Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sometimes lightning really does strike twice

A couple of years back, I tagged this gal for DWI one night. Smoking hot and a recent Russian immigrant. Turned out that she was one of those mail-order wives and some sap had paid big bucks to bring her here to America. Then he enlisted and went to fight overseas while she lived with his parents, cashing his checks, driving his car (and getting it impounded) and hanging out at the clubs until closing time...good wife, eh? I locked her up and her in-laws or husband or whoever ponied up for a lawyer who got her a plea deal, so the case never went to actual trial. I'd forgotten all about her until one night almost a year later when I found a car parked in a dark park a bit after midnight. I went up and interrupted a couple who were about to get busy, and when I did, I noticed the smell of alcoholic beverages. I also saw that the engine was running. Good enough. I pulled the two of them out and discovered that is was my little Russian friend from a year prior, still smoking hot and apparently unfaithful as ever. The car was her husband's but the guy she was with...not him. He's still overseas and this is just some casual hook-up.
Now I have to ask myself about the odds of this. My agency's coverage area is huge, spanning several smaller municpalities. A year ago, I'd tagged her near the northen end of it, and here, just by chance, I'd caught her again about forty miles south of there. With literally hundreds of thousands of people in our area, it boggles the mind to figure the odds of this happening.

So I hooked her for DWI again after she failed the field sobriety tests and exhibited enough other signs of intoxication for me to take her even though I hadn't actually seen her driving the car. (mere possession and control of the car is enough for the arrest here, and here being in the car with the engine running works.)

Her shack-up actually had the nerve to ask me how he was suppoosed to get home as I was hooking her up. No concern for her or curiosity about her charges--just interested in how he was supposed to get home.

I pointed out that he had feet and suggested that he use them. Then I took her back to out jail.

And on the way back, it finally dawned on her that we'd met before. She hadn't recognized me at first, and I didn't say anything. But half way back, the light came on and she told me that she knew. "Small world, eh?" I replied.

She was silent for a few minutes, and then she leaned towards the divider and told me off:
"You know, last time you arrested me, that was total bullshit. I was hardly drunk at all."

I didn't say anything; I never respond when prisoners start to ramble. Sometimes they say really cool spontaneous (and admissible) stuff if allowed to just talk.

"Yeah, I'll admit that you got me good this time. I'm fucked up. But last time I was hardly drunk at all and that was wrong."

I had to shake my head to be sure I'd just heard that. "What did you say?"
Thinking quickly, I grabbed my radio mike, keyed it, and held it up near the divider.

"I said that the last time you got me, I was hardly drunk at all. This time's solid because I'm fucked up, but last time I was hardly drunk at all and you shouldn't have arrested me."

Then she saw the microphone I was holding up.

"Oh, fuck you!" she screamed.

"Dispatch, please mark the tape and have a copy ready for pick-up prior to EOT," I said.

That confession was a nice addition to the little Tsarina's case jacket...and because I'd done nothing to solicit it, it was perfectly admissible. She wound up getting five days for this second DWI and the husband's car was impounded yet again.

I have to wonder if her husband has mailed her back to Moscow yet, or if she's still here, driving around in his car and waiting for our next encounter.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dispatch blues

Lucky me...due to a serious shortage of dispatchers recently, I've been blessed with the opportunity to pick up some serious overtime working off the street in our communications center.

However, it has not been without it's frustrations, some from idiots who call in asking for help, and some from idiots in uniform who should know better.

So, just to get everyone back on the same page:

1. Citizens. When you call 911, it is an EMERGENCY center you have called. Give me the nature of your call--keep it brief--and make sure that it's something we can do something about. DO NOT call to whine about:
a. People who are "recklessly" passing you after you set your cruise control right at the speed limit. (Aside from bothering me, you're driving like an ass. Sell your car and take the bus.)
b. Deer on the road. We all know deer cross the road. It's just one of those things. Don't call and tell me about the deer that you almost hit, or ask why we do not have more "deer crossing" signs up. Trust me, the deer won't cross there no matter how many we put up.
c. The guy who cut you off a few minutes ago, especially if you didn't get a license number and he got off at the last exit. WTF are we supposed to do about that? You probably deserved to be cut off because you were driving like caller a.

2. Citizens. When you call in, if you do not know where you are, do not get mad at me because I keep asking you to figure it out. I cannot send anyone to help you if I do not know where you are. I cannot magically divine your location, and it's really important. So if I ask you to go find a street sign or something else that will clue us both in, don't get all pissy with me. I know where I am.

3. Officers. If another officer has just asked me to check a tag and I acknowledge him or her, your silly-assed query really needs to wait fifteen seconds until I give him or her their return. If you are in a chase or a gunfight, fine. But if you just want to announce that you've checked a "special attention" location and found nothing wrong, or if you want your own tag checked, just wait. The real dispatchers may be able to handle you tag-teaming them, but I'm not there yet and I know who you are. This bullshit where the radio is totally silent for twenty minutes and then suddenly eight people have traffic all at once needs to quit.

4. Officers. When I call you several times because you do not answer up (because you weren't paying attention), don't get snide with me. You only have one real job: answering the radio. I do it when I'm out there and you can do it. And to be honest, some of you have this problem a lot more than others. You know who you are; so does everyone else. (And yes, CM, I mean you in particular.)

5. Unnamed neighboring jurisdiction: STOP TRANSFERRING ALL OF YOUR DAMNED CALLS TO US! Your calls are yours, and turfing callers off on us isn't going to make us take them; it's just going to get the callers and--us--pissed off, resulting in hurt feelings when I transfer the call back with the polite suggestion that you learn your geography and pull your own calls.

That's all for now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back in court

Sorry for the absence--I had training and then took some leave.

But I'm back and I had court today. It was a four-year-old case where the defendant had failed to appear and just been coasting around until our warrant squad picked him up.
Actually they’d stopped by his mother’s house looking for him, and though he wasn’t there, he got spooked and turned himself in.

As I recalled the arrest, I’d been sitting alongside a road, minding my own business, when I saw a car go by at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out of the moderately heavy traffic. I went after it, and because it had a broken tail light, it was easy to track it among all of the other cars. As I stopped it, I noticed that there were no brake lights, either. The car was also missing a side mirror and had a cracked windshield—basically it was a rolling piece of junk.

Of course the driver had a nice stereo installed, one that was worth about twice what the rest of the car was, but that’s really not all that unusual in this area. Also not unusual for this area: His license to drive was suspended.

So I hooked the guy up and called for a tow truck. Shortly, a flat-bed truck showed up, and the driver dropped the rear ramp then started up the defendant’s car and drove it up onto the ramp.

Next thing I knew, the car was rolling back off the ramp right at my cruiser as the tow truck driver tried to stop it without success.

“I forgot to tell you, man,” the prisoner said just before his car impacted the front of my cruiser, smashing in a corner of the bumper and the headlight bucket, “that car ain’t got no brakes!”

Turned out knucklehead had been stopping it with the emergency brake alone for the past two to three weeks. (This explained the absence of brake lights.)

So now I had an arrest, an impound, and a “damage to government property—official vehicle” report to do. The latter did not make me a happy guy.

The pin-head bonded out and never appeared in court. A warrant was put in the system, but since he didn’t have enough money to pay his fines, get his license reinstated, and pay for impound fees, insurance and repairs on his car, he just lost the car to the auction block and got a bike. Since he wasn’t driving, he never got stopped by the police and that meant that he never got picked up on the warrant.

Well today he was back in court. He was offered a plea deal where everything would be dropped other than charges of operating an unsafe vehicle, operating after suspension, and failure to appear in court. That meant that all of my equipment cites got tossed along with operating uninsured and the Reckless Driving that I’d hit him with. I’d really wanted to see him get hit with the Reckless, but this particular prosecutor plea-bargains everything down to crazy levels. I was still grumbling as the case was called and the judge gave him a fine for the Unsafe Vehicle charge and probation for the Operating After Suspension hit. But then the judge told him that his probation would begin right after his thirty day sentence for failure to appear was served. Based on the look that I got from the bench, I think the judge heard my whispered “YES!!” But that’s ok, because the world is a just place after all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How urban legends get started

There was this kid I arrested a few months ago. He was a 17 year old who was dealing dope and I was helping one of our detectives pick him up because a confidential informant said that he was carrying a large quantity of drugs and a pistol.

We saw him walking down the street so we passed him in our unmarked car and cut him off. He turned to bolt and I banged a quick J-turn, chased him back down the street and cut him off again, pulling right up onto the sidewalk and nearly flattening him. This time he gave up and we put the Habeus Grabus on him. Then we searched him and although he didn't have the gun he was supposed to have, he at least had distribution quantity of both weed and crack in his pockets.

Of course he wanted to know how we knew he had the stuff and since we didn't want to reveal that we'd been tipped by an informant, I told him: "Dude, didn't you hear? The city's got these new weed detectors up on the light poles now. You walked right past one." Him not being very bright, he asked how they worked. I said "You know how dogs can smell weed a long ways away? Well now they have machines that can do that too, and the city bought a bunch and put them all over the place. They detect weed and take your picture and send it right to us."

And a minute later when his auntie and a batch of his cousins came running up to see why we were locking him up this time, the kid yells out to the whole block: "They said I walked by one of the new weed-finding machines! It's up on a light pole somewhere. Watch out for them poles!"

With any luck, there will now be a whole bunch of dope boys looking up at the utility poles for a bit, at least until this knucklehead realizes that one of his own pals dropped a dime on him and squelches the rumor.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All wet

So we got rain. Lots of rain.

And a low-lying section of highway predictably flooded when the poorly-designed drain backed up like it always does when we get lots of rain.

The highway is under water for a stretch, anywhere from several inches to nearly three feet of water. It’s impassible to most cars at this point so our DPW crews put up barricades to close the flooded section, complete with signs directing people to a detour.

Of course this area is chock filled with stupid people. Not ignorant or uneducated stupid people, but the special kind of stupid people who think that because they drive expensive foreign cars and have high-paying jobs that don’t require them to ever perspire or get dirty, that the laws do not apply to them. Many of them also don’t think that they should have to take detours just because a sign and a few barricades suggest otherwise.

So because these people won’t stop going around our barricades and getting stuck in the water, I get assigned to go take up a traffic post at the south end of the flooded zone to direct the people to the detour and prevent them from going into the water. In other words, I have to force people to not do stupid stuff that any five-year-old would know better than to do. And trust me—they are not grateful. About one in ten feels the need to pull up to me, inform me that they need to be on the other side of the closed section, and ask if they cannot be allowed through.

Sir, that’s a BMW, not a U-Boat, so no.

And then they get all pissy because they don’t know any other route and don’t want to follow the detour signs. Fine. Go home then. See if I care. All I know is I have to sit here all day because if I didn’t, your dumb ass would drive into the water and get stuck, which if I had my way, you’d be allowed, even encouraged, to do. It might even teach you a lesson.

So I sit. And I fend off countless members of the “better-than-you” set who are mad because we’ve dared close the road. But then the inevitable happens, and the unit on the north end gets called away to deal with some sort of actual emergency and a car goes through his barricades and gets stuck in the water. The driver gets on her phone and cried about how she’s trapped and the water is rising—which it isn’t—and she makes such a fuss that I gget called and told to go find her and deal with it. And of course this means that I have to go through the flooded area to get to her.

Oh well…it’s not like it’s my car.

I drive around the barricade and slowly move through the water. At least I know enough to go slow and avoid creating a bow wave that will get sucked into the intake. I also know which sections of the roadway are just a bit higher, so I manage to avoid the really deep holes.

I get to the woman in short order. Her Mercedes is on the other side of the Jersey wall, stalled out in about a foot and a half of water. She’s hysterical and won’t open her door because she doesn’t want the water to get in and wreck the carpeting and seat. She thinks that I’m going to tow her car out with my cruiser. Once I disavow her of that notion, she insists that I call her a tow truck.

Under my breath, I have already called her much worse than that.

I put the call in for Triple A and of course they’re backed up and give us an ETA of three to five hours. This is too much for her, so she finally opens her door—flooding her car’s interior—and climbs over the jersey wall to my car, which is sitting up on the raised shoulder sufficient to keep my interior dry. I then carefully turn around and drive back out the way that I came, because I know that there’s a deeper spot ahead that I could not otherwise get through.

On the way back—a distance of about a mile and a half—there are now EIGHT cars stuck, all of which went around the barrier right after I did, each trying to either command the water to get out of their way or re-enact that scene from the movie Risky Business where Tom Cruise put the Porsche into Lake Michigan. They all either came through too fast and drowned their cars, or drove cars with less ground-clearance than my Crown Victoria.

I then spent the next hour ferrying each of them out, making sure to issue each one a citation for Drive Around Barricade as I did. Surprisingly, they all took the cites without much complaining, but that’s because I don’t think that any of them realized that these citations would give their insurance companies cause to deny towing and repair claims later. But then being stupid is supposed to hurt, or at least cost money. And hopefully they all realize now that no amount of money and no impressive job can exempt you from the laws, particularly the laws of nature and physics.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Poor judgment can be expensive

And then there was the day that we were all out making overtime bucks on a crackdown on speeders. Pretty much every officer not on regular duty was in making some extra cash, and I was no exception. I’d taken a laser and a few ticket books and gone down to one of my favorite hunting spots—the bottom of a long descending section of highway that’s about a mile past a point where the speed limit drops ten miles an hour from 55 to 45mph.

Now prior to this point, there are four signs either announcing the speed limit change or warning people of the impending speed limit change, so as far as I’m concerned, tagging people here is fair game. They were clearly warned.

What I do here is simple: I stand just off the side of the road with my laser, spot speeders, estimate their speed visually, then confirm with the laser. Then I walk out into the roadway, flag the speeder to a halt, then bring them over onto the shoulder to conduct business. It’s quick and easy and I can bang out dozens of tickets in relatively short order here, all of them for seriously excessive speed, typically well over and above even the 55pmh limit back up the highway. I understand that almost everyone speeds a little, so I’m casting my net for the big fish: the ones who are driving in excess of 75mph and who are therefore eligible for a Reckless Driving cite, which anyone doing more than 30mph over the limit here qualifies for.

I ding a few people without incident for a while, and then I see this Mercedes convertible whipping down the highway at virtually light-speed. I estimate 90mph and laser confirms 92. (Damn, I’m good…) I step out to wave this man down, and as he slows to a stop, I can see that he’s waving something and shouting “I already got one!”

OK, He got something. But what? And why should I care?

However, me being the curious sort, I ask him the first question. He responds by telling me that he just got a ticket from my “friend up the road.” As he’s holding it, I ask to see it, and sure enough, one of my fellow overtime whores has just stroked this guy for 86 on a 55mph zone. All I can do is smile as I direct him over onto the shoulder.

“But I just got a ticket!”

So now I have to explain to him that we do not operate under a system which grants carte blanche to anyone previously cited for a specific violation to commit it again for the rest of the day. “This ticket is for speeding back there,” I tell him as I hand his first reckless Driving ticket back to him. “Now we’re going to address your speed here. This is totally different.”

“Look, I’m on the way to the airport for a flight and I’m late! You guys are going to make me miss my plane!” He even showed me his airline ticket, which appeared to confirm that his flight was due to depart in a bit less than an hour.

So let’s see…he knew what time his plane was supposed to take off, but he dithered and now I’m making him miss his plane? Like I went into his house this morning and hit his alarm clock’s “snooze” button too many times? Whatever. If he was trying for sympathy, all he managed to do was compel me to write out the ticket just that much slower. I also took a moment to phone my compadre back up the highway and let him know who I just stopped.

“He was a total tool,” my squad-mate said when he heard the name. “Nail him hard.”

So I nailed him, just like I was going to do anyway. And predictably, when I walked back up to him and handed him his latest citation—his second Reckless Driving cite of the morning—he was in a lather. And of course it was all our/my fault.

“Now I’m really late! It’ll be a miracle if I make my flight now, thanks to you guys!” Just give me that ticket.”

But I held it back to make sure that I had his full attention.

“Sir, you need to know that your speed is not safe nor is it appropriate. Now I can understand your frustration as being late, but maybe next time you’ll want to get up a bit earlier so that you can get to the airport in a legal, safe manner.” I then proceeded to explain to him that he now has a second mandatory court date, but that because I was nice, I scheduled it for the same day as his previous mandatory court date.

“Just give me my license,” he yelled, visibly upset. “I have to go!”

“Sir, if you can’t calm down and drive safely, you won’t be going anywhere. I’m not having you driving badly like this on my highway, so what we’re going to do here is that I’m going to give you your license back, but then I’m going to follow you as far as the airport just to make sure that you drive safely. And if I see you exceed the speed limit even by a few miles an hour—or if I see you do anything else that’s unsafe—I’ll not only stop you again but I’ll be taking you off the road and arresting you, do you understand?”

“You can’t do that!”

“Well Sir, you just watch me in your rearview mirror if you think I can’t, because I’ll be right there.” And I handed him his license and his new ticket back and went back to my cruiser.

He was watching me as he pulled out, and I could almost feel his rage reflecting back as I pulled right out behind him. Some people are worth giving up a honey hole for.

I followed him all the way to the airport, about seven miles. And all the way there, he held his speed just under the limit as he alternated between watching his speedometer, watching me in his mirror, and occasionally actually glancing at the road ahead. It took us almost ten minutes to get to the airport ramp, but he kept it under 45mph the whole way. I checked the dash clock and it was 27 minutes before his plane’s scheduled departure time. He’d never park and get inside now in time to board. Oh well…

He did show up in court though. And the judge was less than moved, finding him guilty of both Reckless Driving charges after he rejected the prosecutor’s offer to dismiss one in exchange of a guilty plea on the other. He earned twelve points on his license and half a year on the bus following a six-month license suspension. I’m betting that insurance for that Mercedes just got pretty expensive, too. But if you’re going to be dumb…

Did I mention that I really enjoy my job sometimes?

Oh, deer!

So one evening, I’m just driving along on patrol on a rural back road, minding my own business of course, when this stupid deer bolts out in front of me.
I brake, I swerve…I still hit it and send it tumbling into the ditch.


I get out look at my cruiser. The left front headlight is shattered and the whole headlight bucket area is dished in. Fantastic. Now I get to do an accident report. I hate accident reports with a passion, even ones that don’t involve my own personal data.

Next I walk up to the deer. It’s laying there looking at me, making no effort to get up. I figure it must be hurt pretty bad if it won’t even try to run away.

I key up my radio, call in the “10-50 involved”, which indicates that there’s been a collision and I’m part of it, then notify our dispatcher that I’m going to be shooting an injured deer.

Almost like it understood, the deer looks at me as if to say “shoot who?!” and then it stands up and runs off into the woods.

For a few seconds, I’m happy for the deer. But then it dawns on me that without the deer, it’s just me and a busted patrol car and no way for me to prove what just happened.

“Come back!” I yell into the woods after the deer. But alas, the deer is not willing to cooperate.

A few minutes later, my sergeant shows up. He’s rightly skeptical of my claim that the damage was caused by a deer that’s not even here, but fortunately, there was a bit of deer fur and blood on the car at the impact point, so he believed my story.

My squad-mates were another matter, however. It was several days before I stopped hearing references to “the alleged deer” in the locker room and at roll call.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ah, Eugene, Eugene, Eugene, Eugene...

So one day, I'm just tooling along through the neighborhoods when I see this white Ford Escort with a messed up left front fender pass me going the other way. The driver gives me that "Oh-shit-it's-the-police" look as we pass, so I know instantly that he's guilty of something even though I have no idea what it is. I bang a U-turn to begin following him with the hope that I can find a lawful reason to stop him, but he makes it easy for me by punching the gas and trying to jack-rabbit away.

Dude--you've got a Ford Escort and I've got a Crown Vic Police Interceptor. Come on...

I hit the lights and siren and of course he refuses to stop. I put the pursuit out on my radio, but no sooner do I get the words out than he skids to a stop in front of an apartment building and bails out. I slide to a stop and go out after him, but he gets to the building door ahead of me and runs inside. I'm slowed down a bit by my need to quick-peek the doorway and subsequent corners, and he gets up the stairs and into one of the apartments on the third floor before I can make it up there. I have no idea which unit he's in, and of course I can't expect any of his friends and neighbors to rat him out. OK, fine. But I still have his car downstairs. I go back down, and when my back-up arrives, I toss the car to find the name of the owner and discover a bag of weed in the center console. Turns out that the car is unregistered and the tags are expired and belong on another car. (Big shock in this neighborhood...) At least I got the guy's dope, and I'll impound the car, which means that someone is going to have to pony up some cash and ownership documents to get it back from the tow yard or forfeit the car altogether. Other than the fender and the typically filthy interior, it's not really a bad car.

So as I wait on the impound tow truck, knucklehead starts yelling at me out the window, taunting me for being slow. He quits laughing when I yell back that I'm taking his car.
A few minutes pass, and then a woman walks out of the building and tells me that the car's driver is her baby's daddy and that all of her tax documents are in the car and she needs those to get her tax refund. She wants to get them out. I tell her that I'm not letting her or anyone else take anything out of the car, but that if he wants to come down and surrender himself, I'll leave the car here instead of impounding it.
"Oh, he not gonna do that," she replies.
"Tough break," I say. "That's the only way I let this car or anything in it go."
She goes back inside. A minute later, he starts cussing me out of the window. Unfortunately I can't tell which window. Oh well. I take another look in the car and sure enough, there's an envelope inside with filled-out income tax forms and documents. At least I know who she is and her apartment number now. But I still don't know his name and I won't be able to get a warrant for her apartment with what I've got, especially since all the charges at this point are traffic violations.
I wait some more. Then a large woman walks up to me and tells me that the Escort is her son's car. She says that he's not a bad boy and that he's actually trying to do right and provide for his babies (I note the plural) and that he has a job that he was just coming back from. She says that he really needs the car and that he was just scared because his driver's license "might" be suspended (I'd be surprised if it wasn't) and she begs me to just leave him and the car be. I ask her what his name is and where he's at, and of course she says that she can't tell me that. I tell her to have a nice day and to let him know that he can get the car back from the impound yard if he shows up there with a valid registration and the towing and storage fees. I also wish like hell that this city would require a valid driver's license before releasing an impounded car like so many other cities do, but they don't and the hood rats all know it which is why many of these cars go through cycles of being impounded by the police and redeemed by the same owners who don't have drivers' licenses and probably never will. Once they get a few hundred dollars in fines, it's really not cost-effective to pay them as the fine for driving without a license here is minimal and can be paid at the police station without even having to show up in court.

Big Mama steps away and goes to sit on the stoop, where she is joined by other people--friends, relatives, or whoever--all of whom take to pleading with me over and over to just let him and the car go. Meanwhile he's still sporadically cursing me out the window, so I tell his mother that the more he does that, the less charitable I feel towards him. So she stands up, walks out to the sidewalk, looks up at the building, and hollers: "Eugene! You stop that right now! You making it worse!"
Eugene yells back. "Dammit Mama, you just told him my name!"
I have to laugh. Real rocket scientists, this bunch.
I call up to Eugene and tell him to just come down and take the arrest like a man and quit putting all of these women to so much trouble. He curses me again and tells me not to be putting his business out in front of everybody. I respond by shouting back and asking him what he's going to do about it. Come down here, maybe?
He curses again but says nothing more until the tow truck arrives. At this time, nearly a dozen people are standing there with Big Mama and Baby's Mama, imploring me not to take the car. Kind of touching, all of this concern for a knucklehead, but not nearly touching enough. The car goes away and we all clear.

I have my scheduled days off, and when I get back to work early the next week, I check with the tow yard, and sure enough, Eugene or someone on his behalf showed up and redeemed the car. It cost them about $400.00 but they got it back. Of course I still have no last name for Eugene, but I know where he's staying, what he drives, and more than likely, what time he gets home from whatever job he has. So I go back out there a little before the time that I saw him last week and I and a back-up officer just sit in a parking lot near where I first saw him driving and we wait.

Sure enough, there goes that same white Escort with the messed-up front fender, and the same knucklehead is driving. He sees us right about the time that we're shifting our cruisers into "Drive" and he takes off again. We go after him, and it's clear that he's going to try the same trick. He races right back to the same apartment building and skids to a stop in front of it, just like he did the last time, but I'm closer now, and when he throws open his door to bail out, it just hits my bumper as I slide to a stop next to him, leaving him with no way to get out of the left side of his car. He jumps across and tries to go out the passenger side but we're on him and this time, Eugene gets grabbed and taken off to jail.

And for good measure, I impound his car again.

I charge him with everything that I can hang on him for today's dumb stunt--Operating Without a License, Operating Without Insurance, Unregistered Auto, Fleeing to Elude (at this time, only a misdemeanor in that city) etc., and I get warrants for him for the same charges based on the preceding week and serve those on him too before we let him go. I also hang a Possession of MJ charge on him, but as expected, the city attorney ash-canned that one since I didn't take it off him and because the car that I found it in wasn't registered to him. Eugene spent the night in jail and was released the next day pending his court appearance.

OK, now I felt like we were at least even, but we have a thing here for making sure that the community understands that it's not a good idea for individuals to try to punk us. Come Saturday afternoon, I head back over to that area and sit and wait again. Like clockwork, there goes Eugene in that Escort again. Since I already know that his license is suspended, I go after him. This time he stops his car on the left side of the street so I can't block his door, and he bails out again. So I run my cruiser up over the curb and use it to cut him off from the building's door, and I jump out and tackle him. Once more, Eugene's off to jail, and his car's off to impound. And this time, since he's already got an open case and is out on supervised release, his getting re-arrested on new charges means that he has to sit in jail until his public defender can get a pre-trial release hearing for him, and that usually takes a few weeks. Plus I impounded his car yet again.

A month or so passed, and I'd not thought about Eugene much, but then one afternoon I happened to be driving through that neighborhood again and coming up the road towards me was that White Escort again...and Eugene was driving it!

I stopped, waiting for him to pass so I could U-turn on him and chase him back to his building again, but this time Eugene just pulled over to the curb, parked his car, and stuck his hands out the window.
"I'm tired of this, Officer Krupke," he said, "I ain't even gonna run no more!"

I was so proud of Eugene for learning his lesson that this time when I arrested him again, I didn't even impound his car.

Eventually all of the charges that I'd laid on Eugene from these four encounters got him probation, a heap of community service, a year in jail--suspended of course--and a promise from the judge that if he got arrested again, he'd do the whole year. I gave myself two weeks to nail him again and make that come true, but Eugene either moved away or sold the Escort because I never saw him or that little white Ford again. But at least he was good for four arrests in my stat book and hopefully served as an object lesson to his neighbors. Moral of the story: If you're going to run from the police, don't just try to run home, and once the police have your number and know that you're suspended, it's probably not a good idea to keep driving the same distinctive car down the same roads at the same time every day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some people's Kids, again.

So I was checking a local park one day when I saw a lone car parked way off in a remote parking area. Being the curious sort, I coasted over to it and saw on my approach that it contained two people. I parked behind it and got out and walked up on them just to say hello (because I’m really working on my “Officer Friendly” people skills), make sure that everything was all right, and see what they were doing.

As it turned out, they were high-school-aged teens and they were drinking beer. Additionally, his pants are open and he’s exposed. It looked like he was getting some action before I rolled up and killed the mood.


So I pull the male driver out of the car and get his ID. He’s actually being fairly cooperative, so I sit him down on the grass ahead of and to the left of his car where I can keep an eye on him, and then I go around to have a few words with his girlfriend and fellow underage drinker in the passenger seat. And here’s where it started to get stupid.

I get her out of the car, noticing that she has just set an opened beer can on the floor by her seat. I ask her for her ID and she replies that I don’t have any probable cause to ask her for her personal information. I let her know that I don’t need “probable cause” to request her ID and that me seeing her in the car with the beer is more than enough reason for me to ask for it. Then she starts trying to break this down, telling me that she doesn’t believe that I had any probable cause (that phrase again) to even approach them, and therefore I have no grounds to ID either of them. I let her know that I have every right to walk up to anyone sitting in a public place just the same as anyone else does and I tell her to come up with her ID.

Now all this time, her boyfriend is sitting peacefully on the grass, not causing me a bit of trouble. But this one, she’s giving me more than enough for both of them. And as it turns out, she’s just getting started.

Next she tells me that she had no ID with her. I tell her that if she wants to stick to that claim, I’ll just figure out who she is after I arrest her for minor in possession of alcohol. Then she smugly tells me that without proof that she’s a minor, I can’t arrest her for that.

I debate just locking her up right there, but I really don’t want a juvenile arrest, so I have her sit down on the grass and I ask her boyfriend if he minds if I take a look through his car. He quickly says that he has no problem, even as she’s trying to tell him that he doesn’t have to let me (I’m starting to suspect that she’s some sleazy defense lawyer’s kid by now) so with his consent, I reach in, pick up the purse that’s sitting on the seat, open it up, and extract a pocketbook with a driver’s license clearly visible in a plastic holder on the outside. “Well that was easy enough,” I say as I take the license out of the holder.

She’s on her feet in a flash. “You have no right to touch my purse!”

I explain that the owner of the car gave me consent to search the car, and the purse was unattended in the car, so yeah, that means that I get to look in there. And since it means that I don’t have to take her to jail, she should count her blessings and sit back down on the grass. She backs onto the grass but remains standing until I tell her that if I have to tell her again, she’s going in cuffs. Now she sits.

I give the car a cursory once-over and take the beer out. Both kids come back clean on the record checks so I tell the boy to call his parents and let me talk with them. He complies and in short order, I have his parents coming down to get him. Not a big deal at this point—he’s just getting a juvenile cite for the beer and I’m not letting him drive. He’s actually fine with that.

But then I get back to her. She won’t call her parents. She tells me that she doesn’t know their phone numbers. Her newest claim is that they refuse to give her their numbers, because they belong to a bike gang and travel around the country. Going on, she tells me how they only call her from pre-paid cell phones with blocked numbers so that she can’t even see their numbers on her caller ID.

I’ve had enough of her so I go back into her purse, take her phone out, open it up, and check the directory. As expected, there are listings for both “Mom” and “Dad”. She now gets upset and jumps up, launching into a profanity-laced tirade, so I grab her and cuff her and put her in my back seat, explaining as I do that she’s not under arrest yet but that she is being detained “for her safety and my own”. (I’ve never understood how that’s for their safety, but then I’ve never really much cared.)

Before I can even get the tickets finished, his parents show up. They seem like decent people and mom tells me that the problem is his girlfriend. This of course elicits a shout of “Fuck you!” from my partially-opened back seat windows. Mom look back at her and replies: “And that’s right where you belong, Jennifer! The back seat of a police car on your way to jail!” Jennifer starts to curse some more, but I slap the window with my hand and tell her to knock it off, actually silencing her for a minute. After I give him a quick PBT to make sure that he’s not totally drunk, (he wasn’t), Junior’s mom and dad took him and his car away. And since he had been nothing but cooperative I didn’t even bother bringing up the lap action that he was getting.

And then Jennifer’s parents showed up.

With no leather or chains or visible tattoos, they sure didn’t look like bike gang members. What’s more, they were very polite and apologetic and struck me right off as normal, decent people. And when Jennifer started to run her mouth again, her own mother told her to shut up before I could. I talked to them out of her earshot for a bit, explaining things. This time I did mention the lap action, and I got the impression that if Dad ever saw the boy again, the boy wasn’t going to come off too well. Mom was very apologetic and thanked me for not arresting their daughter, who, as it turned out, had already been arrested and convicted twice for underage possession.

Well that explains all of her “legal knowledge”…And to make it better, Jennifer was now 18 years old, so she got a ticket for grown-up court this time.

I took her out of the car, uncuffed her, and told her that she was going to get to go home with her parents but only if she cooperated with the PBT. As expected, she tried to fake blowing into it, but eventually I got a sample (and a result for my court case) and I set about finishing up her ticket and my notes. She began to argue with her mother at this point, and in no time at all, she yelled “Fuck you, bitch!”

Her mom immediately and without hesitation slapped her face. Hard. I mean, that slap cracked so loud that it produced an echo.

Jennifer gasped, then turned to me and screamed: “That’s domestic abuse! You have to arrest her right now! I demand that you arrest her for that!”

Nice kid, trying to get her own mom locked up when Mom was only here to keep her from going to jail.

But I told Jennifer that I’d been looking away and hadn’t actually seen the slap. I also told her that I’d heard something, but that it just sounded like a parent giving her kid some basic discipline. Mom looked at me, grinned, and mouthed “Thank you” and I gave her a wink as Jennifer ran to their car and got in the back seat, slamming the door shut. I looked over to Dad and he gave me a “thumb’s up”. Both parents told me that they don’t let her run wild and that they try to keep control on her, but she’s been running wild and threatening to call Social Services and claim abuse whenever they try to punish her. They were ecstatic to see that Jennifer’s first actual attempt to get them in trouble had failed spectacularly.

They took her away, and I didn’t see or hear from them again until her court appearance, when the mother came up to me, shook my hand, and thanked me again for not taking either her or Jennifer to jail. I already knew that the boy had pled guilty in Juvenile Court and gotten a deferred sentence and a driver’s license suspension until his 18th birthday pursuant to state law, but when Jennifer’s case was called in regular (adult) court, and after I’d testified, the judge gave her 120 hours of community service. The judge asked her if there was anything that would pose a problem with that sentence, and Jennifer exclaimed that she’d planned on spending the summer at the beach with her friends. This judge is a funny judge though, and he told her that if she was lucky, perhaps the city would let her work on their golf course because the sand traps have sand so it’d be just like the beach.

It’s not every day that you hear people laughing in court, but that one had everyone except Jennifer cracking up.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Some people's kids...

So one summer night about 1AM or thereabouts, I’m driving along, minding my own business, when I see an SUV go by in the other direction with four teens in it. Of course these are white kids from the ‘burbs, so they don’t have a clue about playing it cool. Instead, they treat me to a fantastic display of the “Oh shit—we’re busted!” look as we pass each other.

Now I don’t know what these idiots are up to but I know that there’s something going on, so I bang a U-turn and go after the SUV. Fortunately the driver has decided to make it easy for me by rabbiting up to the next cross-street and then pulling into a subdivision and quickly dousing the lights. Granted, I had lost sight of the vehicle for a second or two while turning around, but this trick is so predictable that when I didn’t see the SUV on the road, I just knew where I’d find it. Sure enough—As I rounded the first right-turn corner, there it was, making like a parked and unoccupied.

I pulled up behind it and activated all of my lights. Marking out with the stop, I used my PA to tell them to sit up and raise their hands so that I could make sure that no one was holding anything dangerous. I also told the driver to lower all of the windows then turn the engine off. Then I walked up to see him.

As I approached and looked into the back seat at the two scared high-school boys sitting there, the smell of beer was almost strong enough to wrinkle my shirt. I asked the visibly nervous driver for his license and registration, then I asked him where the beer was.

All four immediately started to deny having any beer at all.

Come on, guys…Do I really look that stupid?

Back-up arrives and I step all four of them out and seat them on the curb. Sure enough, there are partially-full beer cans under both front seats. Beer is also sloshing around on the floorboards, the result of four panicked kids trying to shove opened beer cans under seats that aren’t high enough to allow beer cans to be shoved under them vertically.

The SUV belongs to the parents of the driver. It’s not even three weeks old. It probably still had that “new car” scent to it a few minutes ago. Now it’s going to have a “stale beer” smell.

I give each kid a breath test on my portable breath tester. All four have consumed alcohol and each gets cited for underage consumption. And now comes the fun part…calling four sets of parents at one in the morning to tell them to come get their kids.

One boy begged me not to call his father, an Army Major on the nearby post. He said that his dad had promised to send him to military school if he messed up one more time, and he really, really didn’t want to have to go to military school. Of course I didn’t believe him, but even if I had, I wouldn’t have cared. I started calling and in short order, four very unhappy parents were on the way to the scene of my traffic stop.

Typically when this sort of thing happens, the parents are often madder at me than at their precious little darlings, so I was expecting to get some attitude from a couple of them. However the Major arrived first.

I explained to him what had happened, and showed him the beer. He looked into the SUV and saw all of the spilled beer that was quickly reeking it up. Then he turned and began to dress down all four of the boys in a manner worthy of a Drill Sergeant. He went on and on about stupidity and thoughtlessness and the risks to their future, then he excoriated them for wrecking the interior of the SUV. They wouldn’t even make eye contact with him as he went on and on, pacing back and forth in front of them.

As the other parents arrived in short order, he joined me as I told them what had been going on, and he apologized to each of them for his son’s role. He also requested that the other parents wait around for a few minutes, and when the owners of the SUV showed up, the Major made each boy apologize to them for dumping the beer all over the floor carpeting. I was really liking this guy. Why can’t more parents be like him?

Finally, after the other boys were sent home with their parents and their juvenile court appearance tickets, the Major put his son in his own car, then apologized to me for all of the trouble. I told him that it was just my job and that it wasn’t a problem for me. I then told him that his son had claimed that the Major was going to send him to military school if I’d called him. I’d expected the Major to get a chuckle out of that, but he looked at me with a serious expression on his face and said that he had told his boy that, and that he’d meant it. Apparently this wasn’t the boy’s first screw up and as a result of this incident, the boy was going to spend his upcoming junior year and probably his senior year at a nearby military prep school where he could get a bit more structure away from his bad-influence friends.

I cleared the scene thinking that if every parent cared as much as this one did, my job and that of most other cops would be a lot easier.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Truth in comics...

Garey McKee nails it sometimes.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance between these characters and the characters in my beat area is completely coincidental.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Of Hummers and gals not too bright...

So one night I’m driving south down the highway, minding my own business, when I see a vehicle traveling northbound on the other side of the median at a pretty good clip. I hit my radar and confirm that the vehicle is traveling thirty-three miles over the posted limit.

Normally I don’t bother jumping the median for something like this since it’s almost a given that I’ll lose sight of the vehicle, making a positive identification problematic, but in this case, it’s a bright yellow, full-sized Hummer with a radio station logo on the side, so that won’t be a problem here. I hit the grass and bang a u-turn and go after the Hummer.

I catch up and stop it about a mile up the highway. It’s being driven by a young black girl who denies speeding. I tell her that I got her on radar and there’s no doubt at all, and then she asks: “Well how do you know it was this Hummer?”

Yeah. Because there are so many bright yellow Hummers with radio station logos on the side driving around.

Then she asks for a break, telling me that she’s “Hottie Melinda”, a DJ with the radio station whose logo decorates the side of the vehicle. She says that she’ll get in trouble with the station and not be allowed to drive the Hummer if she gets a ticket in it.

My heart bleeds. Really it does. In fact my eyes are so teary back in my cruiser that I almost have trouble writing out the Speeding and Reckless Driving citations that I’m giving her. Of course when she gets them, she gets upset and tells me that because of me, she won’t be allowed to drive the Hummer any more. And then she starts crying, and the tears are running down her cheeks like water from a faucet.

Whatever. I explain her options and point out her mandatory court date and send her on her way. Hopefully she’ll show up on the assigned date and just plead out to the usual deal that the prosecutors offer to anyone with a decent driving record—pay the speeding fine and the Reckless gets dropped. Almost everyone takes that deal because the Reckless is a heavy hit, with the fine and points involved, to say nothing of the hike in insurance rates.

A few weeks later though, I get the subpoena. Hottie Melinda wants her trial on the matter.

Now maybe some people think that they have a good chance of beating a ticket just because the officer may not show up. Well here, we get in trouble if we miss court, and my attendance record is flawless. Besides, if we ever need to miss a day and we let the Prosecutor’s Office know even a few days in advance, they’ll just get continuances on all of our cases. The defendants will show up, get all happy when they find out that we’re not going to be in court that day, and then get served with a new court date instead of the dismissal that they thought they’d get.

However it seems that in this case, my defendant really wanted her trial, because she had what she thought was a winning argument:

“Your Honor, I don’t think I was speeding at all. I think that the officer just stopped me because I was in a Hummer.”

This piqued the judge’s curiosity. “So why would the officer stop you just for driving a Hummer?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. “Maybe because he’s jealous.”

The judge looked at me. I so tried not to roll my eyes, but I know that he saw me. How could you not?

The judge asked her another question. “The officer has already testified as to his determination of your speed. What do you have to say about that, if anything?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. “But I know that I wasn’t speeding. Oh—and Your Honor, I just want to let you know that I’m not just some kid…I’m Hottie Melinda!”

Ah yes…the old “I’m sure that I wasn’t speeding” claim, followed by the fabled “do you know who I am?” ploy. That almost always sways judges, right?

But alas, it didn’t seem to persuade this one. He replied by outlining my allegation, including my testimony regarding my radar reading, and asked if he should not credit my testimony because she thought that she wasn’t speeding and because she worked for a radio station.

Apparently she could read the writing on the wall, because she began to cry again. And I was impressed; this ability to just turn on the waterworks on cue like that is something not every girl can do.

“I know I wasn’t speeding,” she said again between the sobs. “I don’t speed, because the radio station won’t let me drive the Hummer if I do, so I wasn’t speeding! He just stopped me because I’m a young girl driving a nice shiny Hummer…and because I’m black!”

All right! There it was! I knew that one was coming sooner or later and I’d have been disappointed if that tired old ploy hadn’t been trotted out in this case. And now it was the judge who was rolling his eyes. He’s heard that one before, too…about a thousand times. And he knows me well enough to know that I don’t care about race, sex or any other criteria—I hammer every violator equally.

So he finds Hottie Melinda guilty of Speeding and Reckless Driving, and he suspends her license for ninety days because she’s got a few previous violations on her record, including a prior Reckless three years previous. Of course now she’s sobbing and hyperventilating, so the judge asks her if she’s going to require medical help from the court nurse. It was actually an honest question asked with legitimate concern, but she was angry now and snapped back at the judge.
“I don’t want nothing from this G-ddamned Cracker court! Just wait until my listeners hear about this bullshit!”

And quicker than you could say “contempt of court”, Hottie Melinda, was on her way back to the holding cells with the Bailiff. Some people just don’t know when to quit digging, and the defendant was obviously one of them.

She was apparently a bit more contrite when she was brought before the judge the following day though because I heard that he let her go.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fools in da' hood

Ah, Copwatch and Indymedia… Never before have I seen such a bunch of pathetic losers venting their impotent rage at the police. I’ve just read on the Bitches in Blue blog about how the local hemorrhoids have been harassing the Chicago Police Department and claiming—without merit—that the police in that city are and always have been power-crazed bullies.

I have to admit that we have those simpletons here in our area too. Mostly they just make harmless noise and I still laugh when I recall the last time that I had anything to do with their antics.

This encounter stemmed from their outrage over the fact that our agency was responding to an increase in violent drug-related crime in a particular public housing complex by engaging in a practice known as “jump-outs”. In a jump-out, officers roll around in a van all inconspicuous until they see what looks like a group of drug dealers or other assorted thugs. The van pulls up, the officers jump out, and everyone in the group gets detained, run for warrants, and at least frisked if not searched. Typically this results in a warrant hit or two and the recovery of some quantity of drugs and/or a weapon is almost guaranteed. You see, jump-out squads don’t just hit up any group of people—or even any group of black males. They know what the signs of drug dealing and gang affiliation are, and they target the ones who fit those criteria. The goal is the interdiction of bad people, not just harassing groups of teens or young adults.

I wasn’t part of the actual jump-out squad, but I was assigned to loiter in the area as rapid-response back-up when needed. If the thugs broke and ran, or someone began to fight, I was right around the corner.

Well we’d been doing this for a few weeks, and we’d wrapped up a number of bad guys. We’d also snared about a dozen guns and a fair bit of narcotics. In fact, it was going so well that the local newspaper got hold of it and did a story on it. And this brought the kook brigade out in force.

Now when you’re policing a minority-majority city (one where the population is predominately black) and there is no outrage from the usual suspect who claim to speak for the black community—the local Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson wanna-be types in addition to the NAACP—you’re probably on pretty safe ground. And none of these folks were complaining, because they knew that we were surgically removing from the community the very scumbags who were preying on the decent people and making life hard for the elderly and the single moms who just wanted to get through the day without becoming crime victims. But then the angry white kids showed up.

And these are the fools who run websites like Copwatch and the various Indymedia sites. Self-proclaimed “anarchists”, most are really spoiled suburbanite kids whose parents either don’t know how to raise them to be decent, responsible young adults or they just don’t care. Within a day or two, these little nit-wits are posting all sorts of smack talk on the internet, sending letters to the editor at the newspaper, and posting Xerox-copy fliers around the project telling people to rise up and resist the oppressive police.

Yeah, I know… there’s just no curing stupid.

Well that alone wasn’t really very noteworthy, because everyone knows that there aren’t more than a couple dozen of these little turds in the group, and none of them actually live in our city but only commute in to try to rile things up and then go home to mommy’s and daddy’s basement in one of the more trendy suburbs to watch MTV and play video games in lieu of actually working a job or going to school. But in this case, the kids decided to take it a step further and one day they just appeared in the projects with video cameras, looking for our units or any other signs of police activity, and then dipping in from the sidewalk, telling anyone that we were dealing with that they didn’t have to answer our questions or consent to searches. They basically succeeded in getting us to suspend operations for the day because the unit supervisor didn’t want to give them any publicity by letting them gin up some incident to put on Youtube, so in that regard, they actually accomplished something.

However, a couple of hours after we’d pulled out, some of these little cretins actually walked into our station, looking a bit beaten and battered. It seems that after we’d left, some of those “fine, upstanding people” who live in the projects jumped them and took all of their money and their video cameras—the very cameras that they’d been using to harass US—and roughed them up a bit, either because they didn’t immediately comply or because they displayed some of their trademark “We’re superior to you” attitudes. (I’m betting on the latter.) Now—incredibly—they want to make a police report and they want US to roll back up into the neighborhood in force and recover their stuff for them.

We are, of course, professional enough not to laugh in their faces, but I’m sure they could hear us busting up in the hallway behind our lobby area. Karma can be a real bitch at times, can’t it?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Is it real, or is it...

A couple of recent posts over on Officer Smith's blog reminded me of the time that I stopped a seventeen year old punk kid for speeding on my highway.

I'd approached his car and was standing just behind his door post as usual. I told him who I was and why I'd stopped him, and he was collecting his license, registration and proof of insurance as instructed. As I watched him open his center console to get the paperwork, I suddenly saw the butt of a pistol inside that console, and his hand was going right towards it. I had a second or two to decide what to do, and my phone with patent lawyer David Woycechowsky's phone number on it was way back in my cruiser, so I had to make a fast decision.

Fortunately, my training took over, so I was spared the need to reflect and contemplate probabilities. My sidearm was in my hand in an instant as I stepped sideways behind his door post (and not back into traffic) and yelled "STOP!" as loudly as I could.

I did not yell "freeze". Only Roscoe P. Coletrane yells that. No real cop ever yells "freeze". That word is too long and does not lend itself to enunciation under stress.

Fortunately for both uf us, Junior actually did stop, and he pulled his hand away from that pistol. He was literally less than four pounds away from dying right there.

With a quick sideways glance to make sure that no traffic was coming, I reached down with my free hand and yanked his door open, then reached in and grabbed him by the hair and extracted him from the car and away from that gun.

It may not have been an Academy-approved technique, but it worked.

I pulled him from the car and proned him out on the pavement, grateful that I'd at least positioned my cruiser such that there was at least a small safety zone to work in. I quickly got him cuffed then got him up and moved him to the safety of the grass for a proper search, calling for backup as I did so. In a few moments, the back-up units began arriving, so I turned the kid over to another officer and went back up to recover the gun.

Damned if it wasn't a very realistic BB gun made to resemble a Beretta Model 92. It was the same size, had the same finish, and junior had even gone the extra distance by painting it's orange muzzle cap black. at a glance, it was indistinguishable from the real thing.

I'd almost killed this kid over a toy. To say that I was pissed beyond belief doesn't begin to describe it.

Well now this had gone out over the radio, and supervisors were aware and enroute, so there was no way I could just kick the kid in the ass and send hm on his way even if I'd been so inclined--which I wasn't. We have a statute here that allows a charge for pointing or brandishing a weapon or an object similar in appearance, and even though it was a bit of a stretch since his hand never actually touched it, I reasoned that his having it in a spot where it was likely that I or someone else would see it was good enough to at least hook him up. Let the lawyers argue it later. He went to jail and his car went to car jail.

It should have ended here, or more precisely, it should have ended a few days down the road when the prosecutor quietly dismissed it after things had cooled down, but Junior's dad was a big wheel who was more upset that his son had been:
--sworn at by a police officer,
--struck by a police officer, and:
--nearly shot and killed by a police officer for no good reason.

At least that was the gist of the formal written complaint that was served on the department the very next day, along with notice of intent to sue. Dad was going to show us all now that we couldn't scare or disrespect his darling kid like that.

As it turned out, he should have quit while he was behind.

I quickly called the prosecutor and he agreed not to drop the case. I was investigated, per the complaint procedure, and I was exonerated as I'd acted in compliance with our policies and my training, save for the his claim that I'd given him a ding on the dome with my pistol, which I officially deny having administered. (I did bring the muzzle of my cocked pistol into contact with his forehead during the vehicle extraction, but I didn't beat him with it like he claimed. Not that he didn't have a good ass-whipping coming... But we just don't give those out any more.)

A couple of months later, the case wound up in court on the misdemeanor docket, but even the high-priced defense attorney that daddy dearest shelled out for couldn't negate my testimony coupled with the presentation of the pistol as evidence. Not unexpectedly, the kid didn't testify, but I had my transcript of his post-arrest interview in which he'd stated that he was carrying the pistol to "goof" people who disrespected him and that he'd painted the muzzle black "so that it would look more real." The best line that his attorney could come up with was "if you really thought it was a real gun, why didn't you shoot him?" I replied that I didn't have to because he instantly complied with my instructions. On re-direct, the prosecutor asked me if I would have shot him if he hadn't complied, and I replied: "God help me, I sure would have." When he asked why, I said that I wasn't about to die on the side of the highway because I'd second-guessed my training and guessed wrong.

Junior was convicted, and largely because I spoke prior to his sentencing and asked for it, he got ten days in jail, to be served on week-ends for five weeks. He also got 18 months' probation and a condition of the probation was that he wasn't allowed to own or possess real or toy firearms. and then the judge actually praised me for my level-headedness and told the boy and his father that they should be grateful every day that the kid didn't did in the front seat of that car because of his stupid choice to carry that toy gun. They left the court room without even making eye contact with me. And believe it or not, I was still angry over what could have and almost did happen. While I can deal with shooting some slug who had it coming, I don't appreciate being put into a position where I almost wound up killing a kid whose only real crime was being immature and overly-coddled.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Law Students...

So one evening, I’m out driving along with one of our new assistant prosecutors in my car because they have to do ride-alongs with us to get a feel for what we do and how the cases actually get to their office.

Of course since I have a ride-along, I can’t find a damned thing to get into. I never can when I have a rider who needs to actually see something. It’s a curse, really.

But then I stop the car being rather stupidly driven. It’s speeding and it seems to be having a bit of trouble staying in it’s lane. I point out to my passenger the number of times that the car crosses the right shoulder fog line and/or the center line ( three times and twice in less than a mile, respectively) and then I light it up. The pulls over onto the next highway exit ramp, but instead of stopping immediately, it goes to the top of the ramp, then turns onto the connecting street and pulls to the curb.

I approach the driver and sole occupant and see that she’s a young blonde woman in her late twenties. I also immediately detect the odor of alcoholic beverages and observe that her eyes are red and that her pupils are dilated, all signs of alcohol use.

I introduce myself and explain that I’ve stopped her due to her speed. She’s smiling and cooperative, and in response to my “casual” follow-up questions, she says that she’s coming from a dinner put on by her law school and that she’s on her way to her boyfriend’s house.

Law school. Great. Experience has shown that there are few people as reliably stupid and/or aggravating as a law student. They think that they know it all, and most of what they “know” is, of course, wrong.

I congratulate her on being a law student, then when she smiles and thanks me, I ask her how much she had to drink tonight. “Oh, I just had a glass of wine,” she says.

Now based upon my observations and experience, I know that she’s had way more than one glass of wine. I ask her to step out of her car for a moment so that I can talk to her up on the sidewalk, and she does. I notice that she’s a bit unsteady on her feet, and I get another strong scent of booze as she gets out of the car, still all smiling and cooperative. Once up on the sidewalk, I ask her to submit to the field-sobriety tests. I really don’t need her to at this point, since between her driving behavior, my initial observations and her admission that she’d been drinking, I’ve already got enough probable cause to take her in. But more is always better.

And now the fun begins. Little miss law student has just figured out that she might be in trouble. The smile disappears from her face, replaced by a panicked look.

“Uhhhhh….You’re not allowed to ask me that,” she says.

OK, I’m curious now. I ask her why not. This should be good. My attorney rider seems a bit amused too.

“Well you haven’t explained all of the possible consequences of my taking the test and my refusing to take the test,” she says. People have to understand their rights and this is an important decision that can really affect me.”

I tell her that she’s correct in that it’s an important decision, and then I tell her that there’s no obligation on my part to explain a lot of things. It’s really a “yes or no” question and it’s her choice either way. “Besides”, I add. “You’re a law student. You’re obviously bright enough to understand this.”

“Yes, I know that I am,” she replies. “However, the standard here is what a layperson would understand, and you can’t use my extra education against me. I’m entitled to the same consideration as a layperson, and this is way too important a decision for a layperson to understand. So you need to explain everything to me.”

“Well that’s not going to happen, I tell her. The simple question is whether you’re going to take the test and demonstrate that you’re safe to drive, or whether I’m going to just take you in for a breath test and a mandatory blood test if you refuse that.”

“But I have a right to know!” she exclaimed.

“Yes you do,” I told her. “But that’s your responsibility. You could have learned all of this stuff any time that you wanted to. You apparently chose not to. So think of this as a test that you didn’t study for.”

So she changed her tack. Now she wanted to go at my authority.

“You can’t arrest me for anything,” she said. “You’re from the highway, and we’re not on the highway any more.”

I told her that I hated to disappoint her, but I had the same jurisdiction up here as I do down on the highway; there’s no difference.

“But the jurisdiction rule still applies to evidence,” she proclaimed. “You saw me driving down there on the highway, and if I crossed the lines there, it doesn’t matter because I’m off the highway now and this isn’t the highway…it’s not the same.”

OK, she gets props for originality if nothing else. I see my rider snickering so I introduce him. “I’m sorry, but this is Tom Xxxxxx. He’s one of our new prosecutors here in District Court. And that makes him a real lawyer. What do you think, Tom? You ever hear anything like this when you were in law school?”

Tom said that he didn’t, so I asked her one more time if she wanted to try the field-sobriety tests and convince me that she really wasn’t under the influence. “Last chance…” I told her as I unsnapped my cuff case.

“OK, ok…” she said. “I’ll do it. I don’t have to, but I just want to show you that I’m not drunk.”

So saying, she took the tests. And she failed resoundingly. Click, click. The cuffs went on and I put her in the back of my cruiser. I walked up to her car to secure it.

“Hey!” she began yelling. “Hey, ASSHOLE!”

I stopped to look at her, my attention caught by this latest change in her demeanor.

“You can’t look in my car! You don’t have consent! Touch my car and I’m suing!”

I walked back to her. “I guess you haven’t had the class on ‘search incident to arrest’ yet, eh?”

“The black bag on my seat is personal property and separate from the car! You can’t look in there!”

I just turned to Tom. “Feel free to explain,” I told him as I walked back up. By the time that he presumably told her that anything in the car was fair game, I’d already looked in the bag and observed it’s contents. Not illegal—just amusing. I imagined that her boyfriend was going to be disappointed tonight.

After I finished my inventory search, I went back and asked her if she wanted me to leave the bag of sex toys in the car or take them back and log them in as personal property at the station.

So I took her back to the station and began explaining the breath test procedure to her, but she interrupted and told me that she had a right to an attorney and that she wouldn’t take it until she was allowed to find an attorney and have him present. Fine. I bundled her back up and just took her to the hospital for a blood draw, listening to her caterwaul all the way about how I was violating her rights and I was going to be sued and fired and how she was going to win everything that I’ve ever owned…

It’s times like this that I’m grateful that cruisers come with stereos.

Flash forward two months to court. She walks in all professionally attired, the perfect picture of poise. She’s refused any plea offers, probably because her a blood-alcohol content was in excess of 0.15, guaranteeing her a minimum five days in jail following conviction. The case was presented and she was, of course, found guilty, with the judge suppressing a smile more than once as her antics and claims were retold in court. Finally, she was asked if she had anything that she wanted to say.

“Well your Honor…I just wanted to say that I have always admired this court and you personally and I hope that you can find it in your heart to show some mercy here, as my goal ever since beginning law school was to become a clerk in this very court.”

Wow. We all looked to the judge to see how that line was going to play.

“Well I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he told her. “but nothing will prevent you from submitting a resume once you finish your five days in jail and year of probation.”


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Radar love

One of my favorite pastimes when I have nothing better to do is running radar and hauling our area’s worst speeders into court. I really love my radar, and coupled with my unmarked cruiser, it often provides more fun and entertainment that one guy should be able to have.

Adding to the fun is the fact that my state is one of the very few that still outlaws radar detectors. So when I get the chance to ding a speeder with radar AND find out that he has a radar detector to boot, giving me another charge to bop him with… well it just makes my day.

So how do I find the radar detector violators? Well without giving away too many of my trade secrets, let me state that it’s usually very, very easy.

First of all, there are people like this kid I was behind not too long ago. He had it mounted right up on his dashboard where I and everyone else could see it. Since part of the requirement for the charge of possession/use of a radar detector requires us to prove that it’s being used at the time, I slid my car into a slot two cars back and one lane over from the kid and switched my radar on for a second. I saw his detector light up and he slammed on his brakes. He then began looking around to see where the police car might be, but alas, he was only looking up ahead of his car. He didn’t bother looking over his shoulder. After a few moments, he relaxed a bit, so I turned it on again. Once more, I saw his detector light up and he slammed on his brakes and began scanning ahead of him for the police. As this was fun for me, I did it a few more times over the next mile or so before finally sliding in behind him, making the traffic stop, and seizing the radar detector from him. He was actually angry that I had an unmarked car, and his defense to the detector was—as usual—that he lives in the nearby adjoining state where there are legal, and that our laws therefore do not apply to him.

Yeah, ok. Sign here, please. One more radar detector added to the pile of them in our evidence room.

But usually they aren’t so blatant about it. Usually I get them because the person using it tells on themselves by reflexively slamming on the brakes the moment I activate the radar. That’s what we in law enforcement call a “clue”. And if I radar three cars and one of them immediately panic-brakes, guess which one I’m stopping?

Oftentimes, these folks will try to snatch the detector off the dashboard or window mount and hide it really quick. But that doesn’t work too well when they leave the suction-cup mount stuck on the window (like I don’t know what that’s for) or when they’re in such a hurry to hide it that they forget to turn it off or unplug it and I can hear it chirping away from under the seat, under the hat which was just tossed over it, or inside the center console, warning them of the proximity of the police radar unit in the cruiser now parked right behind their car.

But then we have the real dumb ones, like the guy I stopped one day. As I walked up to him, he immediately began to challenge me, telling me that there’s no way that I could stop him for speeding because his radar detector didn’t go off, which means that I wasn’t using radar, and that I wasn’t behind him long enough to pace him.

Well gee, it’s nice to encounter a citizen who has some knowledge of our procedures. Too bad he wasn’t smart enough to figure out that maybe I was stopping him for something else…like his burnt-out tail light. But now that we’ve discussed that tail light, sir…how about you hand me that radar detector now?

But dumb comes in many strengths, and the dumbest one that I can recall was the kid that I stopped one night because he panic-braked when I radar’d him, and I knew that there was no way that he could have seen my cruiser based on the darkness, distance and location. He was speeding, but he really wasn’t going fast enough for me to have bothered with otherwise, however I smelled the detector and I wanted it so I stopped him.

When I walked up to him, there was no detector in sight. But there on his windshield was the mount for one. I told him to hand me his license, registration and radar detector, and he immediately denied having the detector. I explained why I knew he had one—including his driving behavior and the mount affixed to his windshield—and told him that I’d rather he just handed it over instead of making me search the car for it. He replied that I could not search his car without a warrant or his consent, and rather haughtily told me that he was a law student at local university. Well I just couldn’t let the opportunity to give a little real-life lesson in the concept of “probable cause” pass by, so I stepped him out of the car, listened to his protestations and his promise of retribution in the form of a lawsuit as I secured him in my cruiser for the time being, and proceeded to search for the detector that I had determined was probably in his car. I had to look no further than his center console to find the detector…and a bag of marijuana and two pipes. The brilliant law student had hidden the radar detector right on top of his stash. He wound up getting fifteen days in jail for that, all courtesy of a radar detector and an “I’m smarter than you” attitude.

Man, I love this job.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Open mouth, insert boot

So one night not too long ago, I'm checking an area adjacent to one of our larger cemeteries a little after midnight when I spot a parked unoccupied car. The hood's still warm to the touch so I mark out and start looking for the owner as no one has any business being out on foot in this area this late. My guess is that they've jumped the wall into the cemetery, and sure enough, not thirty seconds later, I hear a sound and turn to see two young people in their early twenties climbing back over the wall. I'm back in some bushes so they don't see me right away. Once I'm sure that there's only two of them, I call out for them to stop. But they ignore me and keep right on walking as if I hadn't just yelled out. I call out again as I start moving after them. "Hey! Yo! You two! Police! Stop!"

And they just keep right on walking, as if I'm talking to someone else or something.

I call out a third time, and this time I also flash my light at them and this apparently gets their attention and they finally stop and turn around. Now I'm kinda peeved since I'm figuring that they must have been ignoring me as there's no way that they couldn't have heard me. And I let them know it. "Are you two fucking deaf, or what?"

A minute later, I found out that yes, they both were indeed deaf. It turned out that they were resident students at the local school for the hearing impaired. And I'm so thankful that with my light in their eyes, they could not read my lips when I asked that last brilliant question.

I'm also glad that I was running single car that night. That's the sort of flub that even the best partner can't resist sharing at roll call or at "choir practice".

Ah well...

As for the deaf kids, I ID'd them, wrote them a note advising them of the cemetery trespass policy, had them each sign it, and sent them on their way. I could have hooked them up, but once you arrest one deaf person, you learn that it's not something that you want to do again if you can avoid it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Great Banana Caper

Did you ever have one of those times when you go a little out of your way to try to be helpful and it comes back on you? well I had one of those not too long ago. It's still referred to around my department as "The Great Banana Caper".

It all began one day when I decided to camp out in a local highway construction zone and slow traffic down a bit. As i did so, I got to talking with a couple of the construction workers and they told me that for the past couple of weeks, a woman had been driving through every morning between 7:30 and 8:00AM and throwing a banana at them. Not a banana peel, but a whole banana. And she did this every weekday.

I admit, my first thought was that this was kinda funny, and they'd thought so too, until a couple of guys had actually been hit by the flying bananas. Apparently a banana launched from a car at 40-45mph hurts when it hits you. I had to take their word for that, but being a nice guy, I promised to come back for the next few mornings and see if I couldn't catch the Unknown Fruiter.

That was my first mistake. The second was when I put a slip in identifying my special enforcement project so that I would not get a bunch of low-priority calls during that timeframe. You can bet that that one raised my sergeant's eyebrows at the next roll call.

"You want to be blocked out to catch WHAT?!"

And word spread around the station that I was on the hunt for a dangerous criminal. Support was offered by small containers of milk and recipes for banana bread left--anonymously of course--in my mailbox.

What made it worse, however, was that I couldn't actually catch this woman. For almost two weeks I failed to make the connection with her. Either she wouldn't show up, or else she'd come by and pelt the workers when I wasn't there waiting. It actually got to be pretty embarrassing, especially when my co-workers inquired daily as to when they might expect to read about the arrest of this criminal mastermind in the morning papers.

Finally I caught a break. I showed up one morning for my stake-out, which had now been dubbed "Operation Dole" by my professional peers, and the work foreman told me that she'd just come by not two minutes before. I sighed. But this time was different. This time someone had actually gotten her LICENSE NUMBER--something that hadn't happened this far into the game. I ran the tag and got the name of the owner, along with a local address within our jurisdiction.
As I figured she was probably on her way to work in the morning, I decided to go pay her a visit in the later afternoon, just prior to end of shift, and talk to her about her little game.

And later that day, I drove up to a nice townhouse and saw the vehicle in question parked under the carport. Finally I could put this one to bed.

I rang the bell and a rather attractive woman about 40 years old answered the door. I asked for my suspect, and she admitted that she was the one I was looking for. And when I told her why I was there, she laughed and freely admitted that yes, she'd been throwing bananas at the workers almost every day for the past month or so. She actually stopped at the local stop n' rob to buy one every morning along with her coffee and paper. It was a joke that she thought was quite funny, and when I asked her why she threw bananas, she said it was because construction workers reminded her of apes. Nice gal, eh? And she was a money market manager at a big firm downtown.

Well I advised her against doing it any further and I left, figuring that this was finally over. I went back and wrote up my reports, including her statements, and submitted the packet, expecting to hear no more about it. I let the road workers know that I'd talked to her and that it shouldn't happen again. I did get a round of applause at roll call the next day, but what I didn't expect was the call from the prosecutor's office a couple of days later, telling me to come in and pick up the arrest warrant. Apparently one of the workers had called over there saying that he wanted to press charges, so now I had to go pick her up for multiple charges of FELONY ASSAULT since she'd thrown objects--bananas--from a moving vehicle, which under our criminal code, was a felony regardless of what the object was. So that afternoon, I once again drove to the townhouse and rang the bell. The banana lady came back to the door, laughing and claiming that she hadn't thrown any more bananas, so if there was fresh fruit out there, it had to have come from someone else. I asked her to step outside on the stoop for a moment, and when she did, I informed her that she was under arrest and suggested that she get her ID and her credit cards and lock her door. It took her a few seconds to figure out that I was serious, and when she did, she tried to jump back inside, but I grabbed her and pulled her back out and got the cuffs on while she screamed and hollered and basically caused a scene in front of her neighbors and anyone else who might be around to watch. Now she wasn't friendly any more, and she bitched about how embarrassing this was, and how ridiculous, and told me several times that she was going to sue me for emotional distress because all her neighbors would think that she was a criminal now. And she said that she should have thrown the bananas at cops, because we were all apes, too. Again with the "ape" thing in reference to men who do real work. Now I'm thinking that someone's probably got some interesting fantasies.

But I brought her back in, arriving at shift change, and both shifts got a good look at the Rotten Banana, as she was now known. Sigh... Everyone else in the processing center has drug dealers and thieves, and I have a banana-tossing money manager. Freaking great. And she ran her mouth the whole time, just making it all that much more special.

Long story short, it was pled down to a misdemeanor Disorderly Person charge and she actually got twenty days community service, roughly a day for every banana that she'd thrown. So for ten week-ends, she got to don a day-go vest and go out and clean up trash with the rest of the local petty criminals. I have to wonder how many banana peels she picked up while she was out there.

As for me, I learned to just stay on the highway and mind my own business.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

So there I am one night, just minding my own business...

Not bothering anyone. Nope. It was about 4AM, the night was dead, and I'd just finished my reports and was on the way to the local Stop n' Rob to get a cup of coffee.

I was rolling down a highway, about to get off at the exit where the coffee was, when I saw headlights in my rearview. They were way back and had just been visible for a second when they'd crested a hill. I almost let it go, but since it was so slow out tonight, I pulled to the shoulder just before the ramp and doused me lights, figuring I'd at least check this guy's speed on my rear radar as he came past. If he was really speeding, I'd peg him. If not, at least one more guy would see that we actually ARE out here at night. So I waited that few seconds...

My radar unit screamed and nearly jumped off of the dashboard. 112 mph. Holy Shit! I turned my lights back on as the car rocketed past me and had just put my hand on the gear shift when he slid into the curve just past the exit ramp--a curve that was the reason for the speed limit in this area being posted at 50mph. And sure enough--going into the curve, he lost it. He skidded and slammed into the left side Jersey wall, hitting it hard enough to bounce off and spin completely across the two-lane highway to impact the wall on the right side. The car--a full-size Mercury Marquis--disintegrated before my eyes, car parts large and small flying everywhere.

I got on the radio and called out that I'd just witnessed a crash and that Rescue and additional police units were going to be needed, then I rolled up to the wreckage, expecting to find a dead moron or two.

A teenager got out of what was left of the car. He was a bit woozy, but actually appeared uninjured. "Inconceivable!" as Fezzini would have said.

I sat him down and had just started talking to him when everyone else started to show up. I smelled booze on him and when I asked him if he'd been drinking, he admitted it. He also did not have a driver's license. He was 18 and had never had one. The car was his sister's. Great. So much for getting off in two hours like I was supposed to.

Now I wanted to pop the little turd for DUI, but he quickly figured out the score and even though he'd told me several times that he wasn't hurt. he began asking to go to the hospital once I told him that he was going to be taken back to the station for a Breathalyzer. And of course as bad as the crash was, I couldn't deny him. So I let Rescue package his dopey ass up and he was probably thinking that he was getting over, not realizing that I'd be following him down there with a blood draw kit.

But first I had to deal with the questions from my peers.

"Dude--what were you chasing him for?"

Of course I hadn't been chasing him, but no one wanted to accept the fact that I'd just been parked on the shoulder when this goofball came by and coincidentally destroyed himself right in front of me. Cops being cops, everyone was jumping to the conclusion that I'd been chasing this kid without putting the pursuit out over the radio and only called in the wreck to cover my ass. I must have been asked at least once by every other cop who showed up. "What were you chasing him for? You know they're going to hammer you for chasing off the radio..."

I really can't blame them. I'd have had trouble believing my claim too. I mean, what are the odds?

Even my sergeant pulled me aside and told me that there were liable to be some questions later about my role in this, and that I might want to call up the shift union steward.

I finally exploded. "Look, dammit! I was NOT chasing this kid! I was really just sitting over there minding my own business! Hell--go to the hospital and ASK HIM! And do it before I get there so there won't be any question about him being coached! In fact, Sarge, I insist that you go ask him and get a statement from him right now."
My sergeant, being a good guy who takes care of his people, said that he would go over and do that just to make sure that nothing bad came down from the Monday morning quarterbacks at headquarters. I'd hoped that he would. I quickly grabbed a blood kit from my duty bag. "Oh--and while you're over there, would you be so kind as to get a blood draw for me?" I could play the game too. That just saved me about an hour and a half that I would have blown over at the hospital. Besides, I still had to document all of this carnage and I had some questions for the actual owner of the car.

The sister came to the station to talk to me just as I was finishing the crash diagram. And she was incredibly cooperative, admitting freely that she'd let her brother borrow her car and that she'd known that he did not have a license. She even said that she'd known that he was going to a party and figured that he'd be drinking. And all of those statements went into my report. I also cited her for allowing an unlicensed driver to use her car, and I found out later that based upon my report and the citation--which she paid (basically admitting to the charge)--the insurance company denied the claim on the car. It was only two years old. She also got a bill for damage to the Jersey walls, and that's never cheap.

Long story short, the kid did state that he'd been speeding long before getting to that curve, and he also stated that I was not chasing him and that he hadn't even seen me when he passed me. And his BAC turned out to be 0.21, so he got pegged for DWI, Underage Consumption, Reckless Driving in addition to Operating Without a License and Uninsured Motorist.

DISPOSITION: A plea deal where he took the DWI and OWL and got 15 days jail and no driver's license until his 21st birthday, with the judge telling him that if he got caught driving again before then, he could count on being locked up for at least thirty days.

And of course big sister was out a car that she was probably still paying on.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The story behind the picture on the wall

My squad sergeant called me into his office one day several years ago. When I arrived and--per his instructions--closed the door (gulp!), he threw a photograph onto the desk.

It was a photograph taken by one of those infernal speed cameras on a highway not too far from our station.

It shows a car. It's a police car. It's clearly visible as one of ours.
It also shows the date, the time, and the vehicle's speed: 123mph.

The speed limit on that section of highway was 50mph, so I was summoned one fine day to explain to the sergeant how it came to pass that a cruiser signed out to me on that date and time was photographed traveling 73mph over the posted speed limit.

Oh--and a speed limit sign was clearly visible in that picture, just to make it all the more farcical.

"Well you see, Sarge..." I began. It didn't help that I was a relative newbie and still on probation. I paused, reflecting on the fact that my career might well be hanging in the balance.

"Go on," he said. "I've been waiting for you to come in and explain it all day, and I expect that this is going to be good."

And for a moment, I was at a loss. Why the hell would I have been going 123 mph? The date was over a month ago and this was the first I was hearing about it. I couldn't remember that day. What was going on that would have made me drive like that? The only reason I'd ever do it was if...

And then I remembered. A call had come out for an officer in trouble in our neighboring precinct. Our dispatcher had put it out and as luck would have it, I was the only one not already on a call or a traffic stop of my own. So I pulled onto the highway just before 2AM and punched the gas to the floor. I'd forgotten all about the presence of those stupid cameras and wouldn't have cared in any case. One of our own needed help and I was the only one available.

That night I'd made the scene in pretty good time, arriving just after our guy had finished kicking the ass of a punk who'd swung on him during a frisk and then knocked out that punk's cousin after he'd decided to dip in and jump our guy. Hood rats tend to be cowardly when there's just one of them, but when they have numbers on you they get brave, and they'll jump you if they think they can outnumber you. well that had happened here, and it was still simmering when I arrived in a cloud of brake smoke and burnt transmission fluid. A couple of other local mooks were crossing the street to join in, but on my arrival they changed their minds and took off. I didn't even get to hit anybody so I just helped our original guy secure the two that he'd cleaned up and I watched his back while he searched punk #1's car and recovered a small quantity of dope to augment the stash that he'd already taken out of that knucklehead's pocket. I transported one of the two to our lock-up for him and had forgotten all about that wild ride until the sergeant threw the speed cam picture on his desk and demanded an accounting.

So I told him where I'd been going any why, and as soon as he confirmed it with a call to Dispatch, he looked at me, smiled, and said "Good job". Then he proceeded to have the picture framed and it hung on his wall until he retired. I don't know what happened to it--I sure would have liked it--but it appears that he decided to take it out to pasture with him. But he was old school and a real cop's cop, so I won't begrudge him that photo. Hell, I'd even have autographed it if he'd asked. Step off, Jeff Gordon. You and that NASCAR crowd ain't got nothing on a cop on a mission to back another cop. Because that's how we roll.