Law enforcement has always peaked interest in the media and entertainment industry; and why not? Crime concerns everyone while entertaining us, as well. From over the top Die Hard movies (Willis) to the television reality show Cops, crime shows are watched by millions who want to be entertained, with fictional depictions of what police work encompasses. But sometimes people want to be told a true story, while getting a feel for what police officers actually go through while protecting their community. Television sound bites and newspaper headlines only touch the surface, concerning real life and death dramas which take place in cities and towns all across America.
Over the last 40 years of competing in National and International Karate Championships, along with my career in law enforcement, I've been the subject of many local newspaper stories. These stories have cause many family members and friends to ask me about details, as well as what I was feeling, at the time of some of these intense encounters. Taking knives and guns off of people, even shooting a gun out of an actor's (suspect) hand, caused many to say, "Ciser, you could write a book!"
As a result, this work began as a bunch of stories put together at the behest of my Sensei (Teacher), Brian Frost, and others, who believed in me. After reading newspaper accounts that I sent him over the years, Sensei told me that he sometimes lived vicariously through me. Yet if it weren't for his teachings, along with Sensei Ed Kaloudis over the years, I never could have done many of the things depicted in this book.
As I wrote about one event, it caused me to recall similar events that I experienced over the years. That is why the chapters are written with a different theme in mind, rather than a chronological account. This structure actually worked out well, as the reader can skip around and first read chapters that interest them the most.
As far as the Budo ("Martial Way" or martial Arts of Japan) part of the book, I tend to get philosophical in my lessons, whether overt, or implied. Martial artists, more than most, will particularly enjoy the end of chapter quotes throughout, as most of these encompass Eastern thought. The Japanese kanji, or character used throughout the book for spacing thoughts, means "Do" (the Way), which has a deep philosophical meaning. It is used for instance in Budo, Karate-Do, Judo, Aikido, Kendo and also Bushido, "The Way of the Warrior." There are other examples of "Do," including "Dojo," the place where we learn the way.
My approach to law enforcement was only one "way" to handle various situations (There are many paths to the mountain...). I always believe that good people, including police officers who are sworn to protect and serve, should go home safe at the end of the day. As you read each chapter, you'll see that I'm not a big fan of "political correctness," nor do I shed a tear for those that perpetuate crimes upon the weak, or the unarmed. I believe in advanced training for police officers, giving them the skills and confidence to save a life, on either side of the law, when the opportunity presents itself.
Throughout my career people would say things like, "Wow, you're like Chuck Norris!" While I have the deepest respect and admiration for tournament champion and actor Chuck Norris, it is he who plays guys like me in the movies. As I recall, there was no one around to yell "Cut!" when I was confronted with armed adversaries.
While everyone can enjoy reading about these real life events, it is the young police officer who will read and also learn, throughout the book, how they can become better officers as they perform their manifold duties. Veteran officers will be reminded of the many times that they too, stepped up in the defense of others. Martial Artists, whether black belts, or newcomers to the study of Budo, may particularly enjoy the Karate Do chapters interpreted throughout and relate them to their training.
This is my story but there are parallels to what many cops, in many communities, go through in America on a daily basis. After 9/11, many people, especially in the greater New York metropolitan area, including Clifton, New Jersey, showed appreciation for all that we do. That appreciation has slowly waned, as police officers today, are many times, vilified in the press.
So here we go; I'm not a professional writer but I insisted on writing this myself. This, in an attempt to let you share my feelings, through my eyes; the eyes of a street cop!
Lieutenant Patrick J. Ciser (Ret.)
City of Clifton Police Department