Dec 18, 2004

No Excuses

When people find out I’m a cop, they often will ask me the best way to avoid getting a ticket.  I have an easy answer


“Don’t break any traffic laws,” I offer, which is invariably followed by a moment of confusion, then a conspiratorial wink:


“Oh, I see, you’re not supposed to tell people how to get out of a ticket"


 “No…” I reply, “…I’m happy to tell anyone that they can avoid tickets by not getting pulled over.”  Now I think that was very sage advice, but I still get looked at like I just kicked their dog:


“Well, if you don’t want to tell me, just say so!  Humph!” 


At this point someone will always step forward and share their expert (once watched “Cops” for 38 hours straight) opinion:


“If you cry, they won’t give you a ticket.”  That’s a laugh; I can’t count the number of tickets I turned in with tear drops on them.


“I just flirt with them; cops ALWAYS let a cute girl that flirts off with a warning.”  No I don’t, because then I would miss the amazing transformation from eye-lash batting to an “Exorcist” screen test, complete with demonic head-spinning when I tell them they are getting a ticket.


“Just tell the cops you have a communicable disease.”  After signing the ticket, I just tell them to keep the pen.


“I tell the cops I have diarrhea; they always let me go.”  Why would this ever work?  It’s not like its going to ruin MY upholstery.


There was one excuse that did work with me, and I’m happy to share it with you all.  Was working radar one afternoon when a truck came through at 54 mph in a 30 zone.  I pulled the old gentleman over and asked if he knew he was speeding.  He said that he did know he was going too fast, and was very sorry.  He then held up a his right hand and showed me two fingers, almost completely severed off and still oozing blood from the stumps.  He calmly explained it was a table saw accident and he was keen to get to the ER quickly.  I never did write him up, but drove him to the hospital instead.  


I suppose I’m just a big sucker for someone with an arterial bleed.

Dec 17, 2004

Just No Good With Hookers

Every now and then the city fathers will decide that it’s time to “Clean up” and deal with some of the street-level vice crimes.  So, a few of us get selected to go out and try and pick up hookers.  Some cops are masters of doing this; some (like me) are terrible at it.

The problem is that I just can’t talk dirty.  While other cops are picking up girls faster than Snoop-doggy, I seem to have a neon sign that says “Cop” hovering over me.  One time a working girl approached me, I struck up a conversation and her response was, “Hi Officer”; this was typical.

I thought I could turn my luck around by accusing them of being cops.  This was met with only limited success, I’ll tell you why: none of the prostitutes around this city look like Julia Roberts, or for that matter as good as the south end of my northbound pet Schnauzer.  Tragically, most all of the prostitutes are heroin, cocaine or meth users, and using these drugs interveiniously leaves them ravaged with a variety of health problems (not to mention the various sexually transmitted diseases).   So, picture this: me talking to a woman with weeping sores from impetigo, two teeth rotted from malnutrition and dried blood on her sleeve from shooting heroin; and I ask, “Are you a police woman?”  A few were flattered enough to give me the price list and go to jail.

Now my old partner Wayne could talk the talk, and sometimes he would show me pity and let me tag along with him to pick up two at once.  One time we got a couple of cagy hookers in the car, now we had to hear them agree to a sex act for money.  The one with Wayne in the front seat decided that he had to prove he was not a cop.  The way for him to do that was for him to put his fingers where the sun don’t shine (except on a few French beaches); that is for him to put his hand into her pants, which she unbuttoned and pulled down a bit.  Of course Wayne did not want to put his good right hand into the bio-hazard vault beneath her jockeys, so he refused. 

Now it seemed as though this gal (not being of the rocket-science sort) decided that if Wayne would touch "third base", he was no cop; so she grabbed his hand to force it down, as if in doing so she could force him into not being a cop.  I sat in the back seat watching this arm wrestling go one for a minute, not knowing whether to laugh or help keep my partner’s hand from doom; I’m afraid the laughing won out in the end.  The harder he fought not to have his hand go south, the harder she fought to force his hand into her crotch. 

All of a sudden, our portable radio, which had been tucked under the front seat, came on with our back-up asking what the heck was going on.  The girl came to her senses and let Wayne's hand go and hiked her pants back up, and I finally stopped laughing long enough to take a breath. 

I guess in the end the girl’s ploy worked- if a guy picks you up and you have to fight for 2 minutes trying to get him to touch you before agreeing to have sex… it just may be a cop.

Dec 14, 2004

Lost the bet, Grossed out the Mrs.

My lovely wife Kris tries to engage me in conversation about work when I get home.  Understand… it’s not that I don’t like to talk with her; it’s just that some of the events are, well, not fit for the genteel.  She likes hearing the helping get the cat out of the tree, walking the old ladies across the street tales; perhaps an occasional dumb criminal story, where the worse thing the bad guy does is shout, “Curses, foiled again!”  However, there is not much appreciation for a real danger-blood-guts story; and I learned long ago to “sanitize” my speech.  But, just yesterday one slipped through. 

“Hi honey, how was work today?” 

“Fine” I was sounding a bit peeved because I had just lost a bet, and she noticed. 

“What did you do today?” 

“Oh, nothing” I have a hard time keeping a straight face, it was a sign for my wife to press further,

“Come on, tell me; what happened today?” 

“I… a… lost a bet with someone” was the cryptic reply; my brain was doing it’s best to send out ESP “don’t ask” messages. 

“Come on, tell me!”  She can be persistent.  Ok, give her just enough to let you go;

“I thought I found something at a crime scene, but it turned out I was wrong.” 


“Oh, nothing important”.  Stupid me, I already blew it, might as well tell her the whole thing; any more protestations will just make me sound like Bill Clinton.  

“OK, I thought I found a guy’s nose at a scene, but it turned out to be something else”.  She shrunk back, I might as well of said, “Yes dear, as a matter of fact I do step on baby chickens”.  Bummer of a day; first, I think that I found the nose, so proud of my detecting skill at the crime scene.  Then, at the autopsy, there the nose was, still intact in the usual position (of course not much else was).  So, I blew the nose (ha ha) identification thing, looking naive and loosing a lunch bet in the process; and now my wife thinks I’m half a step from being an axe murderer…

Curses, foiled again!

Dec 9, 2004

Taser Me

Just got home from a training day.  The PD here is now going to have officers trained in the use of “Tasers”.  This is the thing that looks like a gun and shoots little darts, which shock you with one-point-twenty-one jigawatts of electricity.  There was all the typical stuff, the history of Tasers, how much voltage, how much the darn things cost and how fast you will be out of a job if you use them wrong.


Then it was time to “experience the technology”.  I know this sounds like a family trip to Space Camp, but it really is a double-speak way of saying that we are all going to have the piss shocked out of us.  Some of us asked stupid questions, like; “Why”.  I mean, why do we have to be shocked in order to use this equipment?  “So that you know what it feels like” was the predictable answer.  Wow, why didn’t I think of that?  I carry a .45 caliber Sig Sauer P220 semi-auto handgun, and you know what?  I don’t know what it feels like to be shot!  I also carried a night stick (when I was in uniform); don’t have a clue what a whack upside the head feels like.  So you can see how much I think about being lit up like a Christmas tree.  


Well, got into position to be shot… whoops, sorry, can’t say "shot"… got into position to be “kinesthetically trained”.  A slight "pop", indescribable pain and a thought going through my mind: TURN IT OFF!  TURN IT OFF!  TURN IT OOOOOOOFFFFF!  That was about it, no glorious flashes of insight into the universe, no bright light, just a desire for my muscles to work long enought so that I can get up and kill the instructor.   I now know exactly what a moth feels when it flys too close to that weird black light on the back porch.  


Will it help me do my job better?  Don’t know… but I can tell you this:  if I  come across someone pointing one of those things at me, one of two things will happen: He will be summarily shot, or I will fall to a fetal position, quivering and crying for mommy.

Dec 5, 2004

One Paw in the Grave

Got a call from detectives at the Green River Task Force, who asked me to do them a favor.  They had information that might lead to the identification of one of the Jane Doe remains they still have.  The favor involved trying to confirm that there was a female from my area that had disappeared back in the late 70’s.  The parents had never made a missing persons report, and my job was to take that report if the daughter was in fact missing; and then to obtain a DNA sample.  


I arrived with evidence tech Kristen (who was there to scrape cheeks for DNA) at the home and knocked on the outer door of the front porch.  The door opened and an old woman stepped out to open the porch door.  I then noticed, down by the woman’s feet, an old chihuahua waddling arthritically alongside her.  The dog looked to be 30 years old and next to death, but its clouded good eye still looked at me as if I was its last challenge; bite the cop and finally get to go to doggy heaven.  


Now I know that chihauhaus are very small, but my ankles hurt just as much as anything higher when bitten.  The woman could sense my discomfort and said,

“She’s old, she’s mean, and she bites”.  

It took me a minute to decide if she was talking about the dog or herself in the third person.  I decided that she must have been talking about the dog because I noticed that she had forgotten to put her teeth in when she answered the door.  Once inside, the dog took to barking at me; at least I think it was barking, either that or hacking up it’s left lung.  Kristen (who has two chihauhaus herself) knelt down and started goochy-gooing this creature, and within a minute the dog was wagging its tail and accepting her scratches.  The woman looked angry and said,

“She don’t even let me touch her”.  


She then told me the story of how she had last seen her 19 year old daughter in 1979, and she has not heard from her since.  The daughter was living a rough life in the 70's, and this woman had written her off, never bothering to tell anyone that she was missing and likely dead.  


I guess even an old dog can learn kindness; some people never do.

Still Married

The December morning was pretty warm for the time of year.  Shirt, tie and light jacket seemed to be the dress of the day.  Later in the day, the weather turned quite cold, and I get called out to some trashy yard to look for bits of evidence that likely ain’t there anywhere.  We start combing the yard and I am COLD. 


 My wife calls on the cell phone and wonders why I’m not home for dinner, again.  Oops… forgot to call, again.  She understands, again; and she offers to do something to help.  

“How about a sweater and my fuzzy hat”? 

Within 15 minutes some rookie cop is yelling at her to move her car from in front of the crime scene; but not before she drops off sweater and fuzzy hat.  


Next month will the 22nd wedding anniversary.  For such a wonderful woman as my wife the gift will have to be spectacular; I think it will be to remember to call her and tell her next time I’ll be late… and pack a warmer coat.

The Smell

It is not my wish to be gross- but since I find writing relaxing, I will write about what I need to relax from. 


This morning I got called to go to the scene of a house fire.  At a house fire, a police detective is a bit out of his element; fire guys are running around blasting water on things, tearing off siding and chopping holes in the roof.  They are at home in midst of fire, ash, steam and dripping water; my eyes just burn from the smoke. 


However, once they put out all the fires and most of the smoke is clear, they become very unsure and look to me for what to do as they consider the charred corpse lying, half consumed by fire on the floor.  As I was preparing to process the scene, my evidence tech Kristen caught me smearing Vicks on the inside of my particulate mask.

“What’s that?” She asked, looking at me disapprovingly; homicide detectives are supposed to be tough about smells.

“I hate the smell.” 

“The burned body smell?” 

“No, aahhh… the burning plastic smell.”  I lied.

“Ya, I don’t like that either” She said, as if knowing my lie and graciously giving me an out.  I felt like a soggy kid whose parent kindly tells him that every 10 year old still wets the bed from time to time.


We went to work, looking all around the corpse for evidence of possible crimes.  The smell wasn’t too bad, the Vicks was holding its own, and the business of trying to unravel what happened to the victim keeps my mind off of it. 


Then it happened, the smell that no amount of Vicks could handle; I knocked over a burned bottle of Old Spice Cologne.  Even Kristen, who was ragging on me about the Vicks, started gagging, and breathing through her sleeve.  It was if we had just discovered Saddam’s WMD stash. 


Criminals, terrorists and kooks; stop trying to make anthrax, forget nerve agents, and leave the dirty nuclear material in Kabdriverstan, just cook up a bottle of Old Spice and the world is your oyster.

Nov 23, 2004

Night at the Speakeasy

Working an assault 1 and an arson case today.  After a long day, several detectives planned to go to the local watering hole.  Once there, some drink beers with weird names (Fat Tire?); I have Diet Pepsi.  I’m not saying I’m a teetotaler, but after 23 years of having drunks breathe on me, booze has lost its appeal.  


While in this “pub”, a drunk comes in and wants to breathe on us, regaling us with his exploits in love and war.   No cop wants listen to drunks; especially when said cop is not being paid for it.   So this gentleman was made to feel... unwelcome.  Nothing bad; it’s just that I’m sure he overheard some of the comments made, and most were very funny.  So Mr. Drunk becomes offended, said offended drunk is then asked to leave by a group of three female bartenders.  Drunk starts screaming at bartenders.  When drunk raises arm in “threatening manner” (oh how many times have I written THAT in a report), I walk over to drunk, grab drunk by arm and shoulder and escort drunk through front door, encouraging him to continue walking away by a hardy push.  A side note here: behind me were 5 other cops wanting a slice of drunk pie, I like my co-workers- I knew they had my back. 


After returning to our table, the bartenders began fawning all over us, remarking that we should get free drinks (including Diet Pepsi) and that we all were brave, courageous people.  This adoration went on for about 1 minute, until another bartender came up and told the first group that we were cops.  Then the fawning stopped, the offer of drinks ended and the comment was made, “Oh… I guess they were just doing their job”.  What for a “normal” person was seen as heroic and courageous, was for a police officer seen as expected and unremarkable.  


Don’t know what to think about this… at least the whole story seemed to entertain my family, I sure love it that they think I’m heroic; even when no one else does.

Nov 11, 2004

The dog I shot

A while back, working uniform, I responded to a late-night domestic call in a trailer park (if there was a Graceland for domestics, it would be in a trailer park).  I pulled up and saw directly in front of me two dogs fighting.  Behind the dogs was a group of drunken tweakers*, one of them bleeding from large lacerations on his arm.  The other drunks were doing one of three things:


1) Screaming at the bleeding guy, telling him how much of an idiot he was to try and separate fighting dogs.  


2) Screaming at the first group for yelling at someone who was losing most of his blood (diluted as it was by Bud Light and methamphetamine).  


3) Screaming at me, telling me to just “Shoot the damn dog!”  


I could not get to the injured man because of the fighting dogs, so I grabbed my trusty spice can and blew the load of pepper spray at the dogs.  This did not stop them for more than 10 seconds; and then the ambulance arrived, forcing me to deal with the dogs so they could save the bleeding drunk guy.  


Just a side note here, I don’t think that most meth addicts are in that much danger of dieing.  It seems the drunken tweakers are always the ones that survive when those around them die- a Lt. from the SO nearby told me once that in order to kill a tweaker you have to cut off his head and eat it. 


Anyway, while many of the crowd is telling me to “Shoot the dog”, one of the animals (a chow… I hate chows) peals off the fight and runs directly at me.  It looks like it finally realized that I was the one who made its nose burn, and it was pissed!  When It got about 5 feet from me, I shot it with my P-226 (I know… a 9mm, but it was a long time ago).  The dog went down, then all of the tweakers came out of their collective haze and yelled at me, “You shot the wrong dog, that was OUR dog!”  I beg to differ; this officer shot the correct dog, the one that was trying to eat me!  Things went from bad to worse, the tweakers were now talking about killing me, of course all their petty bickering was over once I had shot their dog (the dog rates right up there with cousin Festus in the family tree) .  Of course, nothing unites dopers like being pissed at the Police.  After a moment or two they settled down and came up to me, begging for me to “Finish off” their dog because it was going through what looked like death throws.  I refused to coup de' grace thedog, as I had Animal Control enroute, and had to give them a chance to bandage a wounded dog (they all seceretly want to be Steve Erwin; wrestling alligators, large snakes and wounded chows). 


Well, a long story short, it turned out that my 9mm had just grazed the dog on the jaw and knocked it loopy for a time, an hour later it was up and being disinfected by Animal Control.  My Sgt convinced the tweakers that I was a very good shot and intended all along to just “Wound” the dog, they asked him to thank me for them.  


Finally, I thought that this was surely a tweaker’s dog- it’s still alive because I didn’t cut the head off and eat it.


*Tweeker. Noun. 1) Someone who is taking methamphedamine; "The Tweeker took apart the entire Chevy".  2) Some who is exibiting the effects of Methamphedamine or "speed"; "Look mom, that tweeker is convulsing and spitting up blood!"