His name was Deputy Goforth

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His name was Darren Goforth. He was a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff Department in Texas and he was murdered on August 28, 2015 at 8:25PM.

He wasn’t bothering anyone. He was only pumping gas into his patrol car. The news account say he was shot from behind and fell to the ground. The suspect then stood over him and shot Deputy Goforth a couple of more times.

The suspect drove away like a coward and left him to die.

Just reading this made me angry. Every law-abiding citizen should be angry at such a senseless killing of a man and a symbol of law and order. This wasn’t just an attack on a police officer. It was an attack against what we stand for as a society.

Deputy Goforth wasn’t involved in a high risk warrant service. He wasn’t on a car stop or on a domestic violence call. He was putting gas in his patrol car at a gas station. The senselessness is beyond words to me. The evil shown by the suspect is beyond comprehension.

This all happened because of the uniform and badge he was wearing. He was on-duty tonight, just like I was. He was serving his community just like thousands of other officers.

During my 30 minute drive home, I thought about how this could’ve happened to me or one of my friends. It could’ve happened to an officer in a neighboring city. As the minutes ticked away on my drive, I got angrier as I thought about what happened.

I didn’t know him, but he wore a badge just like I do.  He wore a badge just like over 800,000 other officers in the United States. That badge might not be the same, but we all grieve for him and his family.

Take a moment today and reflect on what you have and think about Deputy Goforth’s family. They didn’t deserve this. No one does.

His name was Deputy Goforth and he was a police officer. His life mattered.

I thought my patrol car was haunted

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Have you ever heard voices in the dark? Well, let me tell you a story…..

One night, I was parked behind a building while I was doing paper work in my police car. The night was quiet and there was no one around. The only noise was from my idling engine, the air conditioner and the occasional radio traffic from the dispatcher. I was backed into my spot and I had a clear view if anyone approached from the front.

I was looking down and filling out a report when I heard a whispering raspy sounding voice. I instantly looked up as I wondered what it was. I scanned left and right as I looked for someone, but there was nothing. It was just me in the dark. After a while I decided I must have imagined it and went back to work.

A little while later I heard it again. I looked around, but there was nothing.

This went on for almost two weeks. The voice was random and I could never figure out what it was saying. Other times it sounded like a noise. It was always so low I could barely hear it. I never heard it while I was driving. It was only when I was parked and sitting in the car.

As funny as it sounds, I started to wonder if my car was haunted. I have been driving the same car since 2010 and it never made sounds before. You just shouldn’t hear a strange voice when you’re sitting in the dark.

After the first week I wondered if I should tell someone about it. But how do you bring that up in a conversation? What do you say? “Hey, I’m hearing voices.” Not.

I had three days off and then it was back to work and driving my car again. I worked Wednesday night and it happened again. I started wondering if someone left a cell phone in the car, but there was nothing when I looked in the doors and under the seats. This was starting to creep me out.

The next night I was on a crash and a motor officer sat in my car to look something up on my computer.

He got out of the car and told me he heard something!!! You have no idea how good that made me feel to know it wasn’t just me. I then told him about the noises I was hearing in the car. He gave me the crazy look and said that was weird.

While I was still on the call, an officer named Mike got me on the radio and asked me if anything weird had been going on. He then told me to meet him.

This particular officer is a funny guy and I knew something was up now, so I raced over to see him. When I arrived at his location he asked me if I was hearing weird noises. I told him the story about the voices and the noises I was hearing. He started laughing so hard I knew he had done something.

He went to my car and reached underneath the police radio console and pulled out this round object that looked like a miniature speaker. He pushed something and the raspy male voice came on. OMG!

He then said, “I forgot I put it in there.”

We both started laughing as I told him the stories about my haunted car. I was so relieved to know I wasn’t hearing things. His little sound maker was set to make a noise every so often at random times.

Some people might ask why I didn’t just drive another car. Well, that particular car is the one I like to drive and we’ve been through a lot together. I couldn’t just discard it because of a few strange voices.

It was a once in a life time prank that I’ll never forget. I won’t lie, I was so happy the joke was over.

The Cucumber Story

The actual cucumber

The actual cucumber

One night, dispatch broadcasted an unknown trouble call over the radio with no other details except there was a man down on the sidewalk. I was close by and responded with other officers.

When I got there, there was a male in his mid to late 50s lying on the sidewalk. There was no one else around except for him. He was disoriented and was hard to understand. He didn’t look homeless and he had clean clothes on. I didn’t get close enough to see if he was drunk.

At first, it appeared the guy might have fallen and hit his head, but we weren’t sure. It clearly wasn’t a collision since the guy was on the sidewalk and there was no evidence of a car hitting him or anything else.

Other officers and fire personnel spoke with the guy to try and find out what happened. I stood by with another officer as we watched. While we stood there, we couldn’t help but notice that there was a large cucumber on the sidewalk next to the man.

It wasn’t a gun, a knife or any other type of weapon. It was a cucumber. And I’m not talking about any old cucumber. I’m talking the longest cucumber ever seen. It was the type of cucumber that would make other vegetables jealous.

There were so many questions now. Was the cucumber the weapon that took him down or was he carrying it? Even if he was carrying it, who walks around with a cucumber at night?

Someone else handled the call so there was really wasn’t anything to do except to make jokes about the cucumber. How could we not?

Good thing it wasn’t in his pocket. That would’ve been an awkward conversation for sure. “Is that a cucumber or are you happy to see me?”

The paramedics loaded him onto a gurney and started to wheel him toward the ambulance. The cop I was talking with picked up the cucumber and put it on the gurney next to the guy. Who knows, it might’ve been his.

I bet that was the first time a cucumber went for a ride in an ambulance. I’m sure the people at the hospital were going to have the same questions about the cucumber on steroids.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

What do you say to a driver with a blind person’s cane?

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The other night I responded to an injury collision involving three cars. When I arrived, I saw the usual sight of crashed cars and a fire truck on scene. One of the vehicles was in the middle of the intersection. The other car was up against a traffic signal pole and a third car was parked off to the side.

The car in the middle of the intersection had two women in it. The driver was in her late 60s to early 70s and the passenger was at least ten years older. They both had a frail look. I stood at the door and spoke to the driver through the window as fire personnel worked on the passenger. After I was done I went to speak to the other drivers.

One of the other drivers told me how she had made a left turn when she was hit by a car. The collision caused her to spin around and hit a third car and then a pole.

After I was done speaking to all three drivers, I noticed the woman from the first car was still in the driver seat. I walked up to her and asked if she wanted a tow truck. She told me she was waiting for another ambulance to take her to the hospital. The firefighters were standing off to the side and I didn’t know they had called for another ambulance.

I was standing at the driver door when I noticed she was folding up a blind person’s cane. It’s not every day that you see a driver with a blind person’s cane. It kind of raised a red flag.

“Is that your cane,” I asked as I tried not to laugh.

“No. it’s hers,” as she pointed to the passenger seat. “Mine is the walker in the backseat.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. I wasn’t expecting that answer.

It goes to show that you never know what you’re going to hear at a traffic collision. After all these years, that was the first time I ever asked a driver if they owned a blind person’s cane.

When the cop is there and you have no idea- Priceless

Actual skids from the car.

Actual skids from the Dodge.

Today I was minding my own business as I sat at a red light. The sun had just dipped below the horizon as dusk descended on the area. My windows were down and the late summer breeze felt good.

When the light turned green, I coasted into the intersection with no particular place to go. I was just going to cruise around and enjoy a drive through the city. That’s when a large cloud of smoke caught my eye off to my right on a street that paralleled the one I was on.

The cloud was getting larger by the second as it surrounded a red Dodge Charger. The burn out seemed to last forever and was actually kind of impressive to watch.

I made a right turn on the side street to go talk to the driver about his lack of common sense. As soon as the driver saw me his tires quit spinning, but the cloud of burned rubber floated with the afternoon breeze toward my car.

After I stopped the car I walked up and asked the driver, “Were you having some type of medical problem that made your foot press down on the gas pedal like that?”

“No.”

“How old are you?”

“26.”

I held up my hands as I asked, “Why?”

“I was being stupid,” the driver said as he put his head down on his steering wheel.

His license showed an address that was far away from where we were, so I asked him how he ended up on this particular street. The driver replied he was going to a local club around the corner and he wanted to test out his new car. He told me he picked this street because no one was around.

I was amazed by his honesty. I also appreciated how he picked a street with no cars, businesses or homes to practice his speed skills on. I told the driver, “You did a dumb thing, but you were smart about it. I appreciate that.”

He gave me half a smile and didn’t say anything.

“What did you say when you saw me?” I asked.

“I said F#@K!”

“I would’ve said the same thing. Did you know you’re going to be my next blog story?”

“I didn’t know you had a blog.”

“I do and this story is too good to pass up.”

A records check showed that the driver was very experienced in the traffic ticket world. I walked back to him and asked, “How many tickets have you had?”

“Probably 7.”

“Well, today you’re only getting a ticket for not having the insurance paper in the car. Is that better than another mover?”

The driver let out of huge sigh of relief as his entire body relaxed. He stuck out his right hand and offered to shake mine. I shook his hand and told him I hope he understood what a huge break I was giving him.

He said, “I know. Thank you.”

After he signed the ticket I said, “Out of all the cops you’ve ever spoken to, was I the best?”

He laughed as he said, “Yes.”

I gave him his copy and offered my left fist as I said, “Give me knuckles.”

He fist bumped me with a smile and I walked away wondering why every person couldn’t be like that guy. Life would be so much easier if they were.

“Why didn’t you stop for the red light?”

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People are funny because they tend to all say the same thing in similar situations when the police catch them doing something wrong. There are some answers that you can bet on to be the same every time.

These common answers can be fun to work with because you can see them coming a mile away. Of course, it depends on the situation, but there are times when I can be two questions ahead of someone because I’ve already been in that particular situation thousands of times before.

“I paused” is one such answer when it comes to failing to stop for a stop sign or a red light.

I recently stopped a man for making a right turn against a red light at an intersection without stopping. He did it right in front of me, so I pulled him over. After he stopped, I walked up on the driver side and asked him for his driver’s license. I then asked him about the violation while he looked through his wallet.

“Why didn’t you stop for the red light?” I asked.

“I paused.”

“You paused?”

“Yes, I paused.”

“Do you have a DVR at home?” I asked.

“Yes,” the man answered with a confused look on his face.

“When you’re watching a movie and you press the pause button what happens to the movie?”

“It stops.”

“So, why didn’t you stop for the red light then?

It was like the wheels were turning in his head as he squinted, trying to figure out what just happened. The look on his face was great because he wasn’t expecting that question. That might have been the first time he heard that question, but it was probably my one hundredth time asking it. This then set up my next question.

“So, you really didn’t stop, right?”

“No,” he said with a defeated look.

“She has brain matter coming out of her head.”

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I pulled up to the accident scene and saw a car that looked like the Incredible Hulk had just torn it open and tossed it into a pole like an empty Coke can. Half the car was crushed beyond recognition was headed to car heaven.

My first thought was to check on the victim to see if this was going to be a fatal collision. As I walked up to the ambulance an officer spotted me and said, “She’s has a major head injury.”

That didn’t surprise me after looking at the car. The same officer then said, “She has brain matter coming out of her head.”

The words “brain matter” and “car accident” are never a good combination under any circumstances.

I decided to peek into the ambulance just to see if I could learn some more information about the injuries. I expected to see the paramedics franticly trying to save her life, but instead they were talking to victim in a normal voices.

Looking at the scene and then inside the ambulance was like turning the radio from a heavy metal station to a classical music station. One was chaotic and the other was peaceful.

Something didn’t look right here. People with brain matter coming out of their head usually don’t look that good. I could see her blood socked hair, but she looked remarkably well given the circumstances.

I looked back at the officer and said, “She’s talking.”

“But it’s a bad injury,” the officer replied.

I stuck my head back in the ambulance again and saw the victim having a normal conversation with the paramedics. I pulled my head back out and said, “But she’s talking.”

The fire captain then got out of the ambulance and smiled at me like he usually does when we see each other. We shook hands as I asked, “How bad is she?”

“She might have a punctured lung,” he said.

No hint of death and no mention of brain matter coming out of her head. I asked him about the head injury. The captain told me she had a large laceration, but she was going to survive. Now I was really confused.

I shrugged it off and went about my business as I handled the scene. I had dispatch send an officer to the hospital to check on the victim’s status just in case.

Later on, the officer from before walked up to me and said she wanted to show me something. She had taken a closer look at the car and saw something that explained the “brain matter” she had seen coming out of the victim’s head.

She pointed to a pizza box in the twisted wreckage and all of our questions were answered as if a giant light came down on us from the pizza gods in the sky.

It turned out the “brain matter” had been pizza that flew out of the box after the car had been broadsided, spun around and struck a pole. It explained everything and it was truly one of the funniest things ever from a collision scene.

The victim not only survived a nasty car accident, but also the flying pizza.

In my experience, brain matter usually looks like tapioca pudding. But in the officer’s defense, flying pizza could’ve also looked like brain matter if it was mixed in with blood soaked hair.

I’m just glad there wasn’t pineapple on the pizza. That would’ve just confused everyone even more.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

The sleep over at McDonalds

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One night, McDonald’s called the police about a transient who refused to leave the restaurant. I was close by, so I answered up to assist. How hard could it be to ask a transient to leave a business?

When I got there, I couldn’t help but laugh. There was a homeless guy sleeping in a booth on his right side with his leg sticking out into the aisle. His left arm and leg were on top of the table, like it was his personal body pillow.

The sound of his snoring echoed and vibrated off the plastic seat like it was a rhythmic dance. This guy wasn’t just napping; he was in for the night. The only thing missing was a blanket and a stuffed animal.

The restaurant was pretty busy at the time with people eating and minding their own business. It was like they were used to seeing a homeless man having a sleep over.

I walked up to the manager and asked, “How long has he been here?”

“Two hours.”

“He’s been like that for two hours?”

“Yes. He won’t wake up.”

I walked over to the guy and tried to wake him up, but he was in a deep, alcohol induced coma. He smelled so bad I wondered how people could still be eating around him. It was one of those smells that stayed with you. It was a mixture of beer, toe jam and body odor all in one.

Another officer arrived and he couldn’t wake the guy up either. By now, the entire restaurant was watching us between bites of french fries and Big Macs. We shook the guy numerous times, but he only proved to be a 160lbs paper weight.

The fire department finally arrived and loaded their new found treasure onto a gurney. He snored the entire time as they took him to the ambulance.

As I was about to leave I wondered if McDonald’s was going to clean the table. Who knows what kind of germs that guy had. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat at that table without a good cleaning.

I walked over to the manager and explained to him that they should clean the table before letting customers eat there. The manager then sent someone over there as I left.

It was a funny thing to see. I only regret not taking a picture of sleep beauty. Oh well. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I see something like this.

The call at the crematorium

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The other day, I was on my way to a collision call when dispatch broadcasted a panic alarm over the radio at a crematorium. Now, that in itself sounds weird. I wondered if someone wasn’t ready and hit the panic button to stop the process.

I was right around the corner from the call so I went there instead. I pulled my car to the curb just north of the location and didn’t see anything going on outside. I picked up the microphone and couldn’t resist as I said, “729, It looks dead out front. I’ll stand by for the follow.”

When the other officers arrived, we had dispatch call inside the business, but there was no answer. We then walked around the business as we checked doors. When we got to the rear we heard a loud bang come from inside. Now we knew at least one person was alive inside.

We knocked on the door a few times before a man opened it up. He was wearing a large reflective apron, two large pot holder style gloves that went up to his elbows and a hat with a face shield. There was also sweat pouring down his forehead. I could feel the heat coming from inside the location through the open door.

The man told us he was alone and didn’t realize the alarm had been set off by another co-worker, who just left.

I asked, “Is it hot in there?”

“Yes, it’s hot,” he said with a smile.

“Can we come in and look?” I asked.

“Sure.”

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We walked inside as the worker started telling us about the cremation process. The ovens were on one side of the room that you could feel the heat coming from. On the other side of the room there were three long cardboard boxes on a conveyor belt.

Off to the side there were six more boxes that were stacked on shelves. Next to that was a large refrigerator the size of the wall. The worker told us that each of the boxes had bodies inside that were waiting to be put into the ovens.

Within  a few minutes, we were done and we went back out to our patrol cars. Now, it was time for another call, but we had a story to tell for sure.

As officers, we’re used to dealing with dead bodies, but this was entirely different. The place had a weird feeling about it.

It was definitely not a place I ever thought I would get a tour of. In fact, I had no idea our city had a crematorium until that call. I had driven by this location many times over the years and had never seen anyone outside.

Thinking back, I guess it wouldn’t be the type of place where you saw a bunch of people hanging around.

This was more of a place where everyone was dying to get in.

You never know when you’re going to hear a Hall and Oates song

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One night, my partner Mike and I were standing in front of our favorite 7-Eleven when a transient came up to talk with us.

It was a chilly night and he was wearing a beanie with a fedora hat on top. It was quiet the fashion statement for the area. He had a beard that was unkempt and the look of someone who had lived on the street for some time.

During our conversation I decided to ask him a random question. “Do you like Hall and Oates?”

He gave me a weird look and then said, “I saw them in concert once.”

“When?” I thought he was pulling my leg.

“About 10 years ago. I saw them at the fair.”

“What fair.”

“The LA County Fair.”

Wow. We had actually been at the same concert. What were the odds of that?

I asked, “Can you sing Maneater?”

He waved his hand in the air and said, “No, I don’t like that song.”

I wasn’t expecting that response and it made me laugh. I thought everyone liked Maneater. I then asked him what other Hall and Oates songs he knew.

He said, “Rich Girl.”

“Can you sing it?”

I took out my phone and got the video ready. He hesitated at first, but then started singing a cappella.

“She’s a rich girl and you’ve gone too far

Cause you know it don’t matter anyway

You can rely on the old man’s money

You can rely on the old man’s money

It’s a bitch girl…..”

That’s when he got stuck as he started to repeat that part.  He grinned and threw his hands up in surrender as he finished.

It was priceless. He did such a good job I gave him a Cliff Bar from my cooler. It was the least I could do for the guy.

Hall and Oates would’ve been proud.