Jerry Davich: Have you thanked a cop lately?
JERRY DAVICH September 19, 2013 11:26PM
Portage Police Cpl. Lisa Duncan. | Jerry Davich/Sun-Times Media
Social Media outreach
Portage Police Chief Troy Williams wants to thank all the online visitors to the department’s popular Facebook page, which has more than 6,000 “likes.” It allows him to post real-time warnings and updates while allowing residents from across the region, and the globe, to contact him with tips, questions or suggestions. You can find it on Facebook under “Portage Police Department.”
Updated: October 21, 2013 6:14AM
The call came in at 9:46 a.m. — a Portage homeowner called police to report he was beaten by his tenant the night before.
Portage Police Cpl. Lisa Duncan was one of the responding officers on this unusually slow Wednesday morning. While on patrol, she joined two other officers, Aaron Chinn and Noah Frizzell, at the landlord’s home.
“It got worse during the night so I decided to call you guys,” the man told the officers, who called paramedics to treat his injuries.
In the meantime, Duncan took photos of his injuries, including a banged-up face, as the other officers asked for details about what happened and who beat him. The man gave them a name and a possible place to find the alleged perpetrator.
On the drive to that location, a local bar, Duncan reminded me there are always two sides to every story and things are not always what they initially seem.
“Sometimes you think you have all the evidence you need until you hear the other side of the story,” she said. “Other times, people will lie right to our faces despite overwhelming physical evidence. We hear it all.”
Duncan, a former school resource officer and mother of three, has responded to just about everything in her 23 years on the force. Car crashes, police chases, serving warrants, routine traffic stops, domestic abuse, drunken drivers, and on it goes.
“I love what I do, I really do,” Duncan told me as we pulled into the parking lot of that bar where the suspect worked.
Frizzell, who’s in training, took the lead in asking the suspect questions about the incident the night before. The suspect, who smelled of booze, quickly replied, “All I know is that he hit my sister and called her a (expletive). Then he took a swing at me, so I took him down.”
After more questions and a few conflicting answers, the suspect admitted he should have called police when his sister was hit. Instead, he lost his temper and struck the older man, probably more than once.
Frizzell told him, “I’m going to place you under arrest for battery.”
The man replied, “I don’t understand. He hit my sister.”
Frizzell placed handcuffs on him and led him to Duncan’s unmarked patrol car for a trip to the county jail. On the way, he again pleaded his case: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I don’t put up with anyone hitting a woman, especially my sister.”
At the police station, Duncan told me, “Just another typical day.”
I shadowed her on just another typical day to remind us that police are working around the clock to serve and protect their community. I know it sounds cliché, or like a public service announcement, but it’s simply the truth.
On Saturday, countless communities across the country will recognize this often forgotten truth by taking part in National “Thank a Cop” Day.
It’s a chance to take a moment and thank a law enforcement officer for his or her service. You can buy a cop a cup of coffee or maybe lunch, drop off a treat at your local police department, or simply say “thanks.”
I did just this when Duncan responded to a call in my neighborhood last week involving some kids who may have been trespassing on my property. A neighbor called police and Duncan responded in no time.
I explained that it was merely a couple of teenage boys taking apples off my tree as I watched them do it from my office window. No big deal. But my neighbor didn’t know that, and neither did Duncan, who was prompt, polite and professional.
I thanked her for responding, and thanked her again while riding shotgun in her patrol car. She gave me a crash course in what she does on any given day, from responding to never-ending 911 calls to traffic stops of motorists who have outstanding warrants.
“We’re always looking for probable cause,” she told me while cruising down U.S. 20, a common stretch of potential criminal activity.
Duncan, like most cops, sincerely wants to clean up her city and put the bad guys away.
“I also get to help people at often the worst time of their life. It keeps me motivated,” she explained while parked near Camelot Manor mobile home park on the city’s west edge. “I know how this sounds, but I want to make a difference in the world.”
She does, of course, and police officers do it on a daily basis. Thanking them on Saturday, or any day, is the least we can do to show our gratitude.