The Battered Badge

TV program chronicling the stress and emotional problems that accompany police work in Chicago. Based on interviews with mostly unidentified current and former Chicago police officers. These officers recount some of the terrible occurrences and situations faced by them, and how they dealt with the emotional aftermath of these situations. Includes interviews, still photos, and current "ride along" footage. Hosted by Joel Daly.

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00:25Copy video clip URL Opening title sequence, montage of Chicago police in action: police cars patrol, officers put on utility belts, roll call, arrests. The on-camera host, Joel Daly, says rookie Chicago Police Officers hit the streets in the prime of their life. In a short many many develop problems, physical and mental: ulcers, heart attacks, depression, alcoholism. A police officers is 3 or 4 time s likely to commit suicide than you or me. The host adds that the cause of this stress is going to be explored in the program. Title “The Battered Badge” appears.

01:57Copy video clip URL B-roll of a traffic cop directing traffic. Daly says the image of Officer Friendly is the image we want for our police officers. “The fact is it’s damn tough  to be Officer Friendly out on the street.”

02:17Copy video clip URL Gruesome B-roll of murders and violent crime scenes.

02:50Copy video clip URL A police sergeant says the things they see day in and day out are just not seen by other people. “We see things that are just absolutely atrocious!” Daly tells the story of how Sergeant Patrick Ward advising two officers assigned to transport a dead body found in a lake to put cigarette filters up their nose to guard against the smell of a decayed body. “That smell sticks to the hair in your nose and will stay with you for hours.” He also advised them not to hit too many pot holes when driving to the morgue. The flesh on the dead body will be loose and will fall open. A disturbing sight to witness. But it happened. And one of the young officers looked on traumatized.

04:46Copy video clip URL B-roll of a police car on patrol. Retired officer Kenny Johnson tells of being on duty one quiet Sunday morning. A call came in that a man was standing on some steps with blood on his hands. The officers investigated and questioned the man. The man says “I just killed my three babies.” The officers went into his house and saw the babies in a tub. “The water was blood red.”  The officer gets up and leaves for a moment, struck by the emotion al memory. He continues his story. “You could see a little hand sticking out of the water. We had to pull the child out of the water. Daly notes that Johnson retired after 26-years on  the force and 80 departmental awards. “He’d had enough.”  He adds that officers can plan and train, but someone is always re-writing the book.

07:22Copy video clip URL Detective Terry Gainer tells a story of an operation to catch two dangerous killers. Gainer hid in the back seat of a car driven to a spot where the killers were being set up. He had a walkie talkie and was giving updates to his team as to his location, so that they would know where to converge to make the arrest. He didn’t get any response on the radio. At this time he came upon the killers. He kept yelling into the radio “I can see them now. Let’s move in!” But no one responded. At that point he yelled into the radio: “To anyone listening, this police officer needs help!” He got out of the car and pointed his gun at the two men. One, a man called Robinson, ran into the store. He wrestled with the other one, Rene Record, and handcuffed the offender to a bicycle rack. He ran to the store exit where he figured Robinson would emerge. He did and ran under a car. Two other officers pulled up and pulled the offender from under the car and arrested him.

09:27Copy video clip URL Daly notes that being so close to death all the time is a job that changes people, and doesn’t afford many smiles. An officer notes that this career makes you callous, no matter how hard you fight it. But it has to make you callous just so you can keep your own sanity.

10:06Copy video clip URL An officer recalls his first night on the street, straight out of the Academy. The first thing an old timer told me was, “just remember kid, it’s all bull. Nothing’s real. And nothing’s any good out there.” He said very quickly you learn you can’t trust anyone on the street but yourself. Sergeant Ward adds that officers can get cynical and go through a period where everything to them becomes “bullshit”. “You can’t wait to get the bar at night to get away from it, where the bartender is forced to be nice to you.”

11:15Copy video clip URL Another police officer talks about how the stress of the job leads some officers to drink.

11:46Copy video clip URL Another policeman notes that you only see the worst in people when you’re on the job, never the best in them. The job can aggravate a drinking problem that may already exist. It affects many aspects of their work.

12:30Copy video clip URL Daly says alcoholism is a symptom of a problem ,the need to escape.

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12:58Copy video clip URL B-roll officers preparing for work, in locker room, putting on uniform. Daly notes that no job can escape stress. But for police officers, it’s their job dictates that they never know when or where their life can be threatened.

13:33Copy video clip URL Officer Tom Fitzgerald tells a story of being on a routine patrol one rainy night. A car pulling out of one alley attracted their attention. The car drove into another alley. They followed. They eventually pulled the car over in front of a house on South Trumbull. As Fitzgerald approached the car, one of the three in the car he’d been following got out and showed a shot gun. Fitzgerald grabbed the gun and pulled his own revolver. The offender shot and hit Fitzgerald in the right side and right arm. His partner called for assistance and Fitzgerald was taken to the hospital.  He had two surgeries to repair his arm.

15:55Copy video clip URL Daly notes the adrenalin comes first, the shock comes later and has a lasting affect. Officers Jaye Schroeder and Bob Greenwald tells the story of chasing a perpetrator who fired at them. Greenwald was hit and started coughing up blood. Schroeder expresses guilt in letting her partner get shot and in not catching the perpetrator who shot him. Greenwald said he spent time in Vietnam, in combat, and never got a scratch. He thought police work couldn’t be more terrifying than war. Daly notes it took three years before Fitzgerald could go back to work. Schroeder opted for a desk job on the force after this incident.

17:43Copy video clip URL Daly noes survival is instinctive. We either run and hide or stay and fight. A former policemen notes that officers are told to look for a third option, somewhere between running away and over powering it. Because often an overpowering reaction isn’t called for, ethically or legally. He must deny his instinctive emotional reactions to the situation.

18:33Copy video clip URL Daley adds that this middle place is elusive. One misstep could be tragic. A former tactical unit officer tells a story while on duty in subway stations looking for pick-pocket thieves. He and his partner observed someone jump the turnstile. They apprehended the man, but he pushed the officer away and ran. He pursued on foot for many blocks. The man kept telling officer “I don’t have anything.” But he had his hand in his pocket as though he had a gun. The officer ordered the man to face the wall and take your hand out of your pocket. The suspect complied. When the officer frisked him he discovered the man had no weapon on him.

20:52Copy video clip URL Another officer tells the story of responding to a call in which one man held a gun pointed at another. The officer arrived on the scene told the man to drop his weapon. The man pointed his gun at the officers then ran without firing. The officers fired shots, but missed. They chased him down only to discover the weapon he had was a toy gun. The officer reflects: what would the public have thought or said of what I should have done in a situation like that.

21:36Copy video clip URL Another officer notes that you might come into a situation of someone is yelling: he robbed me, he killed my husband. And you see someone running. You have no idea what this person did . You pursue and try to catch the perpetrator, but you never see the act of violence so you have no idea if you’re justified in using deadly force. Daly adds that the fear of making a mistake in killing someone is ever present. An officer says: “The fear of making a mistake causes some [police officers] to retire early.”

22:58Copy video clip URL Another officer there are many cases where officers lose suspects in pursuit because there was indecision about firing at the suspect. Daly notes that rather then make a bad decision in a life or death situation, the might not do anything at all which means the bad guy goes free. Where does that leave the citizen? Who’s going to protect us if the police can’t or won’t?

23:47Copy video clip URL Daly says often on the street the rules policemen learn don’t apply. “But what if a cop over reacts?”

24:18Copy video clip URL Officers talks about the tension and nervousness being in a situation where someone has a gun. The officers level of tolerance might depend on what personally is happening in him any given day. The stress builds up and they may over react. That’s when an easy arrest turns into a fight. Daly adds a cop must be in control of his emotions at all times. But it doesn’t end on the street. The policeman has to prepare hard to present his case in court.

26:15Copy video clip URL An officer says you go to court with all your testimony and present on a good case and the judge gives the offender probation. Two weeks later you arrest the same person for the same crime. Another officer adds that many times police go to court on their own time. They get discouraged. “Why should I go on my day off? It doesn’t do any good,the cases are being tossed out.” Officers start to feel their efforts are useless.  But if they do, Daly points out, it means the bad guys get left free on the street … with all of us!

27:45Copy video clip URL The other extreme is the cop who’s always on duty. A woman officer says  “Most police officers…always consider themselves on duty.” She notes that if you’re driving in your own car on your own time, you find yourself checking suspicious behavior or making note of a license plate number, year, make, model.

28:33Copy video clip URL Unidentified wife of policeman who says her husband was on duty 24-hours a day. We’d be out and all of a sudden he notice a ‘green 67 Buick convertible, one that was on a recent hot sheet. “When you’re married to a policeman…its not a normal life.”

28:53Copy video clip URL Daly tells the story of off-duty policeman Bill Diaz . He was driving his wife and child to a doctor’s appointment. He saw a man approach an elderly woman pulling a grocery cart. The man walked past her and into an alley. He waited,  then ran out, grabbed the lady’s purse and pushed her to the ground. Diaz parked the car, told his wife to help the lady. He didn’t know if the man was armed or not and was concerned for his wife and son, but pursued the perpetrator. He doubled back and headed towards the police officers car where the engine was running and his 18-month old son was strapped in a car seat. But the man turned down a gangway and tried scaling a fence. The officer grabbed the man struggled, subdued him. “I was frightened for my family more so than for myself.”

31:21Copy video clip URL Daly says it’s difficult for police officers to maintain a normal relationship with their spouse. A wife notes that it’s normal for them to work three shifts. That’s not a normal life. Your eating habits, being with the children, are not normal. Another officer notes you can’t plan things because you never know when something will come up and you’ll have to appear in court. Daly notes that it’s not just the hours that affect relationships, it’s the environment in which officers work, the problems they deal with.

32:45Copy video clip URL Unidentified wife of policeman: “I think that because policeman deal with black and white on a daily basis…there’s a tendency to bring that into the home…[where] there is some gray areas.”

33:26Copy video clip URL An officer notes how demanding it is on your family. Daly notes that it’s natural to take family problems to work with you. But what if you’re a cop? What happens when he’s had a bad day at home? The officer’s home life isn’t stable, he might not be stable. How can he performa function for another human being?

34:48Copy video clip URL Another officer says the officer might approach a minor violation with more severity because he had a bad day at home, just to release personal hostility.

35:17Copy video clip URL B-roll, police on patrol. Daly notes the job isn’t all action. Mostly it can be boring. But can a cop ever take it easy?

35:48Copy video clip URL An officer tells the story of receiving a burglary call at a tavern. We pulled up saw a man by a pool table. We advised him the burglar alarm rang. The man said he was owner and failed to notify police that the alarm triggered when he opened up. So the police left. A couple minutes later we received a call that they were talking to the hold up man. We came back and talked to the original owner who said armed men robbed them and when the police came in they all hid behind the bar, expect one who posed as the owner. The owner told the officers that he heard the robbers say they’d “take care” of the police officers when they came in.

37:10Copy video clip URL Another officer notes: be wary. Guys will stop for you,but it may be someone wanted in another city. Another officer notes that you have to have a high degree of suspicion in general about people. You have to be cautious to prevent yourself and other from getting hurt. They must be suspicious and on guard all the time. This creates more pressure. More stress.

38:12Copy video clip URL Daly notes that some police feel that they are not appreciated or understood. An officer notes for the most part people only come into contact with officers if  they are victim of a crime or stopped for a violation.

38:57Copy video clip URL Unidentified police officer : “I was amazed when I first put the uniform on…[it] meant to some that I was a brutal, fascist pig or to others as an oppressive force. You’re caught between those images, none of which relate to you as a human being.”

40:00Copy video clip URL A police sergeant notes that this work affects a man physically and mentally. They see the bad side of human life. Another officer notes police develop health problems. Ulcers, hyper tension. We’re thrown in so many stressful situations. Another officer notes that heart aches kill more police officers than the dangers of the job. Daly notes the biggest stress police deal with is knowing that at any given moment he could lose his life.

41:30Copy video clip URL Jean Bosak, a policeman’s wife, tells the story of two of her husbands colleagues picked her up after her husband had been injured on the job. They were taking her to see him. She notes as they drove, one officer sitting beside her was squeezing her hand so hard. She sensed there must be something very wrong with her husband Bill. They were stopped at a railroad crossing and   the wait for the train to pass made the driver very agitated, making Jean confirm her suspicion that her husband was hurt really bad. I remember thinking, “Just let him live before I get to the hospital.” When she arrived at the hospital she saw all the officers and the chaplain. She said, “he’s dead, isn’t he?” They said, yes.

43:00Copy video clip URL Montage of photos of officers who’ve died in the line of duty.

43:23Copy video clip URL B-roll of cars in hot pursuit. Daly asks what can officers do to reduce the effects of stress. A police therapist says “I think its important, particularly early in their careers…to know how to read their bodies, to know when they feel that pressure…so they know when to release it. And develop an exercise or stress release program.”

44:07Copy video clip URL One officer says his way of releasing stress is to go hunting and fishing. Three or four of us will go up to Wisconsin. We have to get away from the pressures of the job. Daley notes that Chicago Police has programs to assist and support officers and their family. Counseling and a trauma program.

44:57Copy video clip URL The therapist talks about officers involved in fatal shooting incidents and the connected trauma. Each officer involved is debriefed and interviewed psychologically about the pressure that builds from an experience like that.

45:40Copy video clip URL B-roll of officer training program. A man says officer is put through calisthenics to get their heart rate up. They confront targets that they fire two rounds at targets they feel should be fired at (a picture of an armed robber compared to an image of a child and mother walking). He is instructed only to listen to the instructor at his side. This is intended to focus concentration. These graphic targets, as opposed to standard figures-in-silhouette targets, help condition officers to notice what’s in a person’s hand before firing. This course forces you to make decision: who do I fire at and who don’t I fire at.

48:40Copy video clip URL Daly notes that while every job has stress, the policeman is unique. He is between the proverbial rock and hard place. Are we doing enough to help them survive? An officer notes there is a void in effective care for officers until he makes a mistake: alcohol, failed marriage … when it becomes severe then people get involved. In the meantime though everybody just says, we’ll that’s your job. The nature of the work of peace and justice is a noble thing.

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