“You can’t go around hitting shit” is a phrase that I’ve said for years as a collision investigator. The other day I was thinking about this Badge415-life-rule and the following came to mind.
Life is simple. You can’t go around hitting shit if it’s not your shit. If it was your shit, no one would care because it wasn’t their shit, but if it was, then they would lose their shit.
Why do people watch pursuits on TV? They’re basically waiting for the bad guy to crash and hit someone else’s shit. What if the the bad guy carjacks someone’s shit during the pursuit? Then people want to see if he is going to hit some shit with his feloniously acquired shit. As you can see, it’s a lot of shit to deal with.
How about the guy who drives his shit eighty miles per hour down your street? I bet you would want him to take that shit somewhere else because no one has time to deal his shit if he gets into some shit involving your shit.
This goes back to my original thought….. “You can’t go around hitting shit.”
This is an excerpt from my new book Is Traffic Available? The Patrol Officer’s Guide To Collision Investigation
A crash could be a life-altering event for you, a friend or someone you love. When a crash happens, people look to us, the police, for help. People don’t care if you like traffic accident reports or not. They don’t care if you’ve taken a thousand crashes in your career or if this was your tenth. They just want your help.
The collision report is more than just the event that took place on that day or night because what we do affects people’s lives. This is why we, the accident investigators, need to take pride in what we do and how we do it.
Some things in police work aren’t sexy and in the opinion of most, traffic accident reports are at the same level of going to the dentist. Ask patrol cops and they’ll tell you they’d rather take a domestic violence report than a collision report.
What scares cops so much about crashes? Is it the measurements, the diagram or is it the fear of the unknown? Is it the feeling of not knowing where to start on a five-car DUI roll-over crash at 2AM or is it because you’re out of your comfort level?
Well, I used to be one of those guys because I didn’t know what to do or where to start. I only had one ten-hour shift of traffic training during FTO and I only took report that day. I can vividly remember being dispatched to a roll-over crash at 2:37AM (I was off at 3AM) and the dread I felt. When I arrived, I saw a downed light pole, two downed palm trees and a crashed car with a male in the backseat whose head was twisted in a weird angle.
It was like a bomb exploded with tree parts and jagged concrete pieces from the light pole strewn about the street. Talk about feeling alone because the fire department wasn’t there yet. I was screwed big time. How was I going to measure this? Where was I supposed to start? How was I going to draw the diagram? Where were the graveyard units!
Then it happened. There was bright light that made me squint and turn my head as I raised a hand to shield my eyes. Was it proof of life in a far-off galaxy, or was it a secret weapon designed by the military? No, it was the Traffic Guy and he walked with the swagger of a gunslinger in the Old West and the sound of his spurs clicking on the asphalt. He stopped, took in the scene and said, “I got it.”
I stood there with my mouth wide open and wondered, “How?” I took a step back and watched as he worked his traffic magic like an artist painting a masterpiece or Beethoven conducting the 9th Symphony.
This might be a bit exaggerated, but it’s not that far from the truth. I was scared of crashes and I truly had no idea where to start that night. I felt helpless, which was not a good thing if you’re a cop. As police officers we’re supposed to know all the answers because we’re problem solvers. We’re finger pointers, not thumb suckers.
Well, at that moment I was thumb sucker just like some cops are when it comes to the world of traffic investigation. It’s not to put them down. It’s just a fact. Traffic investigation is mysterious to some and hated by others. It is also known as the best kept secret by those who work it.
In conclusion, traffic collisions might not be your cup of tea, but they’re part of the job, so let’s make the best of the situation and investigate them with the same enthusiasm as the “real” crimes.
Last week I responded to a solo-vehicle crash where a car struck the median. When I arrived, I saw the vehicle’s tires straddling the median and a passed out passenger in the the right front seat. The driver was on the sidewalk with officers, who told me he was HBD (had been drinking). The driver was arrested for DUI and a tow truck was called.
Sounds like a typical call for me, right?
My statistics show that I investigate one DUI crash for every three reports I take, so this wasn’t unusual, except for the sticker on the driver’s car that said, “Major League Drinking.” Priceless….. Even the tow truck driver thought it was funny.
That’s like a drive-by-shooting suspect with a “marksman” sticker on his car or a thief with a sticker that say “sticky fingers.”
In my new book Is Traffic Available? The Patrol Officer’s Guide To Collision Investigation, I have a chapter on the solo-vehicle collision, which covers the different excuses I hear from people when they crash into parked cars, curbs or poles. One common excuse is, “A cat ran out in front of me.”
In my time as a traffic cop, there have allegedly been many a four-legged suspect who have run out in front of cars and “caused” the driver to crash. The usual suspects are cats because people never blame dogs and I have yet to meet a witness who confirms this Cat-tastrophe. For some reason it seems like the cat is the purrrfect animal to blame for their misfortune.
Last night, this guy was driving down the street when he struck a parked car, causing his right front wheel to be ripped off the car. When I asked him what happened he said, “A cat ran out in front of me and I swerved.”
I shook my head as I laughed inside because I told this story last week to an officer at a solo-vehicle crash. Later that night the officer sent me an MDT message, saying she and her partner almost ran over a cat that ran out in front of them.
While I was waiting for a tow truck, one of my partners got my attention and pointed to a cat sitting on the sidewalk next to the collision scene. It looked like the cat was checking out his work with pride as he sat there with his chest puffed out.
I pointed to the four-legged suspect and asked the driver, “Is that the cat that ran out in front of you?”
It was dusk on Friday evening when an officer requested a follow up on a stop he’d made on a residential street not far from where I was writing parking tickets. When I got there, I saw an older car parked along the north curb and a male in the driver seat. Another male was already sitting on the curb with two other cops standing by.
The driver was patted down and instructed to sit on the curb next to his friend, who had been the passenger. The driver was in his early forties, thin and was wearing a Green Bay Packers hat. As soon as he sat down he started complaining as he said, “The cops are always pulling me over.” He followed that up with some more nonsense about being a victim and how the cops are always picking on him.
He said all of this despite having a meth pipe and being on parole for robbery.
Rather than stare at each other, I engaged him in small talk because you never know what’s going to come up, so I asked, “What else have you been arrested for?”
“Robbery, but that was a long time ago. I stole something from a store and they called it a robbery.”
“They once said I tried to cash a forged check.”
“So, you’ve been arrested for robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, forgery and now you have a meth pipe?” The driver nodded, but still had the victim look on his face. “And you say the cops are always stopping you?” I added with a tone of skepticism in my voice.
He nodded again and said, “I can’t even sit in my car without the cops giving me a hard time. They’re always stopping me.”
This guy clearly has made poor life decisions and continues to do so. I wondered if there ever was a time he owned any of his tomfoolery or idiot missteps in life. This guy was the poster child for people who don’t accept responsibility for their actions.
I couldn’t resist and asked, “Did you know there’s a book called Maybe It’s You?”
He couldn’t help but smile at that one, but continued to talk about how the cops always stop him. That’s when I added, “Once again, maybe it’s you.” He shook his head and smiled because he knew I had zinged him again with Badge415 wit.
His attitude improved after some light humor and talk about his Packers hat and how they became the team. In the end he was cited for the pipe and sent on his way.
My comments were meant to be funny and to have a little fun at his lack of responsibility in life, but it was obvious this grown ass man has never looked in the mirror and figured out his biggest problem in life was him.
On my first day in the traffic detail in 1999 my training officer told me to keep a log of every report I took. He suggested I get a steno pad and write down every report number by the month and keep a running total.
Over the years this number has grown and is sometimes the subject of conversation with other officers, who ask how many I’m up to now.
Today was my first shift of the new year and I added up my yearly total for 2020. The total was four hundred collision reports for the year. That was a little down from 2019 when I took four hundred thirty five and four hundred thirty eight in 2018.
Here’s what make my 2020 stats significant.
In April of 2020, we stopped responding to non-injury accidents, along with hit and runs with no suspect info. You’d think my numbers would be down significantly from the years before, but they weren’t.
It’s also significant because that doesn’t count the reports that trainees took when they rode with me. Who knows what that number would’ve been had I been solo those nights.
So, what does it all mean?
It means there are some careless MOFOs out there and you don’t want to end up in my log, which is 8,202 and counting as of tonight.
Where did the time go? I looked at the blog and saw my last post was in 2019. Now, at the dawn of 2021, I figured this would be as good as time as any to get these rusty fingers flying across the keyboard again with some sarcasm.
I’m not going to bore you with talk about how people thought 2020 sucked or how much better 2021 will be. If you ask me, it really wasn’t that bad at all. That, of course, depends on where you were sitting and what kind of view you had for the shit show.
What I really want to talk about is how I’m Woke AF now. Yes, that’s me, the awakened one. The one who was blind to all the un-wokeness of the past. I now view the past through the Woke prescription glasses of enlightenment.
In fact, I feel the Woke AF-ness flowing through me like The Force flows through Luke Skywalker.
You might wonder where this came from? What was my epiphany? Where was the U-turn sign in life that got me going in the Woke direction?
You never know what’s going to come out of someone’s mouth when they’re worried about getting a ticket. The stuff people blurt out might’ve sounded good in their head, but not so much when a follow up question is asked about their excuse.
The other day I stopped a car for making a right turn on a red light without stopping. After the car stopped, I walked up on the driver door and asked, “Hi, how come you didn’t stop for the red light when you turned?”
The driver, who was in his mid-thirties, unshaven and wearing a buttoned up work shirt nervously said, “I’m in a hurry to study for a test.”
I raised my left arm up in an exaggerated manner as I looked at my watch, which said 6:15PM. I looked back at the driver and asked, “Is your test at 7 o’clock?”
“No, it’s in two months.”
“Studying for a test that’s two months away is the best you can come up with?” I asked as The Price is Right’s loser tone went off in my head.
At least he smiled at how silly his excuse sounded. I guess it was worth a try, but he should’ve studied the part about stopping for red lights in the DMV handbook instead.
The crash happened at a small intersection when an elderly woman turned left as an SUV went through on a green light. The SUV was sideswiped and limped to a stop in the middle of the street after its driver side air bags went off.
The elderly driver completed the turn and drove home, which was around the corner. Luckily, a witness got the license plate number and an officer contacted the driver in the parking lot of her apartment complex.
She lived alone with her dogs in an apartment. She was fair skinned with short wavy gray hair and a soft grandmotherly voice that could offer you a freshly made chocolate chip cookie. The wrinkled and spotted skin on her arms and face showed her age like the rings on an old tree stump in the forest.
She had no idea there was a crash and she never saw the other car. The woman told me there was a noise, but she never felt the impact, even though the left front fender was peeled away from her Buick like a finger nail snagged on something.
She was also surprised to hear her driver’s license expired in 2017.
So, back to the question. When are you too old to drive?
That age is different for all of us, but it’s coming. Tonight, Father Time’s driving alarm clock rang at 83 years old for her.
Have you ever had a Samuel L. Jackson movie quote moment?
I had one tonight, but it didn’t involve the word “mother fuc#$%^r” or any of the countless ones from Pulp Fiction. Tonight, I looked at a guy and just wanted to say, “Bitch please.”
That might sound harsh and unfeeling, but I think everyone is allowed a Samuel L. Jackson movie quote moment every once in a while. Plus, I kept it to myself, so who cares and hopefully you smiled when you read “Bitch please.”
It’s no big deal if there’s damage to your car, but if it’s not there, then it’s not there. And certainly don’t say, “I’m going to take it in to be inspected,” if you can’t find a scratch.
I’m leaving a lot out, but to make a long story short……. “Bitch please.”