Friday, March 31, 2006

My first encounter with an ex-coworker

Well, I knew it would eventually happen; I just didn't know when.

On Wednesday, my partner and I were parked in a grocery store parking lot at 7th street and Missouri at about 5:00 p.m. At this time, the center lane on 7th street (usually a 2-way left turn lane) is a north-bound traffic lane. As we sat there finishing some paperwork I heard a series of car horns blaring from 7th street. I looked up and saw a car in that center lane facing south trying to turn left into the parking lot. The only problem was the line of north-bound cars in that lane about to collide head-on with this car. My partner looked at me and said, "Oh yeah, we're pulling this one over." When the car made its dangerous and illegal turn into our parking lot I thought I recognized the driver. She parked her white Infinity and got out of her car to see my patrol lights flashing and me walking towards her. About half way there, she recognized me and said, "I know you...Oh my gosh, Gary?? -I guess I'm not allowed to hug you right now, right?" It was a woman named Patty that many of you at Vanguard should remember (the AA turned UA). She told me she wasn't familiar with the area and didn't know about the 'suicide turn-lane'. I told her she was lucky to avoid an accident and I then cited her for numerous violations (just kidding -she got off with a warning). But for all you other acquaintances of mine: Don't think you'll get off so easy. Patty was the first one and got a freebie.

I responded to my first injury-accident this week. I've been called to many car wrecks but before this week nobody was injured. In this case, a woman turned left in front of a car traveling the same direction as her. The driver side of her Volvo was crushed in by the Ford F150 pickup and her vehicle was pushed sideways until her car hit the curb. She was already loaded into the ambulence when we arrived and then a paramedic told me, "let me know if you find a thumb laying around here."-
Apparently, she was gripping the steering wheel tightly with her fingers and thumbs and when her car hit the curb her right arm was thrust straight forward (like throwing a hard punch). Her right thumb got hung up on the steering wheel as the rest of her hand moved forward causing it to be severed. I didn't see it anywhere but the paramedic later located it under the front seat.
One of the emergency workers left his clipboard at the scene so we took it over the the fire station where he worked. When we walked in I realized where all of the public safety tax dollars have gone. The fire station had plush leather recliners, big screen T.V.'s, a weight room and a nicely decorated interior. My police precinct station looks like an abandoned office building from the early seventies. Ceiling panels are falling down, the lighting is dim, the walls are dirty and dingy, and the shower in the men's locker room looks like an Iraqi torture chamber.

Also in the news: I was reviewing the penalty for different tickets today and was surprised at how expensive some of them are. Please make sure you obey traffic laws and have valid insurance and registration. If not, here's some fines you can expect to pay:

Driving alone in carpool lane ($372)
Displaying a suspended license plate ($462)
No proof of registration ($552)
No proof of insurance ($912 to $1,812) -That's right, almost two thousand dollars!!!

Also, starting on March 31, the city will be towing/impounding vehicles for all kinds of violations relating to registration, license status, alcohol, and insurance. Up until now, we made the driver park the car and get a ride home. Now, an impounded vehicle must stay in the tow yard for 30 days ($15 per day fee plus $150 administrative fee). If the car is not picked up between the 30th and 40th day, the tow company can apply for a salvage title and keep or sell the car. This means a person only has a 10-day window to retrieve their car (after paying about $600 in fees).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Check Out My Wife's Blog

My wife has a blog called "You Know What I Hate" where she voices her observations about what's wrong with this world. I think it's very funny so pay it a visit by clicking the link on the right-hand side of this page (My Wife's Blog).

Monday, March 27, 2006

I wan't my mommy

As I entered my precinct station the other day, I was met by the wailing cry of, "I waaaaant my mommy" from the prisoner holding cell. I expected to see a young juvenile caught for some minor crime but was surprised to see a 30 year-old woman crying through the barred window. I felt a brief sense of sorrow for her until I caught her eye and she started yelling at me. "Hey Baldy!!!...Hey, Baldy!!...Why are all you guys bald???!!!...This woman was going crazy and as soon as I looked at her she started yelling at me to stop doing Meth. Then she started shouting to the entire station: "Stop doing Meth, Police." Then, a prisoner in the cell next to her told her to shut up and the two of them started a very heated argument through the wall. Being a rookie, I was very entertained by the antics. The other tenured officers however had little patience for this and mostly ignored it.

I'm still at the stage where I find crazy people and drunks interesting to talk to. My fellow rookies and I will frequently hold long conversations with them while our training officers look on with disinterest. I guess several years of hearing the same questions, complaints, and confessions from the intoxicated has created a bit of apathy.

I'm in the second phase of my training now and have a new trainer. He, too, is NFL linebacker sized which leads me to believe that my sergeant is trying to make me look small (or that he thinks I need a bodyguard while out on patrol). We've been handling routine calls (traffic, suspicious persons, fights, etc.) and haven't dealt with any major scenes yet. We did respond to what appeared to be a homicide since a man was lying on his back with a pool of blood coming from his skull but it turned out to be a heart attack victim that hit his head when he fell.

I'm still really enjoying myself and can't believe how fast a ten hour shift passes by each night. I have a few more weeks of training left before I'm on my own.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Crazy, Rich and Scared Silly

Apologies to anyone who's checking this blog on a regular basis. Gary has neglected it a bit lately. I will fill in with a few somewhat entertaining stories on his behalf.

First, let's discuss the state's mentally ill contingent. "Why is everyone so crazy?" is one rhetorical question Gary has asked a time or two. While mental illness is a true tragedy, it can also be fairly entertaining -- particularly for a rookie cop. Last night, he was called to the apartment of a gentleman who was blasting Bon Jovi music out his open apartment doors and windows, much to the chagrin of his angry neighbors who called 911. When asked to turn his music down, the man was insistent that it was "doctor's orders" for his "psychosis treatment." He refused to turn it down and almost had to be taken to jail! Then there was a guy who had to be visited after making lewd calls to the 911 dispatcher. When Gary and Mike arrived at this guy's apartment, he was very calm and unapoligetic. "Officers, I simply stated the truth, which is that there are babies masturbating on the floor." Ooookay.

Then there are the richie-riches. These are the people who think the law doesn't apply to them cause they have money. When Gary and Mike pulled over a guy in a BMW convertible with suspended plates about a week ago, they suddenly looked up to find he was running away. They called for the police helicopter then found a full freezer-sized bag of Meth on the ground next to the car. They never did find him. His car was impounded, and most likely, he'll never get it back cause he'll be too scared the cops will be there to bust him. There is some justice in this world. There was also a kid who ran a red light in a tricked-out Land Rover his dad bought him. When Gary ran his license, he found that it was suspended and that the kid has just gotten out of jail the day prior for a series of drug convictions. And why didn't his parents confiscate his car? And who could forget the person who parked in a handicapped parking spot with their fancy Mercedes? Not Gary -- he wrote his first parking ticket and proudly placed it on the windshield of this person to whom rules don't apply.

Last, there is a funny story involving some very frightened teenagers. Gary and his new training officer, Dan, got a call that a armed robbery suspect was traveling in their direction. They took the description of the vehicle and began "looking around." All of a sudden -- JACKPOT -- Gary spotted the vehicle. He and his partner followed the car into a neighborhood with lights on, and jumped out of their police cruiser with guns raised! The driver of the truck quickly admitted his guilt -- "We've been driving around throwing grapefruit at our friends' houses," the scared teen said. Gary confirmed a huge load of citrus in the bed of the truck and quickly realized this was a case of mistaken identity. I bet those kids will think twice the next time they want to go TP'ing!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

whitie-tighties, toilet paper corsettes, major score

My job is permitting me a glimpse into another side of the city I didn't know existed.

Sure, I assumed I'd be seeing injuries, deaths, and violence but I didn't imagine that I'd be searching the dark interior of a local 'alternative' bar for witnesses to an alleged assault. As I entered the back room of men-only bar, the extreme darkness required me to use my flashlight. As I clicked on my light, I saw the common sights of busy nightclub except that the patrons were wearing underwear. Some were wearing nothing but their whitie-tighties while others accessorized their briefs with tank tops, hats, suspenders, or vests. Nobody fessed up to being a witness, and fearing I'd be mistaken for the cop in the Village People, I quickly retreated to the front door. I have nothing against alternative lifestyles and attribute my surprise to a sheltered upbringing.

On another call, we were directed to pick up a mentally ill person who expressed violent thought to her case worker over the phone. For her own safety, the police were called to deliver her to a mental care facility. When we arrived, she answered the door in pajama bottoms and an open robe. When I say 'open', I mean nothing underneath. She seemed completely unconcerned about baring herself to us as most 50+ year old overweight women would be. I was impressed by the intricate corsette she had crafted with rolled toilet paper. There were several horizontal strands of rolled T.P. around her belly and chest with vertical connecting strips. It looked like it took a great deal of time to fashion but I'm pretty certain it will not become a popular trend. Even though she was hispanic, she was fascinated with all thing 'Irish' and talked nonstop about leprochans, white-Irish, and black-Irish people, Paul McCartney, and even 'Lucky Charms' cereal. She insisted I too, was Irish and when I told her I was actually Norwegian, she replied, "Yes, Norwegian-wood Irish." I have no idea where 'wood' comes from but there was no use arguing.

Here's another tip for consideration:
If you're a convicted felon that was deported to Mexico and you decide to re-enter America illegally you probably don't want to drive your car the wrong way down a one-way street in front of Police Headquarters. After avoiding a head-on collision with our patrol car, we pulled over the above mentioned drug trafficker and were credited with capturing a high profile felon. The Border Patrol sent up some agents from Casa Grande to deport him back to Mexico. My trainer told me this type of bust is a major score.

I'm still settling in but am really enjoying my time out on the street. I have no idea what area I'll be assigned to after training (or what hours I'll be working) but I can't wait to finish the training.