“901-T” is the California police code for an officer to respond to an injury traffic accident using flashing lights and siren. This means we are authorized to cautiously run red lights, stop signs, and drive faster than the speed limit. As cars pull out of your way and you pass them in a blur, the noise of the siren raises your blood pressure, and the adrenaline kicks in. The rationale is because you are trained, you will get to the collision before the paramedics as you are already in your car and can provide first aid if needed.
In 1994, I was working for a small municipal police agency in California—nine square miles, 65,000 people and 55 cops. I was not walking with the Lord, although I had been saved when I was 14 and baptized.
When I hit college, I stopped reading my Bible, and went my own way, finding a career in police work. Having recently retired, at 60-years of age, after 35 incredible years in law enforcement, God found me again at the tail end of my career. As I look back over those years, even though I was not obeying or walking with God, he was watching over me. The stories I have.
On the other side of town from the collision, I was taking a burglary report with a reserve officer in training. Because I was a corporal, an experienced officer with over 10 years, I watched over some of the newer cops and my job was to be there when bad things happened.
The burglary victim was a persnickety single man and proceeded to walk us through the house as to what was missing, and how his kingdom had been violated in great detail. In the meantime, the dispatcher was pouring in more information on how a food truck had collided head-on with a family, three children not being seat-belted. Two of them went through the windshield. My officers arrived before the paramedics and you could hear the desperation in their voices to get the paramedics ASAP.
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I was desperate to get to the traffic accident. I heard the panic in the voices of my officers, but because there were enough personnel and paramedics on the scene, I could not justifiably break away from the call I was on. When I got back to the station, my officers were shaken and disturbed. The injuries to the children were horrific, but I was prevented from responding, and could only provide limited comfort to my officers.
That day, I was so very frustrated that I could not be there to provide first aid, comfort the parents, or hug my officers. Later, as I have come to know Jesus, he has shown me how he has so protected me over my career. In all that time, I have one child death, which I did handle as a sergeant (another story), and although I have taken sex crime reports from women and children, I have not once responded to the scene of a mutilated or severely injured child.
When I was working detectives at seven-months pregnant, one day I was suddenly sick, to the point I could not go to work, although the following day I felt fine. A call had come in of a SIDS death, and a six-month-old baby had died in his crib. Had I been at work, I would have been the person who responded to the scene and gone to the autopsy. God was watching over me as he was when he did not let me go to see the children who went through the windshield or to a baby’s death and autopsy when I was pregnant. When I look back, he was protecting me from situations I emotionally could not handle at the time.
God will not give you more than you can handle. He is watching over you.
– Prudence Merriott