Supposedly tonight is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year due to all of the college kids being out and about.
I have extra manpower for DWI enforcement.
Tonight looks promising indeed. So fi you must drink, don't drive. If you do drink and drive, I have several designated drivers who will be looking for you with an aim to getting you where you belong: our station.
A quirk in our station is that of our two urinals in the men’s room, if you flush both at the same time, the water backs up into the one on the right and flows out on the floor in front of it. Most people know this and avoid using that one, especially if someone is using the one on the left.
Today, our Deputy Chief was in the building. He did not know this. Guess which one he chose to use? One of our brand-new rookies was in there, too, using the one on the left. When both flushed at approximately the same time, guess whose dress shoes got a good soaking?
Our rookie has now achieved rock-star status among his peers, and he has the distinction of being the only one out of his recruit class whose name and face are now known to the Deputy Chief.
Bet we get a real plumber in to fix that thing now.
So tonight, a bit before midnight, I’m approaching an intersection with a divided four-lane road ahead of me. I see a car on that road cross the intersection at what my training and experience tells me is about double the 35mph speed limit on that road. “Someone’s about to get it,” I tell myself as I turn onto that road behind the speeding car. I accelerate to catch up. The area is devoid of streetlights and pretty dark. I'm also driving a slick-top so I'm pretty sure that the guy didn't spot me as he'd gone past.
The car is still moving fast, but I’m moving much faster and should be close enough to hit my lights in another few seconds. There’s only one other car between me and my prey, and that’s a red Ford in the left lane who is actually driving fairly close to the actual speed limit. I’m about to pass this Ford on the right and my hand is on the light switch because I’m going to light that speeder up just as soon as I’m directly behind him when all of a sudden…
What the @#$%! That Ford just shifted into my lane and hit it’s brakes, forcing me to punch MY brakes hard enough to engage the anti-lock system. My clipboard hits the floor and my coffee in the center console cup holder sloshes out of the cup. I brake hard to get some distance between me and the obvious airhead in the Ford, and then I jump to the left lane because I’m not about to let one inattentive asshole keep me from that speeder. But just as I get back on the gas, the red Ford jumps back into the left lane and brakes again.
That did it. Screw that speeder. I want THIS guy now. My lights and siren go on and the red Ford and I both pull to the right side. In the heat of my desire to catch my original target, I was willing to scratch the first cut-off as the action of a not-paying-attention bozo. But the second time…that was clearly on purpose and both times he nearly wrecked us. I calmly put my stop out on the radio and walked up on the driver who, like his passenger, was an early-twenties white kid wearing a sports jersey, a few too many neck chains and his hat on backwards.
“Good evening. My name is Sergeant Krupke, Xxxxx Police Department,” I began calmly. “”Let me see your license and registration.” As soon as he handed them to me, I glanced at them briefly then tucked them into my belt while telling him to get out of the car. Once he was out and I’d walked him back up onto the sidewalk, I got to the meat of the matter, channeling my inner R. Lee Ermey.
“Just what exactly do you call that totally asinine display of driving?!" I shout at him. "You damn near wrecked us both not once but twice. What the hell is wrong with you?!” Actually I'm not really all that angry at this point, but sometimes it helps to employ a bit of theatrics to get your point across. And it works with this kid.
“I-I-I-I didn’t mean to, Sir…” he began, stammering.
“BULLSHIT!” I shouted. “That was 100% on purpose and don’t you even consider telling me anything different. I’ll tell you exactly what that was! You saw me coming up on you and decided that you didn’t want to be passed, didn’t you?” I was right in his face now, nose-to-nose, acting just like an old drill sergeant that I personally recall from my own younger days.
“I-I-I- didn’t know you were a police car, Sir…” he offered.
“Oh, so that makes it ok? Hell, I’ll bet that you two thought that it was pretty damned funny for a few seconds there, didn’t you?”
“Sir , we didn’t know that you were the police…” he repeated.
“So it’s ok to try to kill anyone who isn’t the police? Is that how it works? Do you even realize that your stupid stunt could have gotten all three of us killed?”
They both looked at me wide-eyed with their mouths open. The driver was shaking now. Maybe I was finally starting to get through to him.
“You’re actually damned lucky that I am the police,” I exclaimed both sharply and loudly. “Anyone else might have knocked your head off for that, and they’d have done it with my blessing!” I paused, staring at him. “But you lucked out, because I’m not going to knock your head off.”
“Th-th-thank you, Sir…” he replied.
“Oh, don’t thank me yet,” I told him as I pulled my cuffs out. “You’re under arrest for Reckless Driving, Unsafe Operation, and being a dumb-ass without a permit.” I may have been a bit theatrical, but truth be told, I was getting more pissed the more I thought about what this joker'd done. And it was either take him in or just cut him loose with a couple of tickets. Frankly, the latter option just wasn't working for me so I hooked him. Maybe next time he'll think twice before trying to cut off another driver just for fun.
So as I write this, his (dad’s) car should just about be arriving at the impound yard on the flatbed tow truck and he’s waiting for his turn before the magistrate in the morning. His pal’s probably still hoofing it, too, seeing as how he didn’t have a cell phone with him.
"Can you call me a cab, Sir?" he asked when I told him that he could leave.
"No, I'll call you a dumbass just like your friend here. Start walking."
I’m willing to bet that if you ask either of them, they're wishing that they'd just let me get that speeder.
But sometimes that works out better for all involved.
Last night I was parked watching traffic on a road that comes away from the nightclub district. (Yes, we CAN do that, and I encourage my officers to scope out those roads and stop as many people for minor traffic violations as they can. Inevitably, each will get at least one DWI a night that way.)
As I was sitting there, I saw a car turn off onto a parking lot across from me and park. It's lights went off, and I decided to give it about a minute or so and then go check it out.
A minute later, I rolled up behind it with my lights still off, and when I was right up on it's back bumper, I lit everything up. Putting the location and tag out on the radio, I got out of my cruiser and walked up on what I honestly expected to be two drunks hurriedly getting re-dressed. Instead, I found a sheepish-looking guy driver with a semi-conscious female passenger who was covered in vomit and clutching a plastic shopping bag which turned out to be filled with more vomit. (I guess that she was going to save some for later.)
I started out by pulling him out of the car and putting him on my front bumper while I checked her out. Yep. She's still alive. Just drunk as hell. So I went back to talk to him and after determining that he's not drunk, started with the usual questions:
Q. What's your name? A. Steve Xxxxxx.
Q. What's her name? A. Robin.
Q. How do you know Robin? A. I met her in this club we were both in.
Q. When? Tonight? A. Yes.
Q. Where are you going now? A. I'm taking her back to her place. She's had a bit too much to drink.
"Well aren't you the gentleman," I said. "Stay here."
Then I went up to talk to "Robin".
Q. What's your name? A. Stacy Xxxxxx.
Q. Who's that guy? A. That's Dillon.
Q. How do you know Dillon? A. I met him at the club. He's taking me back to my place because I'm not feeling good.
Q. Yeah, Alcohol'll do that to you. Do you think that it makes sense going home with a guy you don't even know? And just to let you know, his name's not Dillon. A. Yeah, he's ok. I'm safe with him. He's gay.
Q. And how do you know that? A. He told me.
Yeah. OK. Nice try, "Stillon". I've only known him for five minutes by this time, but even I know that he's not gay. And I also know that he's not taking this gal anywhere, much less back to her own apartment.
"Stacy, You're not going anywhere with that guy. It's just not smart or safe. I'll get you a cab, but he's not taking you anywhere tonight. She started to say something but then began to heave as her stomach began rejecting more alcohol and whatever else she'd consumed. I quickly closed the door lest she get any on my nice clean parking lot and she turned her head and barfed on the center console.
Aw, hell with it. I called an ambulance. Even if she's not danger-drunk, (and she might well be at this point), a ride in an ambulance and a spell in the Emergency Department will sober her up and hopefully drive home the point that drinking that much is dangerous and expensive. Plus while she's in the hospital, Dileve or whatever his name is can't show up and talk his way inside. The I went back and explained the facts of life to Romeo, who was still sitting on my bumper. I impressed up on him my belief that picking up drunk girls in bars and taking them home is probably not a smart thing to be doing. I also got his driver's license and ran his name, documenting it in case it turns out that someone drugged her in this bar. By the time the ambulance showed up, Steve had a pretty clear understanding of where I was coming from and what I thought that he was up to, and he had a car that was going to remind him of Stacy for a long time. (Hell, I could smell the puke ten feet away from it as the EMT's got her out of the car.)
Now I could have let him just go on and take her home, especially since she wanted him to, but if I did, I'd be just as culpable for whatever happened to her later as him, and that just wasn't going to happen. At that point, I don't care what a drunk girl tells me she wants. My job is to protect and serve, emphasis here on "protect" and sometimes that means intervening and making the right decisions for people who can't make them for themselves. If Stacy still wants a date tomorrow when she's sober, she can always go back to the bar and ask around for "Dillon". Hopefully by then, he'll have gotten his car detailed and bought a few pine tree air fresheners for it. But until she's competent to make that call, my job is to make sure that no one else makes it for her. THAT is what being the police is all about.
Sorry for the absence, but I had a temporary reassignment that put me in a position that didn't exactly give me a wealth of tales to relate, but now I'm back on the street with a new squad of officers and the stories are about to start rolling again because these guys are kicking ass and taking names out there. So stay tuned and I promise to make up for the dearth of posts these last several months.