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A book containing stories from the village of first responders with cops, firefighters, dispatchers, forensics, and victim advocates

In recent years, law enforcement has become entangled in controversial news stories and many people have shifted towards negative views of police officers. However, Donna Brown, the book's author and a retired police officer of 26 years, has written Behind and Beyond the Badge to provide insight into the altruistic and brave lives of police officers and the community of first responders. Her book contains stories about the often-overlooked side of law enforcement – of the community-serving and family-oriented people who risk their lives each day to protect the public.

Behind and Beyond the Badge helps drive negative conversations towards a positive outlook on law enforcement. In addition, the book prompts readers to recognize the team-effort behind each community, and the unconventional family these officers become to one another. The book tells fascinating stories of the law enforcement family and provides a fresh outlook compared to other police stories. This book aims to inspire, yielding a positive change to the perception of law enforcement. So, order your copy and meet some of these amazing people!

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I have asked those in this book to talk about what they considered to be a career-defining moment. For some, doing this has been difficult or deeply personal. For me, it was both. I actually have two incidents, one at the beginning of my career and one at the very end. I’ll tell you about the second one a little later.

My first career-defining moment was when I was on patrol while working the midnight shift.

Early in the evening, I received a call of a vehicle-versus-pedestrian traffic accident, a hit and run. When I arrived, I found the pedestrian lying in the roadway next to the curb. Several bystanders stood on the sidewalk, and no one was helping him.

As I knelt down next to him, I could see that he was badly injured. What appeared to be brain matter was seeping from his ears, but he was still alive.

The bystanders immediately began yelling at me to help this man.

I went to my patrol car and retrieved a blanket and gently covered him. The bystanders continued to yell at me, questioning why I wasn’t doing anything to help him.

While waiting for the ambulance and other officers to arrive, I held his hand and tried to comfort him. He died before the ambulance could get there.

I became numb, and my self-preservation wall went up. And so began a career of bottled-up emotions.

When they arrived at the hospital, she recalled seeing a sea of police cars lined up and what looked like a five-mile stretch of Oakland police officers standing on both sides of the cars.

As they pulled up in front of the emergency room entrance, she saw a friend of Ervin’s. He had also been the best man at their wedding. He stood with his head bent down. He then walked over to the car, opened the door, and grabbed her hand to help her out. Nicole asked him what had happened.

All he could say was, “He didn’t make it. He died.”

Her son was still in the backseat of the patrol car, trying to get out. “I could instantly see the color drain from this young man’s face.

“On the ride to the hospital, I kept thinking that he was just injured, but when we arrived, seeing all of those officers, I knew it was serious.

“We walked into the hospital, and there were doctors and nurses and people just running around everywhere. Five of our Oakland officers and five families were in the emergency room.

One of the officers was wounded, but the other four laid under white sheets. My officer, my husband, my in-law’s son, my stepchildren’s father, my children’s stepfather, a brother, an uncle, an Oakland Police Department sergeant laid under a white sheet. He was everything to us.

Nicole said they told her she didn’t want to see him. The suspect had shot Ervin in the face.

“I just stood there and stared at the sheet that covered my husband; I never pulled it back. He was a handsome, beautiful man, and that’s what I was going to remember, not the traumatic memory of what had happened to him, to his body, to his life.”

As with everyone in this book, I asked Mike if there was a career-defining moment for him.

He said, “I recall a specific incident early in my career. While on patrol, I drove into what was considered a highcrime, high-drug area of town. I saw a large man holding down a much smaller person on the ground. My immediate thought was that this smaller person was a child.

“Other citizens stood nearby and watched as this man, at least six-foot-five and three hundred pounds, attempted to repeatedly stab this child with a very large butcher knife. “I slammed on my brakes, notified dispatch of where I was, what I observed, and I requested a backup officer. “I got out of my marked patrol car, drew my firearm, and ordered the large man to stop. He didn’t: he merely looked back at me and dismissed my presence and my command.

“The emotions that flowed were so varied: surprise, outrage, a little panic, and fear, yes fear, the first fear I had felt in my career but not the last because we do feel fear.

“Contrary to my training and prior to the availability of tools such as Tasers, I stepped forward and kicked the man very solidly in the butt and stepped away. As he turned toward me, I again ordered him to stop, lie down on the ground, and not move. He complied.

“When my backup arrived, the man was arrested. What I soon discovered was that the very large man was in fact a sixteen-year-old juvenile, and the smaller ‘child’ was an eighteen-year-old young man. Things are certainly not always what they appear to be.

“When I went to holster my weapon, I had to uncock the hammer to snap the retention strap. I had started to fire my weapon and stopped. I didn’t realize how close I had come to shooting this large ‘man.’”

“Grieving was a big part of my retirement. It’s not just a job you leave, it’s the people. Law enforcement officers become your siblings. They have seen you win and lose. They have spent more time with you than your own family. They know your idiosyncrasies, and they have a shared history with you.

“I grieved the loss of my law enforcement family for months. Transition from a career in law enforcement to civilian life was difficult. Civilians have no idea who you are or what you have endured. They just see you as that person who can’t sit with your back to the door; the person who scrutinizes the words and actions of others; the person who drives like you’re running lights and siren; and the person who still avoids donuts due to the negative stereotype.

“I can tell you, it is a career that will change you. You will live with the double-edged sword of wishing you could unsee and unhear some of your experiences, while at the same time being grateful that you know what is out there, and you know how to protect yourself.

“My advice to young new officers is to protect your physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and mental health. Mostly, I would say that it has been my great honor to walk among heroes.”

What they say about
Behind and Beyond the Badge

  • Brown offers a riveting probe into the inner trials and tribulations that many members of the law enforcement community endure during the course of their public service careers. The author applies her honed investigative skills to put the human dimension on full display. She artfully draws back the curtains that shroud the inner sanctuary of the police world and then escorts the reader into that inner circle. In one sense, this book is the law enforcement version of Dante’s Inferno. Some travelers emerge relatively unscathed; others grapple mightily with their inner turmoil. Eventually, they forge ahead and gain passage to an entirely new path in their journey through life DR. BILL DOERNER
    Professor (Retired) College of Criminology & Criminal Justice
    Florida State University Author of Victimology and Introduction to Law Enforcement: An Insider’s View

  • BEHIND AND BEYOND THE BADGE is a marvelous collection of stories coming straight from the law enforcement and first-responder communities. The stories provide details and highlights of hard-earned careers to include tragic officer deaths, violent crimes, and the bitter worst of humanity. But through it all, the duty of service persevered, and they survived to make it to the next stage in life, what new author Donna Brown calls ‘Phase 2.’ Brown, a retired police officer with an incredible resume in her own right, believes that making it to retirement to enjoy life in the next phase is what each and every law enforcement officer should strive for. She sums it up with a great quote, You spent many years giving OF yourself; it is time to give TO yourself. For the past, present, and future law enforcement officers and first responders, this is a must read. WILLIAM MARK
    Award-winning author of Crossing the Blue Line and From Behind the Blue Line

  • Donna thank you! Thank you for sharing your story and the stories of many others who risked their lives in the service of saving lives and ensuring a community of safety and well-being. Your book is heartfelt; it’s filled with interesting and uplifting stories of real people who made a significant difference and continue to do so in their ‘PHASE 2’ life. DR. CHERYL A. RAINEY
    Psychotherapist and Leadership Management Consultant
    Former First Responder, State of Florida Author of How to Hire and Keep a Winning Team, To the Top: How Extraordinary Leaders Lead in the Zone, and A Recipe for Silicon Valley Success?

  • As a retired law enforcement officer it made me proud to read this book. I know how special the folks were that I worked with for so many years, but to read about the people contained within these pages is just inspirational. This book is for everyone, First Responder or not. It is a fast read with a huge 'wow' factor at the end of each story. Sgt. Trish England
    Florida Highway Patrol, Retired

  • Behind and Beyond the Badge is a fast and most interesting read, especially for someone not directly in the field of law enforcement, but someone who works with college students of various ages and backgrounds who aspire to become sworn law enforcement officers. It really struck home with me. Donna Brown presents men and women who have committed themselves to careers "in the trenches" as first responders and clearly shows some of the good, the bad and the ugly of the profession and the important work they do every day. It is an important book and I hope to have each of my seniors read it as they graduate and embark upon their careers in law enforcement. "Behind and Beyond the Badge" has a strong message for men and women who aspire to be first responders and it should be required reading in every Criminal Justice program.David Persky, Ph.D., J.D.
    Professor of Criminal Justice
    Saint Leo University

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