Bombs Away

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The actual birds of truth

A few weeks ago, I interviewed a driver on the sidewalk about a crash he was in. After about a minute, I could tell he hadn’t put in much thought into his story because it was full of shit.

He tried to be creative and blamed a phantom car, but his story lacked imagination, style and most importantly, the truth. He was also trying to Jedi Mind Trick a Jedi Master.

Silly guy.

It was one of those interviews where I took notes and shook my head as I imagined saying, “Sure, I write fiction too.”

In the middle of his horrible and fictional story, the truth gods smiled down on us as a grayish liquid splattered on his dark polo shirt. He looked at his left shoulder as a moment of awkward silence hung in the air like a thick fog.

I then looked up and saw a bunch of birds on the power lines above us.  It was as if my winged friends had heard his story and decided to help me out with a little truth serum of their own.

The moment reminded me of the movie High Anxiety when Mel Brooks ran through the park as dive bombing pooping birds unleashed on him.

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Mel Brooks in High Anxiety.  Photo by cbsnews.com

I took my phone out as the driver curiously watched, wondering what I was doing. I pointed my phone up toward the birds and snapped a pic because this was just too good to pass up.

I moved away from the sidewalk and finished my interview. I didn’t want to get caught in the crossfire when the rest of the birds opened up on the driver.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

 

 

A Shitty Situation?

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There’s one thing about police work you can always count one. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new happens.

The other night I responded to the parking lot of 7-Eleven for a DUI crash. After the driver was arrested, I decided to use the restroom inside the store.

It was 11PM and it was busy. There was a long line and only one clerk behind the counter. After I got the key, I walked to the back of the store and down a hallway.

I inserted the key as I read a sign that said the bathrooms were for police officers only after 10PM.

I pushed the door and it swung open as the interior came into view. Thats when I saw saw a guy bent over like a folded dollar bill sitting on the toilet with his pants around his ankles.

At least he was breathing.

I paused as I thought about my police career bucket list and wondered if “Wake up half naked man on toilet” was on it. Nope, but let’s check that one off now.

In a loud voice I said, “Wake up,” but sleeping not so beauty didn’t move. This guy was out like a light. I was surprised he wasn’t snoring.

After a few more tries he finally woke up. You’d think waking up in the bathroom with your pants down and a cop standing there would get your attention, but not this guy. He sat there like this happened every day and he was used to it.

After he pulled his pants up, he walked toward the sink like a sleepy toddler in the middle of the night. He skipped washing his hands and hit the button on the hand dryer instead. He exited the restroom, walked down the hall and out the front door as the clerk watched, wondering what the heck was going on.

I looked at the clerk and said, “He was sleeping in the bathroom.”

With a shocked looked the clerk said, “He was?”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Nailed it

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About a month ago, it was a warm summer night when an officer asked for a follow up on the radio for a 925 (suspicious person) male who was trying to hide from him in an alley.

I was in the area and responded to his location. When I arrived, I saw the suspect sitting against a block wall in the alley with the cop standing in front of him, waiting for us to arrive.

The male, who was homeless, was about 40 years old, Hispanic and unkempt looking. He was wearing a navy blue button up shirt and jeans. The most unusual part was his right shoe. Somehow the foot was out of the shoe and the laces were wrapped around it. It was comical when he stood up for the pat down with the shoe flopping around.

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During the pat down, the officer found a large nail in his front pants pocket as he pulled it out and showed it to us. The nail was huge and a good reminder to always expect the unexpected.

I looked at the guy and said, “Did you say ‘nailed it’ when you found that?”

He didn’t get my humor, but I sure nailed that joke.

Until the next joke that makes you groan and roll your eyes.

A crazy 902T

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A few months ago the word “whale” came up during a call and it became a challenge to see if I could work it into the conversation with a suspect. Mission accomplished that night with a good laugh and an inside joke between me and another cop.

Another time the word “ball” came up on a call in a weird way by the driver of a crashed car. That night I was able to say ball in almost every other sentence while trying to keep a straight face. It’s a long story, but a good one for another time. It’s also another inside joke between me and the same cop.

On Thursday night, I was dispatched to a four-car injury traffic collision. A civilian report writer arrived on scene first and cancelled the fire department.

She next advised over the radio that the crash was a 902T (non-injury) instead of a 901T(injury). She added a little humor by saying, “It’s a crazy 902T.”

I never heard the phrase “crazy 902T” before, so I decided to have a little fun with it. I picked up the mic and said, “Confirming it’s a crazy 902T?”

“Affirm,” replied the dispatcher.

My computer beeped as a I got a message from MM, the cop with the inside “whale” and “ball” jokes. Her message gave me an idea.

I replied back, “Let’s see how many times I can say crazy 902T on the radio.”

I also typed to the dispatcher and said I was going to try and say “crazy 902T” on the radio when I went on scene.

When I arrived, I saw one car with front end damage disabled in the street. The other car struck two parked cars after the initial impact and was also disabled in the road.

“729, all eastbound lanes are closed and we’re going to have a sig-alert for the next hour for a crazy 902T.”

“10-4,” replied the dispatcher.

“729, I’ll need two 926s (tow trucks) for a crazy 902T.”

“10-4.”

Two times. Maybe I could say it one more time.

I started talking with one of the drivers and decided the paramedics needed to respond. I keyed the mic and asked for the fire department. I next wanted to change the status of the call from non-injury to injury. What better way to do that by saying “crazy 902T” again.

“729, this is no longer a crazy 902T. It’s a 901T light.”

Mission accomplished

Thank You

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There’s a Mexican restaurant in a tired looking strip mall that I’ve driven by many times over the years. From the outside,  I couldn’t tell if it was a sit down place or one where you ordered at the counter.

It turned out to be a sit down place with loud music and bright colors inside.  I normally don’t eat at sit down places because I want my food quick in case I have to run. The food took a long time to come out, but it ended up being good.

When the check came I got a surprise I had never seen before in my 22 year career. There was a neatly written message on a Post It that said, “Thank you for your service and all you do for our city.”

Wow.

When she came back I thanked the waitress for her note. In heavily accented English, she told me how much she appreciated what the police do and that she had moved here from Mexico two years ago.

The waitress said she loved it here and it was much better than where she came from. She also said she was going to take a class at Fullerton College to work on her English.  You could tell she felt lucky to live here.

It’s not every day someone takes the time to write an encouraging note like that to the cops. It was a good reminder that there are good people out there among the negatively and evil we see on the streets.

That note was also a good reminder to all of us to never forget those people who support the Thin Blue Line because they’re the ones who need us just like we need them.

 

Better than cow shit

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The other day I was driving my daughter to practice when we passed a strawberry field. She pointed it out and said something about getting some. I glanced over and it reminded me of a crash I took years ago. I looked at my daughter and said, “I had a car crash at a strawberry field once.”

She relied, “You did?”

Some crashes are easily forgotten, while others stand out. Some stand out because of what I saw or heard, while this particular one stood out because of what I smelled.

One night, I was dispatched to a roll-over crash in the eastern part of the city. I pulled up to the scene and expected to see the car either in the street or on the sidewalk. I scanned the area, but there was nothing. Then I looked at the northeast corner and saw a car deep into the strawberry field.

There aren”t a lot of fields for agriculture where I work so, having a crash at one was really unusual.

I parked and started walking toward the car. I stepped into the field and tried to walk between the rows to avoid stepping on the strawberries. There were crushed strawberries everywhere with an incredible smell was in the air.

I ended up having strawberries in the groves of my boots and some on my pants. You name it and there were bits of strawberry everywhere on the crashed car.

After I left my patrol car smelled like a bottle of strawberry soap exploded inside.

For some strange reason I felt like having a strawberry margarita after that. At least the guy didn’t crash into a dairy farm full of cow shit. I’ll take a strawberry field any day.

Dealing with the mentally ill

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Tonight I was dispatched to a call involving a man who was yelling and kicking cars in a parking lot. I arrived a short time after the first cop got there. When I arrived, I saw a man on his knees  in the parking lot as the officer spoke to him with a  calm voice.

His shoes were off and he was yelling about God and Heaven. While he was on his knees he’d lean forward on his hands and make quick movements that made him unpredictable. It looked like he was going to tackle you at any moment. He also said, “Kill me.”

The other officer got his name and tried to get a phone number for someone who knew him so we could try and help him. He only gave us his name and birth date.

The time finally came for me to pat him down for weapons. Yes, he was mentally ill, but we needed to make sure there were no weapons, especially after the call for service and the behavior we saw.

I knew he needed to hear clear instructions because of his mental state. I told him to put his hands behind his back because I was going to pat him down for weapons.

He turned his head with a serious look and said, “What if I don’t want to?” His voice was something out of a horror movie.

He might’ve been crazy, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew enough to process what I said and what his answer was going to be.

I moved from behind him and said, “Look at me.”

The man, who was in his 50s, looked up at me. He stopped momentarily from picking imaginary bugs off of his body. I knew he wasn’t processing information normally, so I spoke slowly and firmly to him.

I told him I was there to help, but I needed him to cooperate. I also said, “I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to fight.” I let that sink in for a moment before I said, “Can you put your hands behind your back for me and help me out?”

He  listened and nodded his hand. I grabbed his hands from behind and stood him up. I told him not to move and started the pat down. He turned to his left and I firmly said, “Stop moving.”

I held onto his hands like he was going to turn and fight at any moment. After I was done with his left side, I switched hands and checked his right side. Once that was done I let go and he went back down to his knees and continued what he was doing before.

I was lucky he listened. He was eventually transported to the hospital for a mental evaluation.

I didn’t do anything special. I just did the same thing thousands of cops did Monday. I dealt with a mentally ill man who could go off at any moment. A fight with him would’ve been a code 3 response for help and injury to us.

No one wants to deal with a mentally ill person who can attack you at any moment, but that’s part of the job. We do it because someone called 911. We go toward the craziness when other people head the other way.

Anyone who wears the badge knows what I’m talking about. Be safe out there.

Postal?

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Photo from Newsweek.com

The other day I was at the station getting ready to go 10-8 when a sergeant broadcasted on the radio that he came across a non-injury collision. About a minute later he came back on the radio saying a postal truck was involved and the parties wanted a report.

He also inquired about another crash involving a postal truck and asked if his call was the same as the other. I didn’t know what he was talking about so I paid attention to the next transmission.

The dispatcher came on the radio telling him there were two separate collisions involving postal trucks. One was at his location and the other was in the western part of the city.

I keyed the mic as I said, “729.”

“729?” the dispatcher parroted back.

“729, confirming the crashes have gone postal?”

The radio was silent for what seemed like forever. It was an awkward silence like when someone farts in an elevator and you can’t wait for the doors to open.

The silence was finally broken as she acknowledged me.

I got into my car and looked at my MDT. There was a message from DSP1 that simply said, “REALLY????!!!”

“I couldn’t resist,” I typed back.

I went to the crash and handled it. About 35 minutes later I was ready to clear the call, but I needed to get on the radio one last time.

“729.”

“729?”

“Are there any other crashes involving postal trucks that are holding?”

“Negative,” came the reply.

My MDT beeped as “MESS” appeared on my screen from DSP1.

What other time am I ever going to say “postal” on the radio twice  in less than 40 minutes? Probably never again.

Sometimes you just have to roll with it and have fun.

 

Can you open the door?

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Tonight, I responded to a gas station because a man barricaded himself in the restroom after breaking into an apartment across the street. I attempted to negotiate as I tried to get him to come out.

At the time, I only knew his first name and nothing else. I later learned his full name and got a cell phone number for him. I stood near the door and talked to him, but I literally was talking to a wall because he wouldn’t respond. I talked and talked for an hour without so much as a peep out of him. I called his phone, but it was turned off. 

It seemed like my cat paid more attention to me than this guy. 

During that time I learned from family that he had a young son. I thought this was my hook to get through to him, so I steered my negotiation in that direction.

I was met with silence and he eventually started a fire, so officers had to go get him.

Later on, I conducted a records check and learned that his license was suspended. You might wondering a what a suspended license has to do with a barricaded suspect, who started a fire.

It turned out his license was suspended for lack of child support……

I laughed and shook my head when I saw that. I guess that’s why he didn’t open the door when I brought up his son. You just can’t make this stuff up. 

Until the next negotiation….

4Runner target practice

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On Thursday night, I responded to a hit and run call in an alley. When I arrived, I found a parked Toyota 4Runner with front end damage and the front bumper from the suspect vehicle on the ground right next to it.

Another officer advised over the radio that he was out with the suspect and the victim at a 7-Eleven parking lot about a half mile away. I interviewed a witness at the scene and then drove to the suspect’s location.

It turned out the suspect, who we’ll call Tammy, crashed into the parked 4Runner when she was trying to drop someone off.

Right after the collision, a vehicle drove into the alley and stopped. Coincidentally, it was the owner of the parked 4Runner, who just happened to arrive in the alley.

The guy got out of his vehicle and saw that his 4Runner was just hit. Tammy decided she was going to split and started to drive away. The only problem was that Tammy crashed into the guy’s other vehicle, which was also a Toyota 4Runner!

After the second collision Tammy fled the scene as the victim chased after her. She finally gave up and pulled over in the 7-Eleven parking lot.

What were the odds of the victim owning two 4Runners and having them hit by the same suspect in two separate collisions?

You just can’t make this stuff up.