It’s one of the most dangerous and controversial jobs in the country — a police officer. We take you inside the minds of local law enforcement when life and death are decided in a matter of seconds.
Our men and women in blue fight crime every day.
But these brothers and sisters in blue are also fighting a stereotype.
So who is the person behind the belt?
“Every time you go to a call, turn on the lights, chasing after someone, or running toward bullets, the truth is you’re scared,” Detective Matthew Cline from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office said.
For these Northwest Arkansas law enforcement officers, the draw to the job varied.
“My dad and grandfather were both police officers,” Detective Cline said. “We like to joke and saying we don’t know anything else than to run toward bullets.”
In the early morning hours of May 2, 2012, then Corporal Jeff Pollock approached a car near Lake Atalanta in Rogers while on patrol.
“Out of nowhere, he pulled out a gun and shot me,” Sgt. Pollock said.
2:37 A.M. Pollock dispatched he’s checking a passenger car.
One minute later, he radios in shots fired and the suspect is leaving the scene — the officer stranded with a bullet through his torso.
2:42 A.M. an ambulance arrives.
And in less than 10 minutes Pollock was headed to Mercy Hospital.
“One second I’m standing next to the car, and the next I’m in the water and he was still shooting and I was like, ‘he’s going to kill me,'” Sgt. Pollock said.
Pollock attributes his survival to instinct and his training.
The suspect ended up taking his own life, and while Pollock’s life was saved the memories stay with him almost seven years later.
“I will never know why he did that,” Sgt. Pollock said. And I have kids.”
Just a bit south — Bob Lawrence Road in Fayetteville.
It’s landscape the Washington County Sheriff’s Office remembers all too well.
“On March 16, 2016, we had a 911 call about a suicidal subject armed with a shotgun,” Capt. Tion Augustine from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.
In an exchange of gunfire, former Lt. Tion Augustine was shot and his hip was shattered.
Two nearby officers drug his body to safety.
“They also put their lives on the line, and put themselves in harm’s way to get me out of harm’s way,” Capt. Augustine said.
You’ve heard the saying good cop, bad cop.
“I believe people have trust in us but they think, ‘oh they just get away with murder, they get away with anything,’ but, ‘no,’ that’s not accurate at all,” Detective Cline said. “If anything we are held to a higher standard than the general public.”
Detective Cline says with the current climate of police work, the mission is changing to bridge the gap between the badge and bias.
“Even if we are in an officer-involved shooting, it gets filed and the prosecutor has to decide if it’s a justified killing,” Detective Cline said.
Especially with the cameras always rolling.
“People jump to conclusions with the short news clips that just doesn’t have all the information,” Capt. Augustine said.
But all three stand before us hometown heroes.
Ready for whatever may happen on the front lines.
“You can’t think, ‘oh well, this is the just the next traffic stop, it’s going to be like all the others,’ because it’s not,” Detective Cline said.
Officers are trained to shoot as many rounds needed to stop the threat, although it’s commonly misconstrued that law enforcement is trained to kill.
Only about 27 percent of all officers say they have ever fired their service weapon while on the job, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Arkansas Law Enforcement Assistance Program (ARLEAP) has services available for law enforcement officers, including Critical Incident Stress Management.
Click here for more information.