"Courage is the ability to move;
when all around you are frozen in fear
and no one would blame you if you did nothing at all."
Capt. Click. Phx. PD
My Name is Rick Fife
Taken from the book Think
About it... for your reading convenience
I have been a police officer for almost twenty years. Most of that time I have
been assigned to Traffic
as a uniformed Solo Motorcycle Officer. I was co-assigned to Patrol as a member
of the department
SWAT team. For thirteen years I was a police sniper. The last five of those
years I was a police sniper
instructor. I received my training through US Military sponsored instructor
schools, FBI sniper
schools and NRA rifle instructor schools (both basic and advanced).
Being a police officer is unlike any other type of career. As a police officer
you will experience and
witness in a matter of a few months what most people will experience in a
lifetime. All officers
become involved emotionally to one extent or another in their work and the
individuals that they
come in contact with from day to day. I believe most officers initially are
there because they want to
help others. However, time and stress can chisel away at that ideal. Officers
pay a big price for going
into police service! The years and years of dealing with everyone’s problems,
dealing with the
ugliness, the pain and suffering and death, takes it’s toll. Sometimes you feel
like you’re just a
gladiator or a cartridge on a shelf just waiting to be spent. Being religious
helps maintain a correct
perspective on life. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. Early in my
career, my bishop gave me this counsel at a time when my career did not permit
me to attend church
or to participate in any type of position of responsibility.
He told me that in my position as a police officer
that a greater opportunity would come to me to serve the Lord
than he would ever attain as a bishop.
All I needed to do was to maintain the proper attitude, keep myself worthy of
inspiration and have
the willingness to be of service. I never forgot that counsel. I have always
strived to keep that as a
goal. Much of what we as police officers do would not give us a first place
ribbon in a popularity
contest but whenever possible, I have always tried to avoid stripping an
individual of his dignity. I
believe this has paid me back ten fold in making my job easier. I know that as
an individual officer,
we cannot change the world, but if we do all we can, we can make a difference to
someplace. It takes a genuine love of the Lord, love of mankind and a
willingness to help others.
When we see that we did make a difference in someone’s life, it brings a sweet
peace to our souls.
I have been greatly blessed and protected as an officer over these past twenty
years. In the thousands
of miles I have driven in a police cruiser or on a motorcycle, in the seemingly
countless calls I have
responded to and the approximately six hundred SWAT call outs and several police
during the past twenty year period that I have been involved in. I know and I
can say, that the Lord’s
protecting hand has been with me.
One such call that comes to mind occurred early in my career. At the beginning
of shift, we were
briefed about a suspect by the name of Gary who had taken his mother hostage and
himself in his apartment over night. He threatened to kill his mother and any
police officer that came
around. His mother managed to escape and she notified the police. At 0740 Joe
and I were dispatched
to the scene. Up until that time, things had been quiet. A grounds keeper to the
complex came up to
me and asked if he could go and try to talk Gary out. I turned to tell him,
“No.” When I did, I saw
the look of confidence on his face suddenly change to a look of horror. Without
even thinking, I drew
my service weapon and came up to the combat position. I looked toward the
apartment and saw the
suspect coming out of the apartment with a rifle. I was about to order him to
drop the rifle when he
suddenly fired a shot. I took careful aim and fired once but it seemed to have
no effect. I fired a
second and then a third shot. Finally on the third shot he fell. We secured the
weapon and took
custody of the suspect. Afterwards I learned that Gary had been hit all three
times. The whole
incident had taken place in just fifteen seconds.
As an officer, I have no desire to hurt or kill anyone. But I have no desire to
hurt or killed either. Here, I was outgunned yet unhurt.
And both of us were able to carry on with our lives.
In the early spring of 1990, a call came over the air of a person on the outside
fence of the freeway
overpass at Stapley and U.S. 60. The call came in as a possible jumper. Several
dispatched to the call, but I was not one of them. But I kept getting the strong
feeling to, “Go! Go!”
So I responded as well. While en route to the call, something kept telling me,
that I would be going
over the fence to get her. When I arrived, clinging to the outside of the fence
high speed traffic was a middle aged woman. As I got closer I recognized her from
other police calls.
I also knew she was LDS. As I approached her, I called her by name and then
to her. She recalled who I was and permitted me to come closer.
For over forty minutes we tried to convince her to come in. She refused, saying
she wished only to
end her life. It is unfortunate, especially in the Church that our greatest
blessing, which is our families,
can also be our greatest burden. When a family fails and is heading for breakup,
it can be so
devastating that sometimes people will feel full of hopelessness and resort to
drastic solutions to their
problems. Thus was the circumstance of this woman.
The freeway traffic had been diverted at Gilbert. The freeway was now clear.
Several times she had
attempted to push off toward the freeway below before the traffic had been
stopped. Only by clasping
our hands through the chain link fence and convincing her that she may kill or
injure someone below,
did we keep her from killing herself. As we talked with her, we became friends.
We became friends ...when she so desperately needed a friend.
As time passed, the physical strain was taking it’s toll on her. Several times I
had asked her if I could
come out on the exterior of the fence and help her. This time, she did not
refuse. She was now to the
point of letting go due to the sheer exhaustion of trying to hang onto the
fence. My Lieutenant gave
me a boost up and I climbed up and over and down the fence to where she was. I
used repelling gear
to secure myself before reaching for her.
Now, clinging to the outside of the fence myself, I slowly worked my way over to
where she was.
When I got next to her I reached around her waist and pulled her in toward me to
brace her between
me and the fence and an overpass sign. I then secured us with a rope and soon
the fire department
was there with a ladder truck. The firemen helped us down and now my job was
done. I later learned
that she and her husband were working things out and were back together.
I believe that the Lord inspired me to respond to that call.
To help someone contemplating suicide.
Someone that I knew and who knew me.
While working a swing shift one night, I and another officer received a call to
check the welfare of
a man whose father had called Mesa PD from California. The father felt that his
son may be
considering suicide. When we arrived, the son let us in after we explained our
purpose for being there.
However, he made a very strange statement about his wife so we felt we should do
a welfare check
on the home and for his wife. About a week earlier, a Mesa man had murdered his
wife and stuffed
her body into the refrigerator and I did not want a repeat of the same type of
incident. I asked him
where his wallet was (identification check). He said it was in his bedroom.
While en route there, I
asked if he had any weapons or firearms in the home. He said yes and asked if we
would like to see
them. I insisted we did not and to leave them where they were. As we walked down
the hall, I was
about six to eight feet behind him and my partner was directly behind me as we
entered the master
bedroom. All of what happened next, occurred in about ten seconds.
The man said, “I’ve got a gun right here.” He started to reach for the back of
the headboard. I
immediately pulled my 9mm pistol and ordered him not to move and to not go for
the gun. I decided
if he pulled a gun that I would shoot him in the head and hopefully eliminate
any possible secondary
response on his part to shoot at either my partner or me. My partner had the
cover of the doorway
but I had no place to retreat for cover. I had a two hand hold on my weapon and
was aiming at his
head ready to fire when a great feeling of calm and peace came upon me and a
very distinct voice said,
“You can beat him to the gun!”
Immediately I pulled my pistol to my side and dove across the bed reaching out
with my left hand as
the suspect was pulling a .38 caliber revolver from a holster which he had
attached to the headboard
of his bed. Everything seemed as if it were going in very slow motion. I could
see the revolver as my
left hand came down upon the frame and cylinder. I then wrenched the revolver
from his hand and
secured my own weapon. My partner and I then cuffed and secured the man. Later
he told me, “You
had a bullet in your gun for me.” It appears that he was considering suicide by
police. He had no
criminal record and his wife was unharmed. I was very grateful for how things
had turned out. I know
if it was not for the intervention of the Holy Ghost, I would have killed him.
In my career as an
officer, I have come across individuals who have caused nothing but misery and
destruction in their
entire life. People who live by victimizing others. But this man had hurt no one
prior to this that I am
aware of and I was extremely grateful that I was not responsible for his death.
Probably one of the most humbling and testimony building experiences of my life
occurred on March
15, 1985. Mike, Vince, Chris and Steve and I went on a one day hike into the
Steve had learned about an old Indian graveyard which was evidently many
centuries old. Respectful
of the dead but interested in seeing it, we decided to hike in.
Whenever I have gone into the Superstitions, I have always carried a weapon for
self defense. This
day was no different. Everyone in the party had some sort of firearm along with
food, water, first aid
supplies and other basic field gear. After we began to pack in, I had a feeling
I was to tell everyone
not to chamber a round in their weapons. However, instead of following this
prompting, I told myself
that we were are all familiar with firearms and there was no need for any
lectures. So I disregarded
the feeling. We started off on our hike. All of us were excited for the
opportunity to spend the day
together and enjoy each other’s company as well as the magnificent country. We
had been hiking for
about two hours. We had just ascended a very steep slope of about twenty-five or
thirty feet. Chris
had ascended the slope about ten yards to my left. I was looking at Chris as he
came over the edge.
As he was standing up, suddenly a weapon discharged. Chris cried out, “I think
I’ve shot myself.”
He was starting to fall forward as the blood from the wound rapidly began to
saturate his right pant
leg. His weapon had somehow been bumped to the fire position from the rugged
climbing and a twig
or something had discharged the weapon.
Why hadn’t I listened to that still small voice at the beginning of the hike?
I felt so responsible for the tragedy!
We all rushed to Chris’ side. When we saw the seriousness of the wound, the
decision was made to
send Vince and Mike back for help. Steve and I would stay with Chris. Steve had
to prop himself in
such a manner so as to prevent Chris from falling off the ledge. We didn’t have
much room where
we were. I had no formal medical training, however, Chris was a fire department
paramedic and he
coached me through some of the more technical first aid. I cut his pant leg open
and what I saw
frightened me. The bullet had entered just behind the knee on the outer side of
his right leg. A major
tendon had been blown away and an entrance hole of about one and a half inches
was seen. The
projectile entered at an angle and was almost parallel with the calf muscle. I
ran my hand over the
surface of his lower leg in an attempt to find an exit wound. None was found.
After the initial shock, the pain began to increase and I was afraid Chris was
going to go into shock.
Steve and I prayed that Chris’ life would be spared and that his body would
remain stable until we
could get him to the proper medical help. Chris had me give him several
injections of Lignocaine to
deaden the area around the wound and his lower leg. I knew that a priesthood
blessing was in order,
especially under the circumstances we found ourselves in, but Chris was not LDS
and I wasn’t sure
how he felt about it. His pain continued to increase and I was sure the pain
would push Chris into
shock. We were at the end of what we could do. I sat there holding Chris’ head
in my lap giving him
sips of water periodically.
It was at this time that I felt inspired to give Chris a silent priesthood
...This time I listened.
I laid my hands upon Chris’ head and gave him a blessing through the power of
the Holy Priesthood.
I blessed him that his body would remain stable until we could get him the
medical help he needed.
Afterwards, the temperature began to drop. It began getting colder and colder.
Chris was shaking
badly. We covered him with what we had to maintain his body heat. Faintly I
began to hear the sound
of a helicopter approaching. I knew I needed to find a place for him to set
down. I quickly
climbed the steep slope which was above us to a plateau which jutted out from
the canyon wall. When
I got to the top I could see a red and white DPS helicopter enter the canyon.
Suddenly I realized I
could see my breath. It was as if I was standing in a freezer.
I turned on the emergency strobe and remained on the plateau until the DPS
chopper crew spotted
me. He came in low and circled through the canyon several times to check the air
currents and winds.
I then went back down to Chris and Steve. I pulled my canteen out and noticed
which had been on my canteen earlier had now frozen to the canteen’s exterior.
As the helicopter
touched down, we sheltered Chris as best we could from the debris which was
being blown around
from the chopper blades. As the down drafts from the blades hit us, the wind was
bitterly cold. It was
about a 150 to 200 foot hike to the helicopter. We would have to carry Chris up
the steep slope to
the plateau above us, across the plateau and down the other side to the waiting
chopper. This was
no small task. The trail was barely wide enough for one person. It was just
about all we could do to
get him there. That hike to the chopper pushed all of us to our absolute limit.
Not only was that true
for the DPS officer and Steve and I but for Chris as well. When it was over,
none of us had anymore
to give. The helicopter lifted off and Chris was now en route to the hospital.
With a prayer of
gratitude in our hearts, Steve and I breathed a sigh of great relief as we
watched that chopper lift off.
As Steve and I were packing up, suddenly it began to warm up. No longer was it
cold. “What an odd
thing,” we thought! But it wasn’t until Steve and I began to see all of the
events of that day that we
began to realize what had occurred concerning the prayers which had been offered
and the blessing
which had been given to Chris. On the mountain, it was so cold the wound hardly
bled at all. We later
learned from the DPS flight crew that Chris didn’t start bleeding again until
the temperature warmed
up. From the time of touchdown to the time they could get him into the Emergency
Room, Chris had
lost an estimated liter of blood. Steve and I know that our prayers were
answered and that the
priesthood blessing which had been given had set into motion not only a
stabilizing of Chris’ body,
but a change in the natural environment. We could find no other explanation for
the drastic change
in the temperature and all the other events that occurred in order that Chris’
life be saved.
Having prayed to my Heavenly Father concerning the happenings of that day,
the spirit testified to me to where I could not,
nor dare not, deny that a miracle had occurred.
As mortals here upon this earth, perhaps we will never fully know in this life
to what extent the
priesthood has a direct tie to the control and order of various natural laws.
But for me, this has been
a most humbling experience. I wish to testify that these things I have written
are true and I know that
our Father in Heaven did answer and honor the blessing which had been given. I
want to end by
telling you that I am a returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. From
August of 1968 through December of 1970 I served in the Netherlands. I saw the
conversion with many people, especially through the Book of Mormon and many
seeds were sewn
in many remote areas where the gospel had not been heard. For where there was
nothing almost thirty
years ago, now there are branches and even wards and stakes.
In the early spring of 1970, I was transferred to a city on the west coast of
Holland called Leiden.
There had not been elders assigned in Leiden for some time. Our first day in
church was quite cool
and I could have sworn we had been lepers, considering our reception. My
companion had absolutely
no motivation for missionary work. On Sunday evening I called President Dalebout
and explained my
concerns about the transfer, the branch and my companion. I really tried to
explain to him that I was
not the elder who should be here. The job was more than I could do alone. I
don’t think he even
heard what I was saying. I had some concerns that the phone might have not have
properly because all he would say was, “You will do just fine!” He said a few
more things, told me
to have a good night and then hung up.
Never had I felt so alone as I did right then.
I had a companion that wanted to
and I had a branch that truly disliked the elders.
Where was I to turn now?
The home I stayed in had a small unused room. Had it not been for this room, I
don’t believe I could
have done what was expected of me in Leiden. This room became a private
sanctuary for me after
we would retire for the day. I prayed in that room like I have never prayed in
my life. Prayers, instead
of being minutes, were now hours. I pled for support and success. I had to push
my companion to
help me, to even get him out of our room. We worked hard during the days and I
prayed hard into
the night for the Lord’s help. Looking back I realize now how the Spirit
sustained me all those weeks.
The following two weeks we found two families that would listen. We gave them
the first discussion.
They came to church with us and the discussions continued for these families.
The spirit was strong in the meetings. I had very strong feelings I had known
these people before.
None of them seemed strangers to me. There was much fasting and prayer on behalf
of these families
by all who knew them. The small branch came alive with the missionary spirit and
even a dramatic
change was coming over my companion. In a matter of weeks, a commitment for
baptism was made
and the dates were set.
This time in Leiden was the highlight of my mission. Miracles and changes had
occurred in the hearts
of so many people. I will be eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for what I
witnessed in Leiden. Even though contacts have been lost due to time and
circumstances, I love those
people with the same intensity as I did then. I often find my thoughts going
back to those fine people
in the Netherlands and I sincerely hope to meet them again someday. Today, I
serve on the Stake
High Council in our stake. I end by telling you that,
I know that Jesus is the Christ. ...I know that He lives.
And I know that this is His Church.
Officer (&RM) Richard J. Fife Badge #3926
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