He’s not listening

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I rarely have problems with the drivers at collision scenes. Most of the time it’s low key and the drivers are happy the cops showed up. But then, add a husband, wife or friend, who are emotional know-it-alls and everything goes downhill.

It was late afternoon when a male with no license ran a red light and crashed into another car. The driver said the sun was in his eyes and he had no idea what color his light was. This was a great statement, because even if he lied, he still ran the red light.

The other driver said her light was green and she never saw the car until it hit her. It doesn’t get easier than this, right? Now add a husband…….

“No offense, but I think his excuse is bullshit,” said the know-it-all husband. He then added, “What are you going to do to him? He’s not safe to drive.”

“He could be lying about the sun, but either way he’s at fault,” I replied.

“What are you going to do to him?” he asked again.

I told the husband people make mistakes all the time and unfortunately, they crash. I added no one was hurt and that was the most important thing.

“What are you going to do to him?”

“What do you want me to do to him?”

“He’s not safe.”

“People do stupid stuff all the time and they crash. It happens. I don’t want to minimize what happened to your wife, but people crash all day long.”

“But what are you going to do to him?”

Was I talking to myself? I might as well have been talking to the wall across the street. He obviously hadn’t heard a word I said. To be a smart ass I almost said, “Do you want me to shoot him? Would that make you feel better?”

It would’ve been totally worth it to see his reaction.

Always watch your back

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It was a warm September afternoon and I had just gone 10-8 when I heard one of the cops put out a car stop on the radio. His voice was normal and everything sounded routine.

About ten seconds later a voice of urgency came on the radio saying, “Code 3 follow.”

I hit the lights and siren as my engine roared to life. The car sped by as buildings, trees and cars became a blur. I turned eastbound onto a major street and then a hard right into the driveway of an apartment complex.

When I arrived the cop had the driver, who was uncooperative, at gunpoint. He was given numerous commands to turn around and keep his hands up, but he wouldn’t comply. After some tense moments he eventually listened and was handcuffed.

It turned out the suspect had a loaded revolver tucked inside his waistband, brass knuckles, a large knife and bullets for reloading. This definitely could’ve ended up in an officer involved shooting. I wonder what he was thinking by not listening. It’s almost as if he was trying to get shot, but chickened out.

A few months later, I went to my favorite taco place at 1AM to get something to eat. As I stood in line, I looked around and scanned faces. Some were looking at their food and others were looking at me. Then I stopped at one face.

It was the guy from the car stop, who had the gun.

He had his back to the wall and he was looking at me. We locked eyes for a moment and I could see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to figure out if he’d seen me before. He then glanced back down at his plate, but he kept looking up at me.

After I ordered, I took a spot in the restaurant so I could watch him while I waited for my food. I’d bet money he had a gun on him again and I wasn’t going to take my eyes off of him, especially wth the way he was watching me.

I stood there and formed a plan in case he pulled a gun out. I looked at places to take cover, how to exit the front door and the people around him if I had to shoot back.

It’s funny. Most people go to a restaurant and order their food without a second thought. As a cop, you see the world in an entirely different way and ordering food can be just as dangerous as handling a call.

It might sound silly, but you just never know what’s going to happen and you don’t get a second chance.

You just handle the job and move on

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A few months ago, I spoke with a driver in his early 20s, who was involved in a minor traffic collision. After his statement, I handed him a card with the report number on it and asked, “Do you have any questions?”

“No,” he replied. He then added, “You took my crash before.”

“Where was it? What happened?” I asked.

He told me the crash location and it happened two years ago. I reached into my brian as different images flashed through my memory like movie highlights until one stuck out.

“Do you hit a woman who was crossing the street?”

“Yes.”

“Was it a major injury collision?” I asked, trying to remember the details from that night.

“Yes. I had a lot of therapy over that.” An awkward moment hung in the air because I didn’t know what to say. “I have PTSD,” he said.

I stood there and couldn’t remember everything about that night, but I did remember a woman being hit. I didn’t remember him, his vehicle or what happened to the pedestrian.

After the collision, I did some research and found the crash he was talking about. I pulled up the report and it all came back to me.

The pedestrian was crossing against a red light when she was hit by his car and died.

After seeing the report, I thought of the driver and compared our roles from that night. For him, his life changed forever in a blink of the eye when that person ran out in front of his car. What a tremendous weight to carry at such an young age.

And then there was me and my role. It was a call. I handled it and moved on to the next crash. It’s not that I dodn’t care, but you have to do your job and move on. Some calls bother you more than others. There are some calls you never forgot and others your memory stores somewhere off to the side.

Unfortunately, there will be more dead, broken and injured bodies around the next corner. It’s police work and it’s called accident investigation. You just have to do the job and move on.

Be safe out there.

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…..