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.

I need pants!

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On Wednesday, I got to work and realized I forgot my uniform and badge at home. If I left now, it would take me two hours to get back because of traffic. That didn’t sound very appealing at this point.

I decided to check my locker to see if I had a BDU uniform which had a cloth badge sewn on it. It wasn’t my normal every day uniform, but it would be better than nothing. I got to my locker and found a shirt, but no pants. Things weren’t looking good at all.

That’s when I saw an officer walk into the locker room. He was the next aisle over and just getting off of work. I was thinking about my options when an idea popped into my head.

I walked over and told him what happened. I next asked, “Can I borrow your badge?”

“Sure,” he replied.

I had no shame at this point because I asked, “What size pants do you wear?”

“They’re a 32.”

Well, that wasn’t going to work for me. “Do they have the elastic waistband?” I asked.

“No.”

It was worth a try.

Well, I had an old shirt from my locker and a borrowed badge. I was more than half way there. Now I needed a pair of pants.

Who could I ask?

I turned and saw a large plastic bin where old uniforms are thrown into. I looked at the pile and dug into it like a homeless person looking for a coat on a cold and snowy winter day.

I pulled out a pair of pants and looked at the size. Nope! That wasn’t going to work. I grabbed for another pair  and yanked them out. I looked at the size and held them up to see if the length was going to work.

The length seemed right and things were suddenly looking up. I hurried to my locker and tried them on. It was a perfect fit. Even the length was spot on.

I grabbed my old shirt and put the borrowed badge on it. It didn’t matter it was over 375 numbers past 415 at his point. After I was done, I walked over to the mirror and inspected my “thrown together” look.  Not bad at all.

I walked upstairs and made it to work at 5PM on the dot. Talk about lucky.

Do you pay for parking?

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On Monday I had to go to a deposition in Los Angeles County for a car accident that occurred 3 years ago. When I arrived, I couldn’t find parking and realized I had to park across the street in a private structure. I took my ticket stub with me in case the law firm validated parking.

I went inside and sat down in the conference room with the two attorneys and the stenographer. She swore me in and the plaintiff’s attorney said, “First of all, I’d like to thank you for your service.”

Wow. I had never had an attorney tell me that before. I told him, “Thank you” and we started the deposition. About an hour later we were done and it was time for me to leave.

As I stood up, the plaintiff’s attorney said, “Thank you for coming.”

I shook hands with both attorneys and the stenographer. I was about to leave when I realized I had the parking stub in my pocket. I looked at the plaintiff’s attorney and asked, “Do you guys pay for parking across the street?”

The attorney replied, “We don’t validate.”

It was okay because it didn’t hurt to ask. The attorney then surprised me as he pulled his wallet out. A few seconds he handed me money as he said, “It should be $6.”

Wow.

I thanked him and left thinking how much I appreciated his kind gesture. What a nice guy.

You  just never know what’s going to happen at work next.

No Parking

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The other night I was driving down the street when I saw a car parked next to a red curb and blocking a fire hydrant.

I decided to write a parking ticket and called a tow truck. After the car was hooked up I went a park around the corner and typed up the report.

Less than ten minutes later I was done with the impound report and hit the send button on my computer. As soon as my finger touched the screen the dispatcher broadcasted a disturbance call at the tow yard involving the same car.

It turned out a car load of guys followed the tow truck after it left the neighborhood. At one point, the car got in front of the tow truck as they tried to flag it down. Now they were there causing a problem with the driver.

I drove to the tow yard and saw two officers dealing with the car’s owner and four of his friends. I walked over to the group and asked who the owner was. A drunk guy stepped forward.

“Why did you park in front of the fire hydrant?” I asked.

“There was nowhere to park. I went inside to eat tacos.”

TACOS?

“How long were you there?”

“Maybe twenty to twenty-five minutes,” he said.

“Well, you can’t park in front of a fire hydrant. That’s why it was towed.”

With a bit of drunk attitude he replied, “Next time I’ll just park in the street with my flashers on.”

I wondered if he was always that dumb or if it was just tonight.

“If you do, I’ll just tow it again,” I replied.

That got a chuckle from one of the cops and it was also a conversation stopper for sure.

This was clearly someone who didn’t get it, but there was one thing for sure. Those were those most expensive tacos he ever ate.

She said turn left!

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The other night I responded to a single vehicle traffic collision where a car struck a fire hydrant. The driver, who was in his early 20s, told me he was driving down the street when his navigation told him to turn left.

“Siri told you to turn left?” I asked.

“No, Google maps.”

I noticed he had made a sharp left turn where the collision occurred and asked, “Was she yelling at you to turn?”

He let out a laugh and an embarrassed look as he said, “No.”

I imagined Siri yelling at him saying, “Turn left! Turn left now. Turn left or I’m going to kill you!” That would be the only reason why he turned the way he did. After my silly thought I said,  “At least no one was hurt. Do you know who Larry H. Parker is?”

“No.”

“Pull your phone out and Google him,” I said.

The driver pulled his phone out with a weird look on his face. One of the officers said, “He’ll fight for you.”

I laughed because I knew that was their motto for the commercials. They had been on TV since I was a kid and I had heard it a million times. The driver looked at us like he had no idea what we were talking about.

He typed in “Larry H. Parker” and hit send. I stood next to him as he clicked on the website. He started scrolling through the site and pointed like he found a prize as he said, “We’ll fight for you.”

“See I told you. They’ll fight for you.”

That’s just one of a long list of TV mottos that I bring up on calls all the time to get people to laugh.

I probably  watched too much TV as a kid…..

Was there a boom?

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The other night I was at a two-car crash where one of the drivers was a Mandarin speaker. Her friend, who was a woman in her 40s, responded to assist with translation.

We did the interview and I went to speak with the other driver. After I was done, I had to go back to the Mandarin speaker to ask a follow up question. The translator asked my question and the driver started speaking rapidly as she answered. At one point during her answer she said, “Boom.”

I looked at the translator and said, “Yeah, whatever she said and I got the boom part.”

The translator then said something about the crash being a “boom boom.”

“I wasn’t talking about the boom boom. Just the boom,” I said as a joke.

In accented English the translator said, “You’re on-duty right now. You can’t talk about the boom boom. After you get off duty, then you can talk about the boom boom.”

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The other officer and I burst into laughter. I almost had tears in my eyes.

You just never know when the Boom Boom is going to come up.

She Whipped him

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The other night I was sitting in my patrol car in the parking lot of the police department when a call went out over the radio about a family disturbance involving a woman with a whip.

I said, “I gotta see this,” and headed toward the call.

I arrived in the area and saw a woman with long hair running southbound across the street. I drove up and told her to stop. She stopped and started screaming at the top of her lungs. She wasn’t mad at me. She just had major issues. She was like a cavewoman with wild and unkempt hair and a heavy metal t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. For a moment I thought I was sent back to the 1980s like Marty Mcfly in Back to the Future.

I told her to sit down on the curb and I noticed a USB cable in her hand. I looked at the cable and wondered how that could have been mistaken for a whip.

“That’s it?” I told myself. It was like going to the ice parlor on a hot summer day and finding out the building had just burned down.

The woman was eventually arrested and I went to another call a little disappointed there was no whip. That’s not something you see every day unless it’s an Indiana Jones movie.

Later on I spoke to the handling officer and told him about USB cable.

“Oh, there was a whip,” he replied.

“There was?” I asked.

“It was a horse whip,” he said.

Well, that certainly made the story interesting again. I guess the ice cream parlor hadn’t burned down after all.

I still don’t know why they had the whip in the house, but lets just give a head nod and leave it at that.

You just never know how a call is going to whip into shape.

Do a rap for me

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One night I was working a patrol car shift instead of my normal traffic assignment when I was dispatched to a disturbance call at a house. When I arrived, I spoke with the owner of the house, who was Caucasian, tall and in his late 60s. He had some mental issues and was a handful to talk with at first.

After the call was handled we were about to leave when he said, “I have a recording studio here and I’m going to release a rap album.”

I’m sure most people would’ve said, “Okay” and left. But if you know me, this was too good to pass up. I stopped in my tracks and said, “Do a rap for me.”

The man was sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard and was more than happy to show us what he could do. With a smile on his face he started rapping something off the top of his head. It didn’t make sense, but he rhymed.

He went on for almost a minute before stopping with a satisfied look on his face. I pointed to a small wall and said, “I’m going to sit down. Do another.” I walked over to the retaining wall and had a seat.

Without missing a beat, he started on his second rap of the night. He went on for another minute or so with his rhyming nonsense. It was hilarious to watch because he was totally into it. I was actually impressed.

When he was done I held up a fist and said, “Give me knuckles.”

The “rapper” put up his hand and gave me a fist bump.

You just never know when you’re going to meet an elderly rapper on a disturbance call in the middle of the night.