Uniform problems

_DSC5571

Going to the dentist is a lot like going to the “uniform center.” If you’ve ever had to go to both you know what I’m talking about.

A few weeks ago, I made a trip to the uniform center with little hope of anything being done right or them having things in stock. As usual, I was told “We have to order the pants.”

Of course, they didn’t have them in stock. Why would they be there now? I once waited six months for them to call me about back ordered pants.

Luckily, they had the shirts and I was told they’d be done in a little less than two weeks. You’d think two weeks would be enough, right?

Probably not. The guys storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day had a better chance.

Last Wednesday I went to pick up my shirts and was told, “They’re not done. They’re really backed up. Can you come back tomorrow?”

On Thursday, I returned and was told, “She forgot to do them.”

I said, “I bet she would remember to do things if you forgot to pay her.”

“Can you wait? I’ll have her do them now.”

A little while later, I was amazed how like this could be done in less time than it takes to hard boil an egg. They fit fine, but the seamstress forgot to move a button on all three shirts.

I was told, “She left already. Can you come back tomorrow?”

Well, shit……

So, I went back yesterday and guess what happened? The seamstress didn’t lower the button one inch like I asked. She added an extra button instead. An extra button!

I told the sales person, “There’s an extra button on all three shirts. They were supposed to lower the button one inch.”

The salesperson asked, “Can you come back tomorrow?”

“No.”

We used to go to another “uniform center” and it was the same problem. It almost makes me think the new uniform place hired the seamstress and tailor from the old place.

You can’t make this stuff up. The nonsense of the streets is almost like the nonsense of getting uniforms done right.

Number one or number two?

image

It was dusk one summer evening when I saw a Starbucks employee franticly waving his arms at my patrol car. I pulled into the parking lot and stopped as the Barista hurried to my window and said, “A customer told me he went into the bathroom and saw a woman sitting on the floor with bottles all around her. I think she’s on drugs.”

“How long has she been in there?”

“I’m not sure. Can you help us out?”

From the way he described it, I figured this was a transient, who locked herself in the restroom with all her worldly possessions. This was not an unusual call, so I assumed the Starbucks guy was legit.

I walked up to the restroom door and knocked. A female voice from behind the door said, “Yes?”

“Police. Starbucks wants you to leave the property,”

“I’m on the toilet,” replied the voice.

“Number one or number two?”

With some hesitation, the woman answered, “Number two.”

“Okay. Go ahead and hurry up because Starbucks wants you to leave.”

About a minute later the toilet flushed and there was the sound of running water from the sink. The door unlocked and the woman opened it slowly.

I expected to see a transient and a mess all over the bathroom floor, but I was surprised to see a normal looking woman come out with a confused look on her face. I looked over at the Starbucks guy with a “WTF” look on my face.

She needed an explanation, so I told her about the trespassing call for service and being flagged down by the employee. She was still confused as she said, “I was waiting for a ride and had to use the bathroom.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

He was a train wreck

_DSC5571

On Wednesday night, I responded to a crash involving a single vehicle and a light pole near a train crossing. When I arrived, the railroad arms were down and a train was passing by.

The crashed car was just south of the railroad arms with major front end damage. I looked at the scene and noticed how close the car came to ending up on the tracks. That definitely would’ve been a new twist if it was struck by a train after knocking down a pole.

After I interviewed the driver, he stood by and made small talk as the world’s slowest tow truck man attempted to clean up. I pointed out to the man he was lucky he didn’t get hit by the train after he crashed into the pole.

I then added, “You would’ve been a train wreck.”

Groan……

At least Matt, the other cop, got it and laughed……

Did he have egg on his face?

_DSC4559-2

A few weeks ago, I responded to a disturbance call involving a man and a woman at an apartment complex. It was the type of night where the AC was your best friend because it was so hot and humid.

This particular apartment didn’t have AC and was hotter inside than it was outside. I spoke the female half in her bedroom while the other cop spoke to the male in the front room.

It was like a sauna in the room and I made an executive decision I was going to conduct the interview outside because it’s as too damn hot inside.

During the interview the woman told me she was cooking an egg when her boyfriend threw water at her. She said, “I got mad and threw the pan at him.”

“Did he have egg on his face?” I replied.

The blank look on her face told me she didn’t get it. I guess I’ll use my corny jokes on someone else.

He’s not listening

_DSC4559-2

I rarely have problems with the drivers at collision scenes. Most of the time it’s low key and the drivers are happy the cops showed up. But then, add a husband, wife or friend, who are emotional know-it-alls and everything goes downhill.

It was late afternoon when a male with no license ran a red light and crashed into another car. The driver said the sun was in his eyes and he had no idea what color his light was. This was a great statement, because even if he lied, he still ran the red light.

The other driver said her light was green and she never saw the car until it hit her. It doesn’t get easier than this, right? Now add a husband…….

“No offense, but I think his excuse is bullshit,” said the know-it-all husband. He then added, “What are you going to do to him? He’s not safe to drive.”

“He could be lying about the sun, but either way he’s at fault,” I replied.

“What are you going to do to him?” he asked again.

I told the husband people make mistakes all the time and unfortunately, they crash. I added no one was hurt and that was the most important thing.

“What are you going to do to him?”

“What do you want me to do to him?”

“He’s not safe.”

“People do stupid stuff all the time and they crash. It happens. I don’t want to minimize what happened to your wife, but people crash all day long.”

“But what are you going to do to him?”

Was I talking to myself? I might as well have been talking to the wall across the street. He obviously hadn’t heard a word I said. To be a smart ass I almost said, “Do you want me to shoot him? Would that make you feel better?”

It would’ve been totally worth it to see his reaction.

Always watch your back

IMG_0370(1)

It was a warm September afternoon and I had just gone 10-8 when I heard one of the cops put out a car stop on the radio. His voice was normal and everything sounded routine.

About ten seconds later a voice of urgency came on the radio saying, “Code 3 follow.”

I hit the lights and siren as my engine roared to life. The car sped by as buildings, trees and cars became a blur. I turned eastbound onto a major street and then a hard right into the driveway of an apartment complex.

When I arrived the cop had the driver, who was uncooperative, at gunpoint. He was given numerous commands to turn around and keep his hands up, but he wouldn’t comply. After some tense moments he eventually listened and was handcuffed.

It turned out the suspect had a loaded revolver tucked inside his waistband, brass knuckles, a large knife and bullets for reloading. This definitely could’ve ended up in an officer involved shooting. I wonder what he was thinking by not listening. It’s almost as if he was trying to get shot, but chickened out.

A few months later, I went to my favorite taco place at 1AM to get something to eat. As I stood in line, I looked around and scanned faces. Some were looking at their food and others were looking at me. Then I stopped at one face.

It was the guy from the car stop, who had the gun.

He had his back to the wall and he was looking at me. We locked eyes for a moment and I could see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to figure out if he’d seen me before. He then glanced back down at his plate, but he kept looking up at me.

After I ordered, I took a spot in the restaurant so I could watch him while I waited for my food. I’d bet money he had a gun on him again and I wasn’t going to take my eyes off of him, especially wth the way he was watching me.

I stood there and formed a plan in case he pulled a gun out. I looked at places to take cover, how to exit the front door and the people around him if I had to shoot back.

It’s funny. Most people go to a restaurant and order their food without a second thought. As a cop, you see the world in an entirely different way and ordering food can be just as dangerous as handling a call.

It might sound silly, but you just never know what’s going to happen and you don’t get a second chance.

You just handle the job and move on

_DSC2068

A few months ago, I spoke with a driver in his early 20s, who was involved in a minor traffic collision. After his statement, I handed him a card with the report number on it and asked, “Do you have any questions?”

“No,” he replied. He then added, “You took my crash before.”

“Where was it? What happened?” I asked.

He told me the crash location and it happened two years ago. I reached into my brian as different images flashed through my memory like movie highlights until one stuck out.

“Do you hit a woman who was crossing the street?”

“Yes.”

“Was it a major injury collision?” I asked, trying to remember the details from that night.

“Yes. I had a lot of therapy over that.” An awkward moment hung in the air because I didn’t know what to say. “I have PTSD,” he said.

I stood there and couldn’t remember everything about that night, but I did remember a woman being hit. I didn’t remember him, his vehicle or what happened to the pedestrian.

After the collision, I did some research and found the crash he was talking about. I pulled up the report and it all came back to me.

The pedestrian was crossing against a red light when she was hit by his car and died.

After seeing the report, I thought of the driver and compared our roles from that night. For him, his life changed forever in a blink of the eye when that person ran out in front of his car. What a tremendous weight to carry at such an young age.

And then there was me and my role. It was a call. I handled it and moved on to the next crash. It’s not that I dodn’t care, but you have to do your job and move on. Some calls bother you more than others. There are some calls you never forgot and others your memory stores somewhere off to the side.

Unfortunately, there will be more dead, broken and injured bodies around the next corner. It’s police work and it’s called accident investigation. You just have to do the job and move on.

Be safe out there.

It’s the little things

A9B684FC-23D0-4E30-A37B-7ABA2FB47202

It was 113 degrees last Friday afternoon when I started work. It was just damn hot.

My first call was on a freeway overpass where the hot afternoon breeze blew on me like I was at a rest stop on the way to Vegas. If you’ve ever driven to Las Vegas in the summer, you know what I’m talking about.

After the call, a message popped up on my computer screen which made me do a double take. It said the watch commander had an ice cream truck in the back lot of the police department.

How could I pass this up?

54F5E5F3-FD68-449F-B9E2-1C6B6E558AB9

I pulled into the back lot and there it was. The ice cream truck was parked near the north doors with cops standing next to it. It was still 113 degrees, but there were smiles on their faces.

For a brief moment, I wasn’t so hot. For a brief moment, I forgot about the uniform and my body amor. For a brief moment, I enjoyed my ice cream sandwich and a cold bottle of water.

Thank you LT. The troops appreciated it more than you know.

Leadership is about the little things…..

People helping people

FullSizeRender(25)

What does a white driver with Nazi tattoos, a black witness, two Hispanic cops and an Asian bystander have in common?

Probably not too much, but add a car accident into the story and you have quite the combination of people.

One night, I responded to a hit and run crash where a car ran a red light and smashed into the victim vehicle. The victim driver was a white male in his 30s with Nazi tattoos on his face, neck and arms. A woman and a young child were also with him.

The witness was a black man in his early 50s and the other person was an Asian male, who didn’t see the crash, but stopped to help.

Then there were the cops. We were both Hispanic.

I interviewed the black guy first because he was the witness. He told me how the suspect run a red light and crashed into the victims. After the crash the suspect fled and he chased after the car until he lost it.

At the end of the interview, I shook his hand and thanked him for stopping. The man said, “We all work hard. We have to help each other out.”

Bingo.

Hopefully the guy with the swastikas on his face noticed that it was people helping people, no matter who they were.

It went over her head

2F032F19-15AB-4F78-B825-35D1F21E7F17

On Thursday night a woman said she was drinking from a bottle of water when she ran a red light and crashed into another car, causing water to splash on the inside of the windshield.

Sounds believable.

After the crash, she wasn’t able to see because of the water, so she drove almost a half mile to get out of the road.

Let me get this right. She couldn’t see because of the water on her windshield, but she was able drive away with two witnesses chasing her as they called the police about a hit and run?

She also spontaneously said she had looked up and saw the red light. I asked her a follow up question about looking up while she was drinking from the bottle. She then said she was opening the bottle of water instead of drinking from it.

She obviously hadn’t thought this through, so I decided to have a little fun with some obscure humor.

I asked, “So water splashed all over the windshield?”

“Yes,”

“Why didn’t you use the windshield wipers to see?”

“I didn’t think about that!” she replied excitedly.

Did she really just say that?

“They only work on the outside,” I said.

Then the dim light bulb went off when she figured it out. And when I say dim light bulb, I mean really dim……

Later on, I asked her what kind of insurance she had. She said, “Cost you less.”

“Well, keep driving like that, it’s going to cost you more.”

This call was one-liner heaven because she made it so easy. You just gotta have fun out here.