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.
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