STRAIGHT TALK: Professionalism, training and experience at the Marco PD
For those that have served or are serving in law enforcement, there probably are no two calls that stir the emotions of those professionals more than a call for a child in distress or a man with a gun. Last week when Marco officers were dispatched to the report of an agitated man with a weapon in the vicinity of 6th Avenue and Marco Lakes Drive, they immediately become focused on the task at hand.
Police Chief Al Schettino, who was having lunch with one of his off-duty personnel, immediately sent him to assist the school resource officer at the Marco Island Charter Middle School and Tommie Barfield Elementary School campus, while he responded to assist other personnel in the search for the armed subject. All schools in the area were subsequently put on lockdown while the manhunt began.
We live in a world in which we’ve become all to accustomed to horrific headlines and news stories that detail in graphic fashion the violence possible, even in small-town America. It is something.
If I were trying to convince you that the adrenaline doesn’t begin to flow and their hearts don’t begin to beat at a faster rate, I’d be lying to you, for all of those things happen, along with so much more. But they’ve been trained to keep those emotions in check, think with a clear head and work within training protocols.
They work together as a team to get the job done and with one goal in mind ... keep the public safe.
In 2014, there were 121 line-of-duty deaths within law enforcement across the nation, up from 110 in 2013. A total of 47 were attributed to gunfire. Six of those losses were suffered right here in Florida, involving officers from departments serving populations from 2,000 people to the state wide jurisdiction of an FHP officer.
On that afternoon last week, assets from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office were immediately activated and resources from both the air and on the ground were dispatched to assist. The two agencies worked as a seamless team to ensure the goal of defusing a possible tragic incident.
The man who caused the massive response of local personnel had no idea his actions had put in motion a response he could never have ever imagined.
It was ironic that it would be Schettino, a 37-year veteran of law enforcement, would be the first to identify the man based on his description. Although no weapon was visible on his initial contact, the chief’s training kicked in instantly as he carefully approached and halted his movement into the more populated commercial plaza. When he began to resist, Schettino brought him to the ground. He was joined by other officers as they secured the man.
The events of last week ended without harm. Only after his apprehension was a BB-gun discovered where the subject had allegedly hidden it in the bushes near his residence.
The outcome of the events of that day could have been different. The weapon could have be real and the public put in harm’s way, as well as our officers. Instead, at the end of the day, everyone went about their business and most never really knew what had transpired on this sleepy little island, but that wasn’t by accident. The outcome of this day’s work was as the result of experience, training and professionalism on the part of the officers.
The ultimate sacrifice given this last year here in Florida by Chris Smith of Leon County, Charlie Kondek of Tarpon Springs, Bob German of Windermere, Jonathan Pine of Orange County, Mark Larson of Jacksonville and Florida Highway Patrol Officer Chelsea Richard should always be fresh in our minds as we recognize those that have taken an oath to serve and protect our communities.