I am beyond excited about today’s guest, Steven David Lampley. I *warn* you, Steven is quite the storyteller. When I first read today’s post, I was hooked! He has a talent for writing, filling the reader with emotion. You’ll leave inspired. Get ready for the ride……
“You Didn’t Treat Me Like a Dog”
(Steven David Lampley)
“He cried, standing at the back door of my patrol car, and I had no idea why…”
People are packaged in various bodies, mindsets, personalities, lifestyles, experiences and backgrounds. For twenty-one years I patrolled and walked the neighborhoods and business districts of my city. For twenty-one years I was a police officer and SVU detective. Day in and day out, I encountered people from a plethora of situations and packages. Some were injured, some angry, some docile, some violent, some afraid, some confused, some homeless, some very wealthy, and some in most any condition you could imagine.
Despite the so very many differences in people and their situations, there was always one common denominator.
Please allow me to explain by sharing with you a couple of stories from the streets from my time as a street officer.
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Police officers receive numerous calls on children who have decided, for one reason or another, to runaway from home. Most times these children return home on their own, unharmed. Most times. I received this call in the few short weeks before Christmas.
The neighborhood was upper middle class but socio-economic status typically has nothing to do with the frequency of runaways, children from all family make-ups runaway each year.
The home from where the runaway call came was a brick dwelling with a manicured lawn and was well kept and nice, as was the neighborhood. I pulled my patrol car into the driveway and notified dispatch that I was 10-23 (arrived at the scene).
I rang the doorbell and was greeted by a well-dressed lady appearing to be in her early 30’s and she offered up an attempt at a smile and asked me to come in.
She led me to the dining area where a male in his 30’s was sitting at the dinner table. She introduced him as her husband. She invited me to sit at the table with them and I obliged.
After taking my seat and getting a blank Incident Report from my aluminum report clipboard, I asked them to tell me what was happening. The lady began to tell me a story of an eight year old child who felt lonely and that no one liked him. She went on to tell me that her son was a little heavy and was self-conscious about his weight. Curious, I asked her if she had any idea why he chose this time to runaway. The mom hesitated ever so lightly and looked down. I knew then that there was more to this story that was being told to me.
She looked back up at me and told me that this time was different. While she was telling me this, she looked at her husband and the look was a matter of fact look. I knew then that the dad must have had something to do with this runaway. The dad looked at her eye to eye and then to me. The mom reached her hand to the table top where a folded notebook paper note was lying and slid it over to me, looking back at her husband as she did.
I could feel the tension between the two parents.
Picking up the note, I read a sad sentence written by a child, “I am running away from home so Katie can have more for Christmas and so everyone can have more to eat since I eat like a pig.”
After I finished reading the note, I just sat there looking at the words. Holding back my tears, it was obvious someone had placed, intentionally or not, an enormous burden in this child’s mind and from the stares between mom and dad, my bet it was the dad who had a lot to do with the child feeling like he did.
I asked the obvious question of could either of them tell me why their child felt like this?
Again, mom looked at her husband in a cold stare and he just held his head down mostly looking at the table top.
This child ran away from home so his sister could have more Christmas presents and the family could have more food. A child was made to feel worthless by a family he obviously loved. He was made to feel he was a burden to the family and had, at some point, been called a “pig.”
It was obvious that this child wanted to be loved and accepted.
* * *
It was a spring afternoon in Birmingham and I was patrolling my beat neighborhoods when the dispatcher gave me a disorderly person call on a nearby street.
It did not take me but a couple of minutes to arrive, and upon arrival I observed a man and woman screaming at each other, apparently in the throes of a domestic dispute.
I approached the couple and attempted to talk to both of them to find out the reason for their very loud argument that had alarmed the neighbors. Unfortunately, this was not going to be possible because when I would try to talk to the woman to find out her side, before talking to the male to get his side of the story, the male kept interrupting her.
“Sir, will you please allow her to tell me her side, when she finishes you will be allowed to tell me your side?” I asked.
“Yes, Officer, I’m sorry,” the male stated in a sincere, apologetic sounding tone.
The lady, once again, began to tell me her side and, as before, the male interrupted her.
“Sir,” in a more firm tone, “I asked you once to please allow her to finish her story and I will listen to your story and each of you will have a chance to tell me your side.”
“I’m sorry, Officer, I’m sorry,” he said shaking his head in the affirmative.
The lady, again, began telling me her side and again the male interrupted.
“SIR, This is my LAST warning to you, either allow her to finish or I will place you under arrest for the disorderly conduct for your screaming at her when I first arrived, do you understand?”
“You’re right Officer, I will be quiet and let her finish,” he again promised.
Again, the lady began to tell me her side of why they were in an argument and again, the male interrupted.
“Sir, I need you to turn around and place your hands behind your back, you are under arrest for disorderly conduct,” I advised the male.
Without any argument or incident, the male turned around and placed his hands behind his back and I placed the handcuffs on his wrists.
“Eighty-eight to dispatch, 10-15 (one in custody),” I announced to the dispatcher.
We were en route to the Birmingham City Jail and, during the trip, the gentleman and I had a good conversation. He told me about himself and we talked about his work and his family. A seemingly good and decent man. I really enjoyed the conversation with him. I cannot say that for all the people I have ever arrested.
“Eighty-eight, 10-23 (arrived) city jail.”
“Ten-four, eighty-eight,” dispatch replied.
I exited my patrol car and stepped to the back door to allow the defendant to get out of the back seat of the patrol car.
“Sir, step out of the patrol car, watch your head as you get out.”
He got out of my patrol car and stood slightly to the rear of the rear door as I closed his car door.
“Sir, walk over to the jail door and we will go inside.”
After I said that, he just stood there, not moving.
Assuming that he did not hear me, “Sir, go to the jail door over there and we will go inside,” I asked again.
Again, he just stood there.
I looked at him and saw tears in his eyes.
Not sure why his eyes were watering, I asked, “Why are you starting to cry?”
He did not answer.
“Sir, why are you crying? Are you in pain? What’s wrong?”
Through his snubbing, I was able to understand him and he stated to me, “Officer, you aren’t like some officers, you were nice to me. You treated me with respect, not like a dog.”
I was shocked as I treat everyone with respect.
“Sir, I had no reason to treat you any way but nice. You simply made a bad decision and you were warned, that doesn’t make you a bad person. Everyone makes mistakes,” I explained.
We then made our way to the back door of the jail to begin in-processing.
He simply wanted love and acceptance.
* * *
ELDERLY MAN AND THE BUTCHER KNIFE
I have always had the ability to relate to people, even strangers. In addition to the innate ability to reach people, past training and studies into human relations, communication, and personality discernment, has served me extremely well.
Being able to relate to people and understand what drives their personality and their likes and dislikes is a major plus in public service.
One such night was no exception. Another officer had received a call from dispatch on a domestic dispute with the wife held up in the bedroom and the husband trying to get in the bedroom armed with a butcher knife.
Two officers, a sergeant, and the shift captain responded to the call. I remained in service to handle other calls.
All units arrived on scene and soon advised that the scene was 10-24 (situation under control).
After about thirty minutes, the captain called me on the radio and asked me to come to the scene.
Arriving on the scene, the captain advised me that the elderly man sitting in his den but was unwilling to give up the butcher knife, despite their efforts to get him to do so.
I asked the captain to have all of the other officers and sergeant to leave the room so that it was just the elderly man and me. As the officers left the room, I walked into the den and observed an elderly male sitting in a recliner, obviously irritated. Immediately I made eye contact with him and, in a very casual tone, said “Hello, sir, How are you?”
“I’ve been better,” the man replied, agitated.
“What’s going on?”
“My damned wife,“ he said, “She’s made me angry again.”
“Hey, I understand, sometimes relationships are difficult.”
I talked with him for a few minutes but he was unwilling to hand over the knife.
Having looked very carefully around the room, I noticed several photos of him holding fish that he had caught and a fishing tournament trophy. While I am not a fisherman, I know a little about it and began a conversation with him about fishing.
“You a fisherman?” I inquired, hoping to build a bond with him.
He perked up a bit and looked at me with a wee bit of excitement and replied, “Yes sir, I am, but I don’t get out much like I used to.”
“Looks like you are pretty good at it.”
“I was, I won a tournament, I have a trophy right over there,” as he pointed to the trophy mounted on the wall of the paneled den.
We spent several minutes discussing his trophy and various fishing trips and the one’s that got away.
After building the bond, he looked at me saying, “You’re nice, I like you.”
I had achieved my goal, I had built his trust.
Switching the conversation back to the situation at hand, I asked him what time he normally went to bed and that it would shortly be time for me to go home with my family.
“Oh, I go to bed about this time each night,“ he answered, “I am a creature of habit I guess.”
Looking at the clock in the den, I mentioned that it was also about time for me to go home to my family as well and that I had two wonderful sons (knowing he also had a son).
He looked at me saying, “I guess we need to stop this we have going on here, don’t we, you need to get to your family.”
“Yes sir, probably so, but if you’d rather talk some more, I can stay and we can talk.”
“Oh, no, no, no, son, you go home to your family,” he insisted.
He looked to his left hand that held the butcher knife and said, “I guess you’re wanting this before you go?”
“Yes, sir, if you don’t mind,“ I said “If you will just leave it on the table and if you will, stand up for me.”
He placed the butcher knife on the end table and stood up.
“I suppose I’m gonna go to jail?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, I am afraid so.”
“I understand, but it’s okay. I’ve made a new friend in you tonight, Officer Lampley,” he replied as he turned around with his hands behind his back, “I want you to take me.”
“Yes sir, I will do that for you” I said, as I winked at the captain, “We can talk on the way to the jail if you want.”
He simply wanted love and acceptance.
* * *
Do you see the common denominator? Despite our backgrounds, despite our situations, despite our personalities and demeanor, we all want to be accepted and to be loved, even the most hardened individuals.
People sometimes make bad decisions, but bad decisions do not mean they are bad humans. If you will communicate with them with genuine sincerity, and treat them like human beings, you will be amazed at the outcome.
People have feelings and everyone should be treated with respect. Just because someone makes a mistake in life or you may not agree with they way they live their life or their decisions, doesn’t make them any less a human being.
We all want love and acceptance.
Steven David Lampley is a former police officer and SVU detective. In addition to having interaction with the notorious serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, Steven was a certified police officer for twenty-one years where he served as an undercover Sex Crimes (SVU) Detective and Traffic Homicide Investigator. Steven was the arresting officer of The Clairemont Killer, a serial killer profiled on America’s Most Wanted® with case coverage by TruTV®, Investigation Discovery®, and The Discovery Channel®. Steven was also the arresting officer of a Fugitive from Justice on Canada’s Most Wanted list.
Steven is now an author using his experiences and background penning such books as Detecting Liars (a handbook outlining the many indicators to help discern if one if being lied to) and Outside Your Door (a, soon to be released, compilation of true crime stories from his police and SVU career). Steven is currently working on his first horror, crime, fiction novel titled We Shall Call Her Beatrice.
You may reach Steven at his website StevenDavidLampley.com.
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