Des Moines Public Safety Officer 911

Confession is Good for the Soul

By David Brown, DMPD Retired

They say -whoever "they" are, that confession is good for the soul.

So here goes my confession.  In 1974 when I joined the Des Moines Police Department, I took an oath that said I would protect and serve the citizens of this community.  I will have to admit now from listening to the rhetoric generated by people like Sharon Zanders-Ackiss of Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), that I got that all wrong.  I thought I was supposed to go out and protect the lives and property of the people who live in this community.

Well shoot, here I was going out and violating the "presumed" rights of ne’re-do wells who thought they could do anything they wanted and the law simply did not apply to them.  Those people included drivers who thought they could drive down a residential street (25 mph zone) at 3X the actual speed limit.  It also included people who preyed on small children for the purpose of sexually molesting them.  There were people who liked to break into people’s homes -whether the residents were home or not and steal the property which those residents worked hard and if they just happened to be home, physically assault them or even worse.  There were people out there going armed with intent to inflict serious injury or even death on people they either planned to encounter or the victim had the misfortune of being in their way -like maybe a clerk at a convenience store.  People who were selling drugs or prostituting themselves in a residential area made the lives of the good people who lived in that area an absolute living Hell.  This list of these poor people whose "presumed" rights I guess I violated is endless.   

And here I was going out on the street day after day for nearly 30 years as a uniformed cop or operating in a plain clothes position trying to make Des Moines a safe and great place to live.  I tried my best to make people feel that they could go to sleep at night and feel relatively comfortable in knowing that they did not need to worry about someone breaking into their house, garage or car while they slept.  I wanted parents to know that while their kids were walking to and from school someone had an eye on them and was keeping them safe.  I wanted people to know when they left their homes to go to work and earn an honest living that they could be relatively confident that their homes and other property would be intact when they returned.  I wanted business owners to feel that they did not have to keep looking over their shoulder worrying about some thug coming into their business to either rob or just plain steal from them.  I hoped that when they closed up their business for the day to go home that they also felt that the Des Moines Police Department was doing all they could to keep their business safe from burglars. I felt people should be able to walk down the street and not have to be harassed by someone making threats to them or making vulgar remarks to them.  Silly me.  I guess I should not have cared about any of that stuff.

I keep saying; I wanted or I hoped, it should actually be we wanted and we hoped.  Because "we" describes the greatest group of people that I could ever have hoped to know, let alone work with.  These people all took the same oath as I did when they started their career as a police officer and according to CCI's rhetoric we all got it wrong.

I feel cheated that I did not have all of CCI’s guidance and expertise to tell me I should just let the criminals do what comes naturally for them.

"This is what our community is dealing with," said Sharon Zanders-Ackiss, of CCI as she talks about the video of an officer engaged in a fight with a man he was trying detain -after being alerted to the fact that the man was behaving in a confrontational and threatening manner.  Never mind that during the altercation that the suspect tried to disarm the officer of his taser.  Yes, you are absolutely right Ms. Zanders-Ackiss, that is exactly what our community is dealing with.  A bunch of people who are totally out of control whether it be for their lack of mental capacity or their just plain "I don't give a damn about the law" attitude.

I thank God everyday for the fact that Chief of Police Dana Wingert is at the helm of one of the finest police departments in our nation.  And I am thankful for everyone of the D.M.P.D. officers who stand between me, my family and friends and all those “fine” citizens who actually take pride in reaping all the havoc they can on our community.

David F. Brown

(Retired D.M.P.D. Sergeant) And damn proud of it.

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