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.