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?”