An inside joke that lives on

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In Orange County, 901T is the radio code for injury collision. 902T is the radio code for non-inury collision and 901 means traffic collision with unknown injuries. It’s just those three unless it’s a hit and run. Then there are a few more codes.

Last year on Halloween night of 2014, a new radio code was born that no one new about. It’s not an official radio code, but it’s the source of a great inside joke that will go on for years.

On that night a 901T involving a pedestrian went out in the southern part of the city and two patrol officers were dispatched to it. My partner and I were on a different call at the time in the east end of our city. It was raining cats and dogs so we had to seek shelter under the porch of someone’s house just to get away from the craziness. At that point I needed a towel more than an umbrella.

We were standing there feeling miserable when an officer got on the radio and said, “This is a 901 Frank.”


What the heck was a 901 Frank? None of us had ever heard that before. The dispatcher said something on the radio and then the officer spoke again.

“It’s a major and start a traffic.”

“Traffic is 10-6,” replied the dispatcher, advising him we were busy.

“Confirming you conveyed the message to traffic that this is a major.” The tone in his voice told us this was more than just a regular crash.

“10-4,” replied the dispatcher.

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After hearing the word “major” it was time for us to drop what we were doing and head to that call. We had a long drive and I knew we were going to have some good natured fun with the officer who said 901 Frank when we got there. How could we pass it up?

When I pulled up to the call, I went up to the cop and we started having fun with him. “What’s a 901Frank?” I asked.

The officer said, “It was bad. There was blood coming out of his eyes.”

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He was an experienced officer and a great guy, so if he said it was bad then it was really bad. He meant 901 Frank (901F) to be fatal or possible fatal collision. Either way, you’ll never find it in any radio code list ever.

In the end we finished the call and the pedestrian survived. From that point on the term 901 Frank achieved legendary status among some of us who worked that night. It’s one of the funniest inside jokes around and was the subject of numerous memes that I may or may not have created.

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Thanks MW for the laugh. It’s still a great story and it’s hard to believe it happened a year ago.

But really? What the F#$%k is 901Frank?

“Where’s my car?”


Last night I saw my friend Sean sitting in a parking lot as I drove by. He had just been on a fight call that sounded interesting on the radio so I went to ask him about it. As soon as I pulled up Sean said, “This would make a great blog story.”

Sean was sent to a call in which a couple of women were fighting. When he arrived, Sean saw them still fighting and yelling at each other on the east side of the street. He separated everyone and waited for the other officers to arrive.

“Have a seat and tell me what happened,” Sean said to one of the women.

The woman was breathing hard and was upset, but she sat down as she said, “I’m the oldest. She’s my sister and we were trying to get her back into the car.”

The woman then stood up as she looked across the street like she was stranded on a life boat and just saw land for the first time in a month. That’s when she said, “Where’s my car?”

“Where did you park your car?” Sean asked.

“Across the street. Where’s my mother fucking car?”

The woman then ran across a major road without looking for traffic. It’s amazing she didn’t get hit by a car. She screamed “Where’s my car?” the entire time.  Once she got to the west side of the street she ran back across to where Sean was while she was still yelling, “Where’s my car?”

When she got back she told Sean, “Do something! You’re the police!”

“Did you leave your car running with the keys in it?”

“Yeah! Where’s my car?”

“What kind of car do you have?”

“Hurry! The longer you wait, the farther it gets away!”

She was so distraught her brother had to scream at her to calm down. When she finally was able to give a description of the car she told the officers it had paper plates.

Sean told me, “I bet the suspect saw the car and drove away while I was across the street.”

I wish I had been there! You can’t make this stuff up.

The 12 year old who drives


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The other day I gave two traffic presentations at a junior high school. The first class were eighth graders and the second were seventh graders. Before the first class started, the teacher told me the seventh graders were going to be a challenging audience compared to the eighth graders.

The first presentation went off without a problem. The kids had good questions and liked the crash pictures I showed them. When class ended, the kids clapped and most of them shook my hand as they walked out. Wow, what a group.

Then the next class came in. There were nice and attentive for a while, but the teacher was right. This group of kids were more challenging for sure.

During the second class there was this boy in the front row that was restless and talked a lot. I figured he was one of the people the teacher was talking about. At one point he held up his hand and said, “I’ve driven a car before.”

“Really? Where?” I asked.

“In the desert.”

I didn’t know what to say to him other than, “OK.”

He then said, “And on the street.”

“You mean the city street?”


As a joke I asked, “Where do you live?” but I didn’t expect anyone to get it.

The boy was about to answer when another boy in the front row started laughing. I looked at him and asked, “Did you get my joke?”

He nodded and said he had. I put my hand up in the air and said, “Give me a high five since you were the only one that got that.” The kid smiled and slapped my hand.

I looked back to the the unlicensed driver in the front row and asked, “How old are you?”


I stood there and shook my head because I knew the kid was telling the truth.

He then asked, “What would you do if you saw me driving?”

“I’d take your car away and give your dad a ticket.”

The kid give me a funny look at the same time some of the kids started laughing. I then told them a story about a 12 year from a long time ago that I caught driving. The kids were amazed and paid attention while I told it because they were all about the same age as the kid in my story.

At the end of the class I spoke to the teacher again. She told me the unlicensed driver in the front was one of her challenging kids, along with a few others in the class.

Something tells me I might be seeing that kid again. Let’s just hope it’s not on a car stop when he’s 12 years old. If i do,  I’ll  be writing an impound report that night…..



“Is your license really valid?”


The other night I decided to watch a stop sign in a neighborhood because of a complaint. I parked at an L shaped intersection in plain view for all to see. I was parked along the curb in the dark when this car passed me on the left as it approached the stop sign. The car rolled through the stop and made its turn like I wasn’t there. I threw my lights on and stopped the car, wondering what the heck the driver was thinking.

I walked up to the car and asked the driver why she didn’t stop for the stop sign and if she saw the police car. At first, the driver told me she stopped. After further questioning and a Jedi Mind Trick, she admitted to not stopping. I next asked her if she had a license.

“Not with me,” she replied.

“Where is it at?”

“It broke in half two days ago.”

That was one of the dumbest excuses I had ever heard. Now I was sure her license was either suspended or she was never issued one.

“Is your license valid?”


I walked back to my car and entered her name into the computer. I knew it was a waste of time because there was no way her license was valid after the “broke in half” excuse. Call me skeptical, but it was a gut feeling.

Of course, it wasn’t valid. Her license expired in 2009 and she had two prior convictions for driving on a suspended license. Her license wasn’t just barely expired. It was really, really expired.

I couldn’t believe she tried telling me it was valid, but it was a nice try. I went back up to the driver and asked her about her license. She again told me it was valid. When do these people give up?

She next said it was set to be renewed in December of 2015. She was getting nervous at this point and started talking more and more. She then said something about failing the written test.

I asked her how many times she had failed the written test in the last year. She said, “Six times.”

“You know, they don’t make you take the test six times if you already have a valid driver’s license?”

“I have to take the test to renew it.”

That’s when she threw out one more excuse, hoping it would stick on the wall somewhere.

“I have a permit.”

“Ok. Show it to me.”

“It’s in storage,” she said.

“That doesn’t make sense. No one would put their permit in storage when they need it to drive,” I said.

Now she needed a diversion. She raised her voice and told me cops make her nervous because of all the things that happen on the news.

“Have I done anything wrong?” I asked.


Good, I wanted that for my body worn camera in case she tried to complain about me. I went back to my car and started writing her the ticket. I also called for a tow truck.

When I went back up to the driver door she was upset. She signed the ticket and asked to keep the car. I told her it was getting impounded because her license expired 6 years ago.

She exited the car and said, “I bet you’d let me keep the car if I was white.”

I almost laughed when I heard that since the driver and I were both Hispanic. I wanted so bad to say, “Nope, I’d take the car if you were white too,” but I held my tongue.

Then with a mean and sarcastic tone she said, “Thank you for protecting and serving,”

“Your welcome,” I replied.

She turned toward me with all the evilness she could muster. She even threw some imaginary darts my way with her eyes. Who cares? She lied and I was just doing my job. She could’ve stopped for the stop sign and made things easier for both of us.

After she left I told the tow truck driver what she said. He laughed as he said, “You take everybody’s car. It doesn’t matter if they’re white, black, Asian or Hispanic. If they’re wrong you take the car.”

At least the tow truck driver knew I was fair!

A few days letter there was a note in my mailbox at work from the driver. She left it after getting a release for the impound. The note said she was sorry for being rude at the end of the stop. It also said she was lagging and she finally got her license back.

She wasn’t such a bad person after all. She was just really mad because her car was impounded and that remark was the best she could come up with. At least she has her license now. I bet she stops the next time she comes up to that stop sign.

It’s not every day you get an apology from someone. I actually appreciated the note because she didn’t have to write it. Just another happy ending in police work.

The story about “My” tree


On Saturday night I started my shift by responding to an injury collision after a child ran into the street and was struck by a car. The investigation was simple and we were finished pretty fast. After I was done, I stood in the street and thought how it looked exactly the same way it did over 20 years ago when I was a new cop.

The apartment buildings were still old and tired looking. Some apartment courtyards had overgrown grass and others were dirt. There were vending trucks parked in front of red curbs with children standing around with no one watching them. There were also males in baggy clothes and shaved heads walking around in the shadows on a reconnaissance mission to see when the cops were going to leave.

The street was lined with cars as far as the eye could see in both directions. The cars had scratched and scuffed bumpers from the parallel parking wars that were fought here every night. There was even trash in the gutters just like the “old days.”

It was as if time had stood still on this little street since 1995. Everything was the same except for one thing. That was the tree I helped plant at the end of my field officer training.

On the last week of training I had to ride with an officer from the community policing team. This particular neighborhood was part of his area. One Saturday morning I reported to work ready to plant trees that were bought by the city.

There were people of all ages out there that morning with shovels and picks as dirt as hard as rock was broken up for the new trees. For hours people worked as a team in the hot July sun until all of the trees were planted.

After we were done, I made it a point to memorize which address “my” tree went in front of. According to my wife, I don’t remember certain things, but I still remember that tree was in front of address 175.

I knew back then I would be able to look back at that tree and remember I was part of why it was there.

As I left the collision scene that night, I stopped in front of 175 and looked at it. My son was with me on a ride along and I told him the story from long ago. I remembered digging the hole and dragging the tree to it with the help of others. We put it the hole and filled it with dirt as we packed it down with our feet. A garden hose was then pulled out and we watered it afterward. When we were done, I stood there and admired the tree with the people I had worked with to plant it.

The tree, like me, is different now after all these years. The tree looks nothing like it did when it was planted. It is taller now and its trunk is strong looking with branches reaching up to the sky. That tree, along with the others that were planted that day, have witnessed car accidents, shootings and stabbings. They have withstood the test of time just like we, as officers have.

To the people around there, it’s just a tree that no one pays attention to. To me, the size of that tree is a symbol of the years I’ve been around. It has grown and gotten stronger, just like I have grown as a cop and as a person.

As we drove away my son said, “That would make a good blog story.” I laughed a little and thought he was right.

The funny things people say


Tonight, the same call provided me with two different opportunities to laugh and shake my head. The first one involved a man who was driving with his family when he collided with a DUI in a minor crash.

His girlfriend was in the right front passenger and their two children were in the backseat. They were 5 and 2 years old. His girlfriend had an appointment she was late for. Someone drove up and dropped off grandpa and gave her a ride.

That left dad, grandpa and the two kids. I asked dad what his 2 year old son’s name was. He answered it pretty fast like he should since it was his own flesh and blood. He then ran into some trouble.

“What’s his birthday?” I asked.


“You don’t know his birthday?”

He started to squirm as he looked around for help. He looked at me like I was going to save him from the embarrassment rocket that was plummeting back to earth to land on him. He then said the dumbest thing I heard all night. “Ah. June. I don’t know. My wife knows.”

It was like the loser music from the Price is Right started up in the background when he said that.

“You might want to work on that one.” I said.

I looked at grandpa and thought I’d give it and shot. “Do you know his birthday?”

“Ah,” he said as he shifted back and forth. “My wife knows it.”

I looked to the 5 year old brother to save the day. I thought how cool it would be if the kid could throw a strike down the middle and deliver the ultimate game winning performance to show up dad.

“Do you know your brother’s birthday?” I asked.

The child started talking about something else as he dashed my hopes to poke at dad for not knowing his youngest son’s birthday.

“What’s your other son’s name and birthday?”

He told me the child’s name and then said, “October. Ah.”

It was on the tip of his tongue and it was painful to watch since there were only 8 days left in the month. Then by some miracle he blurted out his son’s birthday like he beat the buzzer on a timed test. At least he got that one.

I walked away wondering if he was going to remember Christmas. My only regret was not asking for his girlfriend’s birthday. I’m sure he would’ve crashed and burned on that one too.

I then watched the end of the DUI investigation. The driver attempted to raise a foot in the air for the test, but he kept putting it down like a horse trying to do Morse code with his front hoof. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

He rose the other foot and it came down like the other, but more often and faster as he lost his balance. He was either doing Morse code again or he was bull getting ready to charge at a matador.

At one point the driver just turned around in defeat and put his hands behind his back as he said to arrest him. The officer told him to turn around. The driver did and attempted Morse code again.

There was another test, but the driver turned around and put his hands behind his back as he tried to get me to handcuff him. I gave him a coach pep talk and said, “Go back over there.”

When the investigation was over, the officer told him to put his hands behind his back. He turned around and did as he told. That’s when a big smile appeared on the driver’s face as he said, “See, I told you.” The tone in his voice was hilarious like he knew he was more drunk that we thought.

A patrol unit arrived to transport the DUI to jail. One of the officers in the car only had a year on the job and was young looking.

The DUI looked at him and said, “The fucking new guy is taking me?”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

The Stick Figure Guy


Anyone who has ever worked this job knows you joke around a lot. Some call it a defense mechanism to all of the things you see and hear at work. That being said, there are certain things that I find funny that the regular person wouldn’t. It’s not that I’m uncaring. It’s just part of this job.

I’ve always joked saying the Heisman Trophy looks like a pedestrian right before a collision occurs.  Since I can’t put the Heisman in the drawing I have to use a Stick Figure Guy.


Last night I was finishing up a report involving a pedestrian who was hit by a car. The pedestrians in my drawings are always stick figure guys with their hands in the up position. There’s no particular reason why their hands are in the up position. That’s just the way I’ve always done it.

When the drawing was done, I looked at the computer screen and I wondered what the stick figure guy would look like with his hands down. But in reality, what pedestrian has their hands down when a car is about to hit them.

The hands in the up position as the pedestrian says, “Oh shit” was more believable to me.

Then I thought about turning in the report with the hands in a different position, like one up and one down. I clicked on the hands and it reminded me of John Travolta in the movie Saturday Night Fever. A Bee Gees song from the movie flashed in my head as my stick figure guy’s arms assumed the disco position.

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Of course, this was funny to me for no other reason that just because. I guess some things are funnier at 2AM.

After that I wondered what other ways I could draw the stick figure guy in my report. That’s when I came up with the last stick man with his legs and arms bent in different positions.


I actually laughed when I saw it. That stick figure guy was probably closer to what we see at collisions when people look like human pretzels. Maybe after almost 6,000 crashes I’ve become a little twisted. Like I said, I find humor in stuff the regular person wouldn’t.


Be safe out there and don’t become the stick figure guy in a drawing. Watch for cars when you cross the street.

The silent man

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One of the best parts of this job is the people you meet on this journey we call police work.

I started working the 5PM to 3AM shift in January of 2000. Back in the day the traffic officers used meet at a donut shop for a cup of coffee at 9:30PM. It was a great time and I look back at it fondly because of all the laughs we shared.

There used to be a unique group of people that hung out in front of the donut shop in those days. The group included wannabe punk rocking teens and a group of older men who used to sit on the planters drinking coffee. Throw in a runaway or two and you had a melting pot of lifestyles. There was also a male who couldn’t speak.

The male was in his early 20s and carried a laminated paper in his back pocket with the alphabet typed on it. Whenever he wanted to “speak” he pulled out his paper and pointed to the letters as he spelled out words. He could hear if you asked a question and nodded if it was yes or no. He always had a smile on his face and I wondered what his story was, but I never asked.

After a few years the donut shop closed and moved to another location. We were like stranded tourist with nowhere to go after our cruise ship sailed away without us. The punk rockers, runaways and the cops all moved on to different spots. Even though things changed, there was one person who remained in the area. It was the guy with the laminated alphabet in his pocket.

Over the years I’d see him driving around the area. He always waved and smiled at me in his silent world. There was always a mystery about him. What was his story? Why was he always out here at night?

On Wednesday night I was on a crash in the downtown area about a half mile from the old donut shop. I was standing there waiting for the tow truck drivers to clean up when I noticed someone leaning against a pole. The person had been there for a while and I assumed he was just watching because he had nothing better to do.

I looked over and guess who it was? It was him. I decided I was going to find out his story.

I first asked if he still had his laminated paper. He nodded and pulled it out to show me. It was bent and had seen better days. I wondered if that was the same one from all those years ago.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

With a fast moving index finger he spelled out, “Jose.”

“Where do you live?”


“Where do you sleep?”

“In my car.”

“What happened? Were you able to speak before?”

“Yes. Accident.”

“You were in a car accident?”

He went on to tell me he was in a traffic collision in 1991 when he was 17 years old. His injuries were so severe it affected his ability to speak. The collision occurred on the 5 Freeway and he was a passenger at the time. I asked him where he slept at night. Jose told me he slept in the same parking lot where the donut shop was. I asked him about his parents. He said his mother lived in the area, but they didn’t get along. I asked him about where he got money to live. He replied he receives $800 a month from the state. After hearing all of this, I asked him if he was hungry. I wanted to buy him food, but he said he was fine.

After the tow truck drivers were done it was time to leave. Jose and I said goodbye and we went our separate ways. I wondered how many people had tried to speak to Jose today. I hoped I had made a small difference by taking the time to “talk” with him.

A 14 year mystery was finally solved. I finally knew Jose’s name and story. It’s tragic if you think about it. He’s 41 years old now and has suffered in silence since he was 17 years old. He only goes to his mother’s house to shower. Other than that, he’s alone with his car in silence in a world that is very loud around him.

The next time I see Jose I’m going to stop and make sure I spend a couple of minutes with him. It’s the least I can for a person who doesn’t have that much.

He just doesn’t get it


It’s amazing how some people can’t accept responsibility for their actions. You can see that anywhere, but you really see it in police work. People want to whine and complain when you do your job, but never realize they were the ones who brought the attention to themselves.

The other night I was working a stop sign in a residential neighborhood because of a complaint. I was there less than 2 minutes before someone ran it.

I stopped the car and asked the driver for his license. He gave me the look I’ve seen many times. The shoulders sagged at the same time the chin touched his chest with heavy breathing. It was the look of a person with a suspended license. I’d seen it so many times I could just tell.

He started looking through his wallet as he said, “I hope I have it.”

“I hope you have it too,” I replied with a laugh.

After digging for some time he gave me a mutilated California identification card. It was in three pieces and had been taped back together. I thought how I’ve seen broken legs at crashes that looked better than his identification card.

At first he told me he didn’t have his license with him. After further questioning he finally admitted it was suspended for not paying a ticket. I asked him about the stop sign and he said he stopped. After further questions he finally admitted to running it.

I checked his license status and confirmed what I thought. His driving record looked as bad as his identification card.

I wrote him a ticket for the stop sign and the suspended license. He signed it and I told him the car was being impounded.

At this point most people accept their fate and get out. They might not be happy, but they get out because there is nothing they can do about it. For the most part, they’re still easy to deal with after that.

Not this guy. He was an 18 years old cry baby who said, “Give me a chance” over and over. He just wouldn’t accept no for an answer.

I pointed out to him all the bad choices he made to get to this point, but he didn’t get it. The whining continued as he asked if someone could pick up the car for him. I told him no. He asked for another chance. Again, the answer was no. He said, “I’m begging.” Again, the answer was no. He went on and on. He just wouldn’t stop. It got to the point where he reminded me a 4 year old when they don’t get their way.

That’s when I figured out he was used to getting his way. This was how he got people to give in. He was a whiner and a cry baby. Plain and simple.

By this point my patience were running out about as fast as an Olympic sprinter going for the gold medal. This guy refused to accept responsibility for any of his actions and still thought he was going to keep the car.

I finally said, “Get out of the car. Nothing you say or do is going to change anything.”

With a hurt look he told me I wasn’t being cool. He finally gave up and exited the car. He gathered his things and acted like the victim. All I could do was shake my head and wonder how he was going to handle life when curve balls were thrown his way.

I’m guessing not well and there will probably being some whining involved too.

The thank you that meant a lot


You never know who you’re going to run into on this job.

On Saturday night, I got to work and headed straight to Starbucks to type reports and to get my daily drink. I walked in and headed to my usual table. I glanced over to the right and saw a man and a woman sitting at separate tables. Both were facing the door and looked up at the same time. I made eye contact with both and said hi as I dropped my computer off at the table.

After I got my drink, I walked back to my table and I noticed the woman looking at me. I nodded at her and sat down. About a minute later, the woman got up and stopped at my table. I looked up at her and said hello. She said, “You were the first responder that came to my mom’s house.”

“Which call?” I asked because I didn’t recognize her.

“You did CPR on my mom.”

I instantly knew who she was talking about. Her mother was my third attempt at CPR in less than a year.

She smiled and said, “I just wanted to say thank you.”

The words “You did CPR on my mom” instantly triggered the memory from that night. In fast forward motion, I remembered the call coming out over the radio about a woman who wasn’t breathing. I was there within a minute and arrived before the paramedics.

The family was upstairs when I entered the house. The sound of my boots jogging up the wood stairs told them that I was coming to help. I then saw a man bent over a hospital bed doing chest compressions on his wife. I went around to the other side and took over, hoping the paramedics would get there soon.

Then there was her mother’s lifeless face two feet away from mine as I started chest compressions. Of course, the two other CPR attempts went through my mind for the next two minutes before the paramedics arrived. She was pronounced dead a minute later.

I was in the hallway when the man made a phone call. The first words into the phone were, “Mom’s dead.”

All of this flashed through my head as I shook her hand and said thank you for stopping to talk with me.

“How long ago was that?”

“It was 6 months ago.”

She stood there and told me some stories about her parents and her mother’s illness. After a few minutes I pointed to the chair across from me and said, “Do you want to sit down?”

She smiled and took a seat. She told me about a trip she recently took and how she was her mother’s caregiver for years. She thanked me a few more times and finally went back to her seat.

A few minutes later I was dispatched to a call. I gathered my things and walked over to her table to say goodbye. Even though her mother died, she appreciated that I had tried to help. Her thank you went a long way that night and meant a lot.

Police work isn’t always about catching the bad guy and car chases. It’s about the people we meet and emotionally touch throughout our careers. That’s where the real satisfaction of the job comes.