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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review: The Wolf and the Sheepdog - John Smith - Part 2

Well, I've finished the book since the last part of this review, and not much of my opinion has changed, if at all.

John deals with some scary situations. He regularly finds himself face to face with society's predators. While he usually comes out on top, I wonder what kind of long-term effects these encounters will pose on his psyche. But maybe that's, the difference - because I don't think it will have much effect at all.

I'm grateful for guys like John. I'm grateful because it's his sacrifice that enables me to lead the life of relative saftey that I do. I'm glad to have met him (even if only online) and look forward to his contributions to this site.

Below is a short interview conducted through email with John, to give a broader look at his mentality regarding his profession and his creative works.

-For those considering a purchase of this book, what can you tell them about yourself and this book?

I am a serving police officer in Canada and have over ten years of experience. Through my years of policing I have found strength from this career and it is amazing the growth of character that can occur when you are involved in a career that has a good probability of injury or death from another human being.

My book, The Wolf and The Sheepdog is a collection of short stories, each short story relates to a situation that I have experienced. I write in first person narrative so the reader can experience the calls through my eyes, picking up the sights, sounds and smells that the call delivered to me. By publishing the book under “fiction” allowed me to express my emotions in vivid creative detail.

-For someone considering a career in street policing, what advice could you extend to 'prepare' them for the challenges that lay ahead?

Working the street is the most amazing place to be if it is truly your place. What I mean by that is a lot of people join policing with a very unreasonable expectation of what the job entails. The street is a fast paced, violent and dangerous atmosphere and if you want to go out there and be a lone cowboy it is not a place for you. Police function on tactics and these tactics involve a pack mentality. Sure the calls come that you are working one man and you have to handle the situation solo but in a major city backup is always close.

The other side of the coin is that if you a slacker or a coward, well policing is not for you also. By not taking your calls or by being a coward you are placing the extra work on your team mates and if cowardice is your vice, you take the lives of others in you hand. Every call you go to is a gun call because we bring a gun to it, if you don’t want to fight to the death to save others, find another job.

Policing will change you because you will see the dark, predatory side of human nature. Educate yourself on post traumatic stress and its symptoms, because if you are a hard working officer that is eager to get to work you will see the worst calls and in the end we are all human beings. Post traumatic stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, so the more you know about the back lash of adrenaline and stress the better you are to cope with it.

To be prepared get educated on the reality of policing, get and stay in top physical shape, learn to fight and build a strong warrior mindset. 

If you have these, this job will be the most amazing thing to experience in your life.

-For someone considering a career on the other side of police work, what advice can you lend to the people wanting to work in the 'ivory tower'?

The only thing I can say is do your time on the street (at least ten years) and never forget where you came from. I can understand why police officers change when they get promoted, hell; I changed when I became an officer. Their roles have changed but they always have to ask themselves, “Have I become that guy. That guy who I always called an Asshole when I worked the street?”.

I always ask myself if I am being fair with the civilians I deal with and if I am treating them properly. It takes a lot of will power to forget the last call and start on a clean slate with every person I meet.

The brass expects us to be fair, professional and exercise discretion when we deal with the public but the guys at the top seem to forget that they need to lead by example.

-Maybe it's not the same for everyone, but what are some techniques you've developed to 'decompress' from a traumatic experience?

The top decompression technique for me is exercise. I train hard, keep myself in good shape and keep trying to sharpen my skills. Being physically fit allows your body to handle the increased heart rate caused but stress and adrenaline. A high level of strength is also required to professionally deal with violent offenders, especially those offenders that are chemically addicted and / or have insanity issues.

The next thing that I would recommend to anyone is write down your experiences, bleed the emotions out of your body that you have hidden away. I cannot explain what happens when you write, I can just tell you from personal experience that the hidden suffering that you carry leaves you.

I also work at building my warrior spirit; I am a follower of the Bushido philosophies, a set of rules that were developed by the Samurai’s hundred of years ago. I find that the closer I follow my moral compass the stronger I feel, but following the path of right and wrong is a hard one. It is defiantly easier to put your head in the sand, to brush things under that carpet but if you take a stand and fight for it, becoming stronger is the only out come. 

I know that choosing the right action is always harder to do but in the end it is the right action. When I breathe my last breath in this world I know that I have worked hard at doing what is right and have constructed healthy emotion boundaries with friends, enemies and family because I stood up for what was right.

-Have you changed at all since writing this book?

When I wrote The Wolf and The Sheepdog I had no intentions of publishing it, it was mere fate that it was published. Writing The Wolf and The Sheepdog unlocked a lot of hidden emotions that I did not know were chewing away at me, emotions that were stirring up waters inside of me that should have been calm. Because of writing this book, jotting down my personal inner most feelings and showing the raw side of my emotional being, I have walked away a healthier and happier person.

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