By Kay Lynn Means Darling
As I’ve previously written, my career choice was law enforcement, which extended to approximately 30 years. This incident recently crossed my mind so I thought I would share.
During my first decade in the business, I was involved in pistol matches/competitions within our county. After one such match and upon returning to my hometown with another officer we heard over the police radio of an escaped prisoner from the county jail, which was very close to our current location. Said prisoner was on foot, description was given, and lo and behold just about ran in front of our vehicle. (It should be noted that after a pistol competition, at times we put our “duty belts “, i.e. belt with holster, bullets or clips, and gun in the back seat of the vehicle when we head out).
At the time the escaped prisoner ran in front of us, our immediate reaction was to jump out of the car and pursue….in which we did – with no gun, etc. Because working in serious conditions does not always allow time to think, but to react, we did as we’ve trained many times before. This time there was one little exception though!
My partner officer was in the lead as the suspect was pursued and at one point paused, raised their arms to a firing position, and shouted “stop or I will shoot”. Said escaped prisoner slowed enough to look behind at us, saw that only a finger was pointed at him, and I can only guess thought there was no way he was stopping for an officer not lethally armed and resumed his escape.
Long story short, that split second the prisoner paused was just enough for my partner to gain on him and subsequently capture and place him back into custody. If we had stopped to put on our “rig” he may still be running.
Don’t ever put yourself in harms way, if possible, but also never make assumptions you will outsmart or win in a situation.
Kay Lynn Means Darling was born in a small town in southeast Texas where the townsfolk pretty much all knew one another. Kay Lynn’s most outstanding memories from childhood were: (1) the huge family get-togethers each Easter when relatives from all over the country would drive down for a huge barbecue that began after church services where all were wearing their “Easter best,” (for Kay Lynn that was a fancy dress, Easter bonnet, straw purse, and shoes to match). (2) being a participant in the live nativity scene each Christmas at church. It was always cold outside and each position (Wise Man, Joseph, Mary) required being completely still for 15 minutes, and when that segment was up the kids would run to the Reception Hall to get a cup of hot chocolate that would scald their tongues, but was so good. Good fellowship and good times.
Kay Lynn was on the quiet side, but still loved to joke and smile and laugh. She recalls a pleasant childhood with good friends that remain in her life to this day. From first through eighth grade, her schooling was on a standard level, but in high school, her counselor put her in the “advanced” classes. Mid-way through high school, Kay Lynn joined a group that would go to school half a day and work half a day. Ultimately, she became bored with school and left a few months shy of graduation in order to marry her sweetheart. That marriage last 1 1/2 years and the need for work led her to a secretarial position at the local police department.
Though not all with the same department, Kay Lynn worked approximately 30 years in law enforcement. She held many positions throughout her career, but was so happy to become the first female patrolman in her hometown which opened the door for many more women to follow as the years passed. Kay Lynn also became the department’s first and only Evidence Technician and set that office up for many to follow also. She worked the last 12 years in that position (as well as Telecommunications) and said this is where she found her heart. The work wasn’t easy, required seeing things most people would never encounter in their lifetime, but the teamwork it took to make a case was so unbelievably awesome.
At the time of her retirement, Kay Lynn married again and moved to the mountains of up-State New York where she and her husband remained for three or so years before they came back to Texas to settle in a small town in Deep East Texas where as a widow she lives to this day.