In May 1994, a little more than a year out of the Police College, I was alone on patrol. I felt like I was in a trance and I do not exactly recall how I came across this white Nissan car. Only I had to stop the vehicle when I saw it.
As the driver exited I felt a huge wave of emotion pass through me. First was pain, then fear, disgust and lastly I felt sick. All these feelings emanated from the driver and as he came closer to me I felt these emotions more intensely. I became very wary of him and I knew he meant to cause me harm so I made him keep his distance.
In New Zealand we do not carry firearms as a rule so I had to talk and distract the driver. I questioned him about the car as it was obvious he was not the owner. He gave me three stories. The next more unlikely than the previous.
Back up arrived a short time later and we returned to the Police Station with the driver. I was certain he had stolen the car, but I knew he had done something more serious and horrific. The fact he had the car key confirmed this even more.
In the cells I became very frantic. I felt like time was running out. I talked with my Sergeant and also noticed what appeared to be blood on the drivers sweat top. I called the Police Station where the owner of the car lived and persuaded another officer to send a unit to her address. We had tried to telephone her, but the line was disconnected.
A Dog Unit went to the car owner's address and located her lying in a pool of blood near death. She had been stabbed several times. The victim survived and fully recovered from her injuries.
I met her later and found she was a true survivor. The offender, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and rape, was sentenced to preventative detention. Essentially a life sentence due to the nature of the crime.
Even today I struggle to explain what happened to my colleagues. They look at me like I'm nuts, crazy etc. The funny thing is I have had this occur from time to time in my career. I have caught robbers, car racers, burglars etc red handed due to being in the right spot at the exact right time.
When I talk with people I can sense if they are a threat or what they intend to do. I'm sure it has saved my life more than once. The down side is when I walk into a bar or crowded area sometimes the barrage of feelings I get just about makes me sick.
I have come to know this gift as Empathy. Thanks to sites like this one I have learned how to control it. I can almost turn it off and on at will. Granted though there are still times when I get overwhelmed.