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.


suz said...

Why you old cynic, you! ;)
Good move, neutralizing the alpha-male wanna-be before things escalated. Preventing such problems is easier than solving them, and the key to prevention is knowing how and why they develop. Are they teaching this in the academies? The "clue" behaviors you recognized instantly, should be taught by text and video to rookies before they ever hit the streets alone.
Good work!

Jackie said...

... How do you forget your rookie?? Poor thing!

Glad it ended up being a good teaching siduation though.


Sergeant Krupke said...

You "forget" your rookie because you're in such an all-fired hurry to get out to a minor crash that doesn't warrant the rushing.

You also "forget" them when you don't really want one and you hope that the sergeant will stick him with someone else.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

what was her BAC?

Sergeant Krupke said...

It was high enough to easily support a charge of Driving While Intoxicated.

Jake said...

That is a a great story! The whole thing represents the essence of police work. First, arriving at conclusions from the physical evidence and second, getting compliance from people.

Duly filed away for future reference.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

what was it in numbers?

Jay said...

Well picked up. "Forgeting" the rookie may have worked out for the best as it turned out. Is there a penitence to be paid for forgeting the rookie?

Sergeant Krupke said...

The BrAC (not BAC, if you want to get technical) is what it is. Since there hasn't been a trial yet, there's no reason for me to post it here.

As to pennance for "forgetting" the rookie, I figure that he can cart the rookie around with him until he gets used to having one.

The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

Excellent training opportunity capitalized upon.

"...he can cart the rookie around with him until he gets used to having one."

I love your leadership style, Sgt. K. They may end up hating you at first, but they'll love you later.

Anonymous said...

three words: control the scene.

thanks for catching another a-hole dui.