News / police work
When I founded THIN BLUE LINE COFFEE I had been a police officer for over 18 years for the City of Berkeley, California. Those who aren't familiar with the West Coast, it is a city across the bay from San Francisco and shares a southern border with Oakland. Quick shout out to BPD, OPD and SFPD! At the time, Berkeley had a population of around 110K people and had all the same big-city crime as our neighbors. I sustained an on-the-job injury and was retired out as a sergeant. I started when I was 22 years old and was out at 39. I have since "re-invented" myself twice and have had what I consider a good life, raising a family and being in a position where I can give back.
So, why do I mention this in the blog?
Law enforcement officers need our support and that's where THIN BLUE LINE COFFEE separates itself from some other businesses that directly support charities. Officers need to be adequately prepared to work on the street. They need basic equipment to function safely and they need the right tools and training, but they also need support for themselves and their families to help handle the toll that the job takes on them. This last part is why THIN BLUE LINE COFFEE was founded. We let others help pay for equipment, we focus our assistance on helping the person behind the badge. The charities we support help fix broken families and broken officers. It's not sexy or glamorous. You won't see us put our name on a new SWAT truck or sponsor the purchase of firearms. That area is covered quite well. We believe in getting officers home each night both physically and mentally and making sure their families are okay should the worse happen.
I've been there. I was a SWAT team member for years and participated in multiple call outs. I've witnessed some horrendous things. I've experienced the high of doing my job well and the low of having large swaths of my community not understand. I've even hidden the fact that I was a cop many times over many years to prevent conflict. What other profession does that?
I hope people understand that we need law enforcement and we need to take care of them in more ways than just giving them new toys. We need to show our support for the person behind the badge and those they leave at home each night. I encourage you to support the charities we stand behind.
Trauma comes in many forms. Back in the day I was a member of my department's Barricaded Subject / Hostage Negotiation Team (BS/HNT), which in the below article they refer to as the "Special Response Team." I was called in to be part of my department's tactical response to the incident described below. I was "inner containment" and stationed in the hotel's lobby. I could clearly see the hostages and feel the concussion of the shots being fired by the hostage taker. The feeling of helplessness that overcame me seeing these poor people suffer while I sat only feet away waiting for a plan/decision to act I will never forget. Seeing my teammates and friends selflessly enter the bar while shots were being fired still haunts me. I didn't suffer anything near what the hostages did, but in hindsight I could've used help processing the event. That's what I hope I can accomplish with Thin Blue Line Coffee - raising funds for an organization that helps the forgotten officers get past the events that we all wish didn't happen.