Thank You

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There’s a Mexican restaurant in a tired looking strip mall that I’ve driven by many times over the years. From the outside,  I couldn’t tell if it was a sit down place or one where you ordered at the counter.

It turned out to be a sit down place with loud music and bright colors inside.  I normally don’t eat at sit down places because I want my food quick in case I have to run. The food took a long time to come out, but it ended up being good.

When the check came I got a surprise I had never seen before in my 22 year career. There was a neatly written message on a Post It that said, “Thank you for your service and all you do for our city.”

Wow.

When she came back I thanked the waitress for her note. In heavily accented English, she told me how much she appreciated what the police do and that she had moved here from Mexico two years ago.

The waitress said she loved it here and it was much better than where she came from. She also said she was going to take a class at Fullerton College to work on her English.  You could tell she felt lucky to live here.

It’s not every day someone takes the time to write an encouraging note like that to the cops. It was a good reminder that there are good people out there among the negatively and evil we see on the streets.

That note was also a good reminder to all of us to never forget those people who support the Thin Blue Line because they’re the ones who need us just like we need them.

 

When your son makes you smile

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On Tuesday night I did a presentation at the police department about the traffic detail for the PACE class (Public Awareness Through Citizen Education). This class is usually held twice a year and my son always asks to go with me.

When we arrived at the department we went to the locker room so I could put my uniform on. Once my locker was open he asked, “Can I see your badge?”

He took my badge off the shelf and looked at it in a way only a kid can.

While I was getting dressed he tried to put my Sam Browne (gun belt) around his waist and said, “This is heavy.” After that he put my body armor on and said, “This is cool.”

After I was dressed it was time to go upstairs and do my presentation. It  went well and lasted just over an hour. I showed pictures and told stories to help empathize the importantance of traffic safety.

I also told a story about the time my son crashed blocks with a Thomas the Train as he said, “Look daddy. I’m playing fatal crash.”

How many 4 year olds say that and it’s still funny after all these years.

When I was done my son told me I did a good job. As we walked down the hall he said the best thing a dad could hear. He simply said, “I was proud.”

How many high school freshman tell their dad they’re proud? What a great feeling.

Thanks “little Badge415.” Dad loves you too.

The call no one wants

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The call involved a child who was run over by a car in the driveway of her house. From the information at the scene this wasn’t going to end well.

I arrived at the hospital and parked my car knowing I didn’t want to go in. With each step toward the ER, I could feel something telling me to go in the other direction.

My sergeant was standing in the ER with a solemn look on his face. The toddler was lying lifeless in the bed with hospital staff doing what they could to save her.

Her father was wearing a blood stained shirt and a look of anguish on his face. I didn’t want to watch. I didn’t want to be there.

I could feel my heart beat faster as I looked at the child lying there. She was so small that it shocked me.

That’s when the doctor called it. I knew it was over because the father yelled out, “No!!!!!” He turned toward the wall and started hitting it as he yelled out.

You could almost feel the screams go through your body and grip your heart with  pain, suffering and grief.

How had this happened?

It was my call. The type of call no one ever wants to respond to.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the first child I’d seen run over by a family member.

I had to leave. I needed to get out of there.

I told my sergeant I was going to the collision scene to speak with the driver as the father held the lifeless body. He just screamed as he rocked back and forth with the body.  It’s an image that will stay with me forever.

I walked toward the exit as his screams shook the walls like an 8.0 earthquake.

He poops where?

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The other night I was sent to a hit and run call, which involved an assault and battery after the crash. I was told four people were sitting in a parked car at 7-Eleven when a vehicle backed into them. After the crash the victim was punched by the other driver.

I walked up to the victim and asked, “So, you were sitting in the car when it was hit?”

“Basically, we were waiting for the dog to take a shit.”

“In your car?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“You just let the dog take a shit in your car? What was wrong with the grass?”

A female in her late teens, who was with the victim said, “We have a mat that he goes on.”

I shook my head and moved on as I took notes about the collision. When I was done I wrote the report number on a card and handled it to the victim.

That’s when I couldn’t resist and asked, “So, how did the dog do?”

“He didn’t poop.”

“After all of that he didn’t poop?” I asked with a surprised look.

“No.”

Thinking there was a blog in this I pointed to the car and said, “I have to see these mats,”

The female walked to the car and pulled out a plastic car floor mat.

“Wait. Your dog poops on that?” I said with a look of disbelief.

“Yeah.”

“How do you clean that?”

“With water,” she said. “We put these in the house also.”

“He goes poop on the car mats in the house?”

“Yeah. He wont go on the regular doggie mats you buy at the store.”

Now I know I’ve heard it all. You just can’t make this stuff up.

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

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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.