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Letter To The Editor: So now we are gangsters???

The profession I love, sacrificed for, and have been an active part of for over 30 years has recently been referred to as klansmen, skinheads, and now gangsters by people who “serve”… often serve themselves… in political office. I started my law enforcement career during the first 3 ½ years of my 10 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, I served as a Military Policeman and Military Police Investigator before spending the remaining 6 ½ years with the 1st Ranger Battalion and as a Scout/Sniper, Pre-Ranger instructor, and Scout/Sniper instructor. After leaving the military, I worked as a Correctional Officer for a year and a half as the Madison Work Camp and then Madison Correctional Institution were first being constructed in Madison County. I served with the Madison Police Department for a year before I started my 26 year career with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in 1990. I spent my first three years with the sheriff’s office as a road deputy and K-9 deputy. During that time, I would often be the only deputy covering our 754 square mile county after midnight. The next 23 years I spent as a narcotics investigator, criminal investigator, and as chief investigator. I started the Sheriff’s Office’s first S.W.A.T. team in 2006. I have focused my law enforcement career on hunting down and… most often… peacefully taking into custody my county’s most violent armed predators. I have been an Oathkeeper for my 10 years in the U.S. Army and 30 years in law enforcement. Each time I reenlisted and after each sheriff’s election I have sworn to uphold the laws of my God and the Constitutional Laws of my land. This oath included defending my country and county against ALL enemies… foreign and domestic. As our country becomes more and more liberalized and polytheistic, the biggest enemy appears to have emerged from within. Socialism appears to have become more and more embraced by those who have never had to sacrifice for the mental, physical, and spiritual freedoms that they take for granted. A common step in this process is demonizing local law enforcement.  The breakdown of our society is very evident to those of us who form the thin blue and green line to stand in the gap against the evil that slithers amongst us.

Satan would love to make the deterioration of our society a racial thing. It can often manifest itself that way, but in reality it isn’t the problem. It is a symptom of the problem. I have occasionally been labelled a racist, since I refuse to bow down to the liberal notion of white guilt. I do not condone racism in any form. Divide and conquer is one of Satan’s favorite tactics, regardless of the technique. It is my personal opinion… based on my military and law enforcement service… that the division of our country is the result of our nation’s rebellion against God and the breakdown of the American family. Our nation’s public schools and college campuses often become liberal indoctrination camps to further this agenda. I applaud the many fine school and college employees who swim against the flow of this evil agenda to remove God, remove or rewrite our nation’s history, to glamorize same sex marriage, and generally promote socialist values. Those of us in law enforcement deal with the result of this break down of our society. One of the obvious results has been absentee fathers. There is an epidemic of people in our society who are irresponsibly breeding with people they don’t even like, let alone love. As a result, boys and girls grow up with a lot of pent up anger and rage when they don’t know who their father is, their father is in prison, their father is dead, or their father simply doesn’t care about them. These kids often become the collateral damage. Some develop a “failure to launch,” some gravitate towards gangs and criminal activity, many resort to alcohol and substance abuse, some struggle with suicidal tendencies, and most deal with anger and rage. As Deuteronomy 30:19 states, these poor choices and cycles can often become generational curses until someone is willing to break them.

Those of us in law enforcement deal with the collateral damage and see the results first hand. Absentee parents often expect the school system to raise their children. They allow schools to instill their values instead of teaching them themselves. Grandmothers are often raising grandchildren since both parents are absent due to substance abuse, incarceration, etc. When this fails, employers often get stuck with the job of raising these wounded adults. Many abuse the social security and welfare systems and they supplement these with drug sales, burglaries, identity theft, fraud, and armed robberies. The end result is often law enforcement intervention due to domestic violence, suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal activity.  Gangsters??? Yes, I have met a few. During my first year in civilian law enforcement, I was the only officer patrolling Madison when I fought and arrested a law enforcement officer from a neighboring county. This rogue cop was D.U.I. and there was information that he had been selling drugs in my community. I have also arrested correctional officers for felonious criminal activity. Those of us who take pride in our badge and uniform are usually the most anxious to “police” our own. Very rarely are the real “gangsters” sworn law enforcement officers, but on rare occasions some get into the profession with that intent… just as many gravitate to political office to pursue their evil agendas. The quicker we weed them out the better.

On countless occasions I have been the thin blue or green line as I have stood in the gap against the resulting anarchy and chaos while everyone else around me was sound asleep. I have cut down people who have hung themselves, pulled bloated and decomposed bodies out of lakes and rivers, I have taken murdered babies to the morgue and witnessed their autopsies and countless other autopsies. For many years I was contracted by the county to wake up throughout the night, pick up mangled bodies out of vehicle crashes, decomposed bodies from homicide scenes, and unattended deaths throughout our county. I then transported them to the morgue in Jacksonville, attended their autopsies, and returned them for less than minimum wage. I have taken a family of five… two adults and three very young children who perished in a Merchant Quarters house fire… to the morgue in Jacksonville where I attended their autopsies. I have had the arms, legs, and head of a decomposed body break off in my hands as I placed body parts in a body bag… and then went to Ken’s B.B.Q. to eat lunch before the morgue trip… while others cringed from the decomp odor on my clothing. I have tracked down child molesters and located abducted children. I have investigated kidnappings, bank robberies, home invasion robberies, countless stabbings, shootings, and homicides. I have watched a close friend burn in his patrol vehicle on the interstate… without being able to tell it was a patrol vehicle. After the flames were extinguished, I removed his charred, unrecognizable remains, his melted handgun, and nametag from the violently twisted carnage. This friend spent many long nights riding with me before embarking on his law enforcement career. His career ended in a fireball after a woman crashed into his patrol vehicle in a construction area while she was talking on her cell phone. I have spent countless hours reading and interpreting blood spatter, shoe impressions, fingernail extensions, scattered hair weaves, corneal cloudiness, post mortem lividity, rigor mortis, and body decomposition at crime scenes. I have removed the skin off of the hands of decomposed bodies and placed it over my gloved hand to fingerprint it while breathing toxic fumes in the Beggs Funeral Home cooler… I have felt around inches of bodily fluid on the floor of a car while searching for shell casings as blow flies the size of bald eagles hovered around.  Eventually I had to block it all out and look at it all as art so it doesn’t eat at my soul.

I have been justified in using deadly force over 20 times. I often took extreme personal risks to keep from using deadly force. Not because I was afraid to, but because I value life… unlike many who don’t value their own, let alone mine or yours. Criminals have forced me to use deadly force several times. I have been shot at countless times. On one occasion, by three violent career armed robbers who I located after a South Georgia armed robbery. I chased them first in a patrol vehicle and then through swamps while on foot alone. They shot at me countless times and struck my patrol vehicle twice. I shot twice while running on foot 67 yards away. The result was two hits and three violent predators in prison for 35 years.  When they get done with that, they will be facing many, many more years for other armed robberies I helped other jurisdictions link them to. I was involved in another gunfight in a trailer bathroom where a felon armed with a rifle used a 5 year old as a shield. For those of us who value life, these things impact us for eternity. Many law enforcement officers suffer from multiple layers of P.T.S.D.  I choose to draw closer to my Lord and Savior for understanding and guidance.

I have often made the mistake of sacrificing too much of my relationships for this profession I love. I have caused problems for myself by trying to help people who decided to continue living toxic lives. Nonetheless… Galatians 6:9… ‘And let us not grow weary while doing good.’ I have shared the Gospel message with people I have arrested for First Degree Murder. I have tried to make a difference by doing Bible studies at a local juvenile detention facility for 10 years. I started… and facilitated… week long faith based mini leadership Youth Adventure Camps through my Sheriff’s Office 7 years ago. I have mentioned above some of my experiences in law enforcement. Obviously I do not stand alone. There are many of us professionals who stand vigilant daily against the ugliness and evil of our society. Many of us focus on the beauty around us to keep from getting cynical. So, we get paid too much??? I am quite sure my salary was way below the national average for a teacher before I semi-retired. For now, I am serving the Madison Police Department for free. I average about 80 hours of free time a month as a proactive reservist with my local P.D. because I am very well aware of the active war against law enforcement. Obviously most of us don’t gravitate towards a career in law enforcement for the money, but as Jesus said, “Those who work deserve their pay” (I Timothy 5:18 N.L.T., “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” N.K.J.V.). This should apply to all law enforcement officers, including our county’s school resource officers. Of course if you take the text out of context it becomes a pretext. Jesus was referring to sharing the Gospel message, but for many of us law enforcement IS a ministry. I’m not sure how you can put a price tag on the things we do. Maybe the people we serve should make this decision instead of politicians who often have their own agenda. If these things make me a klansmen, skinhead, or a gangster… fine, but maybe some of these political prostitutes throughout our country should take a look in the mirror. The real gangster is often reflected there, or… in their family tree. Many of them are today’s organized crime. Meanwhile, my Brothers and Sisters in blue and green will continue to stand in the gap against the growing chaos and anarchy.      

Mark 10:45… With His blessing I serve!

Mark W. Joost (Madison County S.O. Ret. CPT., currently V.I.P. armed protection for the Florida House of Representatives and Madison P.D. reserves)

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