Dec 24, 2005

Year End Report

Well, 2005 is almost over.  Time to clear up a few things about the flurry of posts over the past year.

Regarding Geek Wanna-be, Yes Felicia, I did pass the EnCase class (barely).

Hopeless Case, I did think about Gary Ridgeway (Green River Killer); can't reveal all of the facts, but not his style.  Also looked hard at Ted Bundy, but was in a Utah Jail at the time.

Family Trip to Morgue, The arm belongs to the Coroner, not the victim, and the skeleton is plastic.

Creative Writing:  Screaminremo is right, it did sound better than "Whacked him like a high fastball."  Also, Ally, I don't know where you're from, but I will tell you the secret about American humor: it is always about body parts and embarrassing sounds.  

Your fat or your Life.  I'm down 25 lbs; doing the SWAT physical is easier, and I think Officer Rich and I are going to make some money.  And Mrs. L... my wife tells me that I will not be posing for anyone in a wetsuit.

Equine Stealth.  The escapees are all back, and this time I think they all PROMISED not to run off, even if the doors are left open. 

Have Gun Will Travel.  The story got as far as an undersecretary to someone almost important in Washington DC in Homeland security, and they promised "An Investigation".  That made me laugh more that the original event.

And of Course... The Smell of Violence.  I have not seen Kenny for about a year, but I do know he comes into the station from time to time.  The clerks tell me he rants about listening devices in his apartment and poison in his food.  I guess the Democrats were right about Bush and The Patriot Act. 

God bless you all and Merry Christmas,      Dave K

Dec 23, 2005

El Perro Esta Loco

Don’t know why most of my memorable moments on this job have to do with dogs.  I actually am a dog lover; to prove it I own a miniature schnauzer (who is so jumpy, I suspect he makes himself double shots of Starbucks on our Latte’ machine every day while I’m a work).  


Anyway, one time I needed to speak with a 14 year-old kid who was a suspect in a robbery; he had allegedly punched another kid and took his BMX bike.  I happened to be training a young officer at the time (Officer N), so we both went to the suspect’s grandmother’s home, where he was suppose to be hiding out.  The house was in a poor neighborhood, and looked more like a farmyard with all the chickens running around inside the fence.  


I started to unlatch the fence to walk to the front porch when Officer N. stopped me, “There’s a pitbull in there,” he whined.  I saw the same pitbull, but also noticed that it had a length of chain attached to its collar.  “It’s tied up,” I told Officer N, and whispered “Wimp” under my breath.  I opened the gate and walked confidently into the yard, smiling at the pitbull, who now was snarling furiously at the end of the chain, looking like it wanted to chew on me like a Milk Bone.  I did notice that Officer N elected to stay outside the yard, and closed the gate behind me.  “What a coward,” I thought.  In talking to Officer N afterwards, he was thinking, “What an idiot,” because he saw that the dog’s chain was not attached to anything, and assumed that I saw the same thing (I didn’t).  The dog stopped barking and started running full steam at me, hindered only by a very short (unattached) chain.  I grabbed my gun, and just as I was pulling the trigger, I yelled, “HOLD IT!”  The dog evidently spoke English, because it stopped, turned around and trotted off to the other side of the yard.  


I felt pretty confident to stay in the yard and try to interview the kid, so I knocked on the door.  This ticked the dog off, because it started after me again.  But all I had to do was say “NO” while staring at the dog, and it would slink back off.  I did not get any response at the door after knocking several times, so I was just about ready to leave.  The dog made one more attempt to come at me, but again I yelled and stared it down.  


My authority was evidently having a negative influence on the dog’s psyche, because this time it turned aside and grabbed a chicken in its jaws.  This was immediately followed by the front door swinging open and an old woman slapping a teenaged boy out of the house towards the dog, screaming something about “Perro” and “Pollo.”  The kid got the dog to release the chicken (which was now dead but still looked as though you could save a couple drumsticks), then tied up the dog.  He was so embarrassed by us having watched his grandma beat the crap out of him that he readily told us of stealing the bike.  


We recovered the bike, and then decided to leave the kid there; grandma’s house looked to be much rougher than juvy anyway.

Dec 22, 2005

A Hopeless Case

I want to tell you of a project I’m working on; a murder from back when I was a high school sophomore buying Clearasil in bulk. 

I'm writing about this case at great risk to my reputation as an honest (mostly) blogger who writes the truth (usually) about police work.  You may, after reading this, cry “Bovine Scat,” and never read me again.  However, because I need something to keep all 3 of my loyal fans entertained, I will proceed. 

Last year I was going through some old homicide files when I came upon one that listed the victim as “Jane Doe.”  It piqued my interest, so I pulled it out and looked it over. 

1977; it is the summer of Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars. On the morning of July 25th, Officer W. was called to a dirt lot downtown; someone had found a decomposing body in the rear of a van there.  The body was that of a young woman; she had been in the van for at least two weeks, and all that could be determined was that she had been strangled and likely raped. There was nothing to identify her except for a small tattoo on the inside of her right thigh.  

The investigation began, and the problems started.  The clothing that she did have on was taken to the roof of the police station to dry.  A night janitor, following up on a complaint of bad smells in the building, found the clothing and threw them all away.  At the autopsy, the fingers were removed and prints were taken; x-rays of the jaw were made for possible identification, and the skull was de-fleshed and saved.  In the 27 years from that date, the finger print card has been misplaced, the jaw x-rays are gone, the fingers (which were saved in formaldehyde), are lost and I got no clue where the skull is.  In 1988, a property room supervisor took all the other evidence we had and ordered it destroyed to free up space in the property room.  

What a great case to work on!  No evidence, no name, no suspect, not even a dental x-ray.  Just a few faded photos of detectives in tight pants and lamb-chop sideburns.  We did exhume the body (which by now was a few bones and soup) and got a section of femur to send in for a DNA profile.  

The case was going nowhere until a couple of leads came in from some helpful detectives with the Felony Review Unit, formally known as The Green River Task Force.  Hopefully I will soon report that we at least know the name of this girl. 

Dec 20, 2005

Family trip to the Morgue

For some time my daughter has wanted to be a paramedic.  I think it’s a pretty honorable job, and I’m proud of her for all the work she has put into joining the Fire Department Reserves, going through EMT school, and volunteering with the local ambulance service.  

She was doing so well that I thought to help her out by getting her in to watch an autopsy.  Now, I would not be able to get her into a homicide autopsy, but I was able to get her into an “equivocal death” autopsy.  An equivocal death is where we are pretty darn sure that Billy-Bob dropped dead from the methamphetamine needle still sticking out of his arm, but the Coroner just wants to make sure. 

So, we get to the morgue, and she dons the Tyvek suit and poses for a photo with Mr. Bones.  Then the Pathologist comes and we wheel the body out.  I could see that she had a moment of panic as she considered the dead man beneath the white sheet.  The sheet is pulled aside and everything seems to go OK; she even gets to poke at a few of the more obscure inside parts.  

Later, I asked why she seemed nervous at the beginning; was it the realization that she would soon be looking at guts and blood?  She said no, it was just that, at that moment, she realized that the body, a man, would be NAKED 

Let that be a lesson to all you young men out there... my daughter only will look upon the DEAD ones- before or after is your choice.

Dec 19, 2005

Creative Writing 101

I think that cops do make for great writers, as has been suggested by a reader.  It’s all the practice we get writing reports that sanitize some of the... ah... distasteful things we have to do. 

The best one I read had to be from Officer L.; he was running after a wanted guy one night, when the suspect turned and threw a punch at him.  Officer L. then took out his baton, and later wrote what followed: 

“...After the suspect struck me in the left shoulder, I applied my baton to his left thigh.  The suspect then balled his right hand again into a fist and pulled back, as if to throw another punch.  I then applied the baton to his right torso, and then I applied it to his right forearm.  He turned to run and I then applied the baton to his right calf.  He then went to the ground and complied with instructions.” 

Now understand, I got no problem with what Officer L. did; but “Applied” the baton?!  What is it, a soothing balm? An ointment? A fragrant layer of anti-perspirant?  I just think the real crime is that police often become afraid to explain exactly what they did, in plain language.

I’m sorry, I did not want my writings to be full of complaints or soap-box rants. 

Something funny... ok... I do recall an “Indecent Exposure” report from an officer who could not spell very well; he claimed to have contacted a very intoxicated woman who showed him, “...Her Virginia.” I could only suppose she had a postcard from Richmond.

Dec 18, 2005

The Kenny Report (or Smell of Violence Part III)

Several people have asked what is up with Kenny now.  Well, like everything else that ends up here, it’s an interesting story... 

Every now and then I represent my church and speak at the local Rescue Mission; but I have never told people there, workers or residents, that I’m a cop.  It’s not that I try to keep it secret, it’s just never come up and I don’t want it to be a distraction. 

Not too long ago I was there speaking, and saw Kenny with all the other homeless people.  Still with his high-water pants, two hats and 57 keys.  After the message, people filed by, and I recognized several; some people who were victims, others I had arrested.  Then Kenny walked by and simply said, "Hey, Officer Kellett," as he passed.  I have been going to the Mission helping out for over 20 years; no one has ever recognized me as an Officer before.  

Here is someone the world might label “stupid,” “retarded,” or just see someone to ridicule, but Kenny saw what no one else has; he remembered me and who I was. 

Of course, having the crap punched out of you can make an impression....


Dec 17, 2005

Confessions of a geek wannabe

A year or so ago I was walking past the Chief’s office and he hailed me in.  He was having some trouble with his computer, and I successfully assisted in turning it on (I only knew how to do this cause I saw my kid do it once).  Ever since then he has operated under the assumption that I am a computer wiz.  I fake it by calling my 17 year old son from work and asking him what to do. 

I guess I’ve fooled enough people that they sent me to EnCase® Computer Forensics School; this is the system that lets us crack hard drives and recover deleted files. The two weeks of class came close to melting my brain, during which the instructors from EnCase® made me feel very stupid for not learning their program faster, and not being a smart enough computer guy. 

So now, one of my side jobs is to take computers seized pursuant to a forgery, fraud or child porn case and see what is on them.  This sounds easy, but whenever I turn the EnCase® lab computer on, I feel like I’m trying to fly the space shuttle with about 5 minutes of flight school.  I know that I need a bit more training (about 7 years should do it) to use it right; but I still muddle on. 

All of that prep to tell you I got a letter from EnCase® today; it warned that a hacker got into the EnCase® corporate computer and stole all their files. 

For some inexplicable reason, I feel less stupid now.

Dec 16, 2005

Your Fat Or Your Life

Well, if you saw the surfing photo, you may agree that I could lose a few pounds.  The problem is that my job is so sedentary; most of the exercise I get is walking to the coffee pot every morning.  Almost all of us detectives have this same problem, so last month some bright soul got the idea to have a “Biggest Loser” contest.  We all weighed in, and ponied up $20.  The date to weigh again will be Jan 2nd, and the person who loses the highest percentage of their body weight wins (the pot is $440.00).  

As you might guess, cops can be some pretty competitive people; the day after the first weigh in, I had 14 candy bars placed on my desk.  Now I have to watch for cops low-crawling through my back yard in order to replace my skim milk with 2%.  

It has been about 6 weeks and 22 lbs later, but there is now another issue... It seems as though other cops (not in the contest) are taking side bets on who the winner will be.  I found this out when someone brought in a large box of muffins the other day.  Officer Rich (from Community Services) ran up to me and screamed, “You’re NOT eating one of those; I got 20 bucks riding on you winning!”  

Sometimes I think about the surrealness of my job; in my world, having guys with guns yell at you for the stupidest stuff is an everyday occurrence... If I worked at a Post Office, we’d all be on Fox News with the helicopters circling, and Shepard Smith would be speculating on what the body count would end up being.  

Oh well, it all seems to work out without violence... and I’m looking forward to that big Krispy Kreme come Jan 3rd; I’d have one now, but darned if Officer Rich ain’t a good shot.

Dec 7, 2005

The smell of violence PART II

Ok, enough of you have asked, "What was Officer Jim's reaction after transporting Kenny?"  Well, instead of Kenny screaming those 7 naughty words at the moon, Officer Jim was screaming them at me. 


I am a stand up guy however... I bought Jim an air freshener.

Dec 6, 2005

The smell of violence

A few years back, I was working patrol on the graveyard shift.  It was one of those quiet nights that seemed to drag on forever; they were usually quiet because criminals were either in jail, in the ER getting their stomachs pumped, or too inebriated to do anything, because they needed their stomachs pumped.  


I was saved from total boredom by a call to a neighborhood where a man was screaming on a street corner.  I pulled up, and sure enough, there was a guy who was yelling through the 7 words you can’t say on TV (actually, I think it’s down to 4 words now).  I recognized the man as Kenny.  I think you all know a Kenny; he’s the guy who is about 28 years old, but talks like a ten year old with a mouth full of marbles.  He wears jeans that are 2 sizes too small and 4 inches too short.  He wears 2 hats at a time, and has a chain attached to 57 keys, one of which actually goes to the lock on his welfare apartment.  Often times the Kennys of the world push a shopping cart around and look for aluminum cans in the garbage.  Kenny is usually angry at something, but all the cops know him and always try their best to calm him down and keep him out of trouble.  


This morning, however, I pled with Kenny, I cajoled him, I threatened him, but he would not shut up.  The people in the neighborhood were all calling in, demanding that the police stop this disturbance.  I finally told him that he was under arrest.  As soon as the words were out of my mouth he bolted for his apartment.  He was still screaming as I ran after him, catching him by one arm at the open door to his small one-room pad.  On a coffee table, just inside the door, was the largest collection of knives I have ever seen.  Kenny was obviously struggling with me to get to a knife, and I couldn't let anyone (including Kenny) be hurt by the blades.  Although I felt sorry for Kenny, I had to stop this before it went any further.  I balled up my right fist and punched Kenny right in the left ear.  It was not a hard hit, but Kenny stopped yelling, started crying, and went into a fetal ball.  He also completely emptied his bowels into his too-small jeans.  About this time a fellow officer named Jim came running up to assist.  


“Anything I can help with?” Jim asked.  


Before Jim was able to get a whiff I answered,


“Could you transport this guy to the jail in your car?” 

Nov 29, 2005

Equine Stealth

Last night Doc and I were 80 yards out on the west side of a house, where supposedly an escapee from our county jail was hiding out.  You probably heard about it, 9 felons went out the roof of the maximum security section of the local jail.  Considering that this was the "Maximum Security" area, I assume that the "Minimum Security" area has walls like a Japanese tea house. Anyway, there we were (acting like a bush) observing the house, ready to provide cover to other SWAT team guys that were making their way up from a field on the other side.  Of course our entry guys pride themselves on being stealthy as they negotiate over the fences, gutted trailers and torn apart engines, which made the approach a bit akin to traversing Omaha Beach. 


Two entry guys in particular, Eric (point man) and Uriel (cover), were moving up to the northeast corner when Uriel sensed movement on his 6.  Turning slowly, four feet away from Uriel's nose, was a horse.  The horse had walked up to them in complete silence and scared Uriel into a heart-stopping shudder; and this from a man who grew up around horses in Michoacan, Mexico.  Now Eric was still focused on point; Uriel, of course, being the typical cop that he was, wanted to watch Eric have the same reaction he'd just had.  Uriel reached forward, tapped Eric on the shoulder, and motioned for him to check behind.  By this time Mr. Ed had crept up even closer, right at Uriel's side.  Eric turned and saw the horse; and because Eric had grown up around blondes and lutefisk in Norway, Uriel was not disappointed by his reaction.

Doc and I had a much less eventful time; we were just cold.  The escapee was not found, but maybe next time we'll get him and place him back into that paper sack called the county jail.

Nov 19, 2005

Have Gun Will Travel

This last week, Detective Mendoza and I went to San Diego to pick up a murder suspect who was caught at the border.  After picking up the prisoner, we went to the airport and met with the TSA people.  These are the people who take away the nasty fingernail clippers and inspect your dirty loafers.   We presented our bona fides in order to fly on the plane while armed; this included our badges, letter from the chief, qualifications, affidavit from the Pope, testimonial from our third grade teacher, and a notarized statement promising that we would not shoot the pilot or make holes in the plane.  We were then pulled out of the long, x-raying, shoe removing, metal detecting line and taken to a by-pass room.  All was going well; the TSA guy was inspecting the paperwork and found it to be all in order (because I think my third grade teacher forgot who I was), then asked,

"So, will both you officers be traveling armed?"

I then explained to him that only I was armed, and Detective Mendoza was not, as he would be sitting next to the prisoner.  This seemed to not make any sense to the TSA guy; he said,

"So he (Mendoza) does not have a gun?"

"That is correct."

I could see the "TILT" look in this guy's mind.  

"Is there any problem?" I asked.  

Mr. rocket-scientist TSA guy replied,

"If he is not armed, he will have to go back through the inspection line."

"But, here is the proper paperwork, he COULD be armed, but is not."  

"Yes, but if he is NOT armed, he has to be inspected for dangerous items."

"But he is AUTHORIZED to carry any dangerous items!"

"But because he's NOT carrying anything dangerous, he has to be inspected."

I thought about arguing further, but I suddenly remembered that I was dealing here with a federal employee (no offense intended FBI, DEA, US Marshals, Homeland Security and military).  I kept my mouth shut, told Mendoza I would see him on the other side, and thought that perhaps it was me that had the problem.  After Mendoza and the TSA guy left the room, my prisoner looked at me said,

"That's the stupidest thing I ever heard of!"  

Well, we made it back alright; my shoes still smelled, and no one maliciously trimmed my fingernails... I should not complain too much.

Nov 10, 2005

Communing with Nature

I just can’t seem to get away from dogs, domestic or wild.  Most of my experiences with canines have not been good, but every now and then they help me out... like the other day. 

Long story short- Two guys in car.  One guy shoots other guy in back of head twice, first guy dumps body.  Cops find car full of blood (looked like the prom scene from “Carrie”) and are suspicious.  Cops pick up first guy, and then round up some of his buddies.  Buddies tell cops general area where first guy dumped body.  Detectives (me and partner) spend days looking for body.  

OK... now you are caught up.  My partner and I are out along a hilly, rural road looking at the beautiful autumn scenery; the colored leaves, the crisp air, the wonderful sights of fall... oh ya... and hopefully to find where a corpse was dumped.  In spite of the lovely sights, the prosecutor’s office tells us that if we cannot turn up with a body, they are going to release the suspect out of jail for lack of evidence, so we are not in a good mood.  As we turn a corner on this obscure dirt road, my partner says,

“Hey look, a coyote.”

 Sure enough, a coyote was sprinting out of a hollow about 50 yards away from the roadway.  Then the coyote stopped, turned around and looked at us. It seemed to be saying,

“Get lost, city boys... I’m hungry.” 

My partner and I stopped, and decided this was the best sign we'd had in three days.  We both got out of the car and started looking in the area we had seen the "Wild Kingdom" screen test run from.  After awhile I got a sniff of dead body, but after Feckless Fireplace Foibles I thought my nose may be out to lunch on locating the dead and decaying, so I did not get too excited.  Then I saw what looked to be a bit of blood, then a drag mark.  I looked around some more and saw another splash of blood, and some other drag marks in the underbrush.  I leaned over, placing my face as close as I could to the ground, trying to see any sign, slowly walking along...

Now, have you ever done something, like swat at a bug, or dribble coffee on yourself, then look around real quick to see if anyone saw you acting stupid?  Well, there I was, bent over and looking intently for more drag marks and/or blood when, under some brush, just a few inches from my nose, was a decomposing hand.  Me, the tough, veteran homicide detective went, “YAH!”, and jumped put near a foot in the air.  The first thing I did was look around to make sure my partner had not seen my screaming/levitation act.  Thank heavens; he was around the bend looking somewhere else.  Attached to the hand was the rest of “other guy”, looking none too bad for having been out for 6 days; the pathologist put it, "Limited animal predation activity".

Sorry Wile E. Coyote, it’s back to chasing roadrunners for you, but thanks for helping me keep a killer behind bars.

Click link below for a video of the crime scene:

Oct 15, 2005

Feckless Fireplace Foibles

When cops receive calls from the elderly, often they are taken with less seriousness than other calls for service.  This is because the elderly often want the police to help with trivial matters, or their minds see, hear and smell things that are not there; I once helped an old lady who called 911 because she forgot how to turn on the TV in order to watch Lawrence Welk.  However, police officers still respond to these calls, no matter how odd... because we all remember our own grandparents, and love them, even when they start bottling their own urine.


Patrol responded to an apartment in the downtown area; an elderly woman was reporting a “bad smell”.  The uniforms showed up, expecting it to be just a case of too much vapor rub and boiled prunes.  But when they were shown into the back bedroom, they both smelled a distinctive smell: dead body.  Fearing that grandma had shoved grandpa in a closet a couple of weeks ago, they searched the house, but found nothing.  A check with the apartment manager showed that no one was missing, and no other apartments had the odor.  They found nothing, so they called me.


I went to the apartment and also smelled the smell; however there was something missing that announces a decomposing dead body; blow flies... there were none.  So where was the smell coming from?  I did not know.  However, as a body decomposes, the tissues in the body liquefy and flow downward; this apartment was on the top (5th) floor; so I went to the roof.


Now this building started life sometime around when the Wright brothers were still tinkering with bikes, but a few years ago was remodeled into a low-income senior apartment.  The roof was very plain, but I caught a whiff coming up there.  The smell seemed to be coming from an old chimney, which was only a few feet from the smelly room’s window.  I went back to the station and told everyone of my findings, and also wondered how to see what was in the bottom of a 5-story tall chimney.  There was no access from the basement, and whatever furnace or trash incinerator there was, had been removed during the Truman administration and bricked up.  


I rigged a small video camera to the end of three ropes, and then lowered the camera.  I could see the bottom of the shaft when the lighted camera reached bottom.  There was a clear, plastic bag at the bottom.  Bag + bad smell + dark hole = bad.  I called my sergeant, told him what was going on, and pretty soon I had 5 detectives, an evidence tech, the Fire Department and the Chief of Police on the roof.  Everyone had a different way of finding out what was in the bag.  The fire guys wanted to rig up a skinny guy and lower him down, some of the detectives wanted to tear open the chimney on the ground level, the chief wanted to make his 2 o’clock appointment, the evidence tech hung back and wondered what I was going to do.  I went to the local Bi Mart and got some steel rod and large treble hooks.  I attached the hooks to the rod, and lowered the whole thing down the 80 feet to the bottom.  


I’m very sorry if you were expecting some gruesome, exciting finish to the story. The hooks worked great, they picked up a very EMPTY plastic bag.  I still don’t know where the smell is coming from, but when I do, I will let you all know.

Oct 9, 2005

More about Dogs

Whenever there is death, I tend to want to hang out.  I don’t think it’s because I am some sort of monster, or have any Goth leanings; it’s just my job and I enjoy it.


So when I heard that a dog showed up at a house with a human leg, it piqued my interest.  The problem was that it was in a neighboring jurisdiction, and they probably didn’t need me coming in and telling them how to investigate this.  As a matter of fact I wouldn’t have the first clue in how to interrogate the dog, I mean... should he be considered a suspect or merely a witness?  How hard can you lean on a dog?  Do you have to get him a lawyer or someone from PETA?  


Well, I had to content myself with following the story in the local paper, along with an occasional contact with the detective who was working on the case.  It seems as though the dog was not inclined to reveal his source of... well... meat, and the detectives were not able to find where in this rural, farmland area the rest of the body could be .


Now the leg was both a lower and upper leg, with the foot attached, but most of the tissue had been removed (by a combination of decay, insects and Fido’s hunger).  It was assumed that this female (there was polish on the toenails) had to be out there, somewhere, in a shallow grave or somewhere that was hard to get to, because after 4 days of searching, nothing was found.  Then, the same mutt showed up with a portion of the other leg (the femur).  This brought the focus back to the dog.  I was able to speak to the supervising detective in the case, and he said, “The dog's still not talking."  

Well, they tried attaching GPS tracking systems to the dog, which resulted in the near loss of about $500 in equipment.  They even brought out search dogs, who evidently have their own code of “species silence,” because they were not able (or willing to rat out their brother canine) to find anything.  After a week of searching, they gave up. 


A couple days later, a local farmer found the body in the middle of his alfalfa field.  And, because I had made such a pest of myself, I was asked to come to the autopsy, and to take part in a secondary search of where the body was found.  Gruesome, but cool.


It is still a mystery how this woman died, and even who she is; however I will always think of her when a dog is licking my hand.

Sep 2, 2005


I have decided to be a surfer.  No, not the kind that sits at a computer all day and vicariously wanders the world.  I mean a hang-ten, narly, hey-dude, get on a surfboard and get into the waves surfer. 

I went to Westport, Washington, and enquired at "The Surf Shop" how to engage the services of a surfing tutor.  I was given a number, then I called to make arrangements, and planned to meet my instructor the next morning at 9 am.  Now I was a bit nervous, not only is this a new thing for me, but the last time I got lessons did not work out so well; I was trying to learn to snowboard so that I could spend more time with my kids.  I took some lessons at White Pass, Washington, and spent 2 hours with 16 year-old "Kyle".  He was a nice enough kid, but it was difficult, to say the least, for this scrawny kid, who just got his first pimple, to tell a 44 year-old, 6'3, 225-pound crusty cop anything.  I shouldn't be too harsh... Kyle got me carving down the mountain, although I blew out my knee (not to worry, all the broken cartilage was surgically removed).

So, there I was at The Surf Shop when a 50 year-old, 6'4, 270-pound ex-hippy looking-dude pulls up in an olive green Malibu convertible.  He came right up to me, shook my hand and said, "I'm Barry."  He helped me get a rental surf board (the foam-topped kind that tells everyone you are a clueless rookie), and told me to meet him at the beach.  I went out, thinking that I would be doing CPR on this guy if he tried anything strenous, and I have a bad record on CPR... 0 for 3.

Well, he wasn't going to surf, just tell me how.  We went to a surfing spot and I was starting to get a bit nervous; I did not have a clue what I was doing, and I couldn't even intimidate my instructor.  So you can imagine my relief when I arrived and saw the surfing spot; no, it's not that there was no one there, it's just that most of them had a foam-topped board just like me, and they were all splashing around just like I would be doing in about 10 minutes. 

Long story short:  Barry spent two hours probably wanting to get out and play, but he did impart some surfing tricks to this old dog.  Now my kids are both into surfing (they both like snowboarding better, though, but I'm working on it).



On St. Patrick’s Day there was bedlam in our fair city.  The Narcotics guys were trying to buy some drugs from a dealer and the whole thing went bad.  The dealer took out a .40 caliber handgun and started shooting at officers who were trying to arrest him.  Lucky for the officers the guy was no Buffalo Bill, and no one was hurt (except a couple of Ford Crown Vic’s now had 40 caliber holes in them).  A car chase ensued where officers reported that they were in a pursuit, with the suspect shooting at them; of course all the while trying not to sound like screaming school girls over the radio. 


I was sitting at my desk at the time, and heard the officer on the radio sounding a lot like Shirley Temple (hey, I’m not saying I would have sounded a whole lot better in the same situation... but I would have tried for at least a Marsha Brady squeal.)  I ran to my detective car, jumped in, and doing my best Marsha Brady, yelled into the radio that I was en route.  I joined the train of police cars, which ended up with the guy jumping out of the car at a local convenience store.  I guess “convenience” to the bad guy meant that there was someone convenient whom he could take hostage to hold the cops at bay. 


I jumped out of my car and grabbed an AR-15 from a Sergeant’s car (being the SWAT sniper team leader lets you do that), then belly crawled to a gas pump about 25 feet from the front door.  I then thought that if I could read the warning labels of the cigarettes that the armed guy was now smoking while pointing his gun at me, perhaps I was too close.  So I slithered back to about 60 feet away, behind a patrol car.  It was then that the SWAT team leader told me that he was going tocall me on my cell phone to get a briefing on the situation.  A moment later I heard my cell phone beeping, lying next to the gas pump at 25 feet from the door.  Another moment later my wife called me, because that special “Mamba” tune (indicating a call from her) started playing on my cell phone.  The uniform cop I was next to turned to me, smiled and said;

“Cool ring; too bad answering it will probably get you shot.” 

I decided to go ahead and let my voice mail get it.  A few minutes after that the SWAT Team arrived, I was given my sniper rifle, and deployed with another sniper back out on the street.  For about two hours the Hostage Negotiators talked to the bad guy, telling him that it’s ok, everyone takes a hostage now and then, if he gives up within the next ten minutes he’s automatically qualified for a chance at a free tattoo, and did he know that prisons now serve 31 flavors of ice cream? 


I turned and looked at my partner Joe (we call him “Doc”), who was dressed in a camouflaged outfit, boonie hat and cool tactical harness; looking every bit the role of SWAT sniper.  I then looked at myself, holding a similar sniper rifle; however I was dressed in tasseled loafers, forest green corduroys, a white Van Heusen dress shirt with green (St Pattie’s Day, remember?) tie and my lucky buffalo nickel tie clasp.  I turned to Doc and said, “You think I could loosen my tie now?”  I don’t blame him for rolling his eyes at me; I wouldn’t want to be seen with the “SWAT Geek” either. 

Well, everything turned out alright; my white shirt washed up ok, I got my phone back, my wife’s call was not important, and the bad guy is now peacefully enjoying “Rocky Road” at the State Penitentiary.  Most importantly, the local newspaper did NOT get a photograph of the best dressed sniper... all is well. 


Feb 11, 2005

A Very Loud Alarm

Was working patrol in the wee hours of the morning when a burglary alarm call came in.  It was a machine shop near the rail road tracks.  Two other officers and I arrived and could hear that this was an “audible alarm”; that is there was a screeching horn going off on top of the building.  Now this was no ordinary alarm buzzer; this was akin to Titanic’s foghorn; so loud it woke man, beast, the dead and some sensitive ears in the Yukon. 


The other officers and I chatted outside the business,














I walked around to the rear and saw an open door; so I did what all good cops do when they see an open door- pointed my trusty Sig Sauer P220 .45 auto at it.  Obviously, there was no point, anyone who might have broken the door open would have fled long ago, so I holstered back up.  Then, I saw someone moving inside, I again drew my automatic, but then thought, “It’s got to be just an employee, no criminal would be here with this alarm” so I again put betsy away, not wanting to frighten the owner or late-night worker.  I then watched as the person, who I could now see was some dirty teen-ager; walk out the door with an arm full of tools.  Now the pistol came out to stay, and I started calmly telling the suspect to,


I got the desired result, seeing a .45 auto pointed at you by a nervous cop usually does the trick... he dropped the tools and put up his hands. 


Later, at the station while booking this young man for his crime, we all agreed... deaf people should not be burglars.