That’s the best you can come up with?

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You never know what’s going to come out of someone’s mouth when they’re worried about getting a ticket. The stuff people blurt out might’ve sounded good in their head, but not so much when a follow up question is asked about their excuse.

The other day I stopped a car for making a right turn on a red light without stopping. After the car stopped, I walked up on the driver door and asked, “Hi, how come you didn’t stop for the red light when you turned?”

The driver, who was in his mid-thirties, unshaven and wearing a buttoned up work shirt nervously said, “I’m in a hurry to study for a test.”

I raised my left arm up in an exaggerated manner as I looked at my watch, which said 6:15PM. I looked back at the driver and asked, “Is your test at 7 o’clock?”

“No, it’s in two months.”

“Studying for a test that’s two months away is the best you can come up with?” I asked as The Price is Right’s loser tone went off in my head.

At least he smiled at how silly his excuse sounded.  I guess it was worth a try, but he should’ve studied the part about stopping for red lights in the DMV handbook instead.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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.

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.