We need to stop meeting by accident

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It was a late Friday afternoon when I was sent to a hit and run crash. When I arrived, I saw both drivers sitting in their cars. Two other officers were already on scene.

After I interviewed both drivers, the suspect was detained for the DUI investigation. While we waited the suspect said, “I called my boss and told him I was going to get booked.”

“You called your boss already?” I asked.

“Yeah. I told him I wasn’t going to be there on Monday.”

That was pretty funny because he made that call before I got there. I guess that pitcher of beer and the shot of whiskey he drank told him which way this was going to go.

I made small talk with him and learned he was arrested for DUI about five years ago. I asked, “Did you crash or were you stopped?”

“I crashed.”

I asked him where and when. It just happened to be on a Friday night , which was my normal work day so I asked, “Was I there?”

I asked this because every so often I run into past crash cusomters. Well, actually they run into someone else and then I show up.

He starting giving me details about the collision and asked me, “Do you remember?”

“No. I take a lot of crashes, so it has to be different for it to stick out.”

He squinted as he looked at my name bar and said, “You were there.” He kept looking at my name and said, “I have a report at home with your name on it.”

“We need to stop meeting by accident,” I replied. At least he laughed because saying that never gets old.

A little while later I found his name in our records. He was in two different crashes in my city. One was the DUI crash he was talking about, but it was handled by someone else. The second crash was last summer. He was a passenger in that one and guess who wrote it?

Yes, Badge415’s name was at the bottom of that report. What a small world.

With a population of 350,000 people, I still find it amazing how I run into past crash customers.

I should start handling out Badge415 frequent customer loyalty punch cards with the words, “After 3 crashes you buy me Starbucks.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

The Sound of Music anyone?

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The other night, I was sent to a hit and run crash where both the suspect and victim were standing by. When I arrived, I spoke to the suspect while the other officer contacted the victim.

The suspect, who we’ll called David, told me about the crash and taking off. After the collision, the victim told him to pull into a parking lot. David told the woman he would, but drove away instead.

He turned eastbound at the intersection and then into a different parking lot as the victim chased him. He drove out of that parking lot and back onto the street.

The victim pulled alongside and said, ‘Pull over motherfucker!’

This gem of a word was enough to get him to stop.

David said, “She was mad.”

I looked at this 18 year old kid and said, “You crashed into her and took off. Of course, she was mad. It’s not like she was going to be smiling with her hands in the air like the opening scene of The Sound of Music.”

He gave me a blank look. “You never saw The Sound of Music?”

“No.”

Gasp.

We walked over to the other officer, who was in his late 20s and I told him what I said. The cop told me he hadn’t seen the movie either. What in the world……

To be funny,  I pulled my phone out and went to You Tube. I typed in “Sound of Music opening scene” and did the search. It came up and all three of us watched the first 15 seconds of the movie as Julie Andrews did her thing.

Thank goodness for You Tube. At least they both get my joke now.

And if you don’t know who Julie Andrews is, then double GASP.

 

Paper or plastic?

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Tonight, I dispatched to a call involving a suspicious vehicle that was stopped in the right turn lane of a major road with no hazard lights on. When I pulled up, I saw a truck stopped in the lane just east of the intersection.

I walked up and saw a man in his 80s sitting in the driver seat with a two litter bottle of 7-Up in his lap. The man was lost and a bit confused. He was in no shape to drive and eventually agreed to let us give him a ride home.

The other cop on the call was going to take him home and I was going to park his truck in the adjacent parking lot, but there was one problem. He peed himself and his driver seat was soaked.

I saw that and wondered how I was going to get that truck into a parking spot without getting my pants wet. I shone my flashlight into the truck’s interior and saw a towel! That was a possibility, but the urine was going to soak through the towel within seconds.

Too bad there wasn’t a trainee working tonight. It would’ve been character building for them to figure this out.

Letting the guy drive into the parking lot wasn’t an option. Let’s just say it was a long story. Calling a tow truck wasn’t going to work either. I was just going to have to drive it.

I walked over to the other cop and asked, “Do you have any paper bags in the trunk?”

I asked this because paper bags are used for evidence rather than plastic bags like you see on TV or in the movies. He popped the trunk and there they were. Those large paper bags were my ticket to dry pants.

I pulled three out of his trunk and carried them to the pee-soaked driver seat. I placed them on the seat and carefully got in, making sure not to get my pants wet.

Once I was sitting on my paper bag throne I drove the truck out of the street and into a parking lot. I locked it up and happily walked away with dry pants.

Mission accomplished.

By the way, he wasn’t drunk. I checked the 7-Up bottle to make sure it really was soda.

Better than cow shit

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The other day I was driving my daughter to practice when we passed a strawberry field. She pointed it out and said something about getting some. I glanced over and it reminded me of a crash I took years ago. I looked at my daughter and said, “I had a car crash at a strawberry field once.”

She relied, “You did?”

Some crashes are easily forgotten, while others stand out. Some stand out because of what I saw or heard, while this particular one stood out because of what I smelled.

One night, I was dispatched to a roll-over crash in the eastern part of the city. I pulled up to the scene and expected to see the car either in the street or on the sidewalk. I scanned the area, but there was nothing. Then I looked at the northeast corner and saw a car deep into the strawberry field.

There aren”t a lot of fields for agriculture where I work so, having a crash at one was really unusual.

I parked and started walking toward the car. I stepped into the field and tried to walk between the rows to avoid stepping on the strawberries. There were crushed strawberries everywhere with an incredible smell was in the air.

I ended up having strawberries in the groves of my boots and some on my pants. You name it and there were bits of strawberry everywhere on the crashed car.

After I left my patrol car smelled like a bottle of strawberry soap exploded inside.

For some strange reason I felt like having a strawberry margarita after that. At least the guy didn’t crash into a dairy farm full of cow shit. I’ll take a strawberry field any day.

Stay away from that spot

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The other night I was sent to a fight call at a park. When I arrived, there was a guy in his early 20s standing on the sidewalk with small puncture wounds on his arm. He stood there calmly as blood oozed down his arm like syrup pouring from a bottle at IHOP.

He said a couple of guys tried to rob him. They chased him and he tried to get into his car, but they broke out his windows and stabbed him.

The paramedics were called and a CSI person responded for photos. At one point, the victim was lying on his back as photos were being taken of his injuries. The victim looked at the CSI person and said, “I’ve seen you before.”

She stopped taking photos and asked him where. The victim pointed to the sidewalk over his right shoulder and said, ” My home girl got shot there.”

He gave her some more details and the CSI person said, “Oh, yeah. I remember.”

I pointed to the sidewalk next to him and asked, “She was shot right there in that spot?”

“Yeah. She was pregnant.”

“Did the baby live?”

“Yeah.”

It made for an interesting story. Not many people can say they were stabbed in the same area as where their pregnant friend was shot.

Maybe that spot is jinxed.

Dealing with the mentally ill

Traffic Control

Tonight I was dispatched to a call involving a man who was yelling and kicking cars in a parking lot. I arrived a short time after the first cop got there. When I arrived, I saw a man on his knees  in the parking lot as the officer spoke to him with a  calm voice.

His shoes were off and he was yelling about God and Heaven. While he was on his knees he’d lean forward on his hands and make quick movements that made him unpredictable. It looked like he was going to tackle you at any moment. He also said, “Kill me.”

The other officer got his name and tried to get a phone number for someone who knew him so we could try and help him. He only gave us his name and birth date.

The time finally came for me to pat him down for weapons. Yes, he was mentally ill, but we needed to make sure there were no weapons, especially after the call for service and the behavior we saw.

I knew he needed to hear clear instructions because of his mental state. I told him to put his hands behind his back because I was going to pat him down for weapons.

He turned his head with a serious look and said, “What if I don’t want to?” His voice was something out of a horror movie.

He might’ve been crazy, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew enough to process what I said and what his answer was going to be.

I moved from behind him and said, “Look at me.”

The man, who was in his 50s, looked up at me. He stopped momentarily from picking imaginary bugs off of his body. I knew he wasn’t processing information normally, so I spoke slowly and firmly to him.

I told him I was there to help, but I needed him to cooperate. I also said, “I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to fight.” I let that sink in for a moment before I said, “Can you put your hands behind your back for me and help me out?”

He  listened and nodded his hand. I grabbed his hands from behind and stood him up. I told him not to move and started the pat down. He turned to his left and I firmly said, “Stop moving.”

I held onto his hands like he was going to turn and fight at any moment. After I was done with his left side, I switched hands and checked his right side. Once that was done I let go and he went back down to his knees and continued what he was doing before.

I was lucky he listened. He was eventually transported to the hospital for a mental evaluation.

I didn’t do anything special. I just did the same thing thousands of cops did Monday. I dealt with a mentally ill man who could go off at any moment. A fight with him would’ve been a code 3 response for help and injury to us.

No one wants to deal with a mentally ill person who can attack you at any moment, but that’s part of the job. We do it because someone called 911. We go toward the craziness when other people head the other way.

Anyone who wears the badge knows what I’m talking about. Be safe out there.

The 12 year old and the knife

The other night a call went out over the radio about a 12 year old who was locked in a bathroom with a knife to his throat. I heard this and gathered my paperwork. As one of my department’s negotiators I also responded to the call.

While I was en route, dispatch advised that the kid was on the balcony and possibly going to jump. The call was updated again about him leaving the knife behind and running away.

Two other officers arrived first to handle the call. When I got there I stood by and watched them talking with the kid’s sisters and grandmother. They asked the “who, what, where and why” questions, which were standard.

When there was a break in the conversation I asked the handling officer, “Do you mind if I ask some questions?”

I took my notepad out as I stepped forward. I didn’t ask the sister what her brother was wearing or his height or weight. I looked at the girl and said, “What does he like to do?”

I wanted to know more about him as a person in case I needed to talk him off a bridge. I wanted to know his likes and dislikes. I wanted to know what he did for fun and what he liked to talk about. I wanted to know about his parents and who he got along with. I also wanted to know about their living situation.

I took notes while she told me about her brother. After a few minutes I felt like I had enough to talk about with him if the opportunity came up. I turned toward the other cop and said I was done. I stepped aside and he continued.

A minute later the sergeant said, “He’s back.”

Well, at least he wasn’t on a bridge with a knife in his hand. I walked outside and went down the stairs to where the kid was. He was sitting on the stairs with his head down.

The officer, who was in his mid-20s knelt down and asked, “What’s wrong?” The kid just sat there and didn’t move. The cop asked the kid numerous times, but it was as if he wasn’t there. The young cop even said, “We want to help.” The kid just kept his head buried in his hands.

The second cop came down the stairs and looked at the first officer. The first said, “He’s not talking.”

The second cop asked the kid what was wrong and what happened numerous times. Each question was met with silence. Both cops looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.

I asked, “Do you mind if I try?”

I walked over to the kid and turned to sit down on the steps next to him as I said, “Move over.” He had to move over because I was sitting down whether he was there or not. I took my seat and looked over at him.

He was about the same size as my daughter, who was the same age. I couldn’t help but compare the two. I wondered what was going on inside his head and what brought him to this point.

Earlier this kid had a knife to his throat at about the same time my daughter was having fun at gymnastics practice. Her biggest worry was her 4.0 GPA and a four-hour gymnastics workout. This kid had much bigger problems.

His head was still in his hands when I said, “So, tell me about Clash Royale.” That was the game his sister told me about.

He raised his head and smiled. It was like I flicked the light switch on.

“Ah, you smiled,” I said. This made him smile some more. “Tell me about the game. I don’t know what it is.”

Thats when he spoke.

After he was done talking about the game I said, “I hear you like to draw the characters from the game.”

“Yeah.”

“Which ones?”

After he was done I pulled out my phone and asked him if he wanted to see a video of my son being mad and trying not to smile. He nodded his head and I hit play. I said, “I call him a man-child. He thinks he’s a man, but he’s still a kid.”

The boy laughed as he wiped away tears from his face. I had him now.

I next asked him about the Golden State Warriors and his favorite player. He talked about that also and  I was thankful he didn’t ask me any questions because I’m not a basketball fan.

Now that the ice was broken I asked, “Did you put the knife to your throat?”

“Yeah.”

I next asked him why he was mad today. He told me his sisters were bothering him.

“My sister and I used to bug each other too, but we’re friends now,” I said trying to sound encouraging.

After a few more minutes of talking I pointed to the other cops and said, “I think they feel bad you talked with me and not them. Can you talk to them now?”

The boy nodded his head.

It was now time for me to go. I shook his little hand and said bye to him. I walked up to the other officers and told them what he said about the knife. They took over from there.

Feeling proud to be a negotiator, I walked through the run down apartment complex and out to the street toward my car. I felt like I had made a difference today. I might not have talked him off a bridge or a rooftop, but at least I got through to him in his time of need.

That was a win today.

Postal?

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Photo from Newsweek.com

The other day I was at the station getting ready to go 10-8 when a sergeant broadcasted on the radio that he came across a non-injury collision. About a minute later he came back on the radio saying a postal truck was involved and the parties wanted a report.

He also inquired about another crash involving a postal truck and asked if his call was the same as the other. I didn’t know what he was talking about so I paid attention to the next transmission.

The dispatcher came on the radio telling him there were two separate collisions involving postal trucks. One was at his location and the other was in the western part of the city.

I keyed the mic as I said, “729.”

“729?” the dispatcher parroted back.

“729, confirming the crashes have gone postal?”

The radio was silent for what seemed like forever. It was an awkward silence like when someone farts in an elevator and you can’t wait for the doors to open.

The silence was finally broken as she acknowledged me.

I got into my car and looked at my MDT. There was a message from DSP1 that simply said, “REALLY????!!!”

“I couldn’t resist,” I typed back.

I went to the crash and handled it. About 35 minutes later I was ready to clear the call, but I needed to get on the radio one last time.

“729.”

“729?”

“Are there any other crashes involving postal trucks that are holding?”

“Negative,” came the reply.

My MDT beeped as “MESS” appeared on my screen from DSP1.

What other time am I ever going to say “postal” on the radio twice  in less than 40 minutes? Probably never again.

Sometimes you just have to roll with it and have fun.

 

33 years?

 

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On Monday morning, I was sitting in a courtroom after working a graveyard shift the night before. I was in the corner with other cops, who were as unlucky as me to be there.

My head was in a tire fog as the judge spoke to lawyers about current and upcoming cases. There were also people in custody, who were in the caged area. I couldn’t see them from where I sitting, but I could hear them when they answered the judge.

I wasn’t really paying attention to what was being said until I heard the judge say, “You do realize you’re looking at 33 years in prison,” as she looked toward the caged area.

A male voice replied, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Are you sure you want to represent yourself at trial,” the judge asked.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Wow. 33 years?

The judge asked the man if he really wanted to act as his own lawyer at trial. He told her he wanted to. The judge told him about certain courtroom procedures that he was going to be expected to know. She also told the man he was going to be up against an experienced deputy district attorney.

The judge brought up the possible 33 year sentence again and asked him if he really wanted to represent himself.

“Yes, ma’am.”

The cops around me all shook their heads.

Wow. I guess that guy really wants three guaranteed meals for the next three decades.

Can you open the door?

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Tonight, I responded to a gas station because a man barricaded himself in the restroom after breaking into an apartment across the street. I attempted to negotiate as I tried to get him to come out.

At the time, I only knew his first name and nothing else. I later learned his full name and got a cell phone number for him. I stood near the door and talked to him, but I literally was talking to a wall because he wouldn’t respond. I talked and talked for an hour without so much as a peep out of him. I called his phone, but it was turned off. 

It seemed like my cat paid more attention to me than this guy. 

During that time I learned from family that he had a young son. I thought this was my hook to get through to him, so I steered my negotiation in that direction.

I was met with silence and he eventually started a fire, so officers had to go get him.

Later on, I conducted a records check and learned that his license was suspended. You might wondering a what a suspended license has to do with a barricaded suspect, who started a fire.

It turned out his license was suspended for lack of child support……

I laughed and shook my head when I saw that. I guess that’s why he didn’t open the door when I brought up his son. You just can’t make this stuff up. 

Until the next negotiation….