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, dude...you 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'am...you 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 is...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.