About Badge415

I'm a police officer in Southern California and my goal is to show the human side of police work. I've been with my department for 20 years and I feel I have something to offer from my point of view.

Almonds anyone?

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The other night, I was snacking on almonds when I was sent to a medical aid call involving a 96 year-old woman, who was not breathing. I finished chewing and acknowledged the call as I headed toward the address, which was right around the corner.

This 96 years old, not breathing and I was going to be the first one on scene. She had no idea about my record of CPR attempts with no wins. If she did, I’m sure she would’ve said, “No thank you,” and asked for another cop to respond.

Last year when the life saving awards were presented at our banquet, my son said with sarcasm, “Maybe you’ll get that one day.”

Someone else once told me I could win the UN-life saving award if they had that category. I’ve also heard, “Don’t go. Give them a chance.”

I turned the corner and was in front of the woman’s house in about 30 seconds. I went up to the door, which was closed and opened it as I said, “Police!”

Someone from the back of the house said, “In here!”

I went inside and saw an elderly woman face up on the couch with her eyes open. I got closer and saw her eyes move. I looked over at a man, who was her son, and asked, “What’s her name?”

He was out of breath and understandably upset as he replied, “Gabby.”

I leaned over and touched her left shoulder and said her name (a pseudonym) loudly. The woman was motionless, but she was breathing and she looked at me, which was great. At least she had a chance.

I was still bent over when I touched her shoulder again and said, “You’re going to be okay Gabby.” That’s when a small piece of almond flew out of my mouth.

I watched in horror as it went through the air in slow motion and land on her chin.  Holy shit. Did that really just happen?

Well, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and move on. Without hesitation, I reached up and plucked the almond from her face as I continued to tell Gabby she was going to be okay. At least it didn’t land in her mouth.

You just never know what’s going to happen next in police work.

Up in smoke

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On Saturday night, I was dispatched to a traffic collision in an alley where a truck supposedly backed into a wall. The calling party was watching from his surveillance camera and even saw the driver get out of the truck and urinate.

When I arrived, I saw an older white truck hugging a garage at the dead end. It was facing westbound and there were two people inside. I turned on my spot light and bathed the truck’s interior with thousands of lumens.

There was a cloud of marijuana smoke inside the truck that would’ve made Cheech and Chong jealous. The light reflected like I used my high beams on a foggy night.

I explained to them why I was there and asked, “Did you hit the wall?”

“No.”

“Do you live here?”

“No, we’re just smoking here.”

“You’re smoking marijuana in your truck and eventually you’re going to drive away? That doens’t sound very smart.”

The driver replied, “I’ll be okay to drive.”

I had the driver step out so I could investigate further. During the pat-down I found two knives. One on his belt and the other in a pocket. I felt something else in his right front pants pocket and asked, “What is this?”

“It’s a glass vial.”

“What’s in it?”

“Methamphetamine.”

“Can I get it?”

“Yes.”

I reached into his pocket, but there was only a lighter. “There isn’t a vial in there,” I said.

“Oh, I must’ve forgot it at home,” he said matter of factly.

Some other cops arrived and stood by as I looked for damage. There was a wall at the dead end, but there was a metal guard rail protecting it. There was no damage to the guard rail and certainly none to the block wall. The truck had some old damage to the left rear quarter panel, but nothing else.

I contacted the witness who told me he heard a noise that sounded like a crash. That’s when he looked at his surveillance cameras and called the police because there was an unfamiliar truck in the alley.

In the end, the driver picked the wrong place to park and smoke. He had a warrant and was arrested. It seemed very normal to him and he took it in stride. He was definitely an expert in this process.

I bet he could even MDT book himself on the computer.

Keep your hands to yourself

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It was the late afternoon when I pulled up to a two-car crash at a busy intersection where a  fire truck was blocking the street and causing a huge traffic jam.

One of the drivers was being treated by fire personnel while he sat in his car. Both of his hands were bloody and I cringed at the thought of him handing his driver’s license to me.

After about ten minutes, the driver declined medical treatment and I interviewed him, along with the other driver about the crash. While I did that, another officer helped by writing the driver’s information on the collision report form.

A little while later, the motor cop held up the report form and said, “I have to redo it.”

I looked over at him as I wondered what he meant. That’s when I saw him holding a blood-stained report form in his hand as it blew in the afternoon breeze.

The cop told me bloody hands was standing next to him while he wrote down his information. That’s when bloody hands decided it was a good idea to point at something on the report form.

In horror, the cop tried to move his clipboard out of the way, but it was too late as the worlds largest drop of blood flew through the air and hit its bullseye.

Well, that was a first.  I’ve had coffee, water and food spilled on my report forms before, but never blood. What’s next? Vomit?

Keep your hands to yourself. I don’t know where they’ve been…..

 

A Jim Halpert moment

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I headed eastbound on a street of overpopulated and rundown apartments where red curbs mean nothing. It was a hit and run call where the victim’s rear bumper was struck and the suspect vehicle was left behind.

The victim vehicle, which was a smaller white SUV, was parked facing eastbound along the south curb. The front bumper of a silver car looked like it was touching the the SUV, but it wasn’t. There was no damage to either car that I could see.

The “victim” came out and I asked, “Have you moved your car since you saw this?”

“No.”

“Is there any damage?”

“I don’t know.”

What did she mean she didn’t know? She was the one who called the police and told the dispatcher there was damage.

“The car’s aren’t touching,” I pointed out.

“People are always hitting my car.” She pointed to a couple who were standing 30 feet away and said, “They hit the front of my car and the police took a report. The insurance company is trying to get them to pay, buy they won’t.”

“Can you move your car up so we can see?”

With attitude, the “victim” acted like I was asking for too much. She moved the car up a few feet, got out and walked to the back as I illuminated the rear bumper with my flashlight. “Is there any damage?” I asked.

She acted like I owed her money and I was the one who crashed into her car as  she said, “I can’t tell.”

“What do you mean you can’t tell? Either you see damage or you don’t.”

“I don’t know.”

I explained to Einstein there was nothing for me to do because there was no damage, so there was no crime or traffic collision.

With total attitude she said, “The police don’t do anything.”

If I was drinking something at that moment, I would’ve spit it out in laughter.

“Didn’t you say the cops took a report when your car was hit?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, they did do something. Your problem is with the insurance company and the people who won’t to fix your car. There’s nothing the police can do in that situation. That’s a Judge Judy problem.”

I suggested she park her vehicle in her carport. The woman replied, “My uncle is parked there.”

“Does he live in the same apartment as you?”

“No.”

“If you park in the carport this sort of thing can be avoided. Why don’t you tell your uncle to park on the street so you can have the carport?”

“I parked on the street to save my neighbor a spot.”

That’s when I had a Jim Halpert moment and I wanted to look into the camera like I was on The Office.

 

Howdy-Ho Neighbor

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I was sitting in my patrol car in a shopping center parking lot when security man drove up in his golf cart and pointed as he said, “Officer, that RV can’t be parked there.” I turned my head and saw what he was talking about. He then added, “It’s been there an hour.”

It was 2:30AM and I was down five crashes. All I wanted to do was catch up on my work.  I drove to the RV, which looked like it belonged in a museum. It’s dented and rusted body was begging to be sent to the scrap yard. Security man told me he knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He was sure someone was inside and they were ignoring him.

He really wanted the RV to leave and asked that I make contact with the occupant. I grabbed my baton from the car and knocked on the door like someone owed me money. Of course, this “Where’s my money” sound caused movement inside.

A hand reached up and slid open a window as a woman lifted her head up to look at me. I only saw the left half of her face as we talked.  I told the woman about the security guard and she said she couldn’t leave until a friend helped her repair the engine.

She kept talking and never showed her entire face. It reminded me of something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

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That’s when it hit me and I asked, “Have you ever seen the show Home Improvement?”

The woman, who was in her late 50s, gave me a weird look as her left eye squinted at my random question. After the randomness faded she replied, “Yeah.”

“This is like talking to Tim Allen’s neighbor.”

The joke floated in the air like a hanging curve ball waiting to be hit out of the ballpark. Then her face (half of it) smiled and she laughed.

At least she got my Tim Allen joke. There’s nothing like a little randomness to keep people on their toes and to make the job entertaining. It’s not every day you can work in Tim Allen and his neighbor Wilson into a conversation while out on patrol.

“Howdy-ho neighbor.”

What fire hydrant?

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A week ago my sergeant sent me an email about a traffic complaint received on our department’s Facebook page. The complaint was about illegally parked cars in a certain neighborhood at night.

It was about 11:45PM on Thursday night when I cruised by to see what I could find. It took about five seconds before I saw what the problem was. It didn’t matter if the curb was red or if there was a fire hydrant. It was total anarchy with cars everywhere. No wonder there was a complaint.

I found the first fire hydrant with a car parked in front of it and called a tow truck. Once that car was gone, I drove to a different spot and found another hydrant that was blocked. After that car was towed, I drove 50 yards and found the next blocked fire hydrant.

It was a fire hydrant hat trick.

After I was done with the third car, I drove by the fire hydrant where I found the first car and guess what I saw?

Yep! Someone else was parked in front of it. Tow truck number 4 please. It’s the fire hydrant that keeps on giving.

Who needs a license?

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With shoulders slumped, the driver looked dejectedly at his crashed car with its crumpled metal and fluid spilling out onto the street like blood draining from a body.

The driver, who was about 18 years old, had a look of disbelief as the flashing police and fire lights bounced off our faces.

During the interview I asked, “Do you have a license?”

He replied, “No,” as his permit shook in his hand.

This was my fourth crash of the night and my second with an at fault unlicensed driver. Driver’s licenses and rules don’t mean anything anymore to some people.

Being responsible doesn’t seem to matter anymore either, regardless of how many people are killed or injured in crashes when an unlicensed person gets behind the wheel. I guess having a driver’s license is just a suggestion.

I asked, “Do you know you’re not supposed to drive?”

In a low voice the driver said, “I was going to the DMV next week.”

Well, that doesn’t help the mother and child who were transported to the hospital. That also doesn’t help all the copss at the scene who were tied up with traffic control, or the paramedics, ER staff and ambulance drivers, who treated these victims.

“I woulda, coulda, shoulda” doesn’t help anyone when an unlicensed driver sends you to the hospital.

Be careful out there. The guy next to you might be suspended or unlicensed and they’ll take you out.

Do you know who Chuck Berry is?

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I try to never miss an opportunity to say something random to keep people on their toes. Once the randomness gets unleashed you never know where the conversation is going to go.

On Friday night, I was at a traffic collision when I asked a male in his mid-50s what happened. The male said, “I was just cruising down going home.”

It was at that moment a Chuck Berry song popped into my head. With total randomness  I said, “So, you were just riding along in your automobile like Chuck Berry?”

“Yeah.”

“With no particular place to?”

The driver recognized what I said and I was rewarded with a big laugh.

After I was done, I told the guy I had never worked Chuck Berry into a traffic collision interview before. He laughed some more and seemed to appreciate my attempt at obscure humor. 

I next went to the other driver and asked, “Which way were you going? Wait, do you know who Chuck Berry is?”

He gave me a weird look and replied, “No.”

I turned to a lateral officer in training and asked, “Do you know who Chuck Berry is?” He nodded and replied he did.

I turned back to the young driver and said, “Pull out your phone and Google it,” You could tell he wasn’t sure what to think, but he was a good sport and got his phone out. I think part of him wanted to know where this randomness was going.

Once on You Tube, he typed in Chuck Berry and asked me which video. I pointed to “No particular place to go” and he clicked on it. The video started playing as Chuck Berry sang:

Riding along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin’ wild
Crusin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go……..

After we were done with the musical history lesson,  I was standing with a cop and a civilian report writer when another lateral officer trainee walked up. Since he was younger, I decided to ask, “Do you know who Chuck Berry is?”

He gave me a quizzical look and said, “No.” The look on his face and how he answered made us laugh. That’s when he asked, “Why, do I look like him?”

We laughed even harder now. I looked back at the Hispanic officer and replied, “He’s black.”

Priceless……….

Stay in the car next time buddy

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The other night, I responded to a traffic collision involving a pedestrian. When I arrived, I saw a male at the corner with fire personnel. Another cop was already there, who told me the male was lying in the intersection when he drove up.

The male had a head injury and abrasions to his arms. He kept repeating himself and wouldn’t listen when asked him questions.  You could tell he got his bell rung and there were little birdies circling his head like a cartoon character.

His wife was parked at the corner and she didn’t know what happened to him either. The witness was gone and I couldn’t get ahold of her. After some confusion, we finally figured out what happened.

It turned out the husband and wife were arguing as they drove down the street. When they stopped for a red light, he got out of the passenger seat in a huff and slammed the door.  She then left him in the street when the light turned green.

I’m sure getting out of a car in the traffic lanes sounded like a good idea at the time, but it didn’t work out so well for this future human hood ornament.

After driving off, the wife decided she should go back. When she returned, the woman found her husband lying in the middle of the intersection (with the same birdies circling his head).

It turned out he got hit by another car after she drove off. To add a twist to the story, the car took off.

So dumb.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

 

Read the DMV book

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One night, I was heading back to the station to do paperwork when I saw a car make a left turn from a side street as it drove between delineators and across a painted median.

As he turned, I was taken back to a cold and rainy morning in 1999 when I handled my very first fatal collision. It was at this same intersection where an 85 years old man made a left turn from a stop sign and was broadsided.

On the day of the fatal there were no delineators or painted medians. The design of the street changed sometime after that crash and I hadn’t been there for a call since.

I stopped the car and asked the driver for his license. He replied, “I don’t have it with me.”

“You forgot it or you don’t have a license?” I asked.

“I don’t have it with me.”

“You don’t have one, right?”

“No.”

During the stop we talked about the violation and who owned the car. He said he was the owner and he didn’t have insurance either. I asked, “Have you even taken the license test yet?”

The driver replied, “No, but the DMV book is in my glovebox.”

“Have you read it yet?”

“No,” he replied. He then added with a hopeful tone, “But I’ve looked through the pages.”

All I could do was shake my head and call for a tow truck. After he signed his ticket, the driver grabbed some belongings. When he was done I asked, “Did you get the DMV book?”

He nodded his head, reached into a bag and held it up like a winning lottery ticket. At least he remembered to take it. Maybe he’ll read it one day.