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02/19/04  Mayor doesn't get it!

The plight of Sgt. Mike Flusche and Officer Ed Coffey has been intensely personal for me.  One is my sergeant.  The other is my friend.

On that November night when they were shot in the line of duty, I was supposed to work as element 434, at SWt Operations Division.  I would have been there at the scene with my sergeant and co-workers.

Knowing my love for being in the middle of the action, I would have been right there with Sarge.  Instead, I was languishing in bed with the flu. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with my phone ringing off the wall.  My mother and friends were calling to make sure I wasn't one of the officers injured in a shoot-out.

In a really weird way, I have a little survivor's guilt.  I've sat and listened to a co-worker, for whom I have much love and respect, talk about being sprayed in the face with Sarge's blood and being covered with powdered sheet-rock and wood chips.  I've wondered how in the world I would deal with the trauma.  Somehow he does.  Everyday.

I miss my sergeant. Sgt Flusche is a really good supervisor.  He was always in the field. You'd never know when he would pop up at your call location. It was nice to know that if I needed him, he would be there in a few minutes, ready to answer my dumb questions.  I can sum up his supervision style in one phrase:  He took care of me.

When I had a problem.  He had the answer.  He kept me informed on my performance.  He was always quick with a "good job" and considerate in his criticism.  I've worked for a lot of different supervisors, who all had their own style.  Sgt Flusche is just easy and fun to work for.  Period.

Ed Coffey is also a great friend to have at SW Operations.  Ed has the goofiest sense of humor.  The first time I met him, he told me his name. I, being a big movie buff, fired off the line from The Green Mile, "Like the drink, only spelled different?"  Ed picked up on it and did a really bad impersonation of Michael Clark Duncan.  We both laughed.  Right away, I knew he was cool.  I grew to respect Ed as I worked with him, more and more.

 

He's never really stopped smiling.  Even when I visited him at Methodist Central a few days after he was shot.  He was lying there in bed, dazed from drugs and wrapped in bandages and cracking jokes.  A few weeks later, I saw him at the station for our Christmas dinner.  He was telling how he had tried to go for a drive in his truck when he hadn't regained full use of his arms.  Apparently, he got one of the prosthetic devices caught in the turn signal and the other caught on the gear shift.  He told me how difficult it is to use a PlayStation when you only have use of three out of five fingers.  

Ed
was laughing and joking about it.  He put me at ease about his recovery and his condition.  You just can't keep him down.  When he is down, his friends will do anything to help him out.  He's that kind of guy.  I could go on and on.

 

So think about your friends, your family.  

Everyone has a mentor.
Everyone has that great friend.
Everyone should be able to imagine the anger and hurt I now feel at the hands of our city government.

 

Sgt. Mike Flusche and Officer Ed Coffey are heroes who sacrificed themselves to save children.  They knowingly and willingly put their lives and the livelihood of their families on the line to save innocence.

How were they repaid?

 

Has the Mayor ever publicly (or even privately) thanked these men for their sacrifice?

 

Instead of the thanks from a grateful city, they've been endowed with the contempt of a flippant figurehead.

 

The Mayor just doesn't get it.  I don't know any other way to put it. She just doesn't get it.  According to recent DMN articles:

 

The mayor said it is a fairness issue as well. "A guy who works at the waste water treatment plant is in a high risk job with heavy equipment and if (he) loses a limb out there, then I don't think that's any different than an officer who goes out and gets rear ended by a car," Laura Miller said.

 

The Mayor is partially right.  An injury is an injury.  The City is responsible for the well-being of its employees.  The difference being that the expectation of injury is vastly different for a sanitation worker and a police officer or firefighter.

A sanitation worker is more likely to be injured by accident in a controlled environment or through carelessness.  

A firefighter or police officer is more likely to be injured as the result of a deliberate criminal act or an accident in the most volatile of situations.  A fireman or police officer leaves their home each day for work with the knowledge that it may be the last day they do so. Sanitation workers do not live under such a cloud.

 

"I think that that is what you have sick time for - for times, whether you're a civilian or sworn employee, when you can't come to work," Mayor Laura Miller said Friday. "A guy who works out at the wastewater treatment plant is in a high-risk job with heavy equipment, and if he loses a limb out there, I don't think that's any different than an officer that gets rear-ended by a car."

 

Sick time?  At the most, Ed Coffey has 20 days of sick time.  He probably has an equal amount of vacation time.  That will last about two months. Then what?

Again, the Mayor doesn't understand the purpose of these "benefits."  (As to why I, and many other officers, don't think of our compensatory time as a true benefit is for another day.)  

Sick time is for when I have the flu or my child has the flu or when my spouse is sick.  Sick time is for when I catch some ungodly bug from the unwashed masses of homeless people, who the Mayor holds in such high regards. That is the purpose of sick time.

 

In typical Dallas-style, the Mayor has resorted to the old trick of trying to use this issue to divide the civilian and sworn employees.  She is trying to give the appearance of some kind of special treatment.

 

Do police deserve special treatment?  Probably not.  But does any employee deserve to be abandoned by their employer for an on-the-job injury?  No.

 

I am embarrassed and disgusted that an outside source is stepping up and claiming these officers as family.  The City should have stood behind these officers from the very beginning.  They did not.  Schepps Dairy has stepped in and proven once again they are a friend of the community.

 

"You should not have to suffer financial hardship for voluntarily putting yourselves in harm's way to save the lives of children," Mr. Schenkel wrote the officers in a letter. "All citizens owe you a debt of gratitude for the bravery you displayed last November."

 

Say what you will about Schepps role in bankrolling the local felon/PRB member.  I have mixed emotions about it myself.  However, Schepps has stepped up to bat on more than one occasion and offered rewards for information on several senseless crimes.  I would not be surprised to find Schepps offering a reward for information on Jasmine Fisher, who has been missing from SW Dallas since Feb 10th.  They're that kind of company.

I'll take the good with the bad, since Schepps seem to do more good than not.  Grateful as I am, it's still embarrassing. The Mayor doesn't get it.

 

"We have turned to our private sector over and over and over again in the last two years because of our budget problems," she said. "This is a city policy that we currently have, and if anybody wants to come in and help these officers out, I think it's terrific."

 

Someone comes into your house.  They look at the deplorable state of your children.  They take your children from you, since you can't care for them on your own. That's terrific?  Someone explain it to me.

Injured heroes don't need corporate welfare, as appreciated as it is. They need their employer to take care of them.

 

"That is an embarrassment to the city that the private sector has to step in and pick up," council member Mitchell Rasansky said after a Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday.

 

Rasansky has done things I've liked and hated, but he knows.  He sees the Empress is a bare-assed fool.  Someone should buy her a mirror.

 

"I think that whoever wants to put it on the agenda needs to figure out how we're going to come up with the million dollars to pay for it," she said Tuesday. "All of this is a juggling act in terms of the budget."

 

Hello?  How about $6 million for a homeless shelter?  How about her asking Congress for $72 million for a designer bridge to nowhere?  

 

Gee, I think I can find a measly $1 million somewhere in there.

 

Believe it or not, there are still law enforcement agencies in this country that respect Dallas.  I can still go some places and tell them I'm a Dallas Police Officer and not suffer any ridicule or chalk jokes.

 

I still work hard even with the knowledge that an injury will ruin me financially.  I don't shy away from driving to my calls like I have a purpose.  I refuse to do less.  Everyday I leave work with the knowledge and a certain amount of pride that I've left the City safer than when I started my shift.  Other officers will call me a fool, and tell me they won't work hard at all.  That's their choice.  I can't live with that.

 

I still take pride in putting on my uniform each day.  I love this City.  I love my job and my department, and I wear my badge with pride and honor.

 

Will someone  please tell our City "leaders" what those words mean?
 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8