"Officer Down"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Security Officer duties

“Officer Down”

By James Pacheco

As was his usual habit, he removed the duty weapon from its carrying case and quickly performed a check to ensure all parts of the Smith & Wesson Military Police .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun were in perfect working condition. He inserted a magazine of fifteen .40 caliber hollow point rounds into the magazine well and gave it a tap on the bottom of the magazine to make sure it was well-seated. After pulling the slide back, and having observed that a bullet had been chambered, he released the slide and heard it slam home. Methodically, he pushed the magazine release button with his right thumb and as the magazine was ejected from the mag well he caught it with his left hand.

The magazine clip for the M&P .40 caliber is designed to be loaded with fifteen rounds of ammunition – however, it is standard practice for many law enforcement and armed security professional officers to chamber a round and then remove the magazine and insert another bullet, for a total of sixteen rounds; fifteen in the magazine and one “hot”, meaning that a round had already been chambered and just waiting for the trigger to be squeezed back to the trigger guard, and then the loud ‘boom’ as the round is discharged.

He had been a security officer since 2001. Most of his working experience had been in the shipping-receiving/logistics area until a back injury in 1999 quickly and painfully removed him from that type of manual labor. Either give up the hard labor, his doctor had told him, or continue working at it and re-injure the back again to the point that he would need back surgery to correct the problem. At one point or another we have all heard that when someone undergoes back surgery the person is never the same again. He thought about that one day while he was at home resting and healing from the back injury. The decision to end his career in logistics did not take long to reach – what took him longer to decide was what would he do next for a career?

In January 2001 he started his new career in security work at Excel beef plant in Plainview, Texas. Being one of the new hires, he was assigned to work the third shift, 12:00 midnight to 8:00 in the morning. The bitter cold winds and freezing temperatures as he walked outside checking the temperature gauges in the trailers loaded with beef products waiting to be picked up and delivered, brought memories of years gone by when the young sergeant would walk from one fortified bunker to the other making sure the men in his squad were ok and that everything was alright. Instead of bunking down at the command post like some of the other squad and platoon leaders often did, the young sergeant always chose to bunk down with his men.

During his time alone at one of the security posts he would often dwell on leaving Plainview, his hometown, again. This time though he would not be estranged from his family. He had done enough of that in his younger years when he mistakenly concluded that he was not wanted by the Cerda family. He had reached that conclusion years ago when he was growing up in Houston and his soul was constantly being tortured by some of the family members that raised him. He reaffirmed that conclusion when he was alone, hurt, and in tears, and he asked himself why the Cerda family did not take him in when his mother died. Many years later, after the scars had been formed in his heart, he connected with his blood family and instantly he realized that he had assumed wrong from the start. He had finally found his family - he had found where he belonged. No, he would not be estranged from his family…his thoughts and decision about leaving his hometown again would be in search of better employment opportunities and earning a comfortable living. One summer day in 2003 he let his fingers do the walking and he called several security agencies in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Next he mailed out several resumes. Within two weeks he had received an abundance of letters of interest from security agencies in Oklahoma. On 25 November 2003 off he goes to Tulsa. Within two weeks he was working as an unarmed security officer in several areas of Tulsa. In less than one year his site supervisor recommended him to be promoted to Sergeant, Assistant Supervisor. His supervisor had observed the leadership abilities that the new officer possessed and quickly reported that to the corporate office. The officer was promoted to Sergeant not much later. Quickly rising up the chain of command he was promoted to the rank of Captain, Area Supervisor.

When he started working in security in Tulsa, he studied and tested on many of the security-related courses that the training officer had available. Then he studied and trained for the Counsel of Law Enforcement Education and Training to obtain his armed license. After receiving his certification from the state of Oklahoma, he was issued his duty belt and a weapon. He had been working as an armed officer for many years and he has seen the damage that one person can do to another. Life in the streets never changes….it is still rough.

Since going armed many years ago he has made it a habit of always chambering a round in his weapon when he is on duty. It is always better to be prepared and be “hot” and not need it, rather than needing it in a hurry and not be prepared. A few extra seconds of elapsed time to chamber a round could seriously be dangerous, even fatal.

Tonight he is going to work with the foot patrol units in North Tulsa’s housing projects. It’s a dangerous place filled with gang bangers, drugs, and guns. When a phone call for assistance is made to Tulsa police department, their response time is not that great. You can read between the lines on that observation. Basically one is on their own, the only back-up is your partner and the rest of the foot patrol units. Having worked the North Tulsa housing projects before,  he was all too familiar with what goes on there while on duty…..running after and chasing the bad guys, tackling and fighting, domestic violence, calls of ‘shots fired’, arresting, handcuffing, and detaining for transport to Tulsa jail.

There is one more piece of equipment to inspect before putting it on, the infamous body armor…the bullet-proof vest. Such a misnomer; it is designed to stop a .22 caliber to a .45 caliber round. However, it is not designed to stop a bullet fired from a high-powered weapon. The Uzi and the Mach are a gang’s favorite toys of destruction. Nor is the bullet-proof vest designed to stop a pointed object, such as a knife, from penetrating the pads.

Being satisfied that front and back titanium plates were properly placed in the body armor, he straps on his duty belt and carefully holsters his weapon.  Then he puts on the body armor, adjusts it and snuggly secures the Velcro straps. Damned body armor – it’s hot and heavy in the hot and humid Tulsa summers. But it’s better to be alive and gripe about how heavy it is! As the officer gets ready to leave for work, he hugs his wife and kisses her good-bye, as he has done countless of times before. This time it was a little different: the embrace lasted longer than usual, the hug being an extra tight squeeze. The kiss lasted longer as well. Neither the officer nor his wife realized that this would be their last hug, their last kiss, or their last good-bye.

As the officer drove to work that late afternoon he kept thinking over and over how he had endured the rough years when he was growing up in Houston, when he was called “son of a whore”, and how more than once he was told “you are here because of a promise made to Elena to take care of you if something happened to her”. Hearing those words as a kid stung to the very depths of my soul. Now, forty-two years later I was happily married and about to celebrate my 19th wedding anniversary. I had found my Cerda family and I had finally found where I belonged.

As James was pulling into the parking lot of the housing project office he heard the dull reports of a .38 caliber revolver. Then he heard the returning fire of a .40 caliber semi-automatic weapon. Quickly he turned on his hand-held radio and heard the voice of one of his fellow officers requesting immediate back-up. The officer under fire had responded to a call of domestic violence and as he approached the front door of the apartment’s address, a man came out running and firing his revolver at him. James rounded the corner of the building, coming in from behind and to the right of the man with the revolver, hoping to flank him. James, with weapon in his hand, quickly approached the suspect from behind and ordered him to drop his weapon. Suddenly, James felt two thuds, one on his back, and the other bullet on the back of his neck. The velocity and impact of the .38 caliber rounds spun him around. As he was falling he noticed a woman standing next to an open door of an apartment. In her right hand he saw that she was holding a gun. Her arm was raised and she was still pointing the gun at him but he neither saw the flash of fire from the gun’s barrel, nor did James hear the report of the weapon being discharged.

As James lay on the ground next to a darkening pool of blood by his head, the thought that something was very wrong ran through his mind. Using his left hand he touched the back of his neck and then saw that it was covered in blood and tissue. Starting to feel weak from the loss of blood, he closed his eyes. They say that upon the moment of death a person’s life flashes before them; James saw the faces of his parents, and he saw himself as a young boy in Plainview’s barrio playing with his brothers Reyes and Robert, and with his younger uncle, Rudy. He saw flashing images of old barrio friends. James’ last thoughts were on who would take care of his wife now.



Submitted: April 20, 2012

© Copyright 2022 JamesPacheco. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Courtney Fields

Wow this is great, I hope you continue to write. Maybe you can check out my poem "Freedom at last"

Fri, April 20th, 2012 2:17pm


"Freedom At Last" was awesome. Great job.

Fri, April 20th, 2012 8:44pm

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