• Lt. Tim McMillan (Ret.)

The Bonds of Friendship That Cling to Us All.

My entire life, I’ve always realized that for reasons I can only attribute to being my own personal blessing from God, I have a distinct ability to be able to know people. To Know a person past who they try to outwardly portray themselves to be. Rather I can reach inside of the minds of strangers and see who someone really is inside. It was a trait I had used to achieve a criminal admission rate of 90% of everyone I interviewed when I was a criminal investigator.  I never once lied, threatened, deceived or pressured anyone I ever interviewed. No one single person. Rather, I could sit across from murders, or men who had beaten infants to the point of brain damage, and yet still see a glimmer of light within them that cried out for release. I didn’t force confessions to punish anyone. Instead, I could see that sometimes faint glimmer of light specific in each person, and I could see what evil they had experienced that tried to suppress that light, and I offered them absolution through the admission of truth therefore allowing their conscious to become again alive. Sadly, I’m sure a lot of those people would give back into the darkness once they were housed in prisons surrounded by a climate of entrapment and despair. I was a Detective at my agency, investigating anything from financial crimes to homicides by the time I was twenty-three years old. Honestly, it was during my time as an investigator when I first started to have my eyes opened to the fact that even the people I was investigating or arresting were human beings. I know that sounds like a strange thing to say. However, in order to function in law enforcement, we have to disassociate ourselves from the reality of the things we see. Our profession causes us to see the absolute worst that humanity can do to each other. When you hold a deceased infant in your arms, or see someone who has tragically had their life ended in a car accident, if you let the reality of what you are experiencing sink in too much it will significantly affect you psychologically. However, I have always considered myself fortunate of the fact that early in my career as a Detective that I was able to make a dramatic realization about life and humanity. I had finished testifying in Superior Court on a case. The case involved a defendant who had shot at several individuals in a housing complex. Prior to this day in court, I spoke with the accused and indeed he followed the same path as 90% of others who had sat across a table from me. As I made my way off the witness stand and past the prosecution and defense tables, the defendant looked at me, with a look of genuine hurt and anguish, and said to me “I thought you were my friend.” His words were like a dagger that thrust itself into my soul. It was at that moment that I realized it wasn’t that being a cop provided me with a clearer picture of life. Rather, it merely provided me with a different view. The emotion beyond that young man’s word told a story far greater than any I could have read in a training manual. That young man, indeed too was just like me and it was only the difference of our experience and views that had created the current dissimilarity between us. That young man’s words have resonated in my mind ever since that fateful day. What must his experiences and view had been like all his life, that had made our initial conversation that meaningful to him? When he said he thought I was his friend, what he really meant was that I was the first person who had given him hope by letting him see the glimmer of light that was within him. I had told him that I believed he wasn’t a bad guy and that I knew he didn’t want to let what he had done take a stronghold on his mind and soul by not recognizing it was wrong. It made me sad that day, as it still does now. Because in the end, I never said anything to him I didn’t mean and ultimately I did truly believe in him. I did end up seeing this young man again, although this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Several years later, he had been granted parole and was able to get out of prison. Unfortunately, the day I saw this young man again, he was already in handcuffs being placed in the backseat of a parole enforcement officer’s car. He had got paroled the previous day, and had failed to report within 24 hours to his new parole officer. A GPS tracker ankle monitor had notified parole to the location of where they arrested him. In light of the ankle monitor, it isn’t like parole had to look all that hard for him. The day they arrested this young man, he was outside waiting to greet his son as he got off the school bus for the very first time. In the end, I wasn’t this young man’s friend. Although, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about him as a human being just the same as if he was. Truth be told, I really wish I had been his friend. However, I wish I had been his friend long before either of us had found ourselves already at the point in life of when we first met. 

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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