It’s the little things

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It was 113 degrees last Friday afternoon when I started work. It was just damn hot.

My first call was on a freeway overpass where the hot afternoon breeze blew on me like I was at a rest stop on the way to Vegas. If you’ve ever driven to Las Vegas in the summer, you know what I’m talking about.

After the call, a message popped up on my computer screen which made me do a double take. It said the watch commander had an ice cream truck in the back lot of the police department.

How could I pass this up?

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I pulled into the back lot and there it was. The ice cream truck was parked near the north doors with cops standing next to it. It was still 113 degrees, but there were smiles on their faces.

For a brief moment, I wasn’t so hot. For a brief moment, I forgot about the uniform and my body amor. For a brief moment, I enjoyed my ice cream sandwich and a cold bottle of water.

Thank you LT. The troops appreciated it more than you know.

Leadership is about the little things…..

People helping people

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What does a white driver with Nazi tattoos, a black witness, two Hispanic cops and an Asian bystander have in common?

Probably not too much, but add a car accident into the story and you have quite the combination of people.

One night, I responded to a hit and run crash where a car ran a red light and smashed into the victim vehicle. The victim driver was a white male in his 30s with Nazi tattoos on his face, neck and arms. A woman and a young child were also with him.

The witness was a black man in his early 50s and the other person was an Asian male, who didn’t see the crash, but stopped to help.

Then there were the cops. We were both Hispanic.

I interviewed the black guy first because he was the witness. He told me how the suspect run a red light and crashed into the victims. After the crash the suspect fled and he chased after the car until he lost it.

At the end of the interview, I shook his hand and thanked him for stopping. The man said, “We all work hard. We have to help each other out.”

Bingo.

Hopefully the guy with the swastikas on his face noticed that it was people helping people, no matter who they were.

It went over her head

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On Thursday night a woman said she was drinking from a bottle of water when she ran a red light and crashed into another car, causing water to splash on the inside of the windshield.

Sounds believable.

After the crash, she wasn’t able to see because of the water, so she drove almost a half mile to get out of the road.

Let me get this right. She couldn’t see because of the water on her windshield, but she was able drive away with two witnesses chasing her as they called the police about a hit and run?

She also spontaneously said she had looked up and saw the red light. I asked her a follow up question about looking up while she was drinking from the bottle. She then said she was opening the bottle of water instead of drinking from it.

She obviously hadn’t thought this through, so I decided to have a little fun with some obscure humor.

I asked, “So water splashed all over the windshield?”

“Yes,”

“Why didn’t you use the windshield wipers to see?”

“I didn’t think about that!” she replied excitedly.

Did she really just say that?

“They only work on the outside,” I said.

Then the dim light bulb went off when she figured it out. And when I say dim light bulb, I mean really dim……

Later on, I asked her what kind of insurance she had. She said, “Cost you less.”

“Well, keep driving like that, it’s going to cost you more.”

This call was one-liner heaven because she made it so easy. You just gotta have fun out here.

Hero or zero?

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A few weeks ago, I responded to a call where a woman rear ended her baby’s daddy on purpose after she followed him into a neighborhood. There was some type of disturbance beforehand and their infant was in the backseat of her car when this happened.

There was minor damage, but a witness saw the impact in front of his house and called the police. It was determined there was no “traffic collision,” just an assault with a deadly weapon and child endangerment.

I stood by with the baby’s daddy and made small talk with him while the patrol cops handled the witness and suspect interviews.

During our conversation he told me the baby’s mamma was crazy and always followed him. Since she’d just rammed his car, I asked the baby’s daddy if he ever thought about a restraining order. I also asked him what he planned to do about child custody.

He said, “I don’t want it.”

“You don’t want your kid?”

“I have my own kids,” he replied.

I stood there shocked. Who says that? This 25 year-old had a lot to learn about responsibility and life. I could go on and on about this, but I’ll let you fill in the rest.

After the baby’s mamma was arrested, one of the cops walked over to the baby’s daddy and said he could take the child home with him.

“I’ll take him to her mom’s house.”

The cop with less than two years on the job, gave him a WTF look as he asked, “You don’t want your child?”

“I don’t want him. I can’t keep him. I’ll take him to her mom’s house.” After further discussion, he refused to take his kid and left.

He got into his car without a care in the world. The engine started and the car shifted into gear as he drove off into the night. This guy was a father, but he’d never be someone’s “daddy.” He’d be a zero in this child’s eyes and never a hero liked dads are supposed to be.

It shouldn’t have bugged me, but it did.

I was about to leave when one of the cops told me the woman was pregnant with their second child……….

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Almonds anyone?

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The other night, I was snacking on almonds when I was sent to a medical aid call involving a 96 year-old woman, who was not breathing. I finished chewing and acknowledged the call as I headed toward the address, which was right around the corner.

This 96 years old, not breathing and I was going to be the first one on scene. She had no idea about my record of CPR attempts with no wins. If she did, I’m sure she would’ve said, “No thank you,” and asked for another cop to respond.

Last year when the life saving awards were presented at our banquet, my son said with sarcasm, “Maybe you’ll get that one day.”

Someone else once told me I could win the UN-life saving award if they had that category. I’ve also heard, “Don’t go. Give them a chance.”

I turned the corner and was in front of the woman’s house in about 30 seconds. I went up to the door, which was closed and opened it as I said, “Police!”

Someone from the back of the house said, “In here!”

I went inside and saw an elderly woman face up on the couch with her eyes open. I got closer and saw her eyes move. I looked over at a man, who was her son, and asked, “What’s her name?”

He was out of breath and understandably upset as he replied, “Gabby.”

I leaned over and touched her left shoulder and said her name (a pseudonym) loudly. The woman was motionless, but she was breathing and she looked at me, which was great. At least she had a chance.

I was still bent over when I touched her shoulder again and said, “You’re going to be okay Gabby.” That’s when a small piece of almond flew out of my mouth.

I watched in horror as it went through the air in slow motion and land on her chin.  Holy shit. Did that really just happen?

Well, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and move on. Without hesitation, I reached up and plucked the almond from her face as I continued to tell Gabby she was going to be okay. At least it didn’t land in her mouth.

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

Up in smoke

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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?”

“No.”

“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?”

“Methamphetamine.”

“Can I get it?”

“Yes.”

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.

Keep your hands to yourself

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It was the late afternoon when I pulled up to a two-car crash at a busy intersection where a  fire truck was blocking the street and causing a huge traffic jam.

One of the drivers was being treated by fire personnel while he sat in his car. Both of his hands were bloody and I cringed at the thought of him handing his driver’s license to me.

After about ten minutes, the driver declined medical treatment and I interviewed him, along with the other driver about the crash. While I did that, another officer helped by writing the driver’s information on the collision report form.

A little while later, the motor cop held up the report form and said, “I have to redo it.”

I looked over at him as I wondered what he meant. That’s when I saw him holding a blood-stained report form in his hand as it blew in the afternoon breeze.

The cop told me bloody hands was standing next to him while he wrote down his information. That’s when bloody hands decided it was a good idea to point at something on the report form.

In horror, the cop tried to move his clipboard out of the way, but it was too late as the worlds largest drop of blood flew through the air and hit its bullseye.

Well, that was a first.  I’ve had coffee, water and food spilled on my report forms before, but never blood. What’s next? Vomit?

Keep your hands to yourself. I don’t know where they’ve been…..

 

Howdy-Ho Neighbor

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I was sitting in my patrol car in a shopping center parking lot when security man drove up in his golf cart and pointed as he said, “Officer, that RV can’t be parked there.” I turned my head and saw what he was talking about. He then added, “It’s been there an hour.”

It was 2:30AM and I was down five crashes. All I wanted to do was catch up on my work.  I drove to the RV, which looked like it belonged in a museum. It’s dented and rusted body was begging to be sent to the scrap yard. Security man told me he knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He was sure someone was inside and they were ignoring him.

He really wanted the RV to leave and asked that I make contact with the occupant. I grabbed my baton from the car and knocked on the door like someone owed me money. Of course, this “Where’s my money” sound caused movement inside.

A hand reached up and slid open a window as a woman lifted her head up to look at me. I only saw the left half of her face as we talked.  I told the woman about the security guard and she said she couldn’t leave until a friend helped her repair the engine.

She kept talking and never showed her entire face. It reminded me of something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

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That’s when it hit me and I asked, “Have you ever seen the show Home Improvement?”

The woman, who was in her late 50s, gave me a weird look as her left eye squinted at my random question. After the randomness faded she replied, “Yeah.”

“This is like talking to Tim Allen’s neighbor.”

The joke floated in the air like a hanging curve ball waiting to be hit out of the ballpark. Then her face (half of it) smiled and she laughed.

At least she got my Tim Allen joke. There’s nothing like a little randomness to keep people on their toes and to make the job entertaining. It’s not every day you can work in Tim Allen and his neighbor Wilson into a conversation while out on patrol.

“Howdy-ho neighbor.”

Who needs a license?

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With shoulders slumped, the driver looked dejectedly at his crashed car with its crumpled metal and fluid spilling out onto the street like blood draining from a body.

The driver, who was about 18 years old, had a look of disbelief as the flashing police and fire lights bounced off our faces.

During the interview I asked, “Do you have a license?”

He replied, “No,” as his permit shook in his hand.

This was my fourth crash of the night and my second with an at fault unlicensed driver. Driver’s licenses and rules don’t mean anything anymore to some people.

Being responsible doesn’t seem to matter anymore either, regardless of how many people are killed or injured in crashes when an unlicensed person gets behind the wheel. I guess having a driver’s license is just a suggestion.

I asked, “Do you know you’re not supposed to drive?”

In a low voice the driver said, “I was going to the DMV next week.”

Well, that doesn’t help the mother and child who were transported to the hospital. That also doesn’t help all the copss at the scene who were tied up with traffic control, or the paramedics, ER staff and ambulance drivers, who treated these victims.

“I woulda, coulda, shoulda” doesn’t help anyone when an unlicensed driver sends you to the hospital.

Be careful out there. The guy next to you might be suspended or unlicensed and they’ll take you out.

Do you know who Chuck Berry is?

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I try to never miss an opportunity to say something random to keep people on their toes. Once the randomness gets unleashed you never know where the conversation is going to go.

On Friday night, I was at a traffic collision when I asked a male in his mid-50s what happened. The male said, “I was just cruising down going home.”

It was at that moment a Chuck Berry song popped into my head. With total randomness  I said, “So, you were just riding along in your automobile like Chuck Berry?”

“Yeah.”

“With no particular place to?”

The driver recognized what I said and I was rewarded with a big laugh.

After I was done, I told the guy I had never worked Chuck Berry into a traffic collision interview before. He laughed some more and seemed to appreciate my attempt at obscure humor. 

I next went to the other driver and asked, “Which way were you going? Wait, do you know who Chuck Berry is?”

He gave me a weird look and replied, “No.”

I turned to a lateral officer in training and asked, “Do you know who Chuck Berry is?” He nodded and replied he did.

I turned back to the young driver and said, “Pull out your phone and Google it,” You could tell he wasn’t sure what to think, but he was a good sport and got his phone out. I think part of him wanted to know where this randomness was going.

Once on You Tube, he typed in Chuck Berry and asked me which video. I pointed to “No particular place to go” and he clicked on it. The video started playing as Chuck Berry sang:

Riding along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin’ wild
Crusin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go……..

After we were done with the musical history lesson,  I was standing with a cop and a civilian report writer when another lateral officer trainee walked up. Since he was younger, I decided to ask, “Do you know who Chuck Berry is?”

He gave me a quizzical look and said, “No.” The look on his face and how he answered made us laugh. That’s when he asked, “Why, do I look like him?”

We laughed even harder now. I looked back at the Hispanic officer and replied, “He’s black.”

Priceless……….