THE EARLY INTERVENTION ANALYST
By Shelley Cornfield
By Shelley Cornfield
When I’ve met people and have had to explain what I do, I can do two things. I can say I am the Early Intervention Analyst, and watch them look at me with a blank stare on their face, or I can say I help take care of cops. I prefer to say the latter, because that is what I feel I do.
I am very dedicated to my job and feel very passionate about what I do. It’s easy to feel this way because of what I read, see, and hear about on a daily basis. While rewarding, policing can be very difficult.
After four years and countless reports, my brain is filled with incidents of sadness, pain, and sorrow. I read or hear about situations that no one should have to go through, but there are people that have to each and every day. I’m not talking about the people involved. I’m talking about the men and women who have chosen law enforcement as their career choice. Men and women who are put in some of the most difficult situations and are expected to exude no emotion or feelings.
One of the most horrific incidents that has happened since I started is the shooting of three guards and serious injury of another, by their own co-worker. I, like many others, will never forget that day.
I woke up and turned on the news to hear about the over night shooting. I watched in horror as they showed the scene surrounded by police tape. I struggled to look and see if there was anyone I knew at the scene. The footage was dark and I was unsure.
I then picked up my phone and sent a message to my Staff Sergeant at the time. I asked him if he had heard about the shootings at Hub Mall. He had and told me my old Sergeant was on duty at the time and had attended it. I froze as I looked down at the message. I tried to catch my breath, but felt like a 10 ton weight was on my chest.
My Sergeant and I had become good friends when we worked together and we continued to be, even after he was promoted. I found his name in my contact list and sent him a BBM. It said three words…Are you okay? I waited and stared at the phone, waiting for the ‘D’ for delivered to change to an ‘R’ for read. I didn’t want to call because I knew he was either at the scene or home asleep. Finally, I saw he was writing a message. Yes, he was okay. It was a difficult night.
At that time I didn’t really know much about what happened. The media were still scrambling to get the details and the investigation was still focused on trying to find the fleeing alleged gun man. Regardless of what I was to find out, I knew this was going to be a very long journey for my Sergeant and the other officers involved; a journey that not many would think about or even understand.
For most people, the majority of their thoughts would fall on the families of the three dead and one critically injured Security Guards. Rightfully so, as this was a horrific event for those who knew and know the guards. For some, like me, it is spent thinking about the EPS officers who took the call that night.
You see, for me when I hear about a fatal car accident, a suicide, a gruesome murder or a horrific shooting like that at Hub Mall, I think about the police officers – each and every one of them. There is not a day that goes by since I took this job that I haven’t thought of our officers. I worry, whether warranted or not, for their safety and their health.
I realize they are trained to take control of a situation, to go in, remain calm and do what they have to do. No time for emotion or feelings…there is a job to be done, people to be protected, the deceased to be taken care of in a humane manner.
The more I learned about Hub Mall, the heavier my heart became. I wanted so badly to give the officers kind supportive words, a hug, a promise that everything would be okay. I wanted to erase their memories of what they had seen, what they have had to deal with. I wanted to take them back to the time before the shooting, but I knew that was impossible.
I am so proud of our officers, but particularly these officers. I am in awe of them and of what they did. I want to tell every one of them how incredible they are. I cannot imagine how difficult it was going into that mall without full knowledge of the situation, yet they still did. We are taught from the time we can remember to run from danger. These officers ran right into it. They selflessly went in to help protect and save lives and they did. I am a firm believer that if they chose to wait, we would be talking about four deceased Security Guards. Their action saved an innocent man’s life.
As the story fades away until the trial, my thoughts are still with these officers. It will continue to be for a very long time. I will never forget their bravery, nor should anyone. I have not met many of them, but they are in my heart and on my mind. I want them to be safe. I want them to be strong, but most of all I want them to be well.
I will forever be grateful to those who choose this profession. There are many types of heroes in this world, but to me one of the top is police officers. I hope they realize this each and every time they put on their uniform.
Shelley Cornfield is an Early Intervention Analyst working with the Edmonton Police Services. She may be reached by email to Shelly.Cornfield@edmontonpolice.ca.