.


That is all for now. Have a great day, be good to each other. 


Chief