Saturday, February 25, 2006


I've been slowly becoming a nocturnal creature. After 17 weeks at the academy waking up at 4:30 a.m., this is now becoming the time I go to sleep.

Almost every night is spent completing paperwork. Every detail of every arrest has to be documented to the nth degree. Then we have to call an operator and dictate the reports over the phone but the hold times to reach an operater is usually 1-2 hours. Hopefully, if the city bond election passes, there will be some money to hire more support staff.

I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the job now. My trainer lets me take control of most of the situations we encounter and I'm really starting to fit into my new role. It's still difficult trying to multi-task the driving, radio, computer, and watching the environment for any trouble.

Here's a recap of the week ending 02/24:
I made my first drug bust after pulling over a guy for driving with expired registration. He had no driver license but I was able to locate him in the system. He had 4 outstanding warrants so I quickly arrested him. While searching him, I pulled out a sandwich bag of marijuana from his pants pocket. As soon as he saw it he cried out, "oh man, I forgot that was in there." He was real cooperative so I let him off the driving charges (he had enough to deal with for the warrants and the drugs).

I took a couple of burglary reports from some very expensive homes in north central part of town. One guy had a 2 million dollar home but has never kept his doors locked. He's lucky he only lost about $5000 worth of stuff.

I seized several license plates from drivers with suspended registration and issued some tickets to drivers at fault for accidents. Handling minor traffic accidents is boring but I'm good at sketching them out on graph paper.

I responded to a few 'hot' calls including an armed robbery of the Lace and Leather Lingerie Superstore, a fight between a brother and sister, and a fight at a bar. All of the suspects were gone by the time we arrived so I haven't arrested any violent offenders yet.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Drive Time

Yesterday was my first day behind the wheel of a police cruiser. I started off by rear-ending another patrol car as we lined up for refueling. I forgot to take into consideration the extra 18 inches of push-bar at the front of the car (which is not visible from the driver's seat). Luckily, I was only going about 1 mph and didn't cause any damage but what a great way to show off my driving skills to my training officer.

I got a taste of just how much access we have into people's private lives. Here's a tip: if you have any embarassing items, put them somewhere out of view -you never know when the police may need to conduct a 'protective sweep' of your residence to ensure no bad guys are hiding. Yesterday, we conducted this kind of sweep in an apartment where a felon was known to be living. As we entered the master bathroom, I upon a large collection of various 'adult' items. It was more than I wanted to see but that's what happens when you're not discreet.

Later, we got a 911 call from an old man that said he was in trouble. When we arrived, it was obvious that he lived in a nursing home. We found him in the Alzheimers section of the facility. He was disoriented and couldn't remember where he was or why he called the police. He was clearly confused but did not need any help from the police.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Polyester is Flammable

They warned us during the academy to stay away from open flames while wearing the polyester uniforms. I learned about this first hand last week while performing traffic duty for a bad car accident. Several cars where involved in a rollover wreck on 7th street north of Indian School. My partner and I stopped all northbound traffic on 7th street with an elaborate pattern of road flares. After the accident was cleared, we had to extinguish the remaining flares that were burning. My partner showed me how to kick the flare to the curb and then press it into the sidewalk with a shoe to snuff out the flame. The first flare I kicked exploded and my legs were splattered with burning bits of flare innards. Dozens of small holes were burned in my pant leg making it look like the mesh material used for football jerseys. Lucky for me I was pretty close to home so I was able to stop there for a good pair.

I saw my first suicide victim last week. A depressed elderly man decided to end his painful bout with cancer by shooting himself with a small Deringer handgun. He was slumped over sideways in a lawnchair in the backyard and appeared to be asleep. The only noticeable sign of injury was a small trickle of blood coming from his nose. His next door neighbor was very upset as they had been friends for 30 years.

I was very close to being involved in the pursuit that ended in the officer being injured and the suspect killed last week. The call started in my beat area when a guy carjacked an SUV in the parking lot of Hot Shots Billiards (don't ever go there, by the way). A two-man unit was chasing them around our area about 1:00 a.m as I was getting ready to go home. The pursuit moved down to Tempe where an officer was shot in the leg as he threw out some stop sticks. My partner and I jumped back into our patrol car and started heading to Tempe. Just then, we were notified that the suspect was down and that no other units were to arrive at the scene. Since most of my squad was involved in the chase and were now stuck in Tempe, my partner and I stayed on until 3:00 taking all of the calls in our area.

I can't believe how quickly each shift passes. My 10-hour shift is over in no time (even when I stay on for an hour or so for overtime). I've got so much to learn still but am having the time of my life. Even the 'boring' nights are fun and I can't wait for each new thing we come across.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Drama Continues...

Gary had another late night -- two in a row this week. This time, it was caused by an officer-involved shooting. Some guy hijacked a car and shot the person driving it, so a chase ensued within Gary's precint. Gary and Mike (the FTO -- he finally has a name!!!) weren't involved in the chase, but most of their fellow officers in the precint were. At one point, an officer was shot by the suspect, so Gary and Mike headed to the scene to help track down the suspect. They were flagged down en route and told the suspect had been shot and killed. Since so many of their officers from the precint were at the scene of the crime, Gary and Mike stayed a few hours late to handle all the calls coming in.

Here's the story on AZCENTRAL:

Tuesday night, Gary responded to his first rape call. Sad story -- a 16-year-old girl was raped in her and her mom's apartment while her 3-month-old son was there. She was raped by the maintenance man of the complex. The girl had sense enough to call the police directly following her assault, and Gary and Mike responded and took her story. They then needed to take her to be examined, but given that she was a minor, the needed her mom present. The poor girl had to call her mom at work and tell her what had happened (imagine getting that call).

Mike is surprised at the variety of calls that he and Gary have had in a mere week and a half. Gary has seen a lot in his short tenure.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Drawing Down

"Draw Down" means to draw your visual focus from your target back down to the front sights on the gun to ensure proper aim. I had never 'drawn down' on anything but a paper target; until Friday, that is.

My partner was out sick so I was riding with another training officer. We were responding to a minor traffic accident on 16th street and Thomas when a van pulled up along side us. The driver identified himself as a detective and told us that a guy standing at the bus stop directly behind us just displayed two guns in his front waist band.

We immediately made a u-turn, drove up onto the sidewalk and up to the suspect. Both doors of our patrol car flew open and our guns were drawn. I yelled 'Police -put your hands up -NOW!! the guy put his hands up and started yelling, "I didn't do anything." I ordered him to turn around and face away from us. He complied but kept turning his head back to look at us. As he turned his head, one of his arms dropped down to about neck level. I shouted at him to keep both hands up over his head; which he did. Again, one of his hands started dropping down as he tried to turn to see us behind him. If his hand had dropped a few more inches, we would have shot him. We know there were two guns in his waistband in front of his stomach and we were not about to let him get ahold of one of them. I covered my partner as he rushed the suspect and got control of his arms. I then approached and handcuffed him as we both started searching him. We didn't find any guns and were very puzzled.

Then, my partner took a step closer to the bus stop and looked donw into the garbage can. BINGO: two guns sitting on the top of the trash. Only, these were two plastic toy guns. The suspect had put black tape over the orange tip of the gun to make it look real. He probably didn't know that he came with a few seconds of dying that night over a couple of toys.

My heart was racing and the adrenaline was pumping. I was not scared (like I thought I would be the first time this happened) just hyper-vigilant and focused. I took the guy's information and looked him up in the car's computer. Low and behold, he had three warrants outstanding for his arrest. They were for misdemeanor crimes but a quick look at his rap sheet revealed that he served time for murder back in the '80's. He got a free pass to jail that night. All the way to the station, he kept asking, "Can you guys drop me off at the next bus stop?" and, "Can you guys drive me home so I can get a few things?" We didn't even bother answering since we all knew he wasn't going anywhere except to Madison jail.

Later in the night, I was finishing up on a recovered stolen vehicle when a hot call came in of a home invasion in progress just a few blocks away. The victim called 911, was whispering that intruders were in his house and that he was hiding under a bed. We jumped in the car and raced to the townhouse where this was happening. We arrived just as the helicopter appeared overhead and a quick response team (kind of like SWAT) descended on the house. We, along with an unmarked car, were positioned in a parking lot directly behind the back wall of the property with our spotlights targeting the second story windows. The homeowner was coaxed outside and a team of officers searched the house but found nothing. It turns out that the homeowner was high on Meth. and became paranoid that someone was breaking into his house.

I'm enjoying my three days off but can't wait to get back to work on Tuesday.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Day 2 -- Twice the Excitement

It's Vicki again. Gary worked a couple hours of overtime again yesterday, which means he's working 12 hours, with an hour of drive time on top of that. So, that is why I'm left to keep everyone abreast of his life on the mean streets. He'll probably resume back into normal operations (is taking 1.5 hours to get dressed normal???) within a week or two. In the meantime, you're stuck with me. So, here goes...

Day 2 proved to be just as exciting as Day 1. It's hard to top a first day in which you get to arrest a drunk for aggravated assault on your partner, but lo and behold, Day 2 was even more exhilerating than its predecessor. I don't have a lot of details (we had only about 3o minutes together and we didn't want to spend all of it talking...wink, wink. Okay, that's gross AND I'm just joking) but I will do my best to inventory his evening:

1) Two felony arrests. One was purely "coincidental" -- Gary and his FTO were randomly typing license plates into their computer when they noticed a woman trying to overtly avoid them. They followed her through a series of turns in a neighborhood while they eventually ran the plates as someone with an outstanding warrant, no license and a rap sheet that would make Mike Tyson blush! She was a tweeker, with a badly scratched up face, and had about a dozen previous drug arrests. She went promptly to jail.

2) Some parole officers arrested a gentleman for breaking parole, and the man was the only custodian for his 5-year-old daughter. Sadly, Gary and his FTO had to shuttle the youngster in the back of the squad car to CPS headquarters. Gary said she was scared to death, crying the entire way. The parole officers indicated that she thought she was going to jail. Gary and the FTO (I have GOT to ask his name) tried as best they could to calm her, but given the situation, it was nearly impossible. Gary said she held the FTO's hand the entire way from the car into CPS. Given his FTO is 6'5" and 285 pounds, I can only imagine how touching that must have been to see the little girl and her gentle giant friend. Sad story, but makes us all appreciative for the normal lives we lead.

3) Gary and his FTO got called to investigate a death. This is standard procedure anytime someone dies -- just in case there is foulplay. In this instance, it was a very elderly woman who was being cared for by her very edlerly son. She apparently died in her sleep. Gary had to check her over to be certain everything was legitimate, which it clearly was. His first dead body turned out to be less traumatizing than he expected. "It was just like she was sleeping," he told me.

Gary loves his FTO and vice versa. The two hit it off famously when they discovered a mutual love for Taco Bell. Gary also said he's learning a lot already. His main problem, at this point, is multi-tasking. While he's writing reports, he's supposed to be listening to calls coming in on the radio. His FTO tested him on this yesterday. He stepped away while Gary was writing his report. He then dispatched a call for Gary. Gary was not "hearing" the dispatcher's repeated call for "272 Adam -- do you read?" -- even though it was being broadcast directly into his ear. Eventually, another officer gave Gary a nod and Gary finally realized that the repeated call was for him! The FTO was testing him out -- and it was a really great lesson!

That's it for today. More to come. Thanks for tuning in...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rookie's First Day

Posted by Vicki

Gary's first night on the job turned out to be a pretty good introduction to life on the city streets. His first call was to remove an unruly drunk from a Jack-in-the-Box parking lot. When Gary and his partner (the field training officer he'll be paired with for the next 12 weeks) arrived, this beligerent drunk had a turtle-neck pulled up to his hairline, letting a corner of it down enough to see out one eye. They later discovered under the turtleneck a badly mangled eye that they guy had been, for some reason, trying to hide.

In the course of trying to get this gentleman to leave the premises on which he was trespassing, Gary and his partner were subjected to cussing, spitting and racial slurs (Gary's FTO is black). Gary was impressed by his FTO's patience and calm demeanor during the attacks. Even when a giant loogie was hurled all over his face and front, he simply sighed. Calmly, the FTO tried to plead with the guy to just leave. At this point, the drunk, dwarfed by the goliath-ness of the FTO, decided he wanted to fight. He went for his first punch and was promptly met with handcuffs. He was now being arrested and charged with aggravated assault and trespassing.

Once placed into the squad car, the FTO went into the restaurant to speak to the manager. This left Gary outside with the crazy whino. Gary said the guy stared him down, then said, "F--- you, you dumb rookie." Apparently, even in his inebriated state, he had caught onto the fact that this was Gary's first week! Gary ignored him, so, like an attentionless child, the drunk began kicking the crap out of the door of the car. Gary, putting his fathering skills into play, opened the door and said, "Knock it off!" The drunk then proceeded to kick more and spit all over everything. Even our kids -- at the height of their 'terrible twos' -- never resorted to such juvenile behavior!

Spitting and kicking the door was a new one for Gary -- not one of the simulated scenarios from class. So, he retrieved the FTO and asked how to handle the situation. The FTO called for backup and in no time, two additional officers arrived with some restraint device and a spit mask. The spit mask does not prevent the criminal from spitting; only from the spit going anywhere except inside the mask. I imagine this stops the spit-fest pretty quickly ;)

They brought the drunk to the precint, to be picked up and taken to jail, but when he got to jail, they refused him pending a medical clearance. Apparently, his eye was a potential liability and they need to be sure it checked out okay. This meant four hours of Gary, the FTO and the drunk sitting at the ER. At this point, the drunk was sobering up and beginning to regret his actions. His demeanor changed and he began to try and "shoot the breeze" with Gary and his partner.

The only other call they were able to respond to due to the length of the first call, was one for a stolen watch worth $10,000. The woman reporting is missing said the last time she had seen it was on Halloween. She did not know the brand, make, or model of the watch -- only that it was silver and appraised for $10,000. Gary took the report, but found it hard to believe someone would think property could be recovered with such few details.

The end of his shift was spent writing reports. He had to write an aggravated assault report on behalf of the FTO (due to him being spit on and almost punched). Apparently, this is one of the more detailed reports, so it took him awhile. However, it paid off in the end, as his FTO called several other officers over to see what a great job Gary had done on his first report.

When all was said on done, his first shift was 12 hours long -- already 2 hours of overtime!! I think he was shocked that one pretty inocuous call could take an entire shift to handle. No wonder there are so many cops out there!