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.

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.

He’s freaking weird

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Have your ever had a conversation that left you saying “WTF?”

The other night I was at a crash when the tow truck driver pointed down the street and asked, “Do you remember the crash where the car went through the wall?”

“You mean the fatal?”

“Yeah.”

“I remember it, but I wasn’t working that night.”

With a look of lust the driver tow driver said, “She had a nice ass. What a waste.”

“Who? The dead woman?” I replied.

“Yeah.”

“How did you see her? Was she still in the car?”

“No, she was in the street.”

“Didn’t she get ejected?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“So, you’re saying the dead woman had a nice ass?” I replied with sarcasm.

“She had a nice ass. What a waste,” he said as he shook his head.

I was speechless. That was the fart in the elevator moment that killed the conversation. There was no where to go after that.

As the tow truck drove away, I knew that tow truck man had just achieved Badge415 blog status.  Who says that? What a weird MOFO.

You just never know what people are going to say and you can’t make this stuff up.

That’s just weird

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The other night, a gang unit came on the radio saying they were trying to stop a person on a bike who was trying to get away from them. I was close by and got there a moment after the suspect was caught.

When I arrived, the helicopter directed me into the alley where the officers were. I saw a Honda stopped facing eastbound and a police car behind it. There was also a BMX bicycle on its side.

One of the gang cops pointed to the Honda and told me the suspect broke off its passenger side mirror when he hit the car. After the collision, the suspect left the bike and fled on foot. That’s when they caught him.

The bicycle rider was the hit and run suspect? That’s a new one.

The victim was standing next to his car and I went to get his information for the report. Instead of a driver’s license, I got a blank look because he didn’t have one.

This call was already weird enough with the hit and run suspect being a guy on a bike. You might as well throw in another guy with no license to make it interesting. Maybe a circus was in town and we could have clowns too.

After I was done with the driver, I wrote down the suspect’s information. A record check showed he had a valid driver’s license.

What?

So, let me get this straight. The hit and run dude on a bike had a driver’s license, but the guy driving the car didn’t????

Weird, right?

Weird is actually pretty normal for me at work. I wouldn’t expect anything else.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

It was like a movie

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Do you remember the old Twilight Zone episode when William Shatner saw a monster ripping up the wing on the airplane he was on? I was on a call recently that reminded me of that episode.

A man, who I’ll call Frank, was driving down the freeway when someone opened the passenger door and tried to grab him. Frank tried to shake the guy off the car by swerving back and forth. The person then tried to stab Frank from underneath the car. That’s when he decided to exit the freeway.

The person was still under the car at this point, so Frank drove up onto the concrete median as he tried to get him off. A witness was behind him and described sparks coming out from underneath the car as he did this.

He  then ran a red light and crashed into another car at the intersection. After the crash, the person under Frank’s car climbed out and jumped into the trunk of the victim vehicle.

Frank wasn’t DUI. He was just mentally ill. He truly believed someone was trying to get him while he was driving. As he told the story, I said, “That sounds like a movie.” Frank nodded and agreed with me.

In the end, we had to open the truck of the victim car to show Frank there was no one in there.

It was an interesting call for sure. The only thing missing was Arnold Schwarzenegger doing battle with The Predator.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

“I made a slow down”

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The other night a car made a right turn on a red light without stopping. It was as if the red light wasn’t there, so  I decided to stop the car.

He had a head start on me so I pushed down on the gas pedal to catch up to him. The engine revved on “old faithful” as my patrol car gained on him.

Once I was behind him, I threw on the overheads and the car pulled to the curb. After it stopped, I walked up as my red and blue lights flashed and bounced off houses and passing cars.

“Hi, can I see your license?”

The driver, who was 20 years old, reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. As he grabbed for his license I asked, “Why didn’t you stop for the red light when you made the right turn?”

The driver, who was understandably nervous, handed me his license as he said, “I made a slow down.”

“A slow down?” I asked with raised eyebrows. “The light was red. Why didn’t you stop?”

“I yielded,” he said as if  he was in a hot air balloon with a leak that was crashing toward he ground.

“What color is the light for yield?”

“Uh, yellow.”

That’s when an embarrassed look appeared on his face as he realized how silly his excuse sounded.

I have a feeling he’ll stop at this red light the next time he makes a right turn.

She just didn’t believe us

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A few months ago I was at a crash where a woman in her 40s ran a red light and collided into two other cars. After speaking with her I could tell she had major emotional problems. The accident made everything worse because she was driving her mother’s car and she didn’t want to tell her.

After a few minutes she started talking about not wanting to live. I called for a patrol unit to deal with her while I continued to handle the collision investigation part.

Two officers rolled up and spoke to the woman. A few minutes later one of the cops told me she really didn’t want to kill herself. He said she was an emotional wreck and more worried about telling her mother about the car. They helped out by calling mom and breaking the news to her.

When I was done, I walked over to where the woman was. She was still a mess, but things were better now that the officers had calmed her down and spoken to her mom.

I tried to make her feel better by telling her we had all been involved in on-duty crashes before.

She looked at me with a suspicious look and said, “No you haven’t.”

“Yes, I have. One time I hit a house,” I replied.

With a skeptical look she said, “No you didn’t. You’re just trying to make me feel better.”

I pointed to one of the cops and said, “I met him his first day at work when he crashed on his very first call.”

She looked over at him as he said, “I did.”

“No you didn’t. You’re lying.”

“Serious. I did.” he said.

The other cop then said, “I’ve crashed too.”

She squinted her eyes as she said, “You’re making this stuff up.”

No matter how much we told her about our traffic collisions she didn’t believe us. We all wished the stories weren’t true, but they were.

I know it sounds pretty far fetched for a police car to hit a house, but it was true. Maybe a picture of my crashed patrol car in the front yard of that house would’ve made her believe me.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Did she hang up on me?

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The other night I drove to a person’s house to try and contact them about a traffic collision they were involved in the week before. The driver wasn’t home, but I got their phone number from someone who lived there.

I drove around the corner and pulled over so I could call her. The phone rang once and she said, “Hello?”

I told her my name and what police department I was from. I then asked, “Were you in a car accident last week?”

“Yes.”

I explained to her that I was the officer investigating the crash and asked, “Can you tell me what happened?”

“I’m driving. I can’t talk right now.”

“But you answered the phone,” I said shaking my head. “Can you pull over and tell me what happened then?”

“I’m driving. I can’t talk.” She then hung up.

I looked at my phone with a confused look as I wondered what just happened. What the heck was this lady talking about? It sure didn’t bother her to answer the phone when she was driving. Now she can’t talk when the cops call?

I hit redial.

Ring, ring, ring, ring, voicemail.

“Hi, this is the officer you just hung up on. Can you call me back so I can ask you what happened about the accident? I work until 3AM.” I left the department phone number and hung up as I said, “Thank you” in an overly cheerful voice.

Five minutes later I hit redial again, but it went back to voicemail. I never heard back from her the rest of the night. Did she think this was a random police calling sting where we try to catch you on the phone?

I guess I scared her into not using her phone for a while. I bet she had to fight the urge to touch it for the next hour, expecting it to be the cops to see if she answered again.

Part of me wanted to call at 3AM just so I could hang up on her too.

“Hi, this is Officer………” Click.

We could call it even then.

Where’s my mommy?

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The call came out as a felony hit and run involving a pedestrian with witnesses following the suspect. Dispatch updated the suspect’s location as it continued westbound on a major highway.

A few minutes later we caught up to the suspect and stopped the vehicle in a parking lot. After the interviews, we learned that the victim was transported to the hospital because her foot was run over. The suspect was arrested for felony hit and run and placed in the back of a police car. She also was driving on a suspended license.

This wasn’t the typical hit and run story though. This one had a bit of a twist to it.

What made this one a little different were the passengers in the suspect vehicle. They weren’t a bunch of hoodlums or gang members. They were the driver’s 6 and 3 year old daughters.

After mom was arrested, I walked up to the vehicle so I could get her purse and cell phone for her. There was an officer standing at the car wth the children. The 6 year old seemed to be having a good time taking with the officer.

I looked at her and asked, “Where’s mummy’s purse and cell phone?”

“Right there, ” she said as she pointed to the front seat.

“Thanks,” I replied.

I was about to walk away when she asked, “Where’s my mommy?”

I was kind of hoping to avoid that one. What do you tell a 6 year old? You can’t just say, “Mommy went to jail because she ran over a woman.”

Instead, I went with, “Mommy is talking to a police officer.”

“OK.”

“Your daddy is coming,” I said.

“My daddy is coming?”

“He’ll be here soon.”

“OK.”

I took the purse and phone to the patrol car and gave them to the officer. He then drove her to jail.

A few minutes later I walked by the vehicle and the little girl asked, “Where’s my mommy?”

“She’s talking with the officer at the police station,” I replied.

“Ok. Do you have kids?’ she asked. It was the cutest thing.

“I do. Do you want to see a picture of them?”

“Yeah,” she said with a smile.

I took my phone out and showed her a picture of my kids. The little girl looked at my daughter and said, “She’s pretty!”

You can’t beat a child’s innocence.