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Dallas Police officers are holding a benefit car wash Saturday to help out an ailing colleague.
The officer, Andrew Litz, has used all of his sick time and vacation time and has been going without a pay check, making him unable to support his wife and two small children.
Litz, a former Marine who served three combat tours in Iraq, believes that a traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2005 when a roadside improvised explosive device exploded in front of his Humvee is the source of his problems. Two other Marines in another Humvee died from shrapnel injuries.
For days after the explosion, Litz was in and out of consciousness and suffering from concussion. He eventually returned to active duty but continued have severe migraines, dizziness and confusion at times. He joined the Dallas police Department in 2006.
Tactical Section – S.W.A.T. & Motors Charity Motorcycle Run 2010 on Halloween!
Hello, everyone, once again we will be working with Dallas SWAT Officers Robert Cockerill, & Paul Junger to collect donations for the Terminally Ill Children of Medical Hospital in Dallas for a special Christmas celebration hosted by the Dallas SWAT Team.
The ride will start at Reno’s Chop Shop and will end at Stroker’s of Dallas as last year. You will be lead on a historical ride through Dallas and see world famous sites such as Bonnie & Clyde Memorial, Stevie Ray Vaughn grave site and more. You do not have to ride or own a motorcycle to participate. All donations are to benefit the Terminally Ill Children of Medical Center Dallas. Hope to see you there on 10/31/10.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the following people by Facebook Message: Dori Horne, Marilee Kelleher, Dawn McDonald.
Dallas Police Officer Cat Lafitte is only 31, but she longs for the 1950s, when the nostalgic public image of law enforcement was the friendly neighborhood patrol officer.
It’s different now, she said. People spit or glare when she and her partner pass in a patrol car.
So when Lafitte spotted artists painting pillars under the freeway at Deep Ellum, she asked for her own pillar to paint the portrait of a police officer with the message “Dallas Police Department Welcomes You to Deep Ellum.”
“I know the law-abiding people don’t hate us, but just dealing with the criminal element, we get a lot of hate,” she said. “If I could plant one little seed in someone’s head that the police are the good guys, I would consider myself to be successful in this deal.”
Firefighters and police officers share a professional bond.
For the family of Dallas-Fire Rescue Lt. Crest Whitaker Sr., the relationship is far more personal. His son, Crest Whitaker II, has been with Dallas Fire-Rescue for four years, while his daughter, Chelsea Whitaker, has been a Dallas police officer for three years.
While there are some father-child relationships within Dallas Fire-Rescue, as far as anyone knows, there are none where a father in the agency has children working for both the police and fire departments.
“The fire and police departments share a fraternity; they share a strong bond average people just don’t know about,” Crest Whitaker II said. “To have this bond with your immediate family transferred over to the bond we have at work is just incredible – the stories, the laughs, the heartfelt moments.”
Four days a week, more than 20 employees of the Dallas Police Department who work out with the CrossFit program at police headquarters run up and down stairs with weights, do box jumps or push Detective Pamela Starr’s car across the parking lot.
But most of them say they’re not nearly as fit as their trainer. And many of them don’t know that four years ago, Starr was told she wouldn’t be able to run again. Starr, 41, had a cancerous tumor in her spinal cord.
“I just don’t talk about it,” Starr said. “One, because it was devastating, but also because it’s just not as big a deal to me anymore. I kind of worked through all of that.”
In 2005, Starr broke her leg during a soccer game. During the rehabilitation process, she experienced pain in her legs, and by the end of the summer, the pain was in her chest.
In Detroit, film crews have been banned from running with officers on police raids. Dallas police say they’re still willing to cooperate with TV shows such as The First 48 and SWAT.
DETROIT BLUES: Detroit’s mayor ordered a ban on TV crews a little more than a week after a police officer accidentally shot a 7-year-old girl during a raid. A crew with the A&E reality television show The First 48 was filming the officers when they entered a duplex where Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed.
DALLAS LOOKIN’ GOOD: Dallas police also have been featured on The First 48, as well as the A&E show SWAT. The reality programs generally painted the Police Department in a positive light, providing good publicity for the city and showing viewers how and why police do their jobs.
Let’s call him Joe. Last month, he stood atop a 10-story parking garage in downtown Dallas, toes hanging over a narrow ledge, ready to go.
“My intention was to go splat right quick,” he told me.
But a Dallas cop intervened, and Joe feels so grateful these days for Sgt. Michael Magiera.
Joe is embarrassed by all the commotion he caused that Friday afternoon. That’s why he doesn’t want his name used.
But he hopes to direct plenty of attention toward Magiera, whose sensitivity saved his life that day, he says, and whose continuing concern has buoyed him in the weeks since.
Joe copied me on a letter of praise for Magiera that he sent to Dallas city leaders. When I wrote back to him, he agreed to a visit in his suburban home last week.
Joe is a 46-year-old professional. He said he has dealt with depression and anxiety issues for about 10 years, but never to the extent they slammed him on April 2.
He said a stormy personal phone call at the office led to a blow-up with his boss and a threatened firing. “That was it,” Joe said. “I just went snap.”
Though he had never contemplated suicide, it suddenly became his only thought. He went straight from his office to the roof of his parking garage.
Before the advent of computers, many Dallas police officers carried a “hook book” filled with mug shots of criminals who worked their beats. It was an easy way to keep an eye on them in case they were wanted by police or appeared to be looking for more trouble.
Now hook books are making a high-tech return.
Officer Joe King came up with an idea to create color-coded digital charts of burglars recently arrested in the southeast patrol division where he works. Rather than relying on happenstance to catch burglars, officers employ the “virtual hook books” to spot targeted offenders.
Red indicates there’s an active warrant out for the burglar’s arrest. Green indicates a habitual burglar. Yellow means the burglar is in jail.
“It’s a way to track them,” said King, a 13-year-veteran. “Do they have an active burglary warrant? Are they a habitual burglar? Are they still in jail? Where do they live?”
Now, all seven Dallas patrol stations have been instructed to adopt King’s approach. And officials placed copies of the charts on the department’s internal Fusion Center Web site.
Eventually, the virtual hook books could be available on the computers in patrol cars, providing constant updates to officers in the field. This would make it easier for officers to monitor known burglars in their patrol areas.
Police also are in the process of entering the name of every offender into a system that would automatically notify authorities of arrests.
First Assistant Police Chief David Brown called King’s idea “amazing police work” that will help shut down repeat offenders by “finding a way to circumvent their behaviors.”
King came up with the idea after noticing that many patrol officers couldn’t readily identify the burglars preying on their beats.
In a city where property crime drives much of the crime rate, officers know that the chances of catching a burglar in the act are slim to none.
So King spent weeks coming up with the concept and combing through arrest records to compile the names, pictures and other information of all burglars arrested since January 2009 in the southeast patrol division.
“He’s such a breath of fresh air of innovative ideas,” said his commander, Lt. Regina Smith.
“It’s our job to take them off the street. Each time we take them off the streets, that’s one less house or business getting burglarized.
King updates the boards in southeast, which divide offenders into geographic areas, on a weekly basis.
Take the board for southeast’s “310″ sector, encompassing portions of South Dallas.
It lists information on and displays the mug shots of felons such as Joseph Dunn, 46, who has been convicted of burglary, theft, attempted vehicle burglary and aggravated robbery in Dallas County. Or Dwayne Allen, a 54-year-old felon with a long Dallas County rap sheet that includes repeated convictions for burglary, theft and possessing drugs.
At southeast patrol, the charts have been placed on the walls of the detail room where officers assemble before each shift. Officers take printouts into the field.
Commanders have also decreed that any officer who arrests a targeted offender will receive a departmental commendation.
In recent weeks, southeast officers have arrested more than 20 offenders who were in the “hook book.” Smith, who frequently accompanies her officers in the field, snagged one herself.
At northeast, the charts showed their worth on the first night they were in use after an officer immediately recognized a wanted felon.
“The deployment detective said, ‘Wait a minute, I know that guy,’ ” said Lt. Mike Black, a northeast patrol commander. “Within an hour or two, we had an arrest.”
At south central, they’ve identified nearly 200 burglars arrested in the division since the start of 2009. Officials plan to also compile a list of paroled burglars living in south central.
“We’re making them all targeted offenders,” said Sgt. Louis Felini, supervisor of a deployment unit. “We have a very large Walmart in our division. Several off-duty officers who work there said pretty much everybody on this board shops at Walmart. They’re going to take the wanted list for when they’re in their off-duty capacity.”
Department officials recognize that many of these offenders won’t stay long behind bars in a county jail constantly struggling with overcrowding.
“We can’t control the county and how they let the revolving door swing,” Smith said. But she added, “We can control what we have the authority to do and that is to make the appropriate arrest.”
By Tanya Eiserer
As if cancer-stricken Dallas police Sgt. Gregory Epley didn’t have enough to worry about with weeks of grueling radiation and chemotherapy in front of him, he now confronts another worry: the potential loss of his paycheck and thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Epley, 34, quickly blew through about two months of vacation and sick time while fighting a rare form of tongue cancer earlier this year. Now it’s back.
Because he’s the sole provider for his wife and three young children, Epley has been going to work when he can while undergoing treatments. Initially, he thought he might be able to work for much of it, but his earlier assessment has proved too optimistic.
His wife, Anna Epley, said she doesn’t think he’ll be able to report for duty much longer because the treatments have left him extremely ill, tired and barely able to eat, and he may soon have to get a feeding tube.
“He’s realizing it’s pretty rough,” Anna Epley said Wednesday. “Yesterday he was like, ‘This is kicking my butt.’ He was too sick after treatment to work. He threw up all the way home.”
Dallas no longer has a “catastrophic leave bank,” where employees can donate unused leave hours. But the city allows employees to request up to 80 hours of advance sick leave.
Since he’s used his remaining paid time, Epley has requested the use of 40 hours of advance time. He’s trying to save the remaining 40 until closer to the end of his treatment.
“He does not want to ask for help,” said Sgt. Stormy Magiera, a friend and colleague. “He said he just puts the bills in a stack and ignores them because he would get too depressed to see what he owes.”
Epley, a native of Louisville, Ky., originally considered a career as a U.S. marshal or a Secret Service agent. But the waiting list for a marshal’s job was too long when he graduated from Eastern Kentucky University and “the application for Secret Service was so thick that I chunked it in the garbage can.”
The Dallas Police Department hired him in 2000. He made sergeant about a year ago.
“I just like the job,” said Epley, who works as an evening shift supervisor at the city’s Central patrol substation. “I like chasing bad guys.”
Along the way, he met Anna while working an off-duty police job at a Wells Fargo Bank branch. The couple has three children, the youngest of whom just turned 1.
For Epley, the symptoms began in May with what he and his doctors initially thought to be a routine canker sore on the left side of his tongue. But the painful sore wouldn’t go away. He could barely eat. He started losing weight. Then came inexplicable headaches and excruciating jaw pain.
He went from doctor to doctor trying to figure it out. One doctor blamed stress. In late August, a biopsy revealed cancer on the left side of his tongue, a stunning finding given that he doesn’t use tobacco products.
On Sept. 3, surgeons removed the left side of his tongue and used skin from his arm to reconstruct it. Doctors also removed lymph nodes from his left ear to his neck to check for cancer. He was off for about a month after the surgery.
“Everything came back clear,” Anna Epley said. “We thought it was over.”
About two months later, the right side of his tongue started hurting. He went to his surgeon, who told him he’d probably bitten it and not to worry.
“He said, ‘I don’t think it’s cancer. The odds of you having cancer are slim to none,’ ” Gregory Epley recalled.
A week or so later, he noticed a small lump on his tongue.
He underwent his second biopsy two days before Thanksgiving. It revealed a tumor on the right side.
The pain was so bad after that biopsy that he missed another week of work. Some days, he can’t make it through an entire shift, either because he gets severe migraines or he’s throwing up, his wife said.
Earlier this month, doctors removed his back molars and wisdom teeth, leaving his face swollen. He could barely talk.
He began radiation treatments on Dec. 15. He’ll undergo radiation five days a week and chemo once a week.
The prognosis is good because the cancer hasn’t spread beyond his tongue.
So far, the Epleys have shelled out more than $8,000 for medical bills. The bills just keep rolling in.
“I don’t want people to think my problems are any more important than other people’s problems,” Epley said, his voice cracking with emotion. “I don’t want anybody to think I’m complaining.”
Even after Epley completes the seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, he’s facing another six to eight weeks of recovery, during which he probably won’t be able to work much, his wife said.
Two of the Epleys’ children are too young to understand what’s going on. Their 4-year-old daughter realizes he has cancer, but she doesn’t really understand what that means.
Recently, her mother found her pretending that she had a tumor and that her brother was the doctor.
“She said she wants to make a card that says, ‘Daddy, please don’t get sick anymore.’ She wants it big enough to put in the front yard. That made me cry,” Anna Epley said.
By TANYA EISERER
Several nights a week, Brent Kennedy patrols the streets of northeast Dallas as a police officer.
He’s worked more than 1,100 hours already this year.
Kennedy, a retired Army sergeant major, is one of about 75 Dallas police reserve officers, meaning he volunteers his time to serve and protect the city’s residents.
“I know it’s corny, but I think I’m doing a service,” Kennedy said one recent Wednesday as he started an evening patrol shift.
Becoming a reserve officer was a natural fit for the 67-year-old, who hails from a long line of military and law enforcement professionals. His father was an officer in the Coast Guard. His mother and her father served as police officers. And when he was younger, he considered a law enforcement career.
“I was thinking about joining the California Highway Patrol, but the Army won out,” Kennedy said.
He joined the Army in 1961, rising to the highest enlisted rank. He retired in 1994, and then worked for EDS for 10 years.
Several years ago, he decided to join the reserves at the behest of his wife, Carol Ann, who was struggling with terminal ovarian cancer.
“She looked at me one Sunday morning and said, ‘You’ve got to find something to do,’ ” Kennedy recalled.
He settled on joining the police reserves because, he said, he wanted to do real police work.
Kennedy became a reserve officer in August 2006. He works the most hours of any Dallas reserve officer by far, 1,037 hours last year – about 20 hours a week.
Since his wife of 47 years died in early 2008, Kennedy said, working as a reserve officer has given him a way to fill his hours and cope with his grief.
“He’s really dedicated to the job,” said Rick Anderssen, commander of the reserve battalion. “That’s why he’s out there a lot. It’s really a second career for him.”
Several days a week, Kennedy makes the 96-mile round trip from his 25-acre ranch in Van Alstyne to Dallas’ northeast patrol station on Northwest Highway.
He typically works from about 4 p.m. to midnight and is assigned to the Five Points area, although on busy nights, he roams throughout the patrol division answering calls.
Around the station, Kennedy is a regular presence. He carries himself with a calm demeanor and an unflappable attitude that de-escalate potentially volatile situations. Other officers treat him like one of the regulars.
“He’s a darn good, hard-working officer,” said Lt. Mike Black, who supervises Kennedy. “He’s a sharp, street-savvy officer. I’d trust him to do anything that I would any other officer. I’m glad to have him.”
On a recent night, dispatchers sent Kennedy to a reputed drug house, but when he and another officer arrived, they found no evidence of drug dealing.
Next, he was off to an apartment complex where juveniles had used slingshots to propel rocks at several apartments. From there, he went to investigate a report of electricity theft.
It was a fairly mundane night, but they’re not all that way. Once, he was on the scene of a fatal shooting over a dice game. Another time, a man fatally shot his cousin in the heart in a dispute over a slap-boxing competition.
It’s that unpredictability that draws Kennedy to the job – and keeps him there.
“When you get in the car, you just never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Anyone interested in additional information on the reserves can call 214-725-4000 or go to http://www.dpdreserves.org.
By Tanya Eiserer