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True Police Stories

"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 someone 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 related shootings 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 had barricaded 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 get
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 officers were 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 and overlooking 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 reintroduced myself 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 Superstition Mountains. 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 blessing.
                                          ...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 the condensation 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 miracle of 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 been working 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 go home
                                              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 experienced and 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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and would like to share an unusual testimony building experience with others,
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Thank you and God bless,


"Think About it..." mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included

Read "Think About it..." Online Warrior Stories  | Excerpts | News Articles | Poems
Rear Cover | Reviews | About the Book | About the Author | Order | E-Mail  |  Home

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P.O. Box 7899   Mesa, AZ 85216-7899
A 317 page full size book, mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included