Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dopes, a dope, and what happens when you dope off.

So yesterday, I get a call from our undercover unit supervisor, asking if I can provide a jump-out squad to help snag a group of people that they would like to arrest after observing a number of them engaging in drug sales transactions. Now I like requests like this, because it gives me a chance to put a number of my less-experienced and/or less-motivated officers to work. I walk through the station and corral several of the ones that I want, than call for a few others to meet me at a specific corner a few blocks away from the park where the suspects are loitering around under observation. A quick call to the lead detective gets me the descriptions of the ones he wants, and so armed, we convoy up to the park, split into two wings—one for the north end and one for the south end—and sweep into the park to isolate the group and help the detective grab the suspects.

Predictably, as we swoop into the park, several people suddenly get up from the benches and tables in one corner of the park and begin to rapidly scatter. We all split up and began putting the Habeus Grabbus on the ones we wanted. I drove after two guys who started to run off, pulling ahead of them with my cruiser and jumping out to nab one. I sent the rookie riding with me after another one. Typical rook: “Which one should I get?”
“The guilty-looking one! The one RUNNING! Sic him!”
So charged, my rook ran off and grabbed the alleged crack-head in question. Other officers and detectives also went after various and sundry other mopes—uh…”alleged” mopes—and when the dust had settled, we had nine detained.
I lucked out; mine was a guy that I’d been locking up from time to time for a few years, so at least we had our shared history to talk about while I searched him.
Now picture this scene: A park. In the park—a ring of police vehicles, all with lights flashing. Inside that ring, there are groups of uniformed police officers who have several people in handcuffs that they are searching. And into the middle of all of this rides Miss Oblivious on her bicycle.
I see her as she rides around my cruiser. I yell at her to stop and go around, but she’s listening to her ipod and doesn’t even bother looking at me. I have my hands full of crack-head so I can’t go after her, so I yell to my rookie to stop her. My rook, having just handed his crack-head over to a detective, steps into her path and yells “HALT!” so loud that people a block away reflexively stop doing stuff. Bike Gal startles out of her stupid zone, tries to swerve around my officer, strikes a decorative chain barrier about two feet high that borders the sidewalks, and topples off of her bike into a muddy flower bed. She’s not injured, but by the time she gets to her feet, even the crack-heads are laughing at her. I hand my detainee off to a detective and walk over to make sure that she understands the error of her ways. But she’s not feeling sheepish or apologetic at all; she’s furious and immediately launches into me about my rookie “knocking” her off of her bike for no reason. She wants his name, and my name, and starts telling me that she’ll be going to her doctor to get checked out and that…”
I cut her off before she can get to the lawsuit threat that I know is coming. I point out the police vehicles and police officers that she was riding around and between, and I let her know that she’s right on the edge of being locked up for interfering in a police operation. I tell her that if she’s injured, I will arrange for a medical evaluation, but it’ll be subsequent to her arrest for disobeying my lawful order to stop. Only slightly cowed (because her father knows a city councilman in a nearby municipality that has nothing to do with our jurisdiction), she argues that she, as a citizen, has the right to go wherever she wants to go and that we have an obligation to protect her right, not interfere with it. She then demanded my name and badge number again.
She didn’t get arrested, mainly because we had all these crack-heads to deal with, but she got my name and badge number written down for her on the mandatory appearance citation that my rook issued her. Maybe she can bring her daddy’s friend to court with her.
As the day wrapped up, we had seven arrests for possession, possession with intent to distribute, and/or possession of narcotics paraphernalia. We also seized all the cash that the “alleged” sellers had on them.
The icing on the cake: A fairly new but undeniably lazy female officer from another squad tried to sneak back early from an overtime beat and when I saw her in the station half an hour earlier than she was supposed to be, I assigned her to do the strip searches on our two female arrestees, both of whom were morbidly obese homeless women who stank to high heaven. I'm sure that she'll try to lodge some sort of a grievance for that, but since she was on the clock on my shift, she'll doubtless find out that I can assign work to whomever I choose, even slaps from lesser squads.

Sometimes, work’s just fun in spite of itself.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year...or not.

I’m back, after some time off for vacations and training.

And it didn’t take long for people to reaffirm my belief in the inherent stupidity of some of our local citizens. All it took was a car broken down in the center lane of a multi-lane road yesterday. Flares were set out and I had two other offers trying to push the car over onto the right shoulder to lessen the hazard resulting from such a traffic obstruction. Like a good sergeant, I’d positioned my car just inside the flare line at an angle blocking both the center and right lanes as best I could. However, no sooner had I positioned my cruiser then I observed a gray Volvo approach my car, slow to almost a stop, then proceed to go around my car on the right, using half the shoulder in his effort to get around my marked police cruiser as it sat there with all lights flashing and the arrow board pointing clearly to the left.

Seriously? Is he really trying to pass me and drive into our scene?

Yep. He sure was. He went right around my car, running over a flare as he did so, and then began trying to angle around the car that was being pushed by my other officers.

Well this needed to be addressed, so I pulled out after the guy and stopped him just after he went around my other officers and the car that they were pushing. One of those officers had tried to flag him down, but he drove right past that officer, too. I got him to stop about half a block down. Needless to say, I was not in the best of moods when I approached the driver.

“Do you make it a habit of driving through police scenes like that?” I asked him.
“I didn’t know that you wanted me to stop,” he replied.

“Sir, my car was right there blocking the lane. You drove around it on the shoulder. What were you doing?”

“Well there was room to get around…” he started.

“No, there wasn’t.” I said. And even if there was, why would you go around a police car with it’s lights on like that? You almost hit my officers back there, and then when that one tried to stop you, you swung extra wide to go around him. What’s going on in your head there?”

“I could see that all you guys had was a stalled car…” It was at this point that he gestured to the woman passenger beside him. “I knew that I could get through and I need to get my wife to the hospital,” he said.

OK. Now that MIGHT be a plausible reason. And me being one of those nice guys willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, at least initially…
“So what’s the emergency?” I asked. “Do you need an ambulance?”

“Oh, no medical emergency,” he replied. “She works there, and she’s going to be late.”

Usually it takes some work to convince me to arrest a person for misdemeanors on a holiday, But he managed. He got locked up for crossing a police line, and his wife, who doesn’t drive, was taken to the nearby hospital by one of my officers. (Hey, I’m not a total meanie…although I did tell the officer to drop her off where everyone could see.)