Up in smoke


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?”


“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?”


“Can I get it?”


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.

Talking with a drug addict


A few weeks ago I was driving through an intersection when I noticed a transient standing on the median with a sign asking for money. On my second pass around the area I saw the same guy step into the street against the “Don’t Walk” symbol as he walked in front of a car. That’s when I decided I was going to stop and talk with him.

I parked my car in the driveway of a gas station and waited for him to come over to the corner. I told him hi and asked to speak with him. He waved both hands in the air as he said, “Come on man. I’m starving. I’m just trying to make some money.”

I told him I wanted talk for two reasons. The first was about walking in front of the car. The second was because someone had just taken money from the tip jar at my favorite chicken restaurant 100 yards down the street. I gave him the description of the suspect and asked if he had seen that guy walking around here.

He calmed down after hearing that and told me he liked the food at that restaurant too. He also said he hadn’t seen anyone that fit the description.

I then decided to ask him questions about how long he’d been on the street, where he grew up and where his family was. For the next 15 to 20 minutes he talked about being addicted to heroin, being homeless and not being able to walk away from living on the street. He told me where he grew up and said his mother sometimes visited him out here.

I felt bad for his mother and wondered what she had gone through over the years, yet she still drove out to visit him on the street. Based on where she lived, she had to take two different freeways to get here.

I asked him about being able to go back home for help. The man, who was in his early 30s, said he could, but he always ended up back on the street because of his addiction.

I asked how him much he spent a day on heroin. He said, “I spent $45 today and I didn’t even get high. I’m pissed.” He then said, “I spent enough to stay well.”

We talked for a little while longer about what it’s like to have withdrawal symptoms and how he started using drugs, along with his time in jail. He had been nice to me and spoke freely about his problems so I asked, “Do you want a sandwich?”

His eyes lit up as he said, “Yes.”

“It’s salami.”

“I love salami.”

I walked over to my car and got the sandwich out of my cooler. I went back to where he was and handed it to him.

He smiled as he said, “Thanks officer. What’s your name?” I told him and we said goodbye.

I drove away still thinking about his mother coming out to visit him. That wasn’t the first time I’ve heard about a parent coming out to see their homeless adult child on the street. We never wonder about the families and what they sometimes go through. It’s something to think about.

Mom of the year (NOT)

Brain on drugs

It’s not every day you get to meet the worst mom of the year. Actually, she’s pregnant, so she’s really the “future worst mom of the year.”

I’ve met some bad mothers in my time as an officer, but this latest one deserves mentioning. I got to meet her at an unknown trouble call the other day where people were possibly fighting at a house.

When I arrived, I parked a few houses down. There was a woman outside where I parked and she asked if everything was alright.

I said, “We don’t know yet. We’re going to a house down the street.”

“It must be the drug house,” she said with a smirk.

“Which house are you talking about?”

“The green one,” She replied.

Yep. She was talking about the house we were going to. When we got to the green house, the “future mom of the year” was contacted by other officers at the front door. She came outside and I spoke to her to try and figure out what happened.

She was in her early twenties and didn’t make sense. I started to wonder if she was stealing oxygen from the rest of us or if she had other issues.

After about five minutes, I was sure she was an oxygen thief. She was the perfect example of the old “This is your brain on drugs” commercials.

I asked her when she last took speed. She said, “Recently.” She wasn’t tweaking now, but I’m sure “recently” meant today.

I continued to waste my time with her as I tried to find out what happened when she told me she was pregnant. I have no idea why she brought that up because I didn’t ask. I then asked her how far along she was. She would only tell me she was a few weeks pregnant.

I’m asked her how long she had been doing speed. At this point, she figured out she said too much. She told me it didn’t have anything to do with the reason why we were there. She also told me it wasn’t any of my business.

I walked over to where her mother was and asked if her daughter was pregnant. The soon to be grandma said her daughter was one month pregnant. I also asked her how long her daughter had been doing methamphetamine. The woman said her daughter had been doing speed for about a year.

I asked her if she had ever spoken to her daughter about drug use and being pregnant. The woman said her daughter told her to mind her own business.

I asked if she knew who the “baby’s daddy” was. This caused the woman to smile. I said, “I just like saying the phrase baby’s daddy,” which caused her to laugh.

She said, “His name is Frog.”

“Frog? As in not a prince?”

“I only know him as Frog. He’s short.”

Well, where do you go in a conversation after hearing the Baby’s Daddy is Frog?

Let’s just hope this kid isn’t born looking like a frog because of her drug use. It’s a shame because this kid has no chance.

By the way, I called child protective services to about this. They told me they don’t take reports unless the child is already born. Oh well, I tried.

Where Does An Addict Get His Money?


The other night I went to Fullerton PD for my DRE certifications as part of the class I completed a few weeks ago. I had an interesting conversation with a suspect and I wanted to share it with people who are not familiar with addicts.


First of all, most of these people don’t have jobs, but they need income to support their habit. Where do you think they get their money from?
From you!


These addicts break into your cars, your houses and your businesses. They steal and then steal some more.


During our conversation I asked him how often he uses meth and marijuana. Without hesitation he replied, “Every day.”


“How do you feel when you don’t do meth?
“I get anxiety.”
“Does the drug make you feel well?” I asked.
“Do you drink?”
“How come?”
“Because I lose everything when I drink.”
“What do you mean?”
“I lose my car and I go to jail. So, now I don’t drink at all.”
“How many DUI’s do you have?”
“How much do you spend a day on meth?”
“Do you have a job?”


Let’s assume he over estimated his daily usage. Either way he still needs money for his habit. Where do you think he gets that money from?


“Where do you steal from?” I asked.
“I don’t do anything in my city. I have pride in my city.”


It seemed like he really wanted me to understand he had pride in his city and it was important to him that I knew that. I asked him more questions about his thefts, but he didn’t want to tell me. At one point he smiled and said, “I’m a criminal.”


At least he knows it.


Is this a guy you want roaming around your city? Absolutely not, but guess what? He was cited out. He was cited out like all the people who were arrested for being under the influence of a drug that night.


He was cited out because of Prop 47 in California. Prior to Prop 47, he would’ve remained in custody for the under the influence and drug paraphernalia charges. Now we have to cite him out. I’m sure that pink copy of the citation made him feel bad.


He said he normally starts to feel the anxiety about six hours after doing meth. That means he’s ready for more meth or he has to find more before that feeling of anxiety takes over.


Guess what he’s going to do if he’s short on cash?  You guessed it. He’s going to rip someone off.


I still find it shocking that people in California voted for Prop 47 and allow people like Frank to be out on the street to do their thing.


What if Frank gets caught stealing at a store? He’ll get another citation for petty theft. That’s just an inconvenience to Frank. It’s the cost of doing business.


Eventually things will catch up with Frank, but right now he only has to worry about a citation. County jail time is the least of his worries.


Frank’s job is stealing and getting high. At thirty-one years old he’s got all the time in the world.

DRE School


What is a DRE?

If you asked me what a DRE was ten years ago I would have said it was an officer who dealt with street drugs and addicts. Those were two subjects that I stayed away from because they didn’t interest me.

Ask me the same question today and I’ll have an entirely different answer. In fact, I’ll talk your head off about the subject and tell you why it is so important.

The first thing I learned at DRE School was how much we take DRE trained officers for granted. The average cop has no idea what they do, or how much training they have been through. That includes the brand new cop all the way up to the chief of police. Unless you’ve been through the training, you have no idea how much work it is.

Say “DRE School” to most cops and they’ll run the other way. I know because I was one of them.

Cops would rather go to an active shooter call at a nuclear power plant meltdown than go to DRE School. Handling a triple fatality collision sounded much more appealing than going to DRE School.

On the first day, the instructors told us this was going to be the hardest advanced officer training class we would ever take. They weren’t lying.

The information was piled onto us with no mercy. It was like a wheel barrel pouring concrete onto a new house foundation. It went everywhere and there was no room to breathe.

My world suddenly revolved around CNS Depressants, CNS Stimulants, Hallucinogens, Dissociative Anesthetics, Narcotic Analgesics, Inhalants, Cannabis, nerves, neurotransmitters, blood pressure and heart rates.

The eyes were now the window to the soul as pupil sizes and reaction to light helped tell the tale of drug use.

By the third night I felt overwhelmed. I thought there was no way I was going to remember all of this stuff. It was like going up a steep mountain in a snowstorm with a strong headwind pounding my face.

There were two choices. Put up the white flag of surrender or I could listen to the “Eye of The Tiger” song from Rocky 3 and gut it out.

The first week of DRE School was like watching a foreign language film with no subtitles. I know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

At one point the light bulb switched on. It was dim at first, but then got brighter. The drug matrix card started to make sense after a while. It started to become more than just a bunch of boxes with words in them.

Slowly the subtitles started to appear in that foreign language film that made no sense a week before. Then, by some miracle it clicked.

What was once pure nonsense in the first week was now like listening to the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It all came together. If you’ve heard the symphony, then you know what I mean.

Those two weeks of DRE School turned my household upside down. Everything revolved around my class. All scheduling for my kid’s school, childcare, practices and dinner was planned around my school and studying.

Then there was the occasional DRE dream where I was evaluating someone for drug use. Friends in the class told me they also had the dreams.

At the end of the class our main instructor asked us if we were ready to stop alienating our families and having those dreams. I laughed hard because it was so true.

So, what is this DRE class?

The Drug Recognition Expert program had its beginnings with the LAPD in the 1970s.

Before an officer can become a DRE they have to attend two prerequisite training classes, along with the 72 hour DRE School.

You must get 80% or higher to pass the class.

After passing the course, the officer must complete twelve under the influence evaluations with a DRE instructor present. The officer must be able to name which of the seven drug categories the suspect is under the influence of and this must be confirmed through the chemical test. And finally the officer must pass another written test after their drug evaluations have been approved.

This was not a class I signed up for. It was a class I was told I had to go to. I started out being forced to go, but I had an epiphany half way through. I saw just how important this training was for me. I realized how important it was for every officer on the street. I also saw how important it was for public safety.

Say “DUI” and people automatically think of drinking and driving. That’s no longer the case. Marijuana and prescription drug use is on the rise like never before.

And finally, this isn’t the class we should be running away from. This should be the class officers are trying to get into.

Almost every crime we deal with revolves around drugs. The word “drug” doesn’t mean illicit drugs anymore. It also means prescription drugs.

A heroin junkie is just as dangerous behind the wheel as the soccer mom who is abusing Xanax or the person who is stoned on marijuana.

Next time you’re stopped at a red light. Take a look around. Chances are they’re probably next to you. Do you really want to share the road with that person?

I don’t either.

Let’s train more DREs to help stop these people before they hurt someone.

Calling 911 can ruin your drug business



Don’t be a drug dealer and call 911

Back in late 1995 or early 1996, I was dispatched to another 911 call at a small apartment complex I had never been to before. It seemed like it was going to be the typical hang up call where someone was either playing with the phone or dialed 911 by accident. Whenever a 911 call is received, dispatch will call the number back to see what the problem was. If there’s no answer then officers will have to be sent out. On this particular day there was no answer on recall. I figured I would be done with this call in one minute tops.

A Caucasian male in his twenties opened the door just a crack. Not like most people do when they open the door wide open. This was just enough to see his face and nothing else inside the apartment from where I was standing. I told him the reason we were there and that we needed to go in and make sure there was no one injured inside. The man seemed a little hesitant at first, but he backed away from the door as he opened it for us.

I noticed he was wearing boxer shorts and he was holding a pair of jeans in his hand. Maybe he was just being shy when he had opened the door. Since we still didn’t know what we had on this call yet, I told the man to give me his pants because I wanted to check them for weapons. I then found a large knife in a sheath that was attached to the belt. I didn’t give him his pants back and had him sit down.

From where I was standing, I scanned the apartment interior. It was the typical small apartment I was used to going into. A small kitchen was to my left with very old and stained counter tiles and dirty grout. A couch, chair and coffee table were in the front room where we were standing. This room was a little messy, but I had seen worse. There was a hallway between the front room and the kitchen, which lead to the bedroom. The room was dark and the window blinds were closed.

I looked down at the coffee table and saw two scales in plain view. They were three beam scales, which is not something you see every day unless you’re watching Miami Vice or in the police evidence room. I then saw small plastic zip lock bags on the table next to the scales. These particular bags were smaller than sandwich bags and are used to package methamphetamine to sell. I looked even closer and there were small bits of marijuana crumbs all over the table next to the scales. Of course, the one gallon zip lock bag full of marijuana sitting there on the table didn’t look out of place.

I looked over at the male and asked him why he had the scales. The male hesitated as he was trying to figure out damage control. He then said, “I collect them.” That was the best he could do? Now, I was starting to think this wasn’t the smartest drug dealer in the world. He could’ve at least tried to say, “Those aren’t my scales.”

This call was a done deal for me and it was time to handcuff him to go to jail. I told him to stand up and turn around, which he did. I noticed that one hand was open, but the other was balled into a fist. I told him to put his hands together, but he wouldn’t. After a few seconds he revealed a large rock of meth that he had been holding. Who opens the door for the police while holding a rock of meth in their hand?

There was no one else in the apartment and I learned that he had just had an argument with his girlfriend today and she had left right before we arrived. I’m pretty sure she had the last laugh on that one!

Never upset your girlfriend when you’re a drug dealer.