There is an old saying that you don’t really know another person’s life until you “walk a mile in their shoes.” I didn’t exactly walk in the shoes of our Sheriff’s department last week, but I got awfully close.
Thanks to Sergeant Mike Blair, I had the opportunity to join him, Sergeant Jason Youngman and the Central Patrol Graveyard Shift deputies last week. They are out on patrol, covering the densely populated parts of unincorporated Pierce County – Parkland, Spanaway, Midland, Frederickson, South Hill and more – while most of us are soundly sleeping.
My ride-along began at 8 p.m. and lasted until 3:30 a.m. And, while I’ve had the opportunity to ride with our Sheriff’s Department before, this was my first time seeing our county in the middle of the night. There is a saying (and a “How I met Your Mother” episode title: Season 1 episode 18) “nothing good happens after 2AM” – that is the world where these deputies serve.
Talking with Sergeant Blair before turnout, he told me the vast majority of the calls tonight would likely be mental health, drug, or alcohol-related. He was right.
During the shift, I saw our deputies respond to a variety of these situations. In each one, they had to keep everyone safe, assess the situation, and determine the best course of action – for the person and the community. One man with mental illness at Walmart was determined to be a threat to himself and was transported for a further mental health review. Another was suicidal walking along Meridian – clearly a danger to himself, the community, and our deputies. Fortunately, they were able to safely apprehend him and get him to help. Another woman was intoxicated and lying in the street in Parkland. After a medical review by Central Pierce Fire, our deputies drove her to her home four blocks away. There were at least four incidents that night where the individuals were involuntarily committed.
It was hard to see so many people in our community clearly in distress, and that was during just one night. I am thankful for how our deputies responded and it reinforced my commitment to expanding our behavioral health services in Pierce County – and the supports for our first responders. The deputies of Central Patrol are looking forward to the new Crisis Recovery Center (CRC) in Parkland opening – Recovery Innovations is in the final phase of hiring their staff. The CRC will provide them a key resource, close to where it is needed, to help people in crisis. But we have more work to do.
In a similar vein, I appreciated hearing an anecdote that Chief Patti Jackson-Kidder shared with me a few days ago. Here’s an excerpt from her email (shared with her permission!)
I am hopeful you would consider a short blip in your blog about our Jail Admin OA Gayle Carolus … Gayle has been a part of our PC Family since 1995 and working specifically for the Corrections Bureau for the past 4.5 years. As you’re well aware, the jail is not the most positive place in Pierce County … you’d never know it by the numerous fans that literally come out of their way to meet the face behind the voice… a couple examples … the young UPS delivery driver who brough his family – yes his FAMILY – up to meet Gayle; and an inmate’s family (on campus) to observe their sons’ murder trial who stopped up here to meet Gayle and thank her for her service …. The list is long!!!!
Gayle is an AMAZING representative of our Department and what SERVICE really stands for. Although Gayle was not selected as our 2020 OA of the Year, she is definitely the BEST in our eyes!!!!
Gayle, I love this “selfie” of you with some fans! I’m grateful for the kindness and warmth with which you treat everyone. Thank you for serving all of our residents so well!
It’s no secret that’s a challenging time to be in law enforcement. We are fortunate to have amazing professionals protecting and serving our Pierce County community.
Thanks for reading,