While in the Navy in 1978, I took a bus trip to see some of the sights in San Diego. About a half an hour into my quest to find a highly recommended military surplus store, a person sitting next to me got up to get off at a stop along one of the major streets. When he got up, he pulled a knife from his pocket and started to swing it towards the neck of a man sitting just ahead of the rear exit. He obviously thought he could stab, run, and get away.
Just as the door swung open, he raised his arm with the knife. Seeing the knife and what he was about to do, I jumped up and grabbed the man’s arm and diverted it out of the way of striking the person quietly sitting in his seat. I did not have a very good grip on his arm, but I was able to grab him and throw him back into the seat he had been in.
As I forced him to back up and move away from the door and others in the bus, I got to see into the man’s eyes. What I saw was only what I could describe as a “fire”, a fire that had only one meaning; “His only goal in life at that point in time was my death”.
The grip I had on his arm was not very good and he managed to cut my arm with the knife. All I could do at that point was to bend his arm over the back of the chair to keep him from cutting me any-more than he had already done.
By then, a couple more people got involved and held his other arm for me so I could try to get the knife away. He fought harder at that point as our eyes met again. The “fire” was brighter as I started to bend his arm over the back of the chair. I knew that the only way to stop this guy was to push as hard as I could against his arm and try to break it if I had to, to stop him from using the knife on me.
I could feel his arm starting to break at the elbow, and I think that the sheer pain got him to stop and let me take the knife away.
The fire went out at that point and he just sat there trying to catch his breath. Just then, the man that was about to be stabbed decided to kick his assailant in the throat and started to move toward us like a football place kicker. As his leg was swinging up at the person that had just taken the knife from, I swung my other arm out and struck the shin of his leg as hard as I could to stop his foot before he could kick the assailant in the throat. The sheer pain of being hit in the shin was enough to get him to stop, but he had cracked my arm in doing so.
I was bleeding and the pain in my left arm was starting to get intense when the police showed up. They took over and arrested the assailant as I gave one of the officers the knife. The cut was not bad enough to worry about, so I wiped the blood away with a cloth the officer gave to me and continued on to the surplus store on foot.
The police acted as if this was a typical day for them. Looking back now after all these years, It probably was.
Later that night, I was reflecting on what had happened that day. All I could think of was that “Fire” I saw in the eyes of the assailant and how it meant that his only goal in life was my death. I had placed my own life on the line to stop this guy from killing another, and had stopped the one that was attacked from killing the assailant.
It wasn’t until a few days later, I realized that this is what the police may have to face every day. The possibility of having the person that is committing a crime may turn on you with the same “Fire” that I saw in the eyes of the assailant. What if the people the police face have a gun instead of the knife? What if the Police officer was the only one there? That is why I will always have the utmost respect for police. They really do place their lives on the line each and every day. And I am sure that they do not want to go through what I did on that bus with that assailant trying to kill me with a knife just because I stopped him from killing someone else.
So what I really think of Police: They are heroes and should be treated with respect and honor. For what I went through that day in 1978 is but one possible day in the life of a Police Officer. They should all be thanked and praised for their commitment to us all.