DRE Training

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DRE training is a different world

Last night I went up to Fullerton PD to do more DRE evaluations for my certification. I only had two left out of the twelve. It was a good feeling to know I was almost done.

During the process I got to see some interesting people and some interesting choices of clothing. You never knew what was going to walk in.

The first person that came in was so high he couldn’t sit still. He was going a 1,000 miles per hour and every part of his body was either twitching or moving. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut even if he wanted to. His lips were also cracked like a dry lake bed in the desert.

During the evaluation I instructed him to tilt his head back, close his eyes and count thirty seconds with his hands at his sides. It took forever for him to acknowledge the instructions and to listen. When he finally started the test I couldn’t help but laugh.

He tilted his head back and closed his eyes to start, but then he did something I have never seen before.

He raised his hands and pointed his index fingers. He then moved his hands up and down like he was conducting an orchestra. His hands were moving so fast, I assumed his imaginary orchestra was playing just as fast.

At the same time he mumbled at lightning speed. Then the mumble turned into an opera singer performing in a different language. Except this opera signer was high on meth. He was exhausting to watch and keep controlled.

After I was done with #12, I went to get something to eat with two other officers. We were sitting in the restaurant when one of them asked me what it felt like to be done.

“If someone told me six months ago I’d be at this point, I would’ve said they were crazy,” I replied.

I still have a few steps to go before I get my certification, but it’s all down hill from here. I’ve learned a lot during the process and I was certainly taken out of my comfort zone. I was resistant at first, but I’m glad I took the class.

I’ve also grown as an officer.

I want to thank the people at Fullerton PD, who put this class on and who run the evaluations. Their department is a leader in this training and I commend the people who run this program.

Their people are passionate about this and all of our departments can learn from them when it comes to DRE training.

The Mormon Missionary


The funny thing about work is you never know what you’re going to hear next. Every time I think I’ve heard it all, something else comes up.

Yesterday two Mormon missionaries were riding their bicycles as they approached a red light at an intersection. Two witnesses saw them ride through the red light and one of them was hit by a mini-van.

The injured rider had a helmet, but his head injury didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t understand how the back of his head got so bloody with the helmet on. I then found out he had the helmet, but he wasn’t wearing it. It was hanging from his handlebar at the time of the crash.

While the guy was in the ambulance I spoke with his bicycle riding partner. I gave him the report number and asked him if he had any questions.

That’s when he asked a question I have never been asked before while working.

“Have you ever thought about being  Mormon?”
“No.” I answered with a smile.
“I once had a Book of Mormon though.”
“You did?” He asked with a surprised look.
“I was at a hotel in Provo (Utah) when someone gave it to me. I was thirteen at the time.”
“That wasn’t that long ago,” he said with a sly look.

Since I’m forty-four, the look on his face showed he was stretching the truth a bit. It still made me laugh though. What a salesmen!

Up until yesterday, I have never taken a collision report involving a Mormon missionary on a bicycle. I’ve also never taken a crash where the helmet was on the handlebars instead of on the rider’s head. Usually the rider isn’t wearing one at all.

And finally, I have never been asked if I thought about changing religions.

Even after taking 5,700 crashes, work still throws me a curve ball once in a while instead of the usual fastball down the middle.

That’s why I keep coming back. I want to see what’s going to happen next.

Peer Support Quotes


When I started writing the Peer Support blog story, I had intentions of doing a follow up with quotes from other officers. The question I posed to them was, “What does peer support mean to you?”

Below are a few quotes from people who are part of Peer Support at my department.

“In law enforcement we sometimes put up emotional walls to deal with the stresses of our job. Peer support should make you realize you’re not alone behind those walls.”

“Peer support is a resource for emotional survival throughout your career in law enforcement. Someone that’s there to turn to for assistance with the difficulties we deal with at work and home.”

“Peer support to me is the equivalent to working out and eating right to keep a healthy body. We need to do the same and keep a healthy mind and soul.”

“Peer support is the one program specifically designed to take care of the emotional wellbeing of law enforcement. To me…it’s giving the strong and stoic permission to be human. Ultimately protecting our resilient warriors.”

Just a little something to think about in this crazy world we call police work.

Stay safe.

What is Peer Support in Law Enforcement?


What does Peer support mean in law enforcement?

A few years ago there were flyers at the police department about this thing called “Peer Support.” I didn’t know exactly what Peer Support was at the time, but it sounded silly.

“There’s no crying in police work,” was all I could think of. It wasn’t much different from the movie A League of Their Own, where the manager said, ‘There’s no crying in baseball.’

One night I handled a triple fatal collision involving three pedestrians. The victim’s family was there and it was one of the most gruesome scenes I ever saw. It was certainly shocking to see, but I felt fine afterward.

A few days later an email was sent out inviting the people involved on the call to come and talk as a group for a debriefing.

An officer asked me if I was going. I gave him a skeptical look as I said, “I’m okay. I don’t need to go to that.” I wasn’t going to sit in a room with a bunch of people and talk about this.

I walked by the briefing room and looked through a window in the door. There were people sitting in chairs that were set up in a circle.

I knew it! It was going to be a Kumbaya session where everybody held hands and hugged each other. They were probably going to sing songs and light candles too.

That wasn’t for me. I’m a cop. I’m a finger pointer, not a thumb sucker.

About two years later I handled a drowning call that affected me afterward because I was a participant this time instead of being an observer . I described it as being in a funk. Later that night the watch commander caught up with me before I went home.

She asked me about the call and we talked about it for a long time in the hallway. She listened to my story and told me about a drowning call she handled years before. She had the same feelings at the time that I had now.

A weight was lifted off my shoulders after our talk. I left work feeling refreshed. I had known her for years and I considered her a friend so it made it easy to talk with her about what happened.

The next night I spoke to another officer, who was the best man in my wedding. We talked about my call and about some of his difficult calls too.

In the end it was just friends talking about something traumatic that occurred on the job. In this case, it let me get the emotional baggage off my chest and move on.

That was when I got it. I understood what Peer Support meant. That was the incident where I drank the Peer Support Kool Aid.

Since then I’ve spoken to numerous officers who are on the Peer Support team about what they do and what resources they provide to other officers. Listening isn’t their only function. They’re a group of people who want to help any way they can.

I learned Peer Support wasn’t about hugging and lighting candles. It was about listening.

Clarke Paris of The Pain Behind the Badge calls it a “Cop Stew.” His example is of a pot on the stove set to a low fire. Throughout our careers we put things into the pot. Eventually some of that stew should be removed from the pot. If not, sooner or later that cop stew will boil over.

I highly recommend his seminar if you get a chance to see him speak. You’ll walk out with a different perspective.

Two weeks ago I had dinner with a sergeant on Peer Support to discuss this article and some blog posts ideas I had. His message to people was this: “If you don’t talk to me, talk to someone.”

It’s as simple as that.

So, what is Peer Support in law enforcement? Here’s my simple example.

Peer Support is like changing your car’s oil every 5,000 miles. If you skip enough oil changes your car is going to give you problems. Perhaps one day that car is going to leave you stranded.

Have you changed your oil lately?

What is Delaying and Obstructing?


California Penal Code Section 148
148. (a) (1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or
obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical
technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797)
of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to
discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other
punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding
one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail
not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

V C Section 2800 Compliance with Peace Officer Orders
2800. (a) It is unlawful to willfully fail or refuse to comply with a lawful order, signal, or direction of a peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, when that peace officer is in uniform and is performing duties pursuant to any of the provisions of this code, or to refuse to submit to a lawful inspection pursuant to this code.

I hardly ever watch videos on Facebook that are police related. That’s because of the ignorance of those involved in lot of the videos. It just plain frustrates me when I see some knucklehead acting dumb on a video claiming to know what he’s talking about.

It then frustrates me even more to know there are people watching the same video, who are getting the wrong information because they’re also misinformed.

So, like I said, I usually skip videos all together because I have better things to do on the phone, like playing a game.

Well, today I didn’t follow my own advice and I watched one. I knew I should’ve just moved on to something else, but for some reason I clicked on it. The video showed a guy, who was clearly being difficult on purpose during a car stop.

During the video the officer said he was “giving a lawful order,” which of course, the suspect didn’t comply with. This went on for quite some time before he was taken into custody.

It got me wondering if people knew it was against the law to disobey “a lawful order.”

I also wondered how many people knew it was against the law to delay, obstruct or resist an officer.

Now, let me start by saying most people at work are law abiding citizens, who comply with my directions and request the first time I ask. I hardly ever have to ask twice because most people understand I’m in the middle of an investigation and they’re in the way.

So, this brings me to the two laws I copied and pasted at the top.

Let’s look at 148a of the California Penal Code first. “Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer.”

Now, most people aren’t going to fight with the cops because they know they’re going to jail afterward. Everyone knows fighting or running from the cops falls under the “RESIST” part of the law.

How about the delaying or obstructing part of 148aPC?

There’s misinformation out there or ignorance as to what delaying or obstructing is. If I can’t do my job like the other 99.9% of the time because you’re in the way or causing me to get distracted from what I’m doing, then you fall in the delaying and obstructing category.

If I tell you to do something over and over again, but you refuse, then you fall into the delaying and obstructing category also.

All that has to be proven in court is a person was willfully doing it. In other words, you’re doing it on purpose after I told you to stop or to move.

It amazes me to see the hurt and upset looks I get when I have to change the tone in my voice because someone didn’t get it the first couple of times. They look at me like I did something wrong.

The reality is I want to finish my call and move on to the next with as little conflict as possible. It’s just easier that way for everyone. Why would I want to be there any longer than I had to if there were going to be problems?

Let’s also look at 2800(a) of the California Vehicle Code.

It is unlawful to willfully fail or refuse to comply with a lawful order, signal, or direction of a peace officer…..

This seems pretty simple too.

If an officer asks you to do something and you don’t do it, then he or she is going to tell you to do it. At that point it’s an order. If you hear the words, “I’m giving you a lawful order,” then you’re about to go to jail. Anything other than complying is being done on purpose because you’ve already been put on notice.

When you look at it this way it should be pretty simple. Just let the officer do his or her job and listen to the instructions.

If the officer stops you while you’re driving and asks for your license, then guess what? You need to give up your license on the first request. Not after ten times. Any normal and reasonable person can see that this is delaying and obstructing. Especially if the officer is standing in traffic at the driver’s door.

I could go on and on with examples, but it’s a pretty simple rule to follow.

So, the next time you watch a video on Facebook and you hear the officer tell someone to do something ten times, then you know that person is breaking the law by delaying or obstructing. That person had control of their destiny by listening and following the directions the first time, but they refused to.

There’s no way a person can say, “The cops grabbed him for no reason,” or “He didn’t do anything wrong.” Yes they did.

We don’t want to fight or argue with you. We just want to get the call done and move on to the next one to help someone else.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense.

Frank’s Back


Frank’s back!

A few days ago I posted a story about a drug addict and thief named Frank, who I met while doing my DRE certifications. They story got people talking because it’s been viewed over 4,300 times on Facebook.

If that story got you upset, then this one should leave you wondering WFT?

Last night I was back at Fullerton PD doing my DRE certifications and guess who I saw? If you said Frank, you’re right. He was under the influence again.

Part of me was surprised and part wasn’t shocked at all.

As soon as I saw Frank, I instantly thought of the story I wrote about him the other day. Frank wasn’t worried about jail then. And guess what? He’s still not worried about it now. Prop 47 says he gets a citation.

It’s his “get out of jail free” card. Actually, it’s a pink copy of his citation.

Remember, the citation is just the cost of doing business to Frank. As long as he signs his ticket he gets out of jail. If he gets a fine he just has to pay it. And where do you think he’ll get his money from?

You again!

He’s a thief and a criminal. That’s the way he described himself last week. Frank steals to pay for his meth, so that means he’ll  probably steal to pay for his fine too.

So, Frank just needs to visit your house, business or break into your car to get the money to pay off his debt. Problem solved. His fine is paid and he gets to roam your neighborhood to feed his habit. Oh, I forgot to mention that Frank is also a documented gang member.

Not to rub it in, but Frank would’ve stayed in custody if it wasn’t for Prop 47.

Some people think being under the influence is a “victimless crime.” Well, tell that to the person whose house or car was broken into. They’ll tell you they felt violated and were the real victims.

Who thought Prop 47 was a good idea anyways? Oh yeah, the people who voted it in. The Franks of the world thank you for it.

The Highs and Lows of The Job


Tonight was the perfect example of how one call can be a complete polar opposite of the very next.

I went to a call involving two tourist who just happened to crash into each other. This woman drove two hours to watch her granddaughter compete in a cheerleading competition today. She was on her way home when her vehicle was disabled in the collision.

She was now stranded far from home with no transportation. Taking a taxi was not an option. If she wanted a rental car she would have to go to the Orange County Airport because everything else was closed. That wasn’t going to work either.

She now needed a hotel room for the night. I told the woman I wasn’t going to leave her alone and I would drive her to whatever hotel she wanted to go to.

We were in front of the Double Tree Hotel, so she checked there first. They were having trouble finding her a room and it looked like I was going to drive her somewhere else.

While we waited, she showed me a competition photo of her granddaughter and she asked about my family.

The hotel finally found her a room and it was time for me to leave. The woman thanked me again for staying and not leaving her alone. She then asked, “Can I give you a hug?” I told her she could and we both smiled. She then gave me a giant hug and I left.

I was feeling pretty good after that because it’s not every day in this job that you have an interaction like that.

The very next call didn’t have the same happy ending.

I heard the call go out over the radio about a woman who was not breathing and a family member was performing CPR at that moment. I was close by and off I went with lights and siren.

I was hired in 1994 and graduated from the academy in February of 1995. Up until last summer I had never performed CPR on anyone except for the dummy at training.

Now I was en route to CPR attempt number three since August. The first two times didn’t work out for me or the victims. Now I was feeling apprehension and dread as I raced toward the house because I knew I was going to be the first one there.

When I pulled up to the house I was mentally prepared for what I was about to do. This was different than when I performed CPR the first two times.

I went into the upstairs bedroom and there was a woman in her mid-sixties lying in a hospital bed. A man was bent over doing chest compressions on his wife of forty-five years.

I then took over for him as he watched with hope. This didn’t look good, but I still had to try. She had a lifeless look on her face and some type of fluid was coming out of her mouth.

I was in an awkward position, but I kept pumping away as I waited for the paramedics. Two minutes seemed to take forever until they arrived. When they did, they hooked up a monitor and checked for a heartbeat.

She was flat lined and they pronounced her right there. They then pulled the sheet over her face and told the family they were sorry for their loss.

She was about the same age as the woman who just hugged me on the last call.

There was nothing else I could have done. I stood in the hallway as her husband called someone and said, “Mom’s dead.”

I felt kind of weird being there to hear him make that call since this was such a private moment. It took me back to when I told my kids that my father had passed away.

Now it was time for them to grieve for their wife, mother and grandma. It was also time for me to go to another call.

Tonight was the perfect example of the roller coaster ride we call police work.

This job is also just like Forest Gump and his box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get……

Where Does An Addict Get His Money?


The other night I went to Fullerton PD for my DRE certifications as part of the class I completed a few weeks ago. I had an interesting conversation with a suspect and I wanted to share it with people who are not familiar with addicts.


First of all, most of these people don’t have jobs, but they need income to support their habit. Where do you think they get their money from?
From you!


These addicts break into your cars, your houses and your businesses. They steal and then steal some more.


During our conversation I asked him how often he uses meth and marijuana. Without hesitation he replied, “Every day.”


“How do you feel when you don’t do meth?
“I get anxiety.”
“Does the drug make you feel well?” I asked.
“Do you drink?”
“How come?”
“Because I lose everything when I drink.”
“What do you mean?”
“I lose my car and I go to jail. So, now I don’t drink at all.”
“How many DUI’s do you have?”
“How much do you spend a day on meth?”
“Do you have a job?”


Let’s assume he over estimated his daily usage. Either way he still needs money for his habit. Where do you think he gets that money from?


“Where do you steal from?” I asked.
“I don’t do anything in my city. I have pride in my city.”


It seemed like he really wanted me to understand he had pride in his city and it was important to him that I knew that. I asked him more questions about his thefts, but he didn’t want to tell me. At one point he smiled and said, “I’m a criminal.”


At least he knows it.


Is this a guy you want roaming around your city? Absolutely not, but guess what? He was cited out. He was cited out like all the people who were arrested for being under the influence of a drug that night.


He was cited out because of Prop 47 in California. Prior to Prop 47, he would’ve remained in custody for the under the influence and drug paraphernalia charges. Now we have to cite him out. I’m sure that pink copy of the citation made him feel bad.


He said he normally starts to feel the anxiety about six hours after doing meth. That means he’s ready for more meth or he has to find more before that feeling of anxiety takes over.


Guess what he’s going to do if he’s short on cash?  You guessed it. He’s going to rip someone off.


I still find it shocking that people in California voted for Prop 47 and allow people like Frank to be out on the street to do their thing.


What if Frank gets caught stealing at a store? He’ll get another citation for petty theft. That’s just an inconvenience to Frank. It’s the cost of doing business.


Eventually things will catch up with Frank, but right now he only has to worry about a citation. County jail time is the least of his worries.


Frank’s job is stealing and getting high. At thirty-one years old he’s got all the time in the world.

I work in the Twilight Zone


Sometimes it seems like I never get a normal collision call to handle. There’s always something.

Here’s what I consider a normal call.

  • All the drivers have licenses.
  • There are no injuries.
  • Everyone has insurance.
  • No hit and run.
  • No one has been drinking or taking drugs.
  • There are only two vehicles.
  • There’s no drama.

It’s not like I’m asking for much.

There was a call last Wednesday night that didn’t come close to what I just described. It was just one of those weird calls where I was in the Twilight Zone.

For the story we’re going to refer to one guy as DUI Man and the other as Motorcycle Man.  Then there’s Motorcycle Man’s son.  We’ll call him Knucklehead.

On that day, DUI Man was driving his vehicle even though he was never issued a license. The unlicensed part didn’t bother him because he drives all the time.

DUI Man doubled parked his truck in the middle of the street in front of his house. He left it there so he could talk with a friend. I’m sure parking in the driveway would’ve been too easy.

While DUI Man was talking to a friend, Motorcycle Man started riding up and down the street, even though he didn’t have a motorcycle endorsement on his license.  DUI Man thought he was riding too fast and he was concerned for the neighborhood children. He decided to tell Motorcycle Man to slow down.

Let me say that again. DUI Man was worried about the safety of the neighborhood kids.

Motorcycle Man’s son (Knucklehead) didn’t like this and decided he needed to get involved for some reason. Before you knew it, Knucklehead and DUI Man were fighting in the middle of the street. The crowd separated them and DUI Man wanted to leave.

DUI Man jumped into his vehicle, but there was one small problem. DUI Man was really DUI. As he drove off, he sideswiped Motorcycle Man’s car by accident. He then fled the scene, but returned a short time later.

DUI Man walked up to me and wanted to report an assault and battery because he was a victim. Did I mention that DUI Man was also an illegal alien and they were neighbors? Not that it mattered, but it just made the story that much more bizarre.

DUI Man ended up getting arrested and went to jail. Of course, this wasn’t his first DUI arrest.

That’s when I learned a little bit about Knucklehead. It turned out he was in his thirties and still lives at home. He is unemployed and has “Three baby’s mammas.”  Those were his words.

He has a couple of arrests for domestic violence, but he just got off probation. I’m sure he’ll treat the new “Baby’s Mamma” much better than the last two.

I forgot to mention that Knucklehead was shot during a drive-by years ago and his license is suspended for not paying child support.

The only thing missing from this call were circus animals, clowns and some midgets.

The next call was much easier. That one involved an unlicensed driver who, crashed head-on into another car while on the wrong side of the road.

There was a restriction on the victim driver’s license for corrective lenses so I asked him where his glasses were.

The driver told me ink spilled on his glasses and they were smashed. After that, the glasses were in the kitchen and the dog, “Disappeared them.”

“Your dog ate your glasses?” I asked with a hint of sarcasm.

“It was a Pit Bull,” he said.

That was the funniest thing I heard all night. See, you just can’t make this stuff up.

What Do You Think Of When You Hear The Word Pedestrian?


Do kids who grow up in a law enforcement family see the world differently? Ask someone in this line of work and they’ll tell you a story how their child said something a person their age would never say.

Here are a few examples.

In the spring of 2006, my son was just shy of four-years old. He was sitting on the floor in his room with wood blocks he stacked up. He also had a Thomas The Train in his hand.

He held up the train as he told me to watch. He then knocked the blocks down with the train as he said, “I’m playing fatal crash.” OMG.

I told my son that story today while we were driving and we laughed so hard. At one point he asked, “Who plays that?”

Exactly! This made us laugh even more.

A long time ago, the first grade teacher had to speak to me after school about my son talking too much in class. I told her I would take care of it.

While we were walking to the car I told him what she said. I also told him it was unacceptable to disrupt the teacher in class like that. He was six-years old at the time and said, “I’m not the suspect. I’m the victim.” He claimed the girl next to him was talking too much.

Another time the teacher was talking to the class about words that ended with “unk.” She gave examples like, trunk, skunk and dunk. My first grader at the time held up his hand and told the class about another word that ended in “unk.” That word was DRUNK.

A boy sitting next my son asked what drunk meant. My son replied that it was when a person crashed their car and went to jail.

One night my wife had a beer while at home. My son was very young at the time and told her she couldn’t drive. He put his finger up to my wife’s face and told her to follow it as he moved it side to side. He gave his version of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

And finally, there is the Olive Garden story from dinner on Monday night.

The children’s menu had a cartoon road map with people on it. In the upper right corner of the menu, there were specific people and things that needed to be found on the map. It was like an Olive Garden version of Where’s Waldo.

One of the people you had to find was a “Pedestrian.” There was picture of a person with the word pedestrian under it. Now most kids would see the picture and try and find the pedestrian on the map. Not my kids.

I found out the word “Pedestrian” meant something entirely different to them.

They associated the word pedestrian with someone who crossed the street where they weren’t supposed to and got hit by a car.

I’m sure the Olive Garden people would be horrified to know their little cartoon pedestrian would be hit by the car sticker they provided as my kids joked around.

Most people think of a pedestrian as a person who crosses the street and actually makes it to the other side without getting hurt.

Apparently in my house the word represents a person who didn’t make it.

I’ve worked the last fifteen years in the traffic detail and it has rubbed off on my kids. At least I know they’ve been listening to my stories. Hopefully they’ve learned something too.

I also learned something about them.

I learned their humor is as twisted as mine. Just look at the picture and you’ll know what I’m talking about.