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.

The puppy and the steering wheel

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On Thursday night, I went to an injury crash involving a parked car on a busy residential street in the central part of the city. When I got there, I saw the driver sitting on the curb with fire personnel. His right eye was purple and swollen shut like Rocky Balboa after 15 rounds with Apollo Creed.

I looked at the scene and could tell the driver was northbound when he veered to the right and hit a parked truck.

I also saw a woman sitting on a retaining wall with a small dog in her arms about ten feet away from the driver. I dind’t pay attention to her because I thought she was one of the many onlookers, who were standing around and watching the show.

After the fire guys were done, I walked up to the driver and asked him what happened. With quivering lips he said, “I had my puppy on my lap.”

I looked back at the woman with the dog and realized the driver’s four-legged passenger must’ve had a rough ride.

The driver said, “My puppy put his head through the steering wheel. I pulled his head out and then tried to swerve away from the truck.”

After the driver was done telling me how the collision occurred, I said, “Doggone it.”

The joke hand grenade was in the air waiting for the driver to get it, but he never did. At least Noggie, who was standing next to me, got it.

After I was done with the interview, the driver sat on the curb and called someone. While he was on the phone, his voice changed and he became upset. I could tell from the conversation that the person on the other end didn’t believe his puppy story.

At one point he said, “I wasn’t fucking texting! The dog was on my lap and he stuck his head in the steering wheel!”

He was in the middle of his argument when I walked over to him and said, “If it makes you feel better, I believe you.”

He looked up at me with the most sincere look and said, “Thank you.”

My gut feeling told me he was telling the truth. Plus, his story was so crazy it was believable. It was the least I could do for the poor guy because his eye really did look like Rocky Balboa’s after a beat down.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

You get an F

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About a week ago I was stuck in late afternoon traffic that was heavier than normal. While I was stopped, dispatch put out an injury traffic collision involving four cars at the freeway off ramp just ahead of me.

I looked across the sea of cars and saw the crash north of the city limit and I requested the neighboring city respond for the report.

I turned on my overhead lights as I tried to move over to the left. Once in the left lane, I squeezed between the median and traffic as I moved at a snail’s pace. Getting through traffic was no different than trying to put on a pair of jeans that I wore in high school. It just wasn’t happening.

When I finally got up to the crash I saw car with a shattered rear window and its trunk in the backseat. The driver had a dazed look as he stood next to the paperweight that used to be his car.

A full-sized truck had rear ended him, which caused a chain reaction with two other vehicles. The driver of the truck told me he was on the gas while changing lanes and never saw the car in front of him.

I started the paper work and waited for the other officer to respond. Once the other cop arrived, I told the offending driver I was leaving.

He gave me a lost look and asked, “Do I get a report card?”

I knew he meant report number, but I couldn’t resist as I replied, “Yeah, you get an F.”

The F comment hung there like a silent but deadly fart traveling through the air searching out an unsuspecting victim. His facial expression then changed knowing he was just Badge415ized.

He smiled and said, “That’s fucked up.”

“You opened the door on that one,” I replied as I smiled.

The call no one wants

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The call involved a child who was run over by a car in the driveway of her house. From the information at the scene this wasn’t going to end well.

I arrived at the hospital and parked my car knowing I didn’t want to go in. With each step toward the ER, I could feel something telling me to go in the other direction.

My sergeant was standing in the ER with a solemn look on his face. The toddler was lying lifeless in the bed with hospital staff doing what they could to save her.

Her father was wearing a blood stained shirt and a look of anguish on his face. I didn’t want to watch. I didn’t want to be there.

I could feel my heart beat faster as I looked at the child lying there. She was so small that it shocked me.

That’s when the doctor called it. I knew it was over because the father yelled out, “No!!!!!” He turned toward the wall and started hitting it as he yelled out.

You could almost feel the screams go through your body and grip your heart with  pain, suffering and grief.

How had this happened?

It was my call. The type of call no one ever wants to respond to.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the first child I’d seen run over by a family member.

I had to leave. I needed to get out of there.

I told my sergeant I was going to the collision scene to speak with the driver as the father held the lifeless body. He just screamed as he rocked back and forth with the body.  It’s an image that will stay with me forever.

I walked toward the exit as his screams shook the walls like an 8.0 earthquake.

We need to stop meeting by accident

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It was a late Friday afternoon when I was sent to a hit and run crash. When I arrived, I saw both drivers sitting in their cars. Two other officers were already on scene.

After I interviewed both drivers, the suspect was detained for the DUI investigation. While we waited the suspect said, “I called my boss and told him I was going to get booked.”

“You called your boss already?” I asked.

“Yeah. I told him I wasn’t going to be there on Monday.”

That was pretty funny because he made that call before I got there. I guess that pitcher of beer and the shot of whiskey he drank told him which way this was going to go.

I made small talk with him and learned he was arrested for DUI about five years ago. I asked, “Did you crash or were you stopped?”

“I crashed.”

I asked him where and when. It just happened to be on a Friday night , which was my normal work day so I asked, “Was I there?”

I asked this because every so often I run into past crash cusomters. Well, actually they run into someone else and then I show up.

He starting giving me details about the collision and asked me, “Do you remember?”

“No. I take a lot of crashes, so it has to be different for it to stick out.”

He squinted as he looked at my name bar and said, “You were there.” He kept looking at my name and said, “I have a report at home with your name on it.”

“We need to stop meeting by accident,” I replied. At least he laughed because saying that never gets old.

A little while later I found his name in our records. He was in two different crashes in my city. One was the DUI crash he was talking about, but it was handled by someone else. The second crash was last summer. He was a passenger in that one and guess who wrote it?

Yes, Badge415’s name was at the bottom of that report. What a small world.

With a population of 350,000 people, I still find it amazing how I run into past crash customers.

I should start handling out Badge415 frequent customer loyalty punch cards with the words, “After 3 crashes you buy me Starbucks.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

A dumb excuse

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A few weeks ago, it was a rainy Friday night when I heard one of the dumbest excuses ever.  It was 2AM when I arrived at a crash where an officer pointed to a driver and said he was unlicensed.

During the interview with the driver I asked, “Who owns the car you were driving?”

“My mom.”

“Does she know you don’t have a license.”

“Yeah.”

After I was done talking with the son, I spoke to mom.

“Did you know he is unlicensed?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Why did you let him drive.”

“He was practicing.”

Practicing? That was the best she could come up with ?

“In the middle of the night and in the rain?” I asked with a surprised tone in my voice.

In the end,  the car was impounded for 30 days. Mom and son both got tickets. Mom for allowing an unlicensed person to drive her car and son for being unlicensed. 

Here’s the ironic part. Mom was the one who called the cops because she thought the other driver was DUI…… He wasn’t. 

 

What’s in the box?

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The other night I went to a hit and run collision where a truck was rear ended at a red light. After the crash, the victim asked the bad guy for his information. The bad guy told him he didn’t have insurance, so the victim said he was going to call the cops.

The bad guy replied by saying, “I’ll go to jail.”

The bad guy went back to his car and returned with something in his hand. He walked over to the victim’s driver door and put something on the seat. He then went back to his car and took off.

The victim looked and saw a small red gift box with a yellow bow on top on his driver seat.

Was this some type of remorseful gift for the hit and run? Was there money or even jewelry to help the victim feel better about being left in the middle of the street with a damaged bumper and an injured wife?

What could it be? Was there something mysterious in the box? The feeling of anticipation was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

“What was in the box?” I asked.

“Nothing,” replied the victim. “It was empty.”

“Empty?” I replied as I heard the loser tune from The Price is Right playing in the background. WTF

The victim’s daughter held the box up in her palm and opened it up for me. I looked inside and saw that it was as empty as when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault (Google it if you didn’t get it).

After I left the call I thought of something funny. It’s too bad I couldn’t leave the the gift box at the suspect’s door with a note inside that said, “Badge415 found you.”

Maybe this year Santa can leave a lump of coal for Christmas in this guy’s stocking.

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.