" Think About it..."
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True Police Stories
"Courage is the ability to move;
when all around you are frozen in fear
My Name is Clay Jeppsen
I've been a cop for three years and I work
I am a son of strong, loving parents. A brother of three very special sisters. A husband to my beautiful eternal companion, of whom I am crazy about and I am the father of a strong healthy son with number two on the way. After all these titles I have another one; I am a son to a loving Father in Heaven. I have been blessed my whole life. While others had none, I had plenty. When others were hurt, I was protected. And where others were lost, I was guided.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You might recognize it as "Mormon." My father has taught me to recognize Jesus Christ, our Savior. To believe in Him and to believe Him. To fear Him and to need Him. He once told me, in a voice that shook my soul,
"Clay, depend on the Savior and have faith.
My mother has taught me to be pure in heart. To know love and to give love. She has taught me to be a great husband and father. She has made me familiar with the compassion the Savior has for us and reminded me to be compassionate. My mother's faith has encouraged me to walk a straight line. I am not a perfect man and I don't feel I deserve the countless blessings I receive but I have tried to apply the teachings of my parents to my life. I do love the Savior. I do have faith in Him. I do need Him and I do covet the relationship I have with Him.
To this I have to credit my blessings.
I served a two year mission as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Warsaw, Poland, Mission. I have fallen in love with the country, culture and people of Poland. The country is beautiful and has a rich history. Poland has been divided, realigned, raped of it's natural resources, conquered over and over again, and then fell victim to Nazi-Germany just to be succeeded by Communist-Russia. And yet the people of Poland still have true character, solid hearts and a sort of pride about them. You would have to go there to recognize it. I guess you could say that the world has put Poland through the refiners fire and now it has a defined identity. The Polish people are good people--great people. Our God loving President, George W. Bush, visited Poland and met with Polish President, Andziej Kwasniewski, and said,
"Poland, in so many ways, is a symbol
of renewal and common purpose.
I learned so much about life and about the Gospel when I was in Poland. I was blessed to be sent there. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said, "I feel like a boulder, rolling down a mountain and every time I hit a rock or another object, it smoothes out my rough edges." To a small degree, I feel the same way. Though I had many spiritual experiences in Poland, I also had lots of experiences that should be credited for smoothing out my rough edges. You might find some of them interesting.
My first day, I was in a fist fight with a man in a train station. Shortly after we had boarded the train, I heard a scream. One of our sister missionaries was being grabbed in a very inappropriate manner. I and another Elder, let him know very quickly, that disrespecting a lady was the wrong thing to do.
This was one of six fist fights I would get into
I remember a conversation with my dad over the phone on Mother's Day. I had tears in my eyes and I said, "Dad, I came here to share the Gospel with these people, not to fight them or to hurt them." There were times on my mission where I had to protect myself and as a result, I would end up really hurting some people.
It was times like these that I needed my Savior so badly.
Once I had to bring my companion to the hospital to get stitches in his lip, nose and cheek. Another time I had to go to the hospital for a dislocated shoulder. During the 2 years I was there, 5 missionaries had to be sent to Germany for reconstructive surgery on their faces. All of these were the result of fighting. I was pelted with rocks numerous times, hit with a brick, had 2 knives pulled on me, received 3 death threats, and was thrown in jail twice. I saw 3 dead bodies, stopped 3 muggings, and was kissed by a drunk man. One time my companion and I woke up early to go "street contacting" about 7:00 am. We turned onto a street called UL Targowa. We saw about 10 police officers, 2 fire trucks and a large crowd of people. When we got closer we could see that the fireman were picking up what looked like body parts. And others were using a white powder to clean up the body fluids. There was a large burn mark in the middle of the street. We asked a police officer what happened and he simply told us,
"The Russian Mafia strapped a bomb to a man's chest
Another time my companion and I were taking a break and eating some "Paszki" (Polish donuts), outside a little store when 4 men bolted out of a bank about 20 feet away from us. Two were carrying handguns and the other two had Uzi type submachine guns. They were all wearing suits. They hopped into a BMW and sped off. My companion and I just stared at each other in disbelief. On the way to a Zone Conference in Warsaw we were at a train station in Wroclaw, when suddenly, men in tactical suits ordered everybody out of the station because of a bomb threat. The Mafia had ransomed the Mayor's daughter and the train station. Later on, they actually found a bomb. Large enough to level the train station. The Mafia still has a strong influence in Poland. I have met a few of them on occasion. Even taught 3 discussions to one. Then one day he disappeared.
But even after experiences like those, I was still drawn to Poland. Drawn to the people and drawn to the work. Drawn to the spirit that I felt so strongly while serving the Lord. A feeling that cannot be replaced. When I got to Poland it was just 6 years out of communism. The idea of democracy and freedom was still new. The idea of religion, other than the Roman Catholic religion, which makes up 96% of the population, is also knew. Baptisms were very few.
Half of the missionaries sent to Poland
There were about 800 members there. More than half of those were there before the mission opened. Now, 7 years later (from when I started my mission) there are around 1000 members. There are approximately 40 million people in Poland. I served from 1996 to 1998. I served as a trainer for 2 months, a district leader for 2 months, a zone leader for 4 months and a branch president for 6 months. Because finding people to teach was scarce, we found ourselves doing much more service than teaching. In some cases between 20 to 30 hours a week. We visited the elderly, the disabled children and orphanages. We taught English in middle schools, colleges, and in private businesses. There was a space of 2 weeks where my companion and I never wore white shirts and ties except for Church. A good buddy of ours named Zdzichu was old and his health was very bad. He only got one paycheck a year and that was when it was harvest time for his cherry orchard. His health did not permit him to work and there was not much time left in the season.
So for 2 weeks my companion and I picked cherries
I began to love serving others. To me, this was true missionary work, the very heart of it. This was my mission, to serve the Polish people. I tried to learn as much as I could about the culture and history and see as much of the country as I could. I wanted to share with the Polish people my experiences there. Show them the love I had for the country. I had a few chances to visit the all too well known concentration camps of Auszwitz and Birkenau, where so many Jewish people died in the Holocaust at the fist of Nazi Germany. Six million Jews died there. There are now than less than 4000 in the country of Poland. I will always hold a place in my heart for the Jewish people.
On my mission, I learned lessons, built memories and established friendships that will stay with me for a life time. To me, that experience is worth gold. For two years I was an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. I wore His name on my chest. I shared with others His profound and Holy Gospel and I shared testimony with the pioneers of Poland. A huge blessing in my life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Poland is still young, but seeds have been planted and the roots are strong. I was there to clear a path and broaden the effort of missionary work. I may not have changed the country of Poland, but the country of Poland changed me. My efforts may not have reached the corners of the country but they were noticed by those who shared with me the small life I lived there. The Poland that I knew, the testimony that I gave. Slowly, but surely and boldly, the Gospel is rolling forth and it is ringing louder and louder. Let me share with you the words of Prophet Joseph Smith from the Wentworth Letter.
"The Standard of Truth has been
I have since returned to Poland with my wife shortly after we were married. She also feels a special connection with the country and now has memories of her own to reflect on. Lindsey is the backbone of our marriage. She is a heaven sent wife and mother.
She is my eternal companion.
If you saw how beautiful she is you would not believe me if I told you she is even more beautiful on the inside. We have been married now for 4 years. I have been a police officer for 3 of those years. Without her support and love, I could not do it. She has put up with my being gone all hours of the night. I have worked every shift and she has slept many nights alone, had to cancel plans, appointments and dates because of work. If she did not truly love and support me, she would not put up with that. She is a strong person, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and she is exactly what I need.
I am an officer of the Capitol Police Department in downtown Phoenix. I graduated from the Phoenix Regional Police Academy in 2000, class 346. So far, I have had a pretty colorful career. I'd like to share with you the type of work I've been involved in. For the most part, the results of bad decision making, effects that Satan has had in people's lives.
In my 3 years as a patrol officer, I have had between 85 to 90 crack-cocaine busts, 25 to 30 marijuana busts and various crystal-meth, heroin, and PCP busts. I arrived first on the scene (a drug deal gone bad) where a lady was hit over the head, repeatedly with a 2x4. She was on the ground with blood around her head and a clear fluid was leaking out of her ears. Brain fluid. Her brain was swelling. In minutes she would be dead, but she lay there twitching and gasping for her last breaths of air. Shortly after I got out of the academy, I arrested this lady for trespassing. When I searched her purse, I found a crack-pipe. I told her that if she continued with this lifestyle she would end up dead.
We talked and we joked and now here she was before me, ...dead.
She had chosen to live a life of drugs, pain and carelessness. And somehow Satan still seems to convince people that this is a desirable lifestyle. On another occasion I chased a guy 3 blocks with an ice pick in his spine before he finally collapsed dead on someone's doorstep. I worked a sting operation with the Phoenix Police undercover unit where we arrested over 150 people for drugs and prostitution in only two nights.
I arrested an 18 year old girl who gave sex for a five dollar hit off a drug dealers crack pipe. She felt she needed it that bad. I have responded to numerous stabbings over drug deals gone bad. I arrested a lady who was 8 months pregnant, when I tried to book her into jail they would not accept her because of the amount of heroin and crack-cocaine that was in her body. What a welcome into life for that baby.
One night I made a traffic stop only 100 yards from the Arizona State Capitol building. On the back seat by one of the passengers was a loaded fully automatic Romanian AK-47 with a 50 round drum attached. The passenger also had a back pack with 4.5 pounds of marijuana in it. The driver had a Jennings 380 semi-auto handgun. Jennings is a throw away gun. It cost less than $80.00, commonly used to carry out a hit and then be disposed of. I was blessed that the arrest was made with no exchange of gunfire.
I'm not saying I would have lost but I was definitely out-gunned.
Through interview and interrogation we found out that they had planned to do a drive-by shooting on someone that night. But they would not say on who. What we did know, was for at least that night, someone's life was spared. Those 3 guys will be gone for a long time. They are facing State charges, Federal-ATF and INS charges. They are looking at at least 15 years.
Three people that I arrested in my first two months
Each incident was drug related. These are all situations where people have used their free agency to destroy their lives. Our Heavenly Father has given us free agency because He loves us. However, because He loves us, He wants us to return to Him. I have seen how making wrong decisions can change one's life forever in an instant. I have witnessed the pain, sorrow and humiliation that comes from those decisions enough to know that I do not want that for me or for my family. It is a comfort to me that my Father in Heaven also desires something much better for me and my family. There are times when we use our free agency to do wrong and we should live with the consequences. But because of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, we can be granted mercy. Granted a second chance. Jesus Christ not only loves us, but He gave His life for us. He was crucified. Now as our master, He is in position to either see justice through or extend mercy.
One is fair and one is not.
It is as simple as this however, justice demands that all debts be paid. We all have them and we are all responsible. Our Brother Jesus Christ, has already paid those debts. "We owed a debt that we could not pay and He paid a debt He did not owe." He only asks for a humble heart in return. The battle of life begins and ends in our heart, as does our salvation. Through the Savior's love and a humble heart, mercy is granted. This is the Atonement, the end of our Savior's mortal life and the beginning of our eternal life. Take hold of this love and don't let go. Follow the teachings of the Savior and apply them to your life.
Give back the only valuable gift you can;
I want to share a story that has had probably the most impact on me since I began my career in police work. This is not a story that you would see on the TV show "COPS" or any story that would make it on the evening news. It is about a court case. A court case that I lost. I'll take you back to the arrest, November 4th, 2001.
I was on patrol when I heard over the radio that there was a burglary in progress at 1600 W. Monroe, the Department of Revenue (where our state taxes are held). It was taking place at one of the registers. No info on whether the subject was armed or not. I and three other officers responded to the call. The description over the radio was a black male wearing tan pants, a blue and white flannel shirt and a Yankee's ball cap. I was the first to arrive on the scene. Just as I exited my vehicle, a security guard of the Department of Revenue came out of the employee entrance on the north side of the building, pointing and shouting, "The guy just left in an older style tan Cadillac with temporary license plates. He turned left on Van Buren." He said he only left a second ago.
With that information I headed westbound on Van Buren. I immediately saw the tan Cadillac that was described with the temp. plates at the intersection of 19th Ave. and Van Buren. I even saw the described suspect in the drivers seat. A black male, flannel shirt with a black ball cap. I activated my lights and siren. I saw the driver look into his rear view mirror and then accelerate in speed. After approximately 4 blocks and many lane changes to surpass traffic, he had to stop for traffic that was backed up at Van Buren and the I-17 freeway. It was then he tried to drive around a diesel truck and onto the sidewalk.
At this point I could see that my backup was behind me. I then exited my vehicle, drew my weapon and ordered the suspect out of the car. After 3 commands, I slowly approached the drivers side of the car. I ordered him out again. He kept saying, "What did I do? I didn't do anything." I could see that both of his hands were on the steering wheel. I took a quick look around him and in the car to make sure he didn't have any weapons. I then holstered my weapon, opened his door and physically pulled him out of the vehicle, causing him to fall to the ground. I then assisted him up to the side of the car. At that point, I patted him down for weapons.
In the court case, Terry, vs. Ohio, it was ruled that an officer, if concerned for his safety or has reason to believe that the suspect might or could have a weapon, due to the location and nature of the crime, has the right to pat down the suspects waist and chest area or any other area commonly known to hide weapons. It was then that I found a large fixed knife on his waste line. When I got to his chest area, I could feel a large lump in his left front pocket area. I asked him what it was and he stated he didn't know. Due to the fact that he didn't know what it was, he was a burglary suspect, he fled when I tried to stop him and that I already found a weapon on him, I decided to retrieve the item from his pocket. I was not going to take a chance.
I immediately recognized it to be crack-cocaine.
At that point I placed him under arrest for narcotic drugs. He was identified as, (real name withheld) Robert Charles Johnson. I then transported him back to the burglary scene to make a positive, one-on-one ID. Upon arrival, I made contact with the security guard who had put out the original description. I brought him over to the car where Robert was in custody. The guard only looked for a moment and then pulled me aside and said,
"That's the guy I saw get into the Cadillac
My jaw dropped and as I looked at the other officers, I knew they were thinking what I was thinking, "Oh Boy. What a mess. Where's the mop?" I then thought to myself, "If my reason for stopping the suspect was not the burglary, then what was it?" I had a man in possession of narcotic drugs. A lot of drugs. Enough to charge him with possession for sale, a class 2 felony. I could not just let him go. At that point, my Sergeant said some very encouraging words. He said, "Clay, you acted in good faith. You investigated the testimony of an eyewitness to a crime. Not only should you have done what you did, but you were entitled to do what you did and you would have been accountable for not acting as you did." It was then that I remembered my training in the academy. It is my job to investigate all leads to a crime, especially a felony in progress. This guy was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and he matched the description of the burglary suspect. My Sergeant told me to book him into jail and charge him with possession and that's what I did. The case was once again solid and I never gave it another thought until 3 months later when I was on my way to court.
Everyday before work, I say a prayer to my Heavenly Father
In my career, I would have to say that I lean more toward the spirit of the law. I try to look at all the aspects of the situation and I feel that the Spirit has helped me on many occasions. But I know what kind of violence stems from the manufacture, sale and use of drugs and sometimes lives are lost. I see it everyday. So this is one area I tend to lean toward the letter of the law and I just hope that they'll learn their lesson by doing time. The same goes for every court case I go to. I could not do it without the help of my Heavenly Father. I say a prayer that my memory will be good, that I will sound professional and that the courts decision will be just.
When I tried to pray this time, a different feeling came over me. I could not pray for help. I found myself praying for Robert Charles Johnson. What was that all about? Robert is a criminal and he deserves to do time! If my fellow officers could read my thoughts right now, I would be tried for "police treason."
But all I could say in my prayer was, "Lord,
I said nothing else. I couldn't say anything else. When Robert entered the courtroom, he was chained and wearing black and white jail strips. From behind, I heard someone stand up. When I turned to look, I saw a woman holding a little boy. The little boy was filled with life when he yelled, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" The woman had tears flowing down her face. This was Robert's family and now tears were flowing down Robert's face.
I won't tell you who else
had to quickly wipe away a tear, before it was noticed.
I know that those words have a great meaning to our Father in Heaven, to my dad and to me. They can melt a man's heart. The spirit of family, the spirit of daddy, daddy, daddy, was in the courtroom. I did all that I could to ensure that justice was served. That is my job. I made a legal arrest, I wrote a perfect report and gave a perfect testimony. But somehow the search and the arrest were discredited. I lost and Robert was set free. He escaped serving a minimum of 10 years in prison.
I knew what happened that day.
Somewhere on this small earth, in the middle of the Arizona desert, the Lord knew and loved a little family and wanted to preserve that unity. Mercy was granted that family. Robert was given a second chance. In my heart, after seeing Robert's family, I somehow knew the Lord would make that decision.
Family is the most important unity in the Gospel.
From the time of that arrest to the court date,
Our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of us this way. He is hurt when we make bad choices, but so eager to get us back on the right track. This is through Jesus Christ. Let me bare you my testimony. In a whirlwind, my body may sustain cuts and bruises but my feet will remain firmly planted. Because I love this Gospel so much. I love the Author of it; My Brother, my Teacher, my Master, my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I know that in His service, I can walk and never grow weary. I can run and never be out of breath. I can navigate and never fall off course. My heart swells for His great and sacred Gospel. My heart swells because He is real. His love reaches a magnitude that will not be measured, nor can it be. We have troubled Him with our burdens, we have broken His back with our sins and we will never repay our debt yet He gives us His love, for us He was slain.
Did you know? He is your best friend and always will be?
This I leave with you my friend, that these things are true. You can know for a surety. You too can build that closeness and that everlasting need for His companionship. He is all knowing, all faithful, all powerful and all loving...
and He is real.
Officer Clay Jeppsen, #560
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Thank you and God bless,
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