PRYOR, OK — “I was born a shotgun in my hands, behind the gun I’ll make my final stand...”
“I was raised in law enforcement, my mom is in the field,” said Chouteau Police Officer Thomas Fisher, as the radio played “Bad Company,” a song Fisher said has been adapted as a law enforcement anthem.
“I decided to get into law enforcement when I was working dispatch in Locust Grove. Then I started doing ride-alongs and got hooked. My mom did her best to keep me out of it, to protect me. She was all I had growing up” said Fisher. “The job has changed my life.”
Now, Fisher hits the streets every night with a passion to protect the Chouteau community.
“I work with the mindset that your next stop could be your biggest,” said Fisher, adding that while enforcing traffic laws is important, his real passion is getting drug traffickers and users off the streets of Chouteau. “Sure there are officers that use their badge for the wrong things. I personally just try to make my mom proud.”
Fisher said he tells his mom all about the job, as she understands more than most.
“Everyone understands what it’s like to be a civilian. Few know what it’s like to be on the other side of the badge,” said Fisher.
Tonight Fisher is working the overnight shift, his senses on high alert.
“A lot of people think this is just Chouteau, a small town, and that we’re taking it too serious,” said Fisher, never taking his eyes off the passing vehicles. “But for the most part, people have no idea what all we do on a daily basis.”
When it comes to trafficking, Fisher said while watching the flow of cars on Highway 69, money is typically going south while dope is going north.
Continuing his patrol, Fisher said the job is a rewarding one that is all about making a difference.
“I recently did a traffic stop on a young man who said he’d been stopped a few times lately. I spent a good 20 minutes talking to the guy. He was amazed at how respectful I was, so I said to him you’re a person aren’t you?,” said Fisher. “Then he apologized for the attitude he had when I first stopped him. He was the kind of guy that sticks out in a crowd, maybe gets judged or made fun of. I think he mostly just needed someone to talk to him. He made a difference in my day, so I hope I made a difference to him too.”
Fisher said as an officer, he doesn’t typically get to see the positive.
“We see people at their absolute worst. For some people, we are their rock bottom,” said Fisher, whose attention to his surroundings is unwavering, seeing everything that passes by while keeping an ear to the scanner, looking out for his fellow officers. “It makes it hard to trust people.”
“Bad, bad company until the day I die...” Fisher mumbles under his breath, fingers drumming on the steering wheel.
“Hopefully, this is a lifetime career for me, it’s the only job I want,” said Fisher, adding that safety is crucial to have life in law.
“I owe it to my wife, Julia, and my family to be vigilant. I’m no help to anyone if I’m dead,” said Fisher. “I see officers get in a routine with traffic stops especially, they don’t even realize they’re letting their guard down.”
A few hours into his patrol Fisher makes a traffic stop on a truck with faulty tail lights. The vehicle’s windows were dark, giving Fisher no idea what he was walking into. Any number of things could have gone wrong, but that’s something Fisher keeps in mind.
“We don’t like to admit it, but yeah, we’re afraid sometimes,” said Fisher, returning to his patrol car without incident. “But if you’re not afraid, at least a little, then you’ve gotten complacent and it might be time to move on.”
For all the passion he has for the job, Fisher said there are still some drawbacks.
“The worst part of the job is death notices. Our job is to serve and protect, but sometimes we have to be the one to notify the next of kin that their loved one is dead,” said Fisher. “Like I said, people have no idea what all we do.”
As an officer, Fisher said, he has to combine a passion to help with a thick skin.
“People really hate us. We have targets on our back,” said Fisher. “And sure there are officers that don’t use their badge for good, but for the most part we’re devoted to our jobs. The bottom line is, we’re not out to inconvenience you or ruin your day, we’re putting our lives on the line to protect you.”