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.

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.

A Repeat?

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On Tuesday night, I was dispatched to a dead body (927D) call at 5AM. When I arrived, I saw a male in his eighties on the floor of his room covered with a blanket. The fire department was there and said it appeared he’d passed away from natural causes.

I called the coroner and notified them of the death. Since there was nothing suspicious they didn’t respond. I was instructed to have the care facility call a mortuary to pick up the body.

Right before I left, a worker asked, “Can you help us put him in bed? We don’t want the family to see him on the floor.”

I reluctantly said, “Sure,” as I took gloves out of my pocket. What the heck. I might as well cross off, “Picked up dead guy and put him in bed” from my bucket list.

After I got my gloves on I grabbed the legs as two other people got the shoulders. On the count of three we picked him up and put him into bed.  As we picked him up the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s” popped into my head.

The next night was busy from the start. I hoped the day before Thanksgiving was going to be calm, but that all changed as soon as I went 10-8. The night flew by and didn’t calm down until around 4AM.

At about 5:30AM, I parked so I could finish my dead body report from the night before. I had just started typing when I was sent another dead body call.

A repeat? What were the chances of getting two in a row at this hour of the morning?

It was a good thing I was off the next day. No three-peat for me.

Did they dent the hood?

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I saw an unusual call holding the other night about a man and woman having sex on the hood of a car in a cul-de-sac. Not in the car…..On the car.

I drove into an industrial area and headed toward the cul-de-sac in question. I knew the area well because I’ve typed reports there before. I turned onto the street and followed the road as it curved to the left. As the street straightened out, I could see a man and a woman standing next to a car at the dead end.

There was a blanket covering the hood and the windshield. The blanket looked cozy. These people were serious about their car sex.

I stopped my car, which didn’t have a blanket on it, and got out as they continued to talk as if I wasn’t there. When they finally looked at me I noticed a “glow” about them. It must’ve been the mood, the lighting and the endorphins.

I said, “Hi. I’m here because someone called.”

They gave me a confused look at first.  The look changed when they realized what I was talking about as they looked at each other.

“You had an audience,” I said. “Someone was watching and called the police. That’s why I’m here.”

That was when the “glow” look turned to embarrassment.

I pointed to the blanket as I pulled out my phone and said, “I gotta get a picture of this.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Another fatal

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It always seems like I handle two or three fatal traffic collisions a year. It always the same every year. The most I ever handled in one year was ten in 2006. The second most was eight in 2011.

Well, this past week I handled number five. It was a pedestrian who tried to play Frogger across the street. It would’ve been number six had I not been off another night a few months ago when a fatal went out at 1:30AM.

Five might not sound like a lot when you compare it to ten, but that’s still five too many, especially when one of them was a toddler.

This also doesn’t count my other traffic partners, who work different shifts and hours the rest of the week.

We still have all of November and December left in the year. When you work 5PM to 3AM, that still a lot of time for a lot of bad things to happen before 2017.

Be careful out there.

“I have a clean record”

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“234, we just got rear ended,” said an officer on the radio.

He gave his location and advised there were no injuries. I grabbed the microphone and said, “729 en route.”

When I arrived, I saw both vehicles in the southbound #2 lane at the intersection. The officer told me they were stopped for a red light when they were hit from behind.

He also told me the SUV’s driver was unlicensed. I shook my head as I thought about the two times my patrol cars were hit by unlicensed drivers.

I walked up to the woman, who was still in the driver seat, and asked her to step out of the car so we could talk on the sidewalk.

“You want me to drive over there?” She asked.

“No, you don’t have a license. Come out and we’ll talk on the sidewalk.”

“I can drive over there,” she said as she pointed to the right.

I was pretty sure she’d already done enough driving for tonight. After she exited the car we walked to the sidewalk. Once we were safe on the sidewalk the woman said, “I have a clean record.”

Well, that made me feel better…..

During the interview I learned she applied for a driver’s license and failed the written test. When I heard that, I almost pointed to the cars and said, “You failed the driving test too,” but I held my tongue.

When the interview was over, I gave the driver a card with the report number on it and said her car was getting impounded. She responded by asking if she could keep the car.

Keep the car? Really?

Let me get this straight. She was unlicensed, failed her test, crashed into a police car and now she wanted to keep the car???

Hum, let me think about it…… No.

“Enjoy that feeling”

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The other night I was working a patrol shift when I was sent on a call with a new cop. I had met him once or twice when he was in training and didn’t know anything about him.

We handled the call and then talked next to our cars. I guessed him to be 21 or 22 years old. He had a baby face and probably shaved once a month. His youthful appearance and wide eye look gave him the unmistakable look of a new cop.

“How long have you been out of training?” I asked.

He thought for a moment and replied, “Four months.”

After a few minutes of talking, I could sense an energy and enthusiasm about him that reminded me of myself when I was his age. I stood there and remembered when everything was new.

Every call was an adventure and I would’ve done the job for free.

I stood there and wondered what I looked like as a “Boot” with my shiny new badge pinned to my chest with absolutely no idea what I was doing in the new world of police work. After reflecting, I thought back to this new guy, who still had 30 years ahead of him.

He didn’t have the look of a cop who had seen dead babies, dismembered body parts, or sacrificed family time for the demands of the job. He also didn’t have the look of a person who had seen and done things regular people only saw in movies or read in books. He still had his “innocence”. The job hadn’t changed him yet.

After talking with him for a few minutes I asked, “Would you do the job for free?”

He got a huge smiled and said, “Yes.”

He went on to tell me how he couldn’t wait to go back to work from his days off and how fun it was to be out here on the street. I listened and silently remembered saying the exact same things when I was his age.

“Enjoy that feeling,” I said. “When I was new, I would’ve done the job for free too.” After he laughed I added, “I still like coming to work, but I want to be paid now.”

You can’t beat getting paid for what you love doing.

My junior negotiator

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Last week I attended a 40 hour basic crisis negotiation class along with two other co-workers. We went to this training because we are the newest members of our department’s negotiation team.

On Wednesday I picked up my daughter from gymnastics. When she got in the car she said, “I tried some of the things you learned,” referring to the negotiator school.

She went on to tell me how she asked a girl at gymnastics how her day was. That particular question came from a negotiation book I just read. The goal was to ask that question and then use “mirroring” to get the girl to keep talking about her day.

The girl answered by saying, “It was good and bad.”

“It was good and bad?” asked my daughter.

The friend replied back and added more about her day. My daughter then repeated back the friend’s last words in the form a question just like she did with “It was good and bad?” This went back and forth at least five times as my daughter got the girl to keep talking.

With enthusiasm in her voice my 11 year old said, “I was shocked that it worked so well.” She was very proud of herself. She then said, “Can I be a junior negotiator?”

That made my day. The innocence and the smile on her face were truly a negotiator dad moment.

The candle call

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You just never know when something new or different is going to happen at work.

A few weeks ago, I responded to a major injury collision on the west end of the city. After the crash, one of the drivers was transported to the hospital and later died. The other driver and passenger remained at the scene and stood at the northwest corner.

A group of their friends showed up and stood by with them. Before I knew it, one of the friends was sitting on the sidewalk playing a guitar. There was a hippie like feel in the air as other people sat down next him. The only thing missing were candles.

A little bit later I saw a guy holding a Jesus candle walk into the street from the opposite corner. When he was told to stay out of the street he said, “I want to put the candle out for the guy.”

“Put it on the corner,” someone told him.

“But he died over there,” he replied.

The man figured out he needed to stay out of the street and put the candle down at the southwest corner. He lit it and a short time later the flame went out.

About an hour later I heard arguing at the same corner where the candle was. I looked and saw a two guys yelling at each other as they prepared to fight.

Didn’t they see the police cars and the cops standing in the middle of the street? First the guitar, then the candle and now a fight? Was it a full moon?

We walked over and separated everyone. It was just bizarre and we shook our heads at the madness.

When it was time to leave, we called for tow trucks and took down the crime scene tape. As the tow truck drivers cleaned up, something caught my eye. The was a candle with its flame shining brightly in the night at the northeast corner. I didn’t see who left it, but it was a symbol of just how different this call was.

Now there were two candles on opposite corners. This was the first fatal crash where candles were dropped off while I was still there. Even after all these years, there’s still room for plenty of “firsts.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

I only wanted Starbucks

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It’s amazing how doing one little thing can open the door to something else. Ask any cop and they’ll tell you stories how this happens all the time. The smallest vehicle code violaton often leads to other things like warrants, suspended licenses and other crimes.

The other night I was getting onto the freeway when I saw an SUV going a lot faster than everyone else. I had a perfect view from the on ramp as the vehicle raced past traffic.

The SUV came up to slower cars and had to slow down. It then accelerated again when a hole opened up. The driver’s only problem was I happened to be right behind her.

I still had Starbucks on my mind, but we were now going 83 miles per hour and passing other cars. I finally decided to stop the car and warn the driver. I just wanted to get my drink and use the restroom.

I put my lights on and the SUV took the off ramp where Starbucks was. This was going to be perfect. I put the stop out over the radio and dispatch told me the registration had expired 8 months ago.

The driver made a right turn from the off ramp and stopped within eyesight of Starbucks. I spoke to the driver about the violation and she told me she was on her way home. I also asked about the expired registration. She said, “This is my boyfriend’s car. I didn’t know. I’ll call him.”

I went back to my car and ran the plate on my computer just to make sure it expired in January.  After I confirmed it I went back to the car. The driver said, “I called my boyfriend and he didn’t know.”

I found that hard to believe. I could understand one or two months expired, but eight? The registration also showed parking violations on file.

“I’m going to impounded the car,” I said.

The driver simply said, “Okay.”

There was no drama or questioning the impound. It was as if she knew and expected the vehicle to be taken away. The tow truck arrived and Uber picked her up.

It’s funny how things work out. I only got on the freeway that night so I could get to Starbucks faster. If she had slowed down I would never have noticed.

By the way, I got my drink.