What is it like to have the helicopter looking for you?

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The other night a call went out about suspicious subjects and a car behind a business at 2AM. When officers got there they went in foot pursuit and requested additional cops to assist.

Based on the radio traffic it sounded like the officers interrupted a burglary in progress. I was close by and raced to the area. I took a perimeter spot and parked in a neighborhood southeast of where one of the suspects was last seen. I pointed my spot lights in the direction where he might pop out and left my lightbar on so the red and blue lights would bounce off the houses.

Everything was quiet outside with the exception of the radio traffic and the idling engine of my patrol car.. That’s when the sound of our helicopter could be heard in the distance. I looked to the northwest and saw it coming our way. The sound got louder and louder as it approached the sea of police lights below.

A calm and familiar voice came on the radio as a friend of mine broadcasted from above. He told us our perimeter looked good and asked where the suspects were last seen. Officers on the ground gave a description and a direction of travel.

The helicopter then went to work circling overheard as I stood next to my car watching it fly by. The only sound in the night were the rotors making their familiar and comforting noise.

While the sound of the helicopter was comforting to me, it must’ve been horrifying to the person hiding. I never gave it much thought until that night. I wondered what was going through the guy’s head as his heart pounded inside his chest like an 9.0 earthquake. His mouth must’ve been as dry as the Mohave desert during the summer on the way to Vegas. What was it like to know it would only be a matter of minutes until the inevitable happened?

That’s when a homeowner flagged an officer down about someone being in their backyard. The officer gave the address and a moment later the observer came on the air saying, “”He just jumped over the fence into the next backyard going eastbound.”

The suspect was now in the backyard of a house on a cul-de-sac one street behind where I was. A few moments later three patrol cars drove by on their way to the cul-de-sac. One of the cars was a K-9.

The officers advised over the radio they were on scene of the house a moment later. The sound of the K-9 must have been deafening to the suspect as the dog got out of the car. The sound from the K-9 and the helicopter must’ve been too much because the guy just gave up.

The search continued for about an hour and eventually everyone was caught. It was great team work setting up the perimeter so fast. The dispatcher also did a good job on the radio keeping everything in order.  It was a great example of good police work that people never hear about.

 

“Is your license really valid?”

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The other night I decided to watch a stop sign in a neighborhood because of a complaint. I parked at an L shaped intersection in plain view for all to see. I was parked along the curb in the dark when this car passed me on the left as it approached the stop sign. The car rolled through the stop and made its turn like I wasn’t there. I threw my lights on and stopped the car, wondering what the heck the driver was thinking.

I walked up to the car and asked the driver why she didn’t stop for the stop sign and if she saw the police car. At first, the driver told me she stopped. After further questioning and a Jedi Mind Trick, she admitted to not stopping. I next asked her if she had a license.

“Not with me,” she replied.

“Where is it at?”

“It broke in half two days ago.”

That was one of the dumbest excuses I had ever heard. Now I was sure her license was either suspended or she was never issued one.

“Is your license valid?”

“Yes.”

I walked back to my car and entered her name into the computer. I knew it was a waste of time because there was no way her license was valid after the “broke in half” excuse. Call me skeptical, but it was a gut feeling.

Of course, it wasn’t valid. Her license expired in 2009 and she had two prior convictions for driving on a suspended license. Her license wasn’t just barely expired. It was really, really expired.

I couldn’t believe she tried telling me it was valid, but it was a nice try. I went back up to the driver and asked her about her license. She again told me it was valid. When do these people give up?

She next said it was set to be renewed in December of 2015. She was getting nervous at this point and started talking more and more. She then said something about failing the written test.

I asked her how many times she had failed the written test in the last year. She said, “Six times.”

“You know, they don’t make you take the test six times if you already have a valid driver’s license?”

“I have to take the test to renew it.”

That’s when she threw out one more excuse, hoping it would stick on the wall somewhere.

“I have a permit.”

“Ok. Show it to me.”

“It’s in storage,” she said.

“That doesn’t make sense. No one would put their permit in storage when they need it to drive,” I said.

Now she needed a diversion. She raised her voice and told me cops make her nervous because of all the things that happen on the news.

“Have I done anything wrong?” I asked.

“No.”

Good, I wanted that for my body worn camera in case she tried to complain about me. I went back to my car and started writing her the ticket. I also called for a tow truck.

When I went back up to the driver door she was upset. She signed the ticket and asked to keep the car. I told her it was getting impounded because her license expired 6 years ago.

She exited the car and said, “I bet you’d let me keep the car if I was white.”

I almost laughed when I heard that since the driver and I were both Hispanic. I wanted so bad to say, “Nope, I’d take the car if you were white too,” but I held my tongue.

Then with a mean and sarcastic tone she said, “Thank you for protecting and serving,”

“Your welcome,” I replied.

She turned toward me with all the evilness she could muster. She even threw some imaginary darts my way with her eyes. Who cares? She lied and I was just doing my job. She could’ve stopped for the stop sign and made things easier for both of us.

After she left I told the tow truck driver what she said. He laughed as he said, “You take everybody’s car. It doesn’t matter if they’re white, black, Asian or Hispanic. If they’re wrong you take the car.”

At least the tow truck driver knew I was fair!

A few days letter there was a note in my mailbox at work from the driver. She left it after getting a release for the impound. The note said she was sorry for being rude at the end of the stop. It also said she was lagging and she finally got her license back.

She wasn’t such a bad person after all. She was just really mad because her car was impounded and that remark was the best she could come up with. At least she has her license now. I bet she stops the next time she comes up to that stop sign.

It’s not every day you get an apology from someone. I actually appreciated the note because she didn’t have to write it. Just another happy ending in police work.

“It’s Ferguson All Over Again”

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You never know when hatred is going to be spewed your way.
Let me first say this. For the most part, the people I deal with are pretty nice. Most of my calls involve normal people who crash into each other and they’re happy to see an officer. And almost everyone says thank you when I give them a card with the report number.

When it comes to having a vehicle impounded, they’re still pretty nice despite the circumstances. They may be upset, but they still hold it together.

They already know they’re in the wrong in the first place for being unlicensed or having a suspended license. It’s pretty cut and dry. Either you have a license or you don’t. There’s not much to debate there.

I wanted to share an unusual call from last Friday night. It was actually more than unusual. It was downright ridiculous. Let me start by giving the facts about the crash.

• This woman made a left turn in front of another vehicle and they collided into each other. She was clearly at fault, but she was upset at the other woman. The best quote up until that point was, “Can’t a person make a left turn without someone hitting them?”
• She didn’t have car insurance.
• She recently purchased the car, but it wasn’t in her name yet.
• Her license was suspended for failure to appear.
• Her failure to appear was for an insurance ticket.
• She moved twice and never notified the DMV of her address change.
• The other driver was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

When it came to driving a car, she was pretty much wrong in every possible category. So, I really didn’t think there was going to be problem when I told her the vehicle was being impounded.

Boy was I wrong.

The first thing the driver told me was I was being racist. That’s when she yelled out, “It’s Ferguson all over again,” as she waved her arms around. It went downhill from there. Her performance was more Golden Globe than Academy Award. It was more PBS than Prime Time.

I couldn’t help but laugh inside at how dumb she sounded.

From there the drama was non-stop while we waited for the tow truck. She yelled and screamed for about twenty minutes. I was surprised she didn’t take a water break at some point.

Her behavior was so over the top it left me shaking my head in disbelief. I was really happy we had the body cameras rolling for this spectacle.

At one point, she actually bent over and yelled into the camera like a crazy woman.

Who does that?

Then her mom showed up and it started all over again. Nothing like having the mother of a twenty-nine year old woman show up at a collision scene and call you a racist too.

The show was finally over when the tow truck left with her car.

It’s still hard to believe she compared her irresponsibility and the impounded of her car to the events that occurred last year in Ferguson, MO.

I understand she only saw the badge. I wasn’t a person, a father, a husband, or a minority to her. I was just a cop.

I didn’t get my feelings hurt or even take anything personally. It’s sometimes part of the job to deal with people like that and there’s nothing I can do that will ever change her mind.

There’s one big difference between she and I.

The difference is I don’t see all citizens as assholes like she sees all cops.

I just see them as regular people that call the police for help. Every once in a while an asshole is thrown in there just to make things interesting though.

She will forever live in her close minded world. She will only see the badge and never see the person behind it.

That’s okay because there are plenty of nice people out there that still make this job worth doing.

I only tell this story to show how crazy, irrational and downright dumb some people can act when they’re mad at the police.

One last closing thought.

Go pound sand lady. I’m still proud to put that badge on and help people.