Monday, November 29, 2010

New Rookies...God help me.

So I'm watching my newest crop of rookies load their cars prior to hitting the streets, and one of them--one who is carrying WAY too much gear--is putting his second duty bag in the trunk of the cruiser. The trunk is already packed to the gills with other stuff, but he puts his bag in and slams the trunk anyway, compressing everything. A moment later, however, a yellowish cloud begins to envelop the rear of that cruiser, causing everyone else in the parking lot to stop whhat they're doing and stare. The rook looks at me for guidance, and he gets it as I yell at him: "Don't just stand there--do something! Get that trunk back open!"
You see, I already know what that is. I know what he did. Now I just want him to figure it out.

Sure enough, he opens the trunk to find that everything inside--including his oversized duffle bag that's filled with everything that some huckster at the police supply store convinced him that he might need someday--is coated with yellowish dry chemical from the fire extinguisher whose lever he'd compressed when he threw his bag on top of it and slammed the trunk shut. As a result of that careless moment, the entire extinguisher has emptied itself in the trunk, and now the contents of the trunk--and the interior of the cruiser--are dusted nicely withe the chemical.

So my new rookie spent the next hour and a half pulling everything out of the trunk and cleaning it, then getting the car vacuumed out, and then he had to go back to his locker and change, because now HE was covered with dry chemical. And of course that crap's all over the station parking lot now.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...I could not possibly have been that green when I came on the job. No way.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On new cops and clues...

Sorry for the absence--training and year-end leave got in the way.

But I'm back, with this neat tale of one who almost got away.

Yesterday, one of my guys gets dispatched to a 1-car non-injury crash right out of roll call. Since he forgot to take the rookie that I’d placed with him for the day, I corralled the rook, tossed him into my cruiser, and took him up to the crash scene.
When I got up there, it was just my guy and two cars—the one wrapped around a utility pole, and another one that was just there for some reason. I was starting to get irked right out of the gate. I like my crash scenes run a certain way, and uninvolved bystanders are never included, family and friends of the involved parties in particular.

I walk up to my guy—a fairly new officer himself. He told me that the female driver was claiming that as she was descending the highway on-ramp, a car that was ahead of her made a sudden u-turn and came back up the ramp at her, forcing her to swerve to avoid it. In the process, she claimed, she struck a utility pole. But one look at the skid marks and the damage to the car told me that her story was crap.

“Whose car is this?” I ask, pointing to the uncrashed one.

“Oh, that’s the boyfriend of the woman who crashed,” he replies.

“And he’s here why, exactly?”

“I dunno. When I got here he was here waiting with her.”

“Get rid of him,” I said. I could already tell from the scene that this was likely going to involve more investigation and I don’t need boyfriends or anyone else dipping in from the sidelines.

Then I approached the woman standing next to the crashed car. I asked her if she was ok, and she replied that she was. I saw that she was smoking a cigarette, and noticed that she kept her cell phone in front of her face. “I’m on hold with my insurance company,” she explained.

Uh-huh. “Well how about if you call them back in a few minutes? We’ve got to get a few things wrapped up here so we can get you and this car out of here.” She smiled, and hung up the phone, just the perfect picture of cooperation. “Here, it’s awfully cold out here. Why don’t you come back and have a seat in the back of my officer’s cruiser for a bit, just to get you out of the weather.” She smiled again and followed me back to the responding officer’s car. I asked her to put the cigarette out, the put her in and closed the door. Then I went back to talk to my officer.
“What do you have?” I asked him. “She drinking?”

“Oh, no, Sarge,” he replied. “I checked but I couldn’t smell anything on her.”
“Of course not,” I told him. “Not with her out in the open air, smoking that cigarette to mask her breath, and covering her mouth with that phone. Now why don’t you go talk to her again now that she’s had a minute or two to sit in that closed car and see what you think.”

“I’d already seen her eyes and I knew. But now I wanted my new officer and the even newer rookie to pick up on it, and hopefully realize what mistakes had already been made here. Sure enough, when they came back after talking to her in the closed car, without the cigarette or the phone in front of her mouth, they'd been able to smell the tell-tale odor or alcoholic beverages and they told me that they wanted to do field-sobriety on her.

“Yeah, I kind of figured that you would. Now do you see why I wanted her boyfriend out of here?” They nodded, knowing that had he still been here, he’d have been one more variable, and might possibly have interfered with the process. Talking a person into performing the tests could be tricky enough without having someone else standing on the sidelines telling them not to do it or otherwise butting in.
Predictably, she failed. Big time. And she got locked up, so we had a happy ending to the tale.

And as she was being searched and put into the car, her boyfriend returned. As expected, he saw her being placed under arrest and started to front up, showing her that he was her alpha male. But once I pulled him aside, explained the situation to him, and asked him if he wanted to go with her for interfering, he looked over to see if she could see us, and when he realized that she could not, he shrugged and told us that he’d come get her later when we released her. He walked off, and I then explained to the rookie how much easier these things tend to work when you get the guy out of eye-and ear-shot of the girl. All-in-all, it was a good learning opportunity for both of them and hopefully they take a few things away from it.

Realistically, my guy had already ruled out DUI in his own mind despite it being a single-vehicle crash early on a Saturday morning just a short distance away from the bar area. He was so caught up trying to be all “Officer Friendly” to this poor girl that he was even buying her tale of woe about how the crash happened despite the skid marks which clearly showed that she’d fish-tailed from road shoulder to road shoulder twice before hitting the steel pole hard enough dent it severely while destroying the front of her car. Yet when asked her speed, she’d just batted her eyes and said “no more than 10-15 mph…”

But she was pretty, and he’s way too na├»ve and trusting at this stage in his career, so he'd disregarded all the clues that didn't confoem to her story and she almost got away with it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Authorized Emergency Vehicles Only" sign means me, not you.

Today, as I was out checking on my crop of new rookies, I had occasion to use one of our emergency turn-around strips that goes between two opposing lanes of a highway. This particular one is fairly long and it runs between two long hedgerows so that the vehicles traversing it are not readily apparent to oncoming traffic in either direction. naturally it's great for radar/laser work and other traffic-monitoring activities.

But today it was just supposed to be a way for me to quickly reach the scene of a new officer's traffic stop, saving me the trouble of going all the way up to the next exit and back. However, as I turned into this lane from one direction, what did I encounter but a Mercedes SUV coming the other way!

I stopped.
The Mercedes stopped.
My overhead lights came on and my ticket pen came out.
The woman driving the Mercedes buried her face in her hands, certain that her day was about to get expensive.
It did. To the tune of $275.00 plus $50.00 more for not wearing her seat belt.

Those cross-over lanes, folks? Those are for us, not the general public. We take it kinda personal when people presume to encroach upon our exclusive domain. And besides that, they're not set up to allow the average person to safely exit and re-enter traffic. So please, save us the aggravation and yourselves the risk and the fines if we catch you, and just go up to the next exit like you're supposed to.

This has been a public service announcement from Sgt. Krupke.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pursuit...without a police car.

So the other evening--my night off--I'm heading back to my house with a friend of mine who is in town for the night. We'd been out for dinner and as we're driving back on the two-lane highway well outside of town, I see that the vehicle coming head-on in the opposite lane is encroaching over the solid double-yellow line.
"He's over the line," I say as I swerve to the right. But before I can even finish the sentence, there's a loud "WHAM!" as his mirror hits mine. At a combined closing speed of over a hundred miles an hour, this jack-ass who couldn't hold his own lane damn near killed us all. I slow to a stop, but as we look back, we see that the other vehicle--a pick-up truck--isn't stopping. "Oh, no," I say. He is not going to hit and run me. That's NOT happening." I commence to turn around, and my pal tells me that he'll be gone before we can catch up. But this is a long road with no side roads to turn off on, and while it's all hills and curves, it's a road that I know intimately as I drive it every day to and from work. I know this road better than I know our agency's pursuit track, and I can run this road.

As my pal dials the local law enforcement agency via his cell phone, I manage to make up enough lost ground to come up behind what we think is the striking vehicle caught behind a couple of slower vehicles ahead of him. Sure enough--it's an older full-sized pick-up and what's left of it's driver's mirror is hanging.

My initial plan is just to stick with him until he gets back into town where the local law guys can intercept him, but when we get to an intersection, he messes that up by trying to turn left onto a road that will take him well away from where help is on the way to us from. So I pull left of the center line, pass him, and cut him off. As I stop, my dashing pal is already out of my vehicle and getting ready to snatch this miscreant out of his. But the hit-and-run driver has other ideas and he throws his truck into reverse, backs down the highway past several other cars, then three-points it and heads back the way that he came. And we're off after him again.

Back down the highway we go, his old pick-up moving so slow compared to my vehicle that this hardly counts as a chase. The local law has been advised of the change in direction, the tag number of the offender, and the fact that the two occupants of the pursuing vehicle are, in fact, off-duty police officers.

We roll on behind this truck, and the pursuit is about ten miles old and approaching the jurisdiction's boundary when we see behind us a fast-approaching car with the familiar Ford Crown Vic front end...the calvary's arrived. The red and blue lights come on, but again, our fleeing truck doesn't stop. So I pull over, expecting the officer to take up the lead, but to my frustration, he pulls over behind US instead.

Now shame on me--I know better--but when he didn't immediately come out of his cruiser, I opened my door, stepped out holding my badge up, and yelled: "That one! Get him!"
The officer stepped out of his cruiser and yelled back, "Did he hit you?"

"Yeah! Now go get him!""

"Don't yell at me!" the other officer responds, getting back into his car.

"Sorry!" I yell, getting back into mine. The officer takes off after the truck, and we naturally take off right after the officer. Two cars that had passed us as we sat on the side of the road were treated to the spectacle of seeing the police car passing them on the left with the car that it had just stopped in hot pursuit. I'm so used to doing this sort of thing on the clock that it never occurred to me not to do it here and now in my POV....besides, when this officer catches the truck, he's liable to be alone and we may well be his only back-up until others arrive.

A couple of miles up the road, the officer catches the truck. Just as he pulls up behind it, another police vehicle ahead of it puts it's lights on, and the truck is effectively trapped. It pulls into a gas station, as do the two police cars and us. I almost pulled in beside the cruiser "felony stop" style out of habit, but at the last second realized that my part in this was done. I stopped back a bit and my pal and I waited to make contact with one of the officers who was actually at work and in their own jurisdiction.

As it turned out, the driver of the truck was a punk teen. He told the officers that he was scared because we were chasing him, but he never explained while I was there why he didn't stop in the first place OR when the first officer put his lights on. My take is that the kid is both a coward and a liar, and now he's got a charge of Reckless Driving under a statute that imposes jail time upon conviction. And of course, as cops will do, we all got to be talking. Not unexpectedly, we all have mutual friends/co-workers in common. I even apologized to the nice young officer that I'd yelled at in the heat of things.
And of course THAT had to make the kid feel good, to see the cops detaining him acting like it was "old home week" and laughing with the people that he'd hit. Feeling a little but outnumbered there, junior? Good!

Anyway, it ended on a good note, in that the bad guy got caught and no one got hurt. Discussing it afterwards, my pal and I agreed that both of our respective agencies would probably have called that chase off long before it's conclusion, but since we didn't have any supervisors on the radio to tell us to break it off--and since traffic was light and the weather was good (and the bad guy only doing about 70mph max) we exercised our discretion and made use of our training and abilities to go a little (ok, a lot) farther than any civilians should ever have considered attempting. (In my defense, I'd just completed a 40-hour in-service pursuit driving refresher course.) Should we have chased the kid? Probably not. But we did, and a hit-run driver who would otherwise have gotten away with it got nabbed in the end, bascially because of all the cars that he could have hit that night, he had the bad luck to hit the one containing two police officers.

Oh, and a fair warning to people with GEICO insurance... GEICO has informed me that even though I'm not at fault in any way, I'm still responsible for a deductable. Apparently they don't waive that like other insurance companies do. So if you're a GEICO customer, you might want to re-think that.

And despite the drama, I did manage to get my pal to the airport on time the next day. He's off on a new adventure as one of Alaska's newest State Troopers.

Those moose and meth-heads have no idea what's coming their way.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So today...

I'm sitting in my car, having what passes for breakfast. I'm parked in the shade alongside one of our local war memorials. As I sit there eating, I see a man in his 50's walking down the sidewalk toss a soda cup at a trashcan. He misses by a mile but he keeps walking as it hits the sidewalk.


I pick up my PA mike.

"How about you pick that up and put it in the trash can."

He stops. He looks all around. He obviously doesn't see my slick-top cruiser parked alongside the curb. He's Mr. Oblivious. No, make that Mr. Looks-Guilty-but-Oblivious.

"Sometime today would be nice."

He looks right. He looks left. He looks right at and past me. Then he looks UP. I was so tempted to key up again and say: "Yeah, that's right. it's me--God." But I managed to restrain myself.

Suddenly he sees me. He looks right at me, then points to himself and mouths "Who? Me?"

Like there was someone else walking down the sidwalk throwing paper cups on the ground? Seriously--there's just the two of us here, and I didn't throw that cup on the ground.

"Yes, you."

He looks at me, then looks at the cup as if he's seeing it for the first time. He walks over, picks it up, and deposits it in the trash can as reverently as one might place an envelope in the church collection plate. Then he shouts "Can I go now?"

It was so tempting to tell him that no, he now has to stay there and clean up after the next three litterbugs who happen along, but damn it, I'm a supervisor now. I can't be doing the sort of stuff that my rookies do--or that I used to do--any more. I dismiss him with a wave and he turns to walk away, leaving me to wonder how people that obtuse actually get to be that old.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just because I felt like it...

Today being the last day of our work week, I found myself with nothing to do during the last hour. And since it was a nice day out, and since I was a bit bored, I decided on a whim to indulge myself and correct the behavior of some of the violators that just get my blood to boiling--the lane-cutters.

On my way home most days, I have to pass by a highway on-ramp that gets a ton of traffic come evening rush hour. Usually cars are lined up in the merge lane to get on it, and all too often, the impatient among us decide to get into the right non-merge lane and drive past all of the people who are waiting in line and then horn in at the last second just as the ramp splits off from the main road. As anyone who has waited patiently in line for several minutes only to have some jack-ass zip past and cut in can attest, there are few ways to be more selfish and disrespectful towards everyone else, and it's aggravating enough to make the Pope want to slap a nun, especially after a long day at work.

So today, with nothing but time and a repressed desire to see justice served, I pulled up to that split and parked my car in the safety zone between the actual road and the ramp. Then I got out, put my safety vest on, and began targeting those cars that were passing all of the waiting motorists and trying to cut in. It didn't take but a few seconds to spot the first one whipping across the beginning of the safety zone. I pointed to the driver, and when he made eye contact with me, I waved him right back out of line, told him that I could either cite him for crossing a safety zone ($150) or else he could get back on the surface road that he'd cut in from. He got back on the road and drove off, and I was loudly thanked by the drivers of two of the next three cars that came by--cars that he'd just cut right in front of because he was (in his mind) more important than them.

This felt good.

I pegged about thirty of these people in a bit over ten minutes, offering each the choice of a ticket or a detour back on the road that they'd come from. many of them whined that they only know one way home (the highway via this ramp) and a few got downright panicky at the thought of having to navigate on unfamiliar city streets to try to find a new alternative route. Most of them had GPS units too, which was the sad part. "You got a GPS and you still can't find your way? Sucks to be you today. Move along."

One young woman in a new Lexus SUV tried to tell me that she had a baby in her back seat. I replied that that was nice, but she still couldn't cut in front of other people or cross my safety zone in violation of the law. She began to get upset and then turned on the tears, growing louder and acting more hysterically each time that I told her to drive straight ahead back onto the road. Maybe that crap works with her baby daddy or her mom, but it doesn't work with me. Finally her baby started to cry too, probably because she was crying and carrying on. Then she yelled: "You made my baby cry! I hope you're happy!"

Another guy was peeved at being told that he couldn't just cut in front of everyone as he'd just done. (He refused to come back out of the merging traffic lane and I had to go stand in front of his SUV to force him to stop.) He told me that everyone cuts lines and that he does it like this every day. I let him know that if I catch him doing it again he'll be going to jail. (Even though we rarely arrest for traffic charges, all of our traffic offenses here are technically arrestable.) "Yeah, we'll see about that!" he yelled as he drove away (on the surface road).

Yes sir, we more than likely will. Even more than the many people who thanked me as they drove by today, you've just motivated me to come back out here next week and do this again.

Besides, it's fun and it generates no paperwork.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Is there a "short bus" stop around here somewhere?

So last night, I'm out and about and I stop this pick-up truck full of good ole boys because I saw them coming out of a road construction zone. It turns out that they were stealing...wait for it...SANDBAGS.

That's right--they were picking up all of the sandbags used to hold temporary road signs in position. Of all the things in that work area to steal, these idiots were only taking the sandbags. That's like breaking into a bank just to steal the pens chained to the counter.

They're also all drunk, which might explain the desire to possess thirteen state-owned sandbags.

But sadly, dumb as these guys are, they're not the special ed class graduates that I'm writing about. No, the real idiots of this story are the couple dozen pedestrians who happen to walk up during my traffic stop.

You see, I'd stopped these jokers just past a mid-block cross-walk. My cruiser is actually partially IN the cross-walk, with it's lights flashing. There are also three other fully-marked cruisers on scene, and we've got the four drunken bumpkins our of their truck and seated on the curb between my cruiser and the the cross-walk, naturally.

So what do these pedestrians insist on doing, literally one right after another? That's right--trying to cross the street in this cross-walk by going between my cruiser and the stopped truck, and even trying to walk between the four guys seated on the curb and the uniformed officers who are watching them while we search the truck.

And then these pedestrians have the nerve to look surprised and offended when we tell them to stop and look at them as if they're retarded.

Now it's not as if there's so much traffic that they all *have* to cross here--traffic's light and there's not even a light here. But the bike path happens to cross here so suddenly every brain-dead zombie on the bike path has to show up and try to walk through the middle of our scene. One woman even asked our detainees to move aside for her, I swear. And when I asked her if she had any idea what was going on here, she looked totally baffled and said "no."

So do you make it a point to walk around fire trucks at building fires and ask firemen to stand aside for you too?"

"Well no," she replied, as if that would be silly.

She finally went around the scene, but her fellow window-lickers just kept showing up and trying to walk through the scene, even as the narcotics K-9 was being brought up to the truck. I finally had to post an officer on each side of the scene just to redirect people who you'd think would have had the common sense that God gave a goose--it was either that or just put everyone back in their vehicles and move the stop down the block away from these white painted lines on the pavement.

Oh, and if this wasn't stupid enough, we also had to deal with several drivers who pulled up adjacent to the stop, rolled their windows down, and proceeded to ask for directions, as if we were all just out there like some sort of information kiosk with our red and blue lights flashing.

"We're busy--keep moving," we'd say before they could even pose the question. But even that wasn't enough for one guy, who insisted that we tell him how to find a certain street first.

"You'd best find yourself a gas station that sells maps real quick," I tell him. "Now move!"

The pathetic art is that this city is ranked as one of the most well-educated cities in America. I just don't get it.

Oh, and the sandbag guys? The driver eventually got locked up for DWI and his truck was impounded, and we made the other guys put the sandbags back before letting them summon a cab and leave.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I made three people cry today.

First there was the woman that I stopped for running a red light who broke down into dry but very dramatic sobs before I even reached her window. She quickly stopped when I told her to show me her license, registration and some maturity. She quit crying and just got angry.

Then there was the driver of a private school's bus, who made an illegal turn across traffic in her small bus filled with other peoples' kids, narrowly avoiding being struck by a garbage truck that had the right-of-way. She cavalierly told me that she wasn't much of a "city driver" and when I pointed out the numerous and highly visible "No Left Turn" signs, she replied: "Well my GPS told me to go that way so I did."

When I returned with her ticket, she began to tear up and proclaimed that this would probably cost her her job. I told her that I wasn't seeing that as such a bad thing. Then she seemed to get mad, just like the last one.

Finally there was the cab driver whose cab was being impounded by the local taxi inspector for numerous safety, paperwork and hygiene violations. HE cried the loudest--and I mean bawling with real tears and even throwing himself on the ground and wailing in some arabic language while beating the grass with his fists. He told me that I would have bad karma forever and asked me if I knew what karma was. I replied that I had heard the song about it by Culture Club back in the 80's just like everyone else. He then ran over and sat down in front of the tow truck and screamed "Just kill me now because I won't let you kidnap my cab!" However he changed his mind and got up quickly just as soon as he saw me take my pepper spray out of it's holster and shake it. Last I saw of him, he was walking towards a bus stop and shouting "God sees this! God will get you!" back at me as he walked. The tow truck driver was nice enough to give him a friendly beep of the horn as he drove past with the cab but even that didn't seem to cheer him up. He threatened to leave America and go back home (wherever that is) and didn't seem the least bit grateful when I wished him a safe and speedy voyage.

Maybe tomorrow I can make someone happy. Just maybe.

Or not.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So can you still have fun as a supervisor?

Apparently so.

The other day, I showed up to assist one of my rooks who was handling a minor collision. As I was helping him explain the facts of life to a woman who crossed three lanes of traffic trying to make a right turn from the far left lane--a woman who hit another car that was properly in the far right turn lane and who for some reason insisted that the driver of that car was at fault--I was interrupted by a car horn that was being sounded by a guy who's stopped his car in the traffic lane. "Hey! Come here!" he yelled at us.

"I'll take this joker," I told the rook. My asshole detector was already registering. So I ambled over to see what could be important enough to summon a police officer away from an accident scene.

"I need to know how to get to the city," the guy exclaimed.

"You're in the city," I told him.

"No, I want to get to the city."

"Look around," I told him. "You're in the city. Seriously."

"No. I want to get downtown where all those tall buildings are," he explained, pointing to several tall buildings about a mile away.

"Well you probably should have turned back there and gone that way," I told him. I mean, Geez, could see them and you still can. Think about it.

"Well I didn't see the signs telling me how to get there. You need to tell me how to get there. Show some public service." His attitude indicated that he considered me to be just half a step above a moron. Whatever, idiot. At least I'm not lost. Damn, I should have let the rook deal with this guy...must...bite...tongue.

The I noticed that his seatbelt was off.

"How about if you put your seatbelt on for me," I suggested.

"Yeah, ok," he replied, making no effort to do it. "So how do I get over there?"

"Well first you start by putting your seatbelt on," I suggested again.

"Are you going to tell me or not?"

"I'll tell you right after I hand you the $50.00 ticket for not wearing your seat belt if you don't put it on right now," I told him.

He sighed and put it in. "There. happy now? Feel big? Gonna tell me now?"

"No problem," I said with a smile. "Go straight ahead to that next light. Take the downramp that says "Airport" and after you get on it, the very next turn-around you come to will take you right downtown. Just follow the signs."

"Thanks for nothing!" he yelled as he drove off.

The rook came over. "Gee, Sarge, why'd you take all that from him? He was an asshole."

I just turned and smiled. "Yeah, he was. And he'll have some time to reflect on that once he goes down that ramp." We both looked and could just make out his little car going down the ramp I'd directed him to...the one for the airport connector--The airport connector that has no exits and no opportunities to turn around until one reaches the airport itself, seventeen miles later.

"I guess I forgot to tell him that the first turn-around that he's going to come to is seventeen miles away. If he follows the signs there, they'll direct him to drive seventeen miles back here and with any luck he'll see the signs for the downtown exit. Allowing for afternoon traffic and airport congestion, I figure he'll be just about back here again in about an hour or so.

The rook laughed. "Damn, Sarge. That's just wrong."

"No, Son...That's what we call a learning experience. With any luck, he'll learn something from this. And if he does, that'll be my good deed for the day."

Stripes or not, I still enjoy this job.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rookies with ticket books

Like I said previously, I have a whole flock of new rookies working for me now, several of whom have been assigned to downtown foot beats. And each rookie has a ticket book and has been told that he or she can write as many tickets as their little hearts desire. So what are they doing? Why naturally, they are having contests among themselves to see who can write the most, and they are going out and enforcing regulations--chiefly parking regulations--that have not been enforced in a while. So people who have gotten used to parking freely in areas where the prohibitions against it have not been enforced are suddenly and repeatedly getting slammed with parking tickets. This of course makes my phone ring, as people used to getting away with things now consider it "unfair" that they're getting tickets for parking right under the big "no parking" signs that have always been there.

Well they're calling the wrong person if they're expecting sympathy or any kind of a break. I've always been about the "enforcement" part of law enforcement myself, so if my rook are writing legitimate tickets..."You have two options, sir or ma' can pay them or request a hearing...No, I'm not going to take the ticket back just this once as a courtesy."

I used to hate it when I had a particular sergeant who used to pull my tickets as favors for friends of his or for people that he wanted to suck up to, and I'll be damned if I'm going to do that to my officers. If they wrote a ticket, that's their call and I wasn't there so I have no business second-guessing them. That's what court is for.

Hell, I'm so proud of my charges for going out every day in the hot sun and crushing the scofflaws that I've taken to going out there myself a little bit each day when my schedule allows and writing tickets right alongside them. And this has already led to one humorous phone call:


"Sergeant Krupke speaking."

"Yes, Sergeant. I'm calling to complain that one of your officers wrote me a ticket for parking an a handicapped space this morning."

"OK, were you parked in a handicapped space?"

"Yes, but..."

"Do you have a state-issued handicapped placard in your car?"

"No, but I was just in the store for like thirty seconds, and now it's going to cost me like three hundred dollars!"

"And what would you like me to do about this?"

"I just think that you need to talk to the officer and tell him to have a little understanding and maybe show some common sense. I mean, he was right there when I parked and he could have told me not to park there."

"And what is the officer's name on the ticket?"

"Uhhh...Here it's 'Krupke'...oh damn." (click!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not funny anymore.

It wasn't long ago that I, along with most cops, thought that Force Vehicle Crashes (where a police officer smacks up his cruiser) were a source of amusement. Contrary to what you see on TV, most of these don't occur in the middle of high-speed pursuits but typically during normal driving and parking...especially backing up. Most cops drive a lot, and they mutli-task while doing so, so the chance of a fender-bender is always there. It used to be fun to come into the station parking lot and see a freshly-crumpled cruiser because you knew there was going to be a funny story circulating inside about how it happened.

That changes when you get to be a patrol sergeant. Now it's more along the lines of: "Dammit! How could you not see that post?! It was sticking right up out of the ground in the same place where it's been since you came on this job. Now I've got to write a report, take pictures, get the damned thing to a couple of local garages for repair estimates, explain it to the white shirts, and somehow make street coverage without that car for the next week or two...DAMMIT!"

So the enjoyment that I used to secretly--or openly--take from other people's car mishaps has come back on me in the form of a baseball bat gripped in the hands of the karma fairy. Now no matter who on my squad wrecks a car, it's MY problem, and in the eyes of a couple of our white shirts, somehow MY fault. ("You aren't supervising them right, Sergeant Krupke...")

And if anyone in the station wrecks one, I still have to do without as I work out my daily beat coverage assignments every day. Again, unlike in the movies where every cop gets a nice, shiny car and just goes out wherever they want, I have to make sure that each little zone or area in our jurisdiction has a police car in it, plus I have to make specific coverage of certain locations with dedicated cars assigned strictly to those areas, and I have to cover a few road construction sites with permanently-placed cars that are required by municipal contract. The construction contractors pay for the officer--usually at overtime rates--but the cars that the officers use get drawn out of the existing pool fleet and usually they're gone before I even get in to start my day. Bottom line: Ever since I came on board, there have been more cars needed each morning than are available and I have to juggle assignments and scare up nonexistent spares or hand out cars that are being saved for some special use by somebody higher up the food chain and are therefore technically off-limits to me.

So along comes my perfect storm: Not only does one of my rookies wreck a car the other day, but he totals one of the brand-new ones that had (naturally) been set aside for another unit's exclusive use. Short on cars, I made a decision and snatched the keys to that car out of someone's desk drawer where they had been poorly hidden. (I keep reminding the white shirts that they gave me the power to make decisions...) Not twenty minutes goes by and the radio explodes into screams of "10-50! 10-50! Officer involved! My rookie is in his first wreck (with that cruiser, naturally) and it's hit the fan.

I can't post specifics about the incident yet, but the rook smacked someone else who was both totally at fault and politically connected. As a result, my report (and my finding of fault) is on the best-seller list around here--everyone wants a copy. It's also been "suggested" that I revise it a couple of times and take some of the sting off of the guilty party. I may be a new (and still probationary) sergeant but I'm not changing the report, especially not in a way that opens my rook up to even a part of the responsibility. I'm standing by my findings, but I can't help noticing that there's a chill in the air every time I have to go into white-shirt country, and it's not just because they've got killer air conditioning.

Ah well...this too shall pass.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back...all new and improved

Sorry for the absence, gang...but Officer Krupke had to go back to school for a bit.

Exit Officer Krupke--enter SERGEANT Krupke.

That's right--I am now a patrol sergeant, with a squad of 24 officers (and two Corporals, thankfully) under my command. Adding to the fun: almost half of this squad are new rookies right out of the academy.

Oh, I've already got stories, and more are coming every day. So stand by and I'll get them all posted here as soon as I can.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cop humor

Recently, our chief had a neatly-lettered motivational sign put above the mirror in our locker room. It says: "A Neat Appearance Commands Respect."

It wasn't up three days before some wise-ass cop wrote in pen underneath it:
"So does the ASP."

The chief's pissed, but I still chuckle when I see it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just a suggestion...

If you're the sort of person who can't help driving through an accident zone and shouting obscenities at the people involved and the officers handling the mess, it's probably not a good idea to do it less than two miles from where you habitually park illegally. And as dumb an idea as that is, doing it while driving a tricked-out brightly-painted SUV with a personalized vanity tag is just plain ignorant.

A fella here did that to a few of my co-workers last week. It was rude to say the least. And later that day, one of the officers involved happened to see the undeniably distinctive vehicle parked in a two-hour metered zone and the meter was expired. Cost to the loudmouth: $50.00.

But it gets better. The next day, the same officer found it parked at an expired meter again. CHING! Another $50.00.

We discussed this at roll call and deduced that the driver works at one of the nearby businesses and is one of the many local workers who roll the dice every day by parking in the metered spots and gambling that they won't get more than a ticket or two every month. (As long as they think it's cheaper than paying for legal parking every day, many people will do this and just accept a few tickets as their unofficial parking fee.)

To be honest, a main reason that this works is because most of us have better things to do with our time than cruising meter parking and handing out parking tickets every day. But this guy...he's become a day-shift project now and it's a game to see who can find him and tag him first on any given morning.

He just got his fifth parking ticket this morning and some of us are wondering how long it's going to take him to figure it out and either pay to park in a garage, take public transit to work, or start driving another car--one that we don't automatically recognize on sight.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Regarding my previous post

Like I said--all cops are family, and I don't ticket family.

Of course I also don't ticket lots of other people I stop. Generally, if I'm hunting for drugs or drunk drivers and I stop someone for a minor infraction--known as a "pretext stop" by the Supreme Court that endorses such tactics--I usually don't cite the ones that I stop unless my brief contact with them turns into something more. I stopped you because you have a light out or because you were doing ten over. No indications of drinking or contraband? Drive safely and correct that problem before I see you again.

Other than that, most people that I stop get stopped because they've done something right in front of me that's so egregious that it cannot be overlooked. And even in that case, if I feel that my merely pulling you over and discussing it with you has been sufficient to change your behavior, you probably won't get anything worse than a written warning either. My traffic tickets are few and far between these days and generally only go to those who worked hard to earn them. So it's not like I'm stroking everyone except cops.

To the ones upset because they see a few cops getting away with something...If I pull you over tonight for something minor, unless you're drunk, appear to be hiding something, have a bad driving record or are just a total mouthy tool, you're probably not going to get a money ticket either. So chill.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I never ticket cops.

So I'm driving along one night not too long ago, just minding my own business, when I see a car coming towards me moving at warp speed. As it passes me, I bang a nearly perfect power turn and go after it. I catch the car about a mile down the road and light it up. And just as I stop it, a co-worker of mine pulls up to back me up. Cool.

Approaching the car, I find out that the driver is not Mario Andretti but a sergeant from a neighboring department who is well on his way to being late for work--one that I've stopped for speeding before. Turns out that my partner has stopped him before, too.

Now had this been any other citizen, I'd have smacked him with a ticket or two. But I have this policy against citing fellow officers, so I just give him a mild ass-chewing and send him on his way. No ticket, no documentation. It didn't happen.

Yeah, I know--this is going to anger quite a few people, most all of whom are outside of law enforcement. Tough. But my reason was validated literally a few minutes later when a call came across our radio about shots fired and a bail-out after a car full of gang-bangers doing a drive-by crashed. Suddenly we've got multiple armed suspects running around loose in one of our neighborhoods and we need every officer we can pull in for a decent perimeter and searches of the area. Both myself and my co-worker rocket over to the area as fast as we can, and one of the first things that we see when we pull up to the incident command post that's being set up is the car belonging to the sergeant that we'd just stopped and cut loose. He was on his way in and happened upon our guys starting to set up a perimeter and instead of going on past them to his own department's station, he stopped, offered his assistance, got his tactical gear out of his trunk, and jumped right into the fray with our guys to lend a hand. He also called his own department and has some of his department's officers respond over. I think that the fast influx of officers--theirs as well as ours--was a major factor in our eventually snaring all four of the knuckleheads that bailed out of the car. We also recovered two guns.

Now I've cut countless regular citizens breaks on infractions over the years, but I don't ever recall one of them showing up to help us out when we needed it; I've never had a regular citizen pull up on one of my traffic stops and offer me back-up, or respond and jump in when I'm in a fight. But this sergeant had no problem pitching in to help us out, and he did so without being asked, just like lots of other officers have done over the years and like many more will continue to do. When the chips are down, most cops around here don't care about the color of the shirt or the logo on the car of the officer who needs help--they all respond and help take care of business. We're a family and we're all on the same team even though we're on different departments, and we all share the risks when one of the family needs a hand.

That being the case, it'd be stupid for us to jam each other up over the petty stuff, knowing that we might need to rely on each other later in the shift or the next day. Now that doesn't mean that I overlook felony-level stuff, or drunk driving. I won't do that. But then again, I'm surrounded by professionals who are damned good people here and those situations rarely materialize. But sticking it to one of my peers with speeding ticket? Please. Not going to happen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kids, coats and drunk drivers.

So the other night I'm out, and I stop to back up another officer who has a suspected drunk driver. He puts the guy through field sobriety tests and he fails miserably. He checks him with the portable breath tester and gets a reading back of 0.27. Whoa! Legal limit is 0.08--this guy is over three times that. He gets locked up and we impound his car.

Complicating things, of course, is the presence of his baby momma in the car as a passenger, along with their child--a two year old named Dayquan who is not in a car seat. There is no car seat in the car. Dayquan was just loose in the back seat without even a seatbelt.

This is added to the driver's DWI, and it becomes an aggravating factor for charging and sentencing. If convicted, he's going to do time.

Mama just shrugged when we asked where the car seat was. She knew that he was supposed to be in one, but it was in another car and she admitted that she just didn't feel like taking it out of that one and putting it in this one.

But the funny part came when Dayquan decided to get out of their car and walk around. His mama actually scolded him for getting out without his coat. "Dayquan! You put your coat on right now. Mama doesn't want you getting sick."

So going out without a coat in 60-degree weather is bad, but riding around unrestrained in a car driven by a drunk is ok. Got it.

I made sure that a copy of the report was sent to Child Protective Services, with a recommendation for home visits and other follow-ups.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

One of those weeks.

Slow week. Only one memorable melonhead.

This one I caught as I was driving southbound on a busy city street at the beginning of rush hour. At the intersection ahead of me, there were three southbound lanes--a right turn only lane, a lane for folks to go straight, and a left turn only lane. The right turn lane was--as usual--backed up for about a block because that's where most people coming out of this area go to get on the freeway. The straight lane that I was in wasn't moving at all though. I nosed into the left turn lane to look ahead, and there was this little green Honda sitting right up at the intersection in the straight lane with it's right turn signal on, trying to get someone to let him cut in. The light for straight ahead was green, but he wasn't going forward, and because of him, no one else behind him could go through the intersection. Where's a cop when you need one? Oh yeah...

So I pulled into the left turn lane, drove up next to him, and pulled up window to window next to him, and hit my air horn. He looked over and saw me. "You! Go straight! Now!" I pointed for him to go through the intersection.

"But I'm going this way!" he yelled back, pointing right.

"No you're not," I replied. "Go straight. Now!"

Of course at this moment, some chucklehead in the right turn lane stopped for a second and created a gap, and my Honda driver just zipped into it, made the right turn, and headed for the freeway.

Oh, hell no. He did not just do that.

I motioned for the other trafic to hold up for a second and I went after him, catching him about a block down. Normally I'm pretty mellow and restrained, but it was near the end of my tour, I was hot and tired, and that was just plain disrespectful. And then he had the gall to ask one of the dumbest questions possible as soon as I walked up to his window:

"What are you stopping me for now? I didn't do anything wrong."

I got his license and registration and informed him that he was being stopped for turning from the wrong lane.

"No. I turned from the right lane. That guy let me in."

I explained that I had just given him a direct order to go straight, and he'd defied me by cutting into the right lane after I'd told him not to. I further explained that there was a solid white line running back up that lane for fifty feet, and that he was not allowed to cross that solid line even if someone had let him in.

"There was no solid white line there," he stated.

"Sir, you are more than welcome to go back there on your own time and look for yourself, but it's there. I know it's there, and the judge knows it's there if it comes to that."

"No. both of those lanes allow right turns."

"Sir, again--there are painted arrows on the pavement, and a large sign showing the direction of travel for each lane on the side of the roadway prior to the intersection. The traffic lights are also directional arrows, and I'm sure that you noticed that the green one for your lane was pointing straight ahead.

"But I had to turn there," he said. I'm trying to go home."

I explained--again--that he'd missed his turn when he'd failed to get into the turn lane in a timely manner like all those people that he'd just cut off had done and that I'd told him to go straight.

"I don't know how to get home from that direction," he whined.

I couldn't take it anymore. I just walked back to my car and stroked him out tickets for turning from the wrong lane and disregarding traffic control direction. His decision to bypass all of the people in that right lane and then cut them all off--and his decision to sit and argue it with me, obviously with the earnest belief that he and his desire to get home trumps everyone and everything else--earned him a hundred and fifty dollars in fines and five points on his license unles he decides to challenge the tickets in court. And I really hope that he does, because I know the magistrate and the way that he feels about lane-jumpers. Bring it on, little Honda man.

And for a bonus, I found my fake-handicapped tag Mercedes again yesterday. Incedulously, it was parked in another handicapped zone about three blocks from where I tagged it the last time. Maybe the owner figured that it was in a different memter maid's zone or something? Dude, I'm, I'm regional. I whacked him/her again with another $250.00 ticket. That's two. Wanna bet I can find it again next week? When I get three of those on the car, I'm calling the boot squad. And I WILL get my hands on that fake tag yet. The mere fact that the owner keeps using it despite the last ticket tells me that he/she still thinks that it's worth it to be able to park for free all day in spaces reserved for the actual disabled. I look forward to seeing this person in court one day soon, too. My magistrate is gonna love meeting them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reader-influenced enforcement...and a new hobby.

OK, readers, this one's on you.

I got a lot of feedback on the previous story regarding the handicapped parking issue, so it was with that in mind that I went out this morning hunting handicapped parking violators specifically.

I got six of them, five for merely being parked in handicapped spots without handicspped tags or placards. But the sixth one was special--that one truly made my day.

I saw the car in a handicapped parking spot in an otherwise crowded area, It had a handicapped placard, but it didn't look right. I know what this state's placards look like, but this wasn't one. I looked closely at it and discovered that it was a special placard issued specifically to a renatl van with handicapped controls--the one that comes with such vans when you rent them temporarily.

The problem was, this was in a Mercedes sedan with standard controls.

In other words, it was an improper tag; a fake. Had I not looked closely at it, I'd have probably passed it by, no doubt as many other officers have done. This person was using the tag to park illegally in spaces reserved for the disabled, and if there's one thing I despise more than thoughtless people, it's calculating scammers who try to get over. This driver got a $250.00 ticket, but the slate's not clean on this one. I'm pretty sure that he works in one of a couple of nearby buildings and now that his days of free parking in the handicapped zone are over, I suspect that he'll try to slide into the adjoining unmetered 3-hour max. zone and hope that no one comes by and actually goes to the trouble of keeping track of who has and has not been there over 3 hours. Many of those employees get away with it because most patrol units don't waste the time doing that sort of thing--and to be fair, I don't either--but now that I know that car, you can bet that I'll be making not of what times I see it, and any time I catch it parked overtime and can document it...$50.00.

We'll see how long it takes for this car to start seeking sanctuary in a pay lot or disappearing from the area altogether. Trust me, I will make the effort to legally ruin this guy's day every chance I get. Like I said, I hate people who try to take advantage of the disabled so he or she will be my personal hobby for a while and it's probably going to cost them.

And you readers who commented on my prior handicapped parking's all because of you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I just couldn't make anyone happy today.

So I'm driving along, minding my own business, and this guy in front of me tosses a cigarette butt out of his window right in front of me.

That's a big pet peeve of mine--it's filthy, disrespectful, and a fire hazard all in one. On go the lights. He went away with a hundred dollar consolation prize, and for some reason he was angry at me, even though he's the one who chose to toss his trash on my road right in front of me.

Then there was the woman who wasn't paying attention while driving. She spun her car out and took out a big road sign and shut down a major roadway at rush hour. I handed her a ticket for failure to maintain control, and she got mad too, but not quite as mad as the other woman who tried to zip around the long line of cars backed up prior to the wreck by driving at least half a mile on the shoulder, only to have me pluck her right out of the traffic flow after she saw me standing on the shoulder ahead of her and forced her way back into the traffic lane. She got two tickets--one for driving on the shoulder and another for cutting off a truck to dive back in as part of her unsuccessful effort to avoid the first ticket.

"Well how is anyone supposed to get to work?" she screamed.

Well lucky for you, I'm already at work. Sign here, please.

Then there was the people in the office building next to a municipal parking lot. The lot is specifically for visitors, not commuters, and that's why the lot has three-hour meters on every spot. I got a call from the lot manager about the lot being full of commuters so I went in and of course almost all of the meters were expired because the commuter cars had been there longer than three hours so I sighed and started writing. As soon as someone in the office looked out and saw me, word spread, and suddenly the lot was full of people frantically feeding meters, all from that building.

Pity that they didn't seem to know that it's also a violation to repeatedly feed a meter. That three hours? That's a hard limit on how long your car can physically occupy that space, and you can't extend it just by recharging the meter. I just kept writing, and the cars of the people that I saw feeding the meters got tickets for that right along with the ones whose meters were still expired.

Now there's a whole building full of unhappy people. Sorry folks--maybe tomorrow you'll park in your company's own lot and pay whatever they charge and stay out of the city's lot. Then I'll be happy because I won't have to write so many freaking parking tickets.

And then, of course, there was the old man in the Mercedes who got rear-ended at a stop sign by a high school-aged girl. It was just a tap and there was no damage to either car but he was going slightly berserk about it when I drove by and saw them parked alongside the road. I stopped and talked to them and looked at the cars. Not a scuff on either one that I could see. Of course he was sure that his Mercedes now had "hidden damage" and he suddenly wanted a police report even though he already had her insurance company's info. He kept pointing to obviously ancient minor scratches on his bumper and telling me that they were new. He wouldn't accept that there honestly wasn't a mark on the car that wasn't there before and I told him that there was no way that I was taking an accident report. I didn't want to have to hammer the girl with a ticket as she was already in tears, and I just didn't feel like wasting another half an hour getting all of the info, filling out the form, and sketching the scene when there was no injury or damage. So I sent him on his way--unhappy, of course--and then got the girl to run along. Now even I was finally cross.

But then I found a car parked in a handicapped spot in front of a store where I regularly go for coffee. It had no handicapped tag or placard (pet peeve #2) and it was running and unattended (pet peeve #3). That was two more tickets--handicapped parking violation and running unattended at $250.00 each, both of which I eventually handed to the fit and able-bodied young lady about 25 years old who came out of the store with a coffee in one hand and her cell phone in the other just as I was starting to write the second one. Naturally she was unhappy, but I have to confess that it did cheer me up a bit.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Raising other people's kids.

So once again, I find myself in the position of having to raise some other woman's child.

This time, I was investigating something in front of the local bus and train station. When that turned out to be nonsense, I went inside for a cup of coffee. (And yes, I paid full-price for it. My cop-hating readers have no need to worry about the possibility that I might have accepted a free cup of Starbucks.)

I was standing in line there when I observed a young boy maybe eight or nine years old just lie down on the floor. He was with the woman ahead of me in line, and as it turned out, she was his mother. She was begging him to get up off the floor, and he kept refusing, telling her that he was tired. So what did this adult do when the little child would not obey her commands? That's right--she continued to beg. "Please, Jeffrey. Please get up off the floor..."
But Jeffrey wasn't about to get up. It was obvious that he's comfortable disobeying and disrespecting his mom.
Then as so often happens, she saw me. "Officer, can you please make my son get up off the floor?"

Damn. How did I get wrapped up in this? Why do I have to choose between being the bad guy in the kid's eyes, or blowing this woman off in front of everyone else in the area who is now watching? What do I do if he tells me no? I can't just snatch him up by the ear like she should have done two minutes ago...

I sigh. Then I lean down and whisper to the boy.

"Hey. You see those bums over there?" I point to a couple of the local bus-station regular homeless who were slouched in the corner with their trash bags full of junk.

Jeffrey looked over. "Yeah."

"They spit on this floor. A lot."

"Oh, GROSS!" Jeffrey yells, scrambling to his feet.

Problem solved. Mom thanked me and remarked how Jeffrey is at that age where doesn't like to listen to her any more (and I refrained from telling her to learn to control her own kid) and another woman in line gave me a smile and a little "golf clap". Jeffrey was still standing when I paid for my coffee and left.

I can't help but think that it's going to be a long road for both Jeffrey and his mom unless she learns to get control over him.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Baby Mama Drama

So I'm just sitting there in the dark--minding my own business and not bothering anybody--when I see this Dodge Charger blow through the stop sign just ahead of my cruiser.

I stop the car and observe that it's occupied four young black females who are all shoe-horned into in their club attire, most of which appears to be two to three sizes too small. I pretty much know that I'm going to get a bunch of baby mama drama out of this one, it's just a question of how much and why.

The car has a cardboard 30-day dealer tag on the back, but this one doesn't come back to the car and resgistered owner like they're supposed to. When I ask the driver for her license and registration, she decideds that she doesn't want to give me anything until we argue about her violation for a bit. I cut her off, tell her that it's not up for discussion, and ask her again for her license, registration and proof of insurance. She digs a big envelope out of her glove box and shows me the paperwork that indicates that she purchased the car in January. Then she hands me a Xerox copy of a registration. I note that it's expired by almost a month and the tag number is different from the one on the car. For proof of insurance, she hands me a bill from an insurance company which says that a two-month policy will take effect when she writes them a check for five hundred and thirty four dollars. The date is, of course, two months ago.

I wasn't born yesterday; I know the score. She bought the car and got just enough insurance to get her drive-away dealer tag, and she drove on that tag until it expired. She doesn't have insurance and can't get her hard tags so she just bought a new and probably blank temp tag illegally from someone who works at or stole it from a dealership and now she's trying to play it off as if it's all valid and clear when I already know it isn't. She keeps flipping through her paperwork and claiming that she gave me everything I asked for. Other than her driver's license, she's given me nothing that I wanted and I let her know. She starts getting louder and more upset, and two of her girls try to chime in to back her up. I tell them that they need to sit quiet because I'm talking to the driver. Surprisingly, they actually do shut up--usually the whole crow chorus jumps in to support the star in this impromptu bit of Shaniqua Theater. (Credit to Beat and Release for this wonderful descriptor of the behavioral characteristics of this particular demographic.) But the star is far from done. She shakes, she yells, she starts to cry, then says it's my fault for getting her so upset. She wails that she's a single mother (as if I care) and she bawls that she has a "federal job" and that I'm going to make her lose it with "all of this BS."

I tell her to calm down and remind her that the whole problem is stemming from the fact that I asked for two pieces of paper that every car owner is supposed to have and that she's apparently unable to come up with either of them. She demands that I "show some common sense" and realize that she must have insurance otherwise she could not have bought the car, and she claims that the registration--the expired one with a different tag number--is somehow adequate.

Finally I ask her where she wants the car towed to. I'm tired of her and she and her car need to go, only she's not going to be driving it. I offer her the choice of a tow to her home at her expense or to the impound yard for free, however she'll have to pay to get it out of there and the fees willl add up quick. She petulantly tells me to do whatever I want and tow it wherever. She claims to have no money, and when I ask her who she can call for a ride, she insists that she doesn't know anybody at all. The others all ape onto this crap too, claiming to know no one with a car, apparently figuring that if I can't get them rides away from here, I won't impound the car. But I'm not playing that game either. First of all, I don't care if they are all genuinely broke. That's their problem, not mine. Of course considering that they're all sitting in a newly-purchased two year old car, each with fresh new hairdos and stylish club outfits complete with plenty of jewelry, I'm not buying the "poverty" pleas. If they could afford all that crap and a night out at the club, they can afford a cab. So I flag down a passing cab and suggest that the passengers either get into it and work out payment for the driver or else they'll be walking. Suddenly they find money and off they all go, leaving me with my new friend. Fortunately the tow truck shows up before the cab's even out of sight. Meanwhile, my overly-dramatic new girlfriend now sobs that she won't be able to get to work AT THE FEDERAL BUILDING in the morning and when she loses her job, it'll be all my fault. She refused to hand over the car key until I told her that if I had to ask one more time, she'd be going to jail. Then she shouted "Just give me my tickets if you're going to ticket me!" Of course I'd already written them out, so it was no trouble to hand her three--one for unregistered vehicle, one for uninsured vehicle, and one for the stop sign. She bawled and ranted and carried on like a fool until she finally figured out that I really didn't care, and then she switched it off and just stood there all casual. It was all an act, and undoubetly learned behavior; at some time in her life she realized that she could get her way by throwing her dignity away and acting like an angry child. But it didn't get her anything tonight--if anything, if made me less inclined to cut her even the slightest break. I don't care for it when people try to play me.

The grand ticket total was $275, and the tow bill and impound fees are going to be on her, too. She doesn't get the car back now until she presents a valid registration and proof of insurance at the impound yard and storage fees accrue by the day. Of course she let me know that she'll be fighting this all in court. Yeah, good luck--your car was either registered and insured on this date or else it wasn't. And the fake tag and lack of any paperwork pretty much indicates which is the deal. Court should be fun--and short. But I get paid to show up so it's all good. Bring your lies and bring your girlfriends if you want...just file for a court date and bring on the court overtime.

Oh--and bring a better tantrum and more convincing fake outrage when you get to court. The judge wasn't born yesterday either.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ya'll can't be putting that dog up in my car like that!

At least that's what she said.

It was a week-end night, and we were short on cars due to maintenance issues, so a partner and I doubled up and we went out to see what we could find.

As we were rolling through the club district, we happened to spot a car in reverse backing down the street at a pretty high speed. we watch it drive backwards about three quarters of a city block to slide into a parking space, and as soon as the driver parallel parks it, I pull up next to it and block it in, hitting the lights while my partner puts the stop out over the air. As he's doing that, I get out and introduce myself to our latest customer, a black male about 35 years old who is nervous as all hell.

The car has an odor of a substance that I'm quite familiar with, so I put it to him: "How come this car smells like weed?" The driver begins to visibly shake. He agrees with me, but says that it's not his weed and not his car. It turns out the driver is just a valet for a so-called "gentleman's club" up the block. He's sweating bullets because, as it turns out, he's only been out of prison for about a month. That should tell you something about this particular club, right there. But the club's manager sees the stop and verifies that the guy is indeed the valet, and he tells us that the car belongs to one of the dancers, who is about to get off for the night. my partner and I confer briefly and we tell the manager to go get the car's owner while we deal with the valet's driving issues.

Now the valet's being pretty cooperative, even consenting to letting us search him, and I can actually appreciate the fact that he's got what at least looks like a straight job after doing 15 years inside. So we call for an available narcotics dog and I write him out two warning notices for his infraction (improper backing and no seat belt), taking as long as I can to give the K9 time to arrive. The dog shows up in a few minutes and I give the valet his warning notices--no fine and no points because he was respectful and cooperative and I didn't feel like jamming him up--and then my partner had him stand aside (and away from the club) while Riker the Landshark did his thing. As expected, the dog hit on the center console and the ash tray, and now we've got all the probable cause we need to search the car thoroughly. But before we can start, Mo'Neek, the owner of the car, appears. (Yes, that's her real first name. I shit you not.)

"Hey! That's my car! Excuse me! Ya'll can't be putting that dog up in my car like that!"

But alas, we can. And we did. And I go into the car and find her smoking device and two zips of weed in the console and three roaches in the ashtray. I hold up the pipe. "This yours?"
She doesn't even try to lie. "That don't make no difference if it is or it ain't. You don't get to put that nasty dog in my car and you need a warrant before you can touch anything in there!"

"Don't tell me," my partner says. "You're working here to put yourself through law school."

I almost told her that the dog was a lot cleaner than her dirty, trash-filled car but I bit my tongue.

In the end, I took the weed and the pipe and handed Mo'Neek a couple of misdemeanor mandatory appearance citations for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. I let her know that she had to show up in court in a couple of weeks and that when she didn't show up (I didn't even bother saying "if") we'd be coming around to serve the warrant either here or at her home address. I also advised her as a courtesy that her driver's license was suspended/revoked and that if we caught her driving that car, she'd be getting locked up.

Of course she swore up and down that she'd paid her tickets and that her license was good, but then again, almost everyone operating after suspension says that. And I know that she won't get her license fixed any time soon but I'm actually good with that, because now that I know her car and where she lives and works, I doubt that it'll be too hard to find her driving around again. You see, I'm betting that when I do find her driving and I lock her up for operating after suspension, I'll get another crack at her car and odds are pretty good that I'll probably get more weed or maybe something even better. So she'll go into my "perp bank" folder and I'll keep an eye out for her car on those slower nights when I need a lock-up but can't find anything else. It's always good to keep a few of those in reserve.

The funniest part? When we left, she was yelling at the club manager and telling him that he or the valet needed to come up with some money since it was their fault that she just got busted.

Some people's kids...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No, I don't have infinite patience for fools.

I started off this evening responding to a call from another agency nearby for an officer in trouble. Enroute to that scene, another one of our units gets t-boned by an inattentive driver as he goes through an intersection on a green light with all of his emergency gear working. She admitted that she was messing with her ipod and didn't see or hear him. Fortunately he wasn't injured, but his take-home cruiser is going to be in the shop for a while. Needless to say, we never got to the officer in trouble scene--I was redirected to our crash to assist, and I got to spend the better part of the next hour directing traffic at a major intersection in the city during evening rush hour. The crash was right in the middle of the intersection and it and the rescue vehicles blocked most of it, so that meant that most people who wanted to go straight got to make right turns instead just to get traffic moving. Naturally, about every third or fourth car driver insisted on trying to either coast past me and try to wiggle around the crash despite my direction, or else they would stop and ask if I wouldn't let them go the way that they wanted to go, ambulance and fire trucks and flares be damned.

Adding to the fun was any number of pedestrians who insisted on crossing wherever and whenever they wanted, with to regard for the traffic direction that I and another officer on the opposite side of the wreck were doing. And then there were tools on bicycles that also ran hither and yon and messed up our traffic pattern.

All of this I still managed to deal with, and we managed to keep the traffic flowing even if a lot of people had to go a block or two out of their way. As irritating as some of these people were getting to be, I refrained from shoving any of the pedestrians over the snowbank, and I even resisted the temptation to thrust my ASP into the spokes of any of the bicycles that rode right through the gridlocked traffic and made cars that I was moving come to a stop right where I didn't want them stopping. So I was doing pretty good, and keeping my frustration in check until I heard the horn.

Beeeeeeeeeep! Beeeeeeeeep! Beeeeeeeeep! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Sitting a dozen or so cars back from the intersection, stuck in the mess like everyone else, was a very impatient man behind the wheel of a BMW. He was blowing his horn, apparently trying to get all of the other people that I was holding up to move out of his way. And even though traffic was moving slowly, he kept on with the horn.

He finally got up to where I was, and I motioned for him to turn right. However he pointed his car at me, rolled down his window, and yelled "I need to go that way!", indicating that he wanted to pass through the crash scene.

OK, in the words of one of my childhood idols, I've had all I can stand cuz I can't stand no more.

I motioned for him to pull into the one open lane, then I stopped him and walked up to him. "I want to go that way!" he says as I get to his window.

"Give me your driver's license," I tell him.

"Why are you asking for my license?" he asks.

"I didn't ask for it. I told you to give it to me." I give him a look back that makes it clear that I'm not about to kiss his ass or play games with him. He complies, and I tuck it into my pocket. "Now pull over there to the curb and turn this car off. Stay in the car and I'll be over to deal with you when I'm done here."

"Look, I'm trying to get home and I'm late," he says.

"You're going to be later. Now pull over there and turn it off." He did, and I went back to directing traffic, basically ignoring him other than to look up and make sure that he was still there every few minutes.. And he sat there until rescue cleared and the wreckers hauled the cars away and we could open the intersection up to normal traffic again. I went back over to talk to him.

"I want your name and badge number right now!" he demanded.

"Well I'm going to be writing both of those down for you in a minute," I told him. Of course it was going to be on a ticket, but I didn't add that. Had he been contrite by this time, I would probably have just let him go with a warning since I'd basically given him a time out for twenty minutes. But his continued attitude that he was somehow in charge or otherwise entitled pretty much killed any inclination on my part to let him slide. After all this time to reflect, he still wasn't getting it.

So I told him that he was being given a citation for excessive use of horn, and that if he wanted to contest it, he could call the number on the back of the ticket and request a court date and then he could explain to the judge why he felt the need to sit there in stopped traffic at a crash scene and lay on his horn.

"I'm don't have a problem with the ticket," he replied. "I can pay these all day. But where do you get off making me sit here for half an hour? I had someplace else to get to and you had no right to keep me here like that!"

So I sighed and explained to him what should have been obvious to the average five year old: There was a crash here, people were hurt, the road was blocked, and everybody else had to wait and detour around it just like he did. And since everyone else managed to handle the slight inconvenience without throwing a road-rage temper tantrum, I decided that his behavior warranted a citation. However the circumstances didn't permit me to drop everything else and write one right then and there so he had to wait his turn for it. If that meant that he had to sit for a few minutes, too bad. I also told him that if he wanted to speak to my supervisor, he was more than welcome to go find a parking space and walk back here. My sergeant was on scene dealing with the crash and had been here the whole time. I pointed my sergeant out to him, but the guy declined and drove away.

He may complain tomorrow, but that's fine. I can deal with this one easily enough, the ticket still stands and he can't get his half an hour back. I'll just never understand how people that immature get to the point where they can afford a BMW.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mentally handicapped parking?

So this morning, a couple of us are in a local 7-11 for coffee. Besides us, there are a couple of cars each from two other departments. in fact, the parking lot on the side of the building is almost all police cars, as are the spots out by the curb, in front of the building but out along the street. The only spots open are the slots directly in front of the store, which we typically leave for the regular customers who might actually want to run in, buy stuff and leave.

So we're all sitting around, drinking coffee and talking about the night's business, when I happen to glance up and see that there's a vehicle parked in the handicapped spot out in front of the store. A quick look around shows me no one who appears handicapped, just a bunch of hispanic laborers (note to self: start inviting ICE guys to these coffees) and a large guy buying a pair of hot dogs at 5AM. (Ugh!) I wander outside and notice that in addition to having an expired inspection sticker from the neighboring state, the Cadillac SUV in the handicapped spot bears no placard or special DMV tags. I sigh, wander over to my cruiser, get my ticket book out, and start to write. This sort of thing is one of my serious pet peeves, for reasons that people who know me understand all too well.

A moment later, hot dog guy comes out and sees me scratching him the ticket. Of course he begs for a break, claiming that he didn't know, despite the big blue and white sign right above the parking lot just above eye level. Unfortunately for him, it's me writing the cite, and I don't cut slack on handicapped violators. I point out that there were and still are several other vacant slots that are not handicapped and which are still closer to the door than my car, and then I point out all of the police cars in the lot and ask him what he was thinking. Hell, doing this blatantly in front of us all is almost as disrespectful to us as it is to the actual disabled people who need those spots. He shrugs and laughs and says "Yeah, got me," in a manner that suggests that he still doesn't take it that seriously. But his good nature changed when he looked at the fine amount line: "Two hundred and fifty dollars?! Come on, man! That ain't right!"

No, parking in the one space reserved for the disabled isn't right, and doing it with six police cars in the parking lot is just ignorant. Hope he enjoyed the hot dogs. I figure they cost him $125.00 each. Dumbass.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And the money comment of the night:

So in the middle of our snow emergency, I ask the guy I just stopped for an asinine traffic violation why he's driving.

He points to his passenger and says "Because he's drunker than I am."

Some people just make my job way too easy.

And for what it's worth--everyone that I saw out tooling around last night with a three-foot high mound of snow atop their vehicle got a ticket for it. That's dangerous to you and other drivers and common sense would suggest that if you must drive, you take a minute to remove it. Or to paraphrase Chris Rock: "Clean that shit off!"

Another great cartoon from Garey McKee.

Why do so many papers waste space on that Doonesbury guy when Garey McKee is available?

Police Limit rocks.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On snow...and getting it done.

So this week-end, our area got socked with a massive winter storm. Everything was closed--government, stores, schools the Friday before (and the Monday coming)and everybody was warned for days to prepare to stay in.

I wish I could have stayed in, but us cops are essential. That means that like power crews, tree-removal crews, hospital workers and (ugh!) firefighters, we need to show up no matter how bad it is. It sucks, and it's hard sometimes, but people need us and we knew that this was part of it when we applied for the jobs. It's one of the things no one thinks about when they see us taking it easy and getting paid well on the nice days.

Our area got between two and feet of snow in a day and a half. I needed to make sure that I could get in to work because I live 50 miles away from my worksite so I went out into the beginning of the storm the night before and stayed in a motel closer to town at my own expense. No one will ever pay me back for that--it's just something I had to suck up because it's still my responsibility to get in to work and calling in and crying that I couldn't get out because of the snow wasn't an option. (And a note to some of my lazy-ass co-workers, including a few supervisors: Calling in "sick" at the last minute is bullshit, too. Everyone knows that you useless slaps just didn't want to come in, and those of us who did come in like we were all supposed to will remember who put their work on us this week-end.)

No thanks goes out to the motel, a Days Inn that I expected better from. They put me in a room knowing that I needed sleep so I could pull an extended 16-hour night shift later, and then they put a bunch of people in the adjoining room who laughed and swore and made noise all night. The walls were so thin that I heard everything that they said and did, and calls to the desk brought no relief. The desk didn't even call that room like they promised to do--I'd have heard their phone ring through those thin-assed walls. And if that wasn't bad enough, the motel's own maids started yelling back and forth in Spanish to each other at about 8AM, totally oblivious to the fact that people in motels might want to sleep. And of course the power was out, so no hot shower for me, and damned little heat after a spell. And of course the front desk woman totally refused to adjust the bill or do anything else to make amends. I even suggested that I'd call it even if I could stay a few hours past check-out time and try to catch a bit more sleep before reporting in, and she refused that offer too, even though without power she couldn't check anyone else in or out. Fuck you, Days Inn. Next time I have to respond over there because you need help with some drunk or unruly guests, I'll remember this.

It took more than two hours to drive what should have taken less than one. I ran in 4WD the whole way at about 30-35 mph. The roads were in the process of being plowed but far from clean, and the snow was still coming down hard. Other than plow trucks, I was almost the only one out there. The power was out for miles, and the only thing I found open was one lone 7-11, and frankly that was a surprise.

I started work early to fill in for someone who never showed. If I hadn't, the officer from the previous night who'd been held over to cover the slot would have had to work the whole double shift. I started out having to deal with a mess because some idiots decided that they were going to move their whole extended family in the middle of this blizzard and driven a caravan that included a mid-sized U-Haul truck with a car-hauling trailer behind it out into this record snowstorm. They then got the truck and trailer stuck on the ramp from one highway to another and then had the nerve to get upset when they found out that they'd be getting billed for the large wrecker that it was going to take to get them out of the mess that they created. And since I had nothing better to do while waiting on that wrecker, I inquired as to where the car seats where for the infant and two kids under five that were riding in one of the cars. "Oh, they be packed way back in that truck," I was told. So I stroked them with tickets for each of the unrestrained kids and made them open up the U-Haul and dig the seats out. They couldn't understand why, even though the only reason I was here was because they'd just had a crash. It should be legal to just beat some people.

Two hours later, that was cleared up, and I spent the rest of the long night finding and reporting trees and power lines down and shooing drunk pedestrians off of our roads. The bar crowd was in full swing and they weren't letting a lack of cars keep them off the roads. Two other officers actually arrested drunks for being in the roadway and refusing to go back inside, but I was able to get my drunks to at least pretend to comply until I was gone.

Eighteen hours later, I was released to drive home. Again, I was virtually the only vehicle that wasn't a snowplow on the highway. And as I clawed my way in 4WD up to my house out in the country a bit, I pulled up to find my own 100-foot driveway buried under 36 inches of snow, plus the bunch that the county plow had shoved into the end of it. It took another hour of digging just to make a hole big enough to back my vehicle into, and then it was time for bed.

I'm going back in tonight. And if I see that Al Gore guy, I'm going to kick his ass in the name of his so-called "Global Warming".

Oh--and don't mistake me for someone who loves his department. I have a lot of issues with my department right now and we're not exactly the best of friends. However this isn't the time for any of that. This is the time to put that stuff aside and get the job done. That's what being a professional police officer is all about.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Friendly skies? How about friendly highways?

So last night I'm passing the airport in my marked cruiser. (Note: Use of the term "marked cruiser" is a hint. It typically means that I was very obvious and not being at all sneaky but someone about to be blogged about still didn't get it.)

Looking in my mirror, I see a car coming off of the ramp fro the airport onto my highway behind me. Speed limit here is 55mph, and just past that ramp is a sign saying as much. It's late, and me and this car are the only two vehicles around, so I slow down to 65mph as I watch this car rapidly gain on me. Naturally I expect that this driver will pull up close enough to recognize the marked police cruiser in front of them and quickly slow down to a bit under my speed. That's what usually happens, and that's one of the reasons why I'm out here--to keep traffic speeds reasonable just by my mere presence.

But this driver just doesn't care. ZOOM! Right past me. And then as I increase my speed to catch up, that car increases speed, apparently racing to get to the next interchange to jump onto another highway. By the time my lights go on, I'm doing 75 and that car is still moving a bit faster. That car stops, but instead of pulling to the clear, roomy and safe shoulder, it stops in the traffic lane. I have to use my PA system to tell the driver to pull onto the shoulder. Then the nonsense really starts. She pulls onto the shoulder but I see that her brake lights are still lit and I haven't seen the vehicle shift into "park" yet--the vehicle is still in gear. I again pick up the PA and tell her to take her foot off the brake. Sure enough, she starts rolling forward...and keeps rolling forward. I tell her to stop again, and she does, but still doesn't put the car in park.

I don't approach cars that are still running and in gear. I don't like cars that are either preparing to rabbit away from me or able to otherwise injure me by suddenly moving when I'm near them. And I'm naturally suspicious of drivers who won't put the car in park like 95% of the driving public automatically does when stopped.

I tell her to put the car in park, and she finally does. I then tell her to turn the car off, but she refuses. I can see the exhaust so I know it's still running. Again, we have noncompliance to a simple instruction, and one that directly concerns my safety. Screw it. I ask for another unit for back-up and one actually materializes fairly quickly. The airport guys were monitoring our channel and one ambled up within a minute. Now with two of us, we approach the car. The driver is a black female still dressed in the costume of an American Airlines stewardess. And she starts right in:

"You need to stop yelling at me," she says before I even introduce myself. "I'm not your dog and I'm not your kid."

OK, so it's going to be like that, is it? This was going to be a quick sobriety check, probably ending with a verbal warning if she was sober, but she's taking it in another direction pretty quickly. I put my hand up to cut her off.

"First of all, when the lights come on, you need to pull onto the shoulder and put your car in park. Then when I give you instructions that I know you can hear, you need to obey them. And that means turning your car off when I tell you to. Is there a reason why you didn't want to do any of those things?"

"Yeah," she snaps. "I'm just off work, I want to get home, and it's cold out. I don't need this."

"Ok, The reason you were stopped in the first placed is because of your speed back there. The speed limit here is 55 and you were in excess of 75 before I stopped you. Are you aware of that?"

"I was doing 65," she said, dismissively turning to look out the front windshield instead of at me.

"And as I just explained, the speed limit is 55. You passed a sign saying so when you came out of the airport. License and registration, please." I'm not going to sit here and argue with her. She can just have a citation and take it to the judge if she wants.

She digs the information out of her purse and then tries to hand it to the airport officer who is on the other side of her car. He tells her to give it to me.

"But I want to deal with you," she says to him. You're from the airport and I work for American Airlines." The airport officer tells her again to give it to me because this is my traffic stop. She hands it to me and repeats: "I work for American Airlines and I want him to handle this."

"Well you're on my highway now so you'll deal with me. Have you had anything to drink tonight?"

"I just told you--I work for American Airlines. Can't you see this?" She touches her uniform. "They drug test us, so no, I don't drink when I'm at work."

Whatever. I go back to my cruiser and scratch her out a speeding ticket. The airport guy waits with me. I ask him if all of the stewardesses are like that. He laughs and rolls his eyes. "Oh no. Most are worse. They think that they're the boss everywhere just because they're in charge of passengers on a plane or two. We get this crap from them all the time."

"Friendly skies, huh?" I ask. We laugh.

I walk back and hand her her $165.00 ticket. She's steaming. "Your supervisor will be hearing from my husband shortly," she announces.

"Fine," I tell her. "Have your boss call my boss." I turn to walk away as the airport guy bursts out laughing, not even trying to be discrete.

I may get a complaint just for that last line, but you know what? It'll be worth it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winter fun

So last night, because we got pounded with a serious snow storm that darn near shut our roads down, I was paired up with my sergeant in one of our 4WD SUV's. All was pretty dull until just before midnight, when we happened to spot one of those pesky 4x4 ATV's riding on the bike path in one of the local parks. The ATV operator saw us and turned his headlight off, but apparently forgot that when he brakes, the brake light comes on. So we could still see him as we drove on past, then doused our own lights, u-turned without braking, and coasted back into the park to have a talk with him.

Now as luck would have it, my sergeant was driving. Had it been me, I'd have snared that ATV in a heartbeat. But with Grandpaw Sarge driving... Well we'd see.

Sure enough, he pulled into the park entrance just as the ATV was trying to sneak out. Sarge actually thought that the ATV would stop for him just because he was blocking the drive, but the little 4x4 jumped the curb and shot past us.

Now my sergeant is a great guy, but sometimes he's not the most motivated person. He probably wouldn't even have been messing with the ATV in the first place had I not been sitting there in the passenger seat saying "get it, get it, get it!" But now the ATV operator had just blatantly defied his authority, and now I was yelling "Oh, I know that you ain't gonna let him punk you like that..." So with a shift into reverse gear, it was on.

The ATV left our park and crossed the highway into a pretty upscale neighborhood, and we were right on it. Sarge turned the lights and siren on, but the ATV operator wasn't stopping. Instead, he kept going, right down the middle of the snow-covered street, with a passenger hanging on the back. He ran a few stop signs as he twisted and turned through the neighborhood, and had we been in a cruiser instead of a 4WD SUV, we'd probably not have been able to keep up with him like we did, but we stuck on him.

Of course I was offering motivational comments like "If you can't catch him, you're a pussy!"
Sarge reminded me that he was still my sergeant, and I replied that he could be both, especially if he let that ATV get away.

We hung on the ATV for a few minutes, and finally he ran up a cul-de-sac. As he tried to turn around and pass us again, we popped the doors open and jumped out. I was all set to tackle at least one of those riders off the machine if it tried to get past me, but at this point it stopped and the operator turned out to be a 40 year old with his wife on the back. He tried to tell us that it was just all in fun and that he wasn't doing anything really wrong besides playing with his new ATV in the snow. He readily admitted that he'd been trying to lose us and that he knew that he wasn't supposed to have the ATV out on the streets or in the park. He also smelled strongly of alcoholic beverages and when I pointed that out, he got huffy, told me that yes, he had been drinking but that he wasn't drunk, and then started trying to berate us into letting them go by explaining again that he was "just having fun" and "not doing anything really wrong".

Now had he just stopped for us the first time, he'd have probably got sent home with a warning, just like we'd given some other kids on dirt bikes earlier in the night. But now he'd fled from us and was admitting it while throwing attitude at us and with alcohol on his breath to boot. Not too bright. And then as my sergeant and I discussed how to handle this (I was in favor of summary execution and he was inclined to go with something a bit less), the guy's wife kept coming over to us and interrupting to tell us how her husband has a security clearance and doesn't need this trouble, again implying that it's all our fault, not theirs. She also kept asking "Is this going to take much longer?" every few minutes, as if the only ones with anything better to do at midnight was them. And finally, when I asked the operator to consent to field sobriety tests, he told me that he'd rather wait for his lawyer.

Well once again, we arrived at a point where attitude decided how a close decision was going to go. Had there been any suggestion of remorse or an attempt at an apology, things might have gone a bit different, but now we were catching flack from these two after they caused this whole mess by breaking numerous laws. So the operator wound up getting issued Mandatory Appearance citations for Reckless Driving, Fleeing to Elude Police, Unregistered Vehicle, and a few other traffic violations. He finally did consent to a breath test via our RBT and came in at a rather low 0.05 so we didn't take him to jail for DUI, but we did impound the ATV (and we'll be holding it at his expense until the court case is resolved) and unless he's got a really good lawyer and draws our one rather weak-sentencing judge, he'll likely draw a few days in jail when he appears in court.

Oh--and that security clearance? If true, sucks to be him. This mess will likely cost him that.

And because we released him at the scene instead of trucking him back to our department for fingerprinting and photographing, we were clear in under an hour from the moment that we first saw the ATV's lights in the park. Not bad.

About an hour or so later, we headed into a nearby town to get some food. As we rolled through the still-hopping bar district (mere snow emergencies don't stop the party set from getting trashed), we were flagged down by a cab driver and a maitre d'from one of the restuarants.

Well "flagged down" is a bit mild. The cabbie threw himself in front of us, forcing us to stop or run him down.

They pointed out three guys walking away who had broke the cabbie's mirror off and slugged the maitre d'. Well this wasn't really our area, but what the hell--we U-turned and went after the three, who were now about a block away and walking with a purpose along the sidewalk.

We pulled up alongside the three and I rolled down my window and told them to stop. And the three of them looked at the police officer in the marked police vehicle and just kept walking. So I jumped out and grabbed one, and sarge shot up ahead of the group and cut the other two off with the truck. All three had been drinking, and as my luck would have it, I grabbed a lawyer. (a drunk lawyer as it turned out, but in his mind, he was Perry-fucking-Mason.)

When I put the Habeus Grabbus on Matlock, he started to spin to face my so I shoved him back up against the wall and yelled "POLICE! I SAID STOP!" very loudly. This not only told him that I was serious, but it let any of the bystanders know that this guy was being noncompliant and not just getting rousted for my amusement. I told him to give me his ID, and he started in with "What did I do?" "I SAID GIVE ME YOUR ID!" I repeated. He came up with it, and then he said that he was offended that I had grabbed him and was yelling at him. I told him that I didn't really care and that I was offended that he wasn't listening to a police officer who was trying to stop him, and that trumped his being offended over being stopped as far as I was concerned. About this time, my sergeant was walking the other two back to me and the cabbie and the maitre d' were running up screaming "That's them, that's them!" So sarge took the victims aside and I started to run the three stooges names over the radio. And I'm right in the middle of running the lawyer's ID when he interrupts me and asks when he can get it back. Apparently I'm inconveniencing another upstanding citizen now...

It turns out that it's one of the other two that actually damaged the cab and hit the maitre d' so he's the one we're focusing on, but the lawyer keeps dipping in, telling his friends over and over not to say anything and asking me if he's being detained.
"Yes, you're being detained," I tell him.
"So you're saying that I'm not free to leave then?"
"That's correct."
"So you're detaining me why?"
"Because. Now shut up."

About this time, the local police who were actually called to this show up in a bunch, and we turn it all over to them. They can sort this mess out better, and we still want food. They wind up kicking the lawyer and the other guy loose and telling them to move along while they wrap things up with the main perpetrator. Of course Matlock wants to stand around anyway and yell "Don't say anything to them! Nothing! I'll fix it all in the morning!" Then he hands a card to one of the local officers and says "I'm his attorney and you can talk to me."

The local looks at the card and disdainfully flips it into the gutter. Turns out that the wanna-be defense attorney is really a patent lawyer from New York City. We're nowhere close to New York City.

Anyway, with the arrival of a quantity the local officers, our job is done and we clear to go get some wings. The best arrests are truly those that someone else has to do all of the writing on.