Slain officer’s family shouldn’t have to endure cheap shots

I guess one of the most difficult things to get used to when writing this blog is knowing that a lot of people read it. That’s a good thing. I’m happy with the fact that the number of hits on the site far exceeds the comments and I like the fact that people read it. It’s fun.

I get a lot of e-mail and I sometimes get a lot of comments on the blog. The hardest thing getting used to are the comments that are, to say the least, sharp, abrasive and sometimes no more than a cheap shot.

A while back, the person’s e-mail address would appear on the comments section so you could e-mail them back. I made the mistake of getting mad at someone who took exception to a blog I wrote about Sgt. Friday of “Dragnet” fame. Big deal, right? He was incensed that I paraphrased a long line of rhetorical crap that I had envisioned Sgt. Friday saying. My point had been that Sgt. Friday could put all the right words in the right place when he dressed down the crooks, but —  in real life — if I did it, I’d screw it all up.

It was harmless commentary and even I think it was funny. But the guy who took exception to that blog certainly didn’t think it was funny.

Well, we exchanged a couple of increasingly strident e-mails until I realized there was no winning this argument with this goober because he was simply going to compose another e-mail, a bit more tart than the last, and I would do the same. In other words: an endless spitting contest (I should’ve known my editor would tone that down to “spitting”  contest).

After a while, the blog no longer listed the e-mail address of a commenter. Good move, because it limits after-the-fact hate mail back and forth. I have enough stalkers in my life and, unfortunately, none of them are female groupies.

Some commenters get their kicks by being shockingly offensive

But a noticeable effect of the anonymous status of those commenting is that they quickly became very direct with their comments. Some of them were right on line, but others were cop-haters venting or just those wanting to get a rise from having something so shocking posted for all to see.

The editorial staff at the AJC, when not straightening out my incoherent babbling, monitors the content of the comment section. Many of the comments do not make it in to the blog. The editors may remove and then ban those who cross the line with comments that are plain ridiculous. Some that do included the guy who said he drinks a six-pack of beer every time a police officer is shot. That means two things to me:

  1. He probably has a six-pack every time a monumental occasion comes about, such as the sun setting or his probation officer coming by the trailer because he’s two weeks late checking in.
  2. Quite simply, this clown’s life is a mess. His personal life is most likely a train wreck, and I’m willing to bet he wasn’t blessed anatomically.

What I have learned here was to have tough skin. Cheap shots come every time I put something out there. I can comment on the sky being blue and someone will have an issue with it. It is an expression without accountability.  I used to get so mad at some of the crap people would post, but then I realized that it’s just venting. It’s just a random comment out there that makes someone feel better, no matter how tacky it reads.

Crossing the line at the expense of a slain officer’s family

As part of a blog late last week, I didn’t go into the details surrounding the murder of Chattahoochee Hills Lt. Mike Vogt, but merely posted part of a traffic advisory that I put out for the residents of that area. It goes out on my weekly e-mail to a number of neighborhood groups, businesses, etc., in Sandy Springs.

It was when I read the comments referring to Lt. Vogt and, particularly, his daughter’s response that prompted a bunch of feelings, some of them still pretty raw.

You see, I have been in law enforcement for 34 years. In that time, I have come close, on several occasions, to being killed by either gun, knife or car accident. I’m lucky.

I have lost more than a dozen of people I knew, police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. I can remember each and every one.

David Hagins was killed on Dec. 14, 1980, answering an alarm at The Prado shopping center in Sandy Springs, at a jewelry store on a Sunday morning. I had been with Fulton police for less than a year. He was the first officer killed as a Fulton County police officer.

Chris May was killed a decade later answering a shots-fired call in an upscale neighborhood in Sandy Springs. He had just bought a new car. He was a good guy.

It goes on and on.

These men and women didn’t know that would be the day. They were placed into a situation that put them there at the time that someone else’s mindset was on murder to avoid being caught.

There is an automatic disadvantage for the officer, simply because he or she can’t read minds. They don’t know what is going to happen. They have to react to someone else’s action. It’s not fair.

I’m lucky. I had several close calls and, in some, survived it because of dumb luck. It just happens that way.

Folks, there are bad, mean, dangerous people out there. Take it face value that just because you haven’t seen them, they aren’t there. They’re there. We’re all on the roulette wheel and, although the numbers are on your side, they can put you face-to-face with a life-threatening moment. A car jacking or pedestrian robbery suspect can be your “wrong-place-at-the-right time” moment.

The officer is going where you’re coming from.  It is a dangerous place and you can see it on the TV and the online news every single day. It doesn’t matter if some cop wrote you a ticket when you thought he or she should have given a warning. Or if you had a cop with an attitude — something that happens — but there’s a big picture here.

There are crazy people out there with guns, and people who do bad things to people — not just to cops, but to anyone — because they are nothing more than bad people. You and I don’t understand them, but they are out there!

Lt. Mike Vogt

Lt. Mike Vogt

I know the interstate was clustered up with traffic at the time of Lt. Vogt’s funeral procession. We actually took the flanking move to hit the interstate and come in the south side of Sandy Springs to avoid some of the traffic but, after all, we do grand funerals for our people and screwing up traffic was just part of it.

Lt. Mike Vogt was killed. His family and friends had to bury him. Days before, it wasn’t on anyone’s mind. It’s sad. He is one of us and we celebrate his career and his bravery to do the job and we mourn the loss of a police officer.

I am sorry his daughter had to read what she did about someone being inconvenienced on the interstate, but I’m used to the cheap shots. She isn’t.

So, for Lt. Vogt’s family, I would say this: Don’t take it personally. These comments are from people who don’t have a seat at the table.  It’s meaningless.

We know not what we say sometimes.

Perspectives: Scenes from Lt. Vogt’s funeral

Accused cop killer held without bond

Editor’s note: Commenting is now closed on this entry.

Accused cop killer ordered held without bond

35 comments Add your comment

On the sidelines

February 24th, 2010
7:33 pm

I’m not big on authority figures, but there’s just no call for anybody taking verbal pot-shots at the family of a killed officer, or, for that matter, at cops in general at a time like this.

AJ

February 24th, 2010
7:47 pm

Seriously? A posting from some inconsiderate yoo-hoo about a traffic inconvenience when a life has been lost? I can guarantee that the same num-nutz was on his/ her cell phone vetching and swerving erratically through one of our neighborhoods too.

I typically read your posts (a hit without a comment as you say) – had to respond to this one. I’d really like to see the Sandy Springs officers (or any metro officer) begin their approach on the passengers side for routine traffic stops. Quite frankly, I cringe at the thought that one day some inattentive loon is going to take somebody out. Our roads are no less than raceways (check out the speed demons from Cobb crossing the river on Johnson Ferry @ Chattahoochee or Roswell @ Chattahoochee in the morning and into Sandy Springs). Hope some consideration will be given to having officers not stand in the line of traffic.

Big John

February 24th, 2010
7:50 pm

Prayers and heartfelt sympathy to Lt. Vogt’s family. I always say “God is gonna’ sort it out”….Rest in Peace Lt. Vogt.

s

February 24th, 2010
7:52 pm

Lt. Vogt’s funeral should not have been sullied by ingorant people. My condolences.

reader

February 24th, 2010
7:59 pm

Great response, Lt. Rose. Thank you to all police officers, firefighters, etc., who serve our needs and get little appreciation or acknowldegment for the everyday routine. Just know that there are many more who are grateful and mourn the loss of the fallen than those who take such opportunity to taunt. Sadly, it takes a tragedy to bring good work to light.

Tony

February 24th, 2010
8:55 pm

Well said Lt. It’s really sad that there are people like this in society. If they don’t like the way things are done, do something to fix them or leave. “Delta’s ready when you are”.

mustang100

February 24th, 2010
9:18 pm

Just wondering, would it be illegal for the AJC to ‘out’ those slimey toiletboys by listing their email addresses here?

mustang100

February 24th, 2010
9:22 pm

Nah, never mind. I get the feeling that they’re being checked out now anyway. Hope they have some paper out on them, too.

wayne blaxton

February 24th, 2010
11:55 pm

I praise all the men and women in blue defending the deadly streets of this great country while encountering idiots that don’t appreciate life. Yes, the officers are human and have families that worry about them and they deserve our full admiration. I pray our Lord protect those that protect us, and keep them safe so they may return home to their love ones.

Jeff

February 25th, 2010
12:01 am

Steve — Thank you for what you and millions of other law enforcement officers around the nation do every day to keep us safe. Police, sheriff’s deputies, national guard officers, military police, college security officers… all of you do a tremendous job and sacrifice a lot to stand up to lawbreakers and keep our society free, safe and secure. I am sorry that some random, piece of crap lunatics like to make inappropriate comments and do things like make low-class comments on blogs and stories such as the ones about Officer Vogt.

I know I speak for many when I say don’t let the rediculous 10 percent discourage you and your fellow policemen from taking pride in your job… the other 90 percent of us in America VERY MUCH appreciate what you do.

My condolences go out to the Vogt family, and thank you to you and other officers for doing what he did: risk your life to serve and protect us.

Jeff in Roswell

February 25th, 2010
5:54 am

I did read the initial comments when the blog was posted. It was a mess. I tend to argue with the loons but realized that there was no point with that group. Steve, sane people realize what is going on, you needn’t worry about that.

Southern Georgian

February 25th, 2010
6:13 am

RIP Lt. Vogt. Thanks to all public safety officers for what you do!!

Winfield J. Abbe

February 25th, 2010
6:26 am

Officer Rose, you make a good and intelligent statement. The responsibility for these mostly meaningless anonymous comments in blogs everywhere rests with the owner of the blog. All they have to do is simply require the posters sign with their true name, address and telephone number just as would be required for any letter to the editor. The reason this does not happen most of the time is these blogs are being used for selfish reasons; namely, to increase the sensational aspect of the newspaper and therefore increase readers for ultimately more advertising money.
It is well documented that people behave differently and abnormally when they are not identified. You see this every day. This is why criminals wear masks, operate at night and the KKK wore hoods covering their heads, so they couldn’t be identified. It is a form of cowardice.
Over 30 years ago a film was made called “The New Centurions” with George C. Scott. It was a great drama about how police officers are killed senselessly every day. Nothing has changed.
However, the other day some of our esteemed lawmakers with not enough to do, submitted a bill to solve a problem the doesn’t exist; namely, to provide even worse sentences for those illegally threatening judges and court personnel and lawyers. There are already plenty of laws for this. Are not most people already intimidated by the enormous power of most judges anyway? Why they can place even a juror in jail for questioning them about anything. And to add insult a judge was writing the proposed new law. What happened to separation of powers? I thought the legislators were the ones who were supposed to write the laws if any are written, not the parties to those laws.
If anything perhaps citizens need more protection from judges and district attorneys and even some police officers who often willfully disrespect a simple contract as with a landlord tenant contract.
Winfield J. Abbe
150 Raintree Ct.
Athens, GA 30607
wjabbe@aol.com

Patriot

February 25th, 2010
6:56 am

Mr. Rose,

Could you please write a blog concerning the fine officers that refused to kowtow to the Cobb Judge and US Senator?

I am sure your readers would appreciate the input.

John Holmes

February 25th, 2010
7:14 am

saying a man is “anatomically challenged” isn’t a cheap shot?

It is funny though……

Arizona Ann

February 25th, 2010
7:55 am

Thanks to all of you who have the courage to run toward trouble not away from it. We all should celebrate the life of the fallen with huge parades and stand and salute. Our times seem full of people who are filled with anger at all the wrong things. Thanks to you and your fellow officers for your help when we run into the bad and the crazy.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

February 25th, 2010
8:36 am

‘Tis a Sad Commentary that such a column as this even had to be written.

meinpvb

February 25th, 2010
8:40 am

Thank you for addressing those heartless comments. At the end of the day, this was a man with a family, not just a police officer. I hope the Vogt family reads your column today and realizes that most people do feel for them and we hope their father/son/husband/friend/co-worker will rest in peace. God bless our men in blue!

Patrick

February 25th, 2010
9:27 am

Well said on all points. No one who’s recently lost a family member deserves to have cheap shots taken at them due to having inconvenienced one single whackajoo on the road for a few minutes. Everyone can afford to wait a few minutes for a funeral procession to go by, and I sure hope most people can afford to pay respects, even if you never knew the person.

My heart goes out to the family of Lt. Vogt, and for those people who took cheap shots the other day, remember this: cheap shots have a tendency to ricochet. Hard.

As for what AJ said: I agree. I wish police officers would approach a vehicle they’ve pulled over on a busy highway or interstate on the passenger’s side. I have seen many a video clip on those compilation shows (often hosted by Sheriff John Bennell, retired), where an officer approaches a vehicle he just pulled over for some minor violation, like expired tags, tail light out, or speeding, and they get clipped or worse by some jack*** who doesn’t slow down in time. I know we have the Slow Down or Move Over law, but in some cases neither option is available, especially if you don’t see the flashing lights until you’re almost up on them, and you don’t have enough distance to slow down in order to pass at a safe speed, or you can’t merge over into the left lane, due to traffic being too heavy. I remember seeing one video where a police officer had pulled a woman over for some minor violation, and they were standing between the two vehicles. He then tells her to stand with him over on the grass off to the right. At that moment another vehicle comes barreling down, and slams right into both of their vehicles, I think due to either rubbernecking, or else the roads were slick from the rain.

I remember one time when my car ran out of gas and I ended up pulling over in front of the weigh station between the Lithia Springs/Lee Road and Thorton Road/Austell exits on I-20, and an officer had pulled over a few minutes after I did, to see what the problem was. He had come around to the passenger’s side, opened the door, and had me come out from that side as well. I wish more officers did that, instead of approaching on the driver’s side.

That’s one reason why if I’m ever being pulled over, I try to wait until I’m able to get to a safe place for both of us, like in a parking lot of a grocery store, so that the risk of either of us getting hit is minimal.

HT

February 25th, 2010
9:43 am

I don’t normally comment, but feel compelled to do so today. I was shocked by the comments on your blog the other day–I don’t know what possesses people to act like that. My condolences to Lt Vogt’s family, and my thanks to the officer who put their lives on the line every day.

DMac

February 25th, 2010
9:49 am

Retired peace officer here. Thanks for writing the column. Sorry you had to.

cricket

February 25th, 2010
11:51 am

Condolences to the officer’s family. You guys have a very tough job that I know I couldn’t do without losing my mind.
World is full of idiots and unfortunately internet has given them a podium, nothing we can do about it.

Look before I leap

February 25th, 2010
11:51 am

To Lt. Vogt’s family, my condolences on your loss. Sorry if you had occasion to witness the callow remarks of an ignorant few. Ignore the loonies – they have the human value of something that is scraped off the sole of your shoe after walking through the dog park at Piedmont Prk.
I think much of the tripe that these “shock you” morons post is a result of the ‘me’ generation and entitlement thinking. I also think that human compassion is an increasingly rare commodity and I only see that getting worse as technology allows us to disengage more and more from actual face to face interaction. Some time down the road, we will be like the Borg – connected yet devoid of all humanity and emotion. Glad I won’t be around to witness that.

cricket

February 25th, 2010
11:59 am

saying a man is “anatomically challenged” isn’t a cheap shot?

Considering what the loons were posting, this one cheap shot shows tremendous amount of self-control.

Hide Behind The Blogs

February 25th, 2010
2:40 pm

How easy is it to hide behind the blogs and write garbage for people to see. Thankfully AJC.COM will clean it up, but generally some junk slips through for a few minutes.

My parents passed away a few years ago. The local sheriff and the funeral homes could not agree on escort services, and we did not have any. The trip from the church to the grave site was a challenge, even though we were just behind the hearse.

I love the way the police officers honor their own, and do not mind waiting a few minutes for the procession to pass.

JoeV

February 25th, 2010
6:27 pm

Lt. Rose, you are an asset to the community and to the ajc. Please continue your blog with pride knowing you are trying to bridge a wide gap between law enforcement and civilians. Thanks for all you do.

Sonya C.

February 25th, 2010
8:53 pm

The majority of these comments are exactly what I expected to hear – that the great majority of the community appreciates the job that my husband (APD) does. This is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Who runs towards danger when everyone else run away from it? The police. The men and women in blue.

These comrades are the jewels of our society. As I had once heard, a good cop can tell you the elements of a hundred crimes, recite Miranda warnings in it’s sleep, detain, investigate, search, and arrest a gang member on the street in less time than it takes five learned judges to debate the legality of the stop…. and still it keeps a sense of humor. He possesses phenomenal control. He can deal with crime scenes painted in hell, coax a confession from a child abuser, comfort a murder victim’s family, and then read in the daily paper how law enforcement isn’t sensitive to the rights of criminal suspects. The good cop does all he/she does, risking their lives everyday, not some days, everyday, for many people who could care less.

I personally thank each and every one of you who make my husband’s job easier – those of you who still believe in the concept of a lawful society. It is your support and prayers that get him home every night. The highlight of my day, each day, is seeing those headlights slowly pull up the driveway. My heart goes out to the families who will never see that again.

Sandy Springs

February 25th, 2010
10:33 pm

Hey Lt. I have a question that has bugged me for many years. How do you respond to a civilian who says
“well if he did’nt want to get killed he should not have been a policeman?” Next time I see you at the station I will share my response which gratefully was spoken and not physical. My husband and I have lost 12 friends and co-workers over our 30 years and nearly every time someone blurts this out. What you guys did for Lt. Vogyt was beautiful and professional and I know the family will always be grateful for the escort, the attendance, the honor guards and sincere emotions felt by all of us in our family of the shield.

This article was perfect. Thank you.

jackie

February 25th, 2010
10:45 pm

YOU SHOULD DO LIKE CRAIGS LIST AND ALLOW READERS TO “FLAG” IDIOTS WHO DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO SAY BUT USE THE FORUM TO SPEW VENOM.

RebeccaJ

February 26th, 2010
10:39 am

Wow, I’m sorry the Lt.’s daughter had to read those comments, too. I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog, but allowing people to comment anonymously just makes the cowards feel invincible.

Lt. Mike

February 26th, 2010
12:16 pm

Steve, I’ve been in law enforcement, as you have been, for over 30 years. We’ve served a little tme together @ Chamblee. I have also buried too many of my friends in this job. For the person who was hindered by the funeral procession, my Christian religion prohibits me from telling you what you ought to be told. You should be ashamed of yourself…….jerk. Sorry. It slipped out.

Rod

February 26th, 2010
2:47 pm

Steve – please don’t make trailer park jokes. My wife grew up in one and is a fine, upstanding lady.

I’ve read a bunch of the hate-filled comments on here. Let’s get real, it’s only a handful of people continually doing it. Just block them and move on. I’ve often wondered why they weren’t blocked. Just do it.

Equalizer

February 26th, 2010
3:20 pm

It’s a shame this column even had to be written. I guess some people think they are tough, smart and intelligent when they are anonymous.

But another question comes to mind… what sort of upbringing must someone have had if they don’t even have the decency/sympathy/manners to pull over for a funeral procession? Amazing.

Get It Right

February 26th, 2010
3:36 pm

Blessings and Honor to all the Police out there. I am thankful that you are out there.

Miguel

February 26th, 2010
3:42 pm

There are bad people out there who give the good ones a bad rap. This holds true inside and outside out the police department. Quite a few folks have had bad experiences with police officers (falsifying reports and outright lying), however rejoicing when one of them gets killed in the line of duty is unnacceptable.