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‘Rocks and Bottles’ stories fill pages of book
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By Leigh Ann Rutledge
A chat with a neighbor at the fence between their backyards led to a 30+ year career in law enforcement for Ed Tasker.
A memoir written for his children, detailing those 30+ years, resulted in “Rocks and Bottles”, a recently published book.
Tasker, who now resides in Perry Twp., began jotting down the true account of his years in law enforcement nearly five years ago.
“One thing led to another and my wife, Jill, said why not get this published?” Tasker said. “I decided to test the waters and was quite surprised.”
Then came the fun part for Tasker; he had to transcribe all the notes from handwritten to the computer.
“Rocks and Bottles” is not just a story of Tasker’s arrests, assists or investigations, but how the arrests, assists and investigations affect law enforcement personnel.
With the unrest in the country, Tasker thought now was the time for his book. It shows officers are human and noted, “Anyone doing this job truly cares about their community or they wouldn’t do this job.”
Tasker was raised in Portage County, OH, and served in the U.S. Navy from 1966-1970, including three tours in Vietnam. Following his service, he found himself in Florida, where the “fence chat” with his neighbor took place. Tasker explained to his neighbor, how he was having a hard time finding a job which “fit” him. He tried retail and food service and was considering returning to the military.
During a second meeting at the fence, the neighbor told Tasker he was a deputy sheriff and asked if he had considered going into law enforcement. Tasker rode along with his neighbor a couple times and the neighbor challenged him to take the test to get into the Police Academy.
“I was accepted in the academy and the rest is history,” Tasker noted. “My career started with a challenge.”
After graduating from the academy, he was hired by the Jacksonville Sheriff Department.
Tasker is quick to note, the officer’s names have been changed and his purpose in writing is to help readers “acquire a better understanding of what police officers have to deal with on a daily basis; appreciate the pressures they’re under from time to time and learn how they’re molded by the types of calls they have to handle and how those calls sometimes affect their lives and their families.”
Tasker details his first day on the job, the walk up the steps to the patrol division where he was assigned, meeting his FTO (field training officer), roll call and getting into the cruiser. Readers feel like they are walking beside him, experiencing the uneasy feeling of not knowing what to expect. You learn from his FTO “Lonnie” as he does, traveling in their assigned coverage zone through the pages.
Tasker tells about having a gun pointed at him and lays his emotions out after the situation is over and he is required to file a report. He deals with DUIs (driving under the influence), traffic control, drug busts and a young woman kidnapped and murdered, along with the officer who came upon her and the kidnapper and was murdered.
A call regarding an older man who woke up to find his wife had passed away in the night shows how officers have to control their emotions while in uniform. While waiting with the man for his daughter to arrive, the man went to the piano and played “Amazing Grace.” When the music stopped suddenly, the man was found on the floor also deceased. It was one of the hardest situations he handled, Tasker said, as he not only had to tell the daughter her mother died but her father, too. The “broken heart syndrome” proved to be real in this instance and is the title of the chapter in the book. While officers receive grief counseling training, it doesn’t prepare you for the real situation, he noted.
“After a while of doing the job, it can take its toll on you,” he said.
During a spring downpour during multiple days of rain, Tasker and Lonnie are called to a one-car rollover, which turns out to be a car submerged in a creek filling with water. Tasker goes under the water and gains access to the car. His actions save a young boy in a car seat and, with the arrival of additional help, they go back into the murky water and pull his mother to safety.
“Rocks and Bottles” is not an “I did this and I did that” account, it’s an account of a man who was a law enforcement officer.
“With the turmoil in the country, COVID and negative incidents involving law enforcement, I thought it was time to put something out there to educate people that officers aren’t perfect. They make mistakes,” Tasker stated. “I want people to see law enforcement officers are just like them. Sometimes they do fantastic things, sometimes they make mistakes. You can’t judge the entire spectrum on one or two situations.”
Tasker spent six years working at Jacksonville before going to the Miami-Dade Sheriff Department where he stayed until he retired in 2003.
The title of the book and the last chapter is “Rocks and Bottles.” Tasker explained it is a standing joke in large departments of the rivalry between law enforcement and the fire department.
“When an engine goes into a situation, they receive applause,” he explained. “When law enforcement goes in, they are often greeted with rocks and bottles and confronted by an unruly crowd, often having to take cover until help arrives.”
Tasker has submitted his second book to his publisher which focuses more on his time with Miami-Dade. The normal routine in an officer’s life there is to go call-to-call-to-call, traveling 150-175 miles a day in their zone.
Tasker’s three children have heard some of his stories, some have surprised them, and they have been in awe of others. There are also some he will never discuss or publish.
Tasker said he has been shot at (but never shot), set-up in an ambush, kicked and knocked unconscious.
“What kept me on the job was the camaraderie,” he said. “To do this work you have to have concern about your fellow man. As many negatives as you see, the people you help make it all worthwhile.
“I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going into law enforcement, but it takes a special person to be willing to go into the field,” he said.
While “Rocks and Bottles” touches on some tough facts, Tasker wrote in what he calls a “vanilla-way” staying away from race, profanity and politics.
“Rocks and Bottles” is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target and ebook venues.
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