Sunday, May 28, 2006

Take the Baby Shopping

I responded to a shoplifting in progress last night at Mervyn's on 20th st and Camelback. A 26 year old man was pushing a baby stroller with his 10 month old son through the store. He was hiding merchandise in bags in the stroller (felony #1 -using an artiface to shoplift). He took over $250 worth of men's, baby's, and women's clothing (felong #2 -shoplifting). He then fled the store and ran to a nearby restaurant right as I drove up to it. I saw him standing at the front counter so I went into the store and grabbed him. A few of my squad mates showed up and he immediately confessed to stealing. I then searched him and found a rock of crack in his pocket (felony #3 -possession of dangerous drugs). We then found a crack pipe in the diaper bag (felony #4 -possession of drug paraphernalia). I then confirmed he had two other misdemeanor warrants outstanding for forgery and failure to appear.

He went to jail and the baby went to CPS since he couldn't remember his address or telephone number.

I received my first complaint last night after a totally drunk man called to report a threat. The drunk man's friend has a 15 year old daughter dating a 17 year old boy. He doesn't like the 17 year old and told him to stop dating the girl. The boy responded by getting mad and telling him on the phone, "I'm gonna f*** you up if you don't stay out of my business." I took a report but was unable to make any arrests since it was one person's word against another's. The drunk guy wanted me to immediately arrest the boy for threats. I told him he needed to get an order of protection against the boy if he felt threatened but he didn't like that option. After I left, he called my supervisor to complain that I didn't arrest the boy. My sergeant called the complainant and was unable to have a coherent conversation with the totally drunk guy.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday so I hit the streets early to see what 'gifts' awaited me. I didn't have to wait long:

My first call was an assault at an assisted living care home. An 80 year old man accidentally ran over his neighbor's foot with his electric wheelchair. She responded by punching him in the leg. There were no visible injuries on him but something else was quite apparent. All during the conversation I was treated to a clear view of his testicle sack dangling from the open leg of his shorts. Apparently he didn't feel like wearing underwear and his fondness for small running shorts created the perfect environment for the exposure.

Next, I was directed to a stip club to take pictures of a dancer who was punched and robbed by one of her "customers" in the champagne room. I arrived and took photographs of the heavily intoxicated dancer's swollen eye as she stood in the parking lot. I was then asked to stay outside with the dancer while the rest of my squad went inside to "investigate the crime scene."

Later, my partner and I pulled over an Infinity SUV for having one of those license plate covers that reflect light (to prevent the photo-radar camera from taking a picture of the plate). These are illegal and this one was particularly bad. I couldn't even read the plate in normal daylight due to the heavy glare. A 60-something year old rich guy and his young, blonde, pregnant wife stepped out of the car and acted like they were unaware the license plate was hard to see. They took off the cover and offered to give it to me. They didn't know it was my birthday and I'm not able to accept gifts so I declined their generous offer.

It was a slow night so my sergeant offered to let me go home early to have dinner with my family. I gladly accepted this gift and headed home for the night.

Some of you have asked about the 'Baby Guy'. My friend told me about him during lunch and said he saw him a few times at the QT on Indian School and 29th St. That day, I asked my squad mates if they'd seen him and they all replied yes. It was coincidence that I took a call at the apartment complex he lives in (a girl called about committing suicide). He happened to be walking to his car when I drove into the complex. I didn't have any contact with him other than a smile. After getting management to open the door of the suicidal girl's apartment, we discovered: . . . . . . .

she wasn't home.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Desk Duty

I was just about to leave briefing yesterday when my sergeant announced, "you're in luck, you get to work the front desk." Apparently one of the administrative assistants didn't come to work so I got the enviable task of answering phones.

It's ironic that I had more anxiety about trying to transfer calls then being out on the street chasing bad guys. I had no idea what I was doing and had nobody around to ask for help. I can't tell you how many people I accidentally hung up on while trying to put them on hold, transfer to a community line, and then use the paging system. I was supposed to work the desk from 2:30 to 8:30. The first few hours felt like an eternity. When the 3rd shift administrative assistant came in early at 6:00 I felt like a freed prisoner.

As soon as I hit the street there was a 'shots fired' call near 30th St and Indian School. When we arrived, there was several rifle casings in the street, a fire burning in the front yard of a house, and a broken Molatov cocktail bottle in the gutter. Someone had walked up, shot several rounds into the front window of a house, and threw a flaming bottle of gasoline at the resident's car. The bottle bounced off the bumper and rolled back into the street causing some gasoline to leak out and start the small fire. If the bottle had shattered there would have been a big fire. The residents told us they did not know why someone would do this. We then saw the entire back fence of their yard covered with gang grafitti (the inside part of the fence facing the yard).

The rest of my squad was tied up with that shooting scene so I was busy taking calls throughout several beat areas. I never had a chance to eat dinner but the time flew by very fast.

My night closed out with an encounter with 'baby guy'. This is a grown man that lives near 29th St and Indian School that dresses up like a baby girl. He was wearing cloth diapers, a pink top, and had a large pacifier in his mouth. His blond hair was pulled tight into two small pigtails. There's a news story about him on that shows him at home in his giant crib and high-chair.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My New Beat

I just finished my first week with my new squad. My new patrol area is from SR-51 to 28th St from Thomas to Campbell. This is almost entirely residential with a few businesses along Indian School and Thomas.

On Saturday, I missed out on the capture of a serial burglar in my beat area.

I had just arrested a driver with no license on an outstanding warrant and was transporting him to jail when I heard a 'hot call' of a pursuit of a stolen vehicle taken in a burglary right in the middle of my area. The driver bailed and ran through the neighborhood jumping fences until my squadmates lost sight of him. They set up a perimeter, called the helicopter and started checking all of the houses in the area. Just as the hunt was being called off, a few officers found him hiding under a bed in someone's house. He was arrested and confessed to several burglaries in the area. As I returned from the jail, I was dispatched to the house where he stole the truck from. The homeowner was in Hawaii and his house-sitter discovered his truck gone. The burglar stole a small safe with about $15,000 in cash and jewelry (which he later sold to some other chud on the street).

**Tip: if you have a small safe containing your valuables, make sure it is bolted to the floor or VERY well hidden. Having a small safe sitting on the floor of your closet will be the first thing taken in a burglary. Burglars know where to look for hidden goods (like dresser drawers, closets, linen cabinets, bathroom and kitchen cupboards, garages, desk drawers and file cabinets) so be very creative or rent a safety deposit box at the bank. Be especially careful with documents like birth certificates, checks, anything with a SSN, credit card balance transfer checks, and passports. Crystal Meth users (aka 'Tweakers') are notorious for fraud, identity theft and other document crimes and usually have an easy time finding these in your house.**

Here's a picture I took at the Madison jail downtown.
This is the final holding room used before prisoners board an armored bus and are taken to the other various prisons or jails. It's hard to read but each arrow lists the mileage to each respective jail. This is also the exit the officers use after dropping off a prisoner. Often times this room has a line of prisoner daisy chained together wearing the black and white striped pajamas with pink slippers Sheriff Joe requires.

**Tip #2: if you're arrested and on the way to Madison jail, try not to take any money with you since Sheriff Joe charges prisoners for everything and deducts it from any cash they happen to bring in.**

Wearing black nylon pants with a bullet proof vest in the summer heat has given me a whole new sense of discomfort. I can't believe how much hotter it's going to get and how dreadful it will be to work outside. At least I have an air-conditioned car, though: the traffic cops ride motorcycles all summer long wearing long sleeves without A/C.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Busy First Night

Thursday was my first night with my new squad. I started off the day by sitting in the wrong seat during briefing (this was random with my training squad but apparently not with my new squad). I don't know anyone in this group yet so it was like being a new hire all over again.
Everyone in this squad has a nickname (like the pilots in 'Top Gun') and I was told I would have one 'given' to me by the end of the week. There are no "Mavericks" or "Icemans" but we do have a "Malibu", "Squirrel", and "Radio" to name a few.

I rode with Malibu in order to learn my new area. Our first call was a suicide by a 26 year old woman who swallowed several bottles of pills. She was on her way to the hospital when I arrived and I was quickly assigned to 'protecting the scene' to ensure no evidence was contaminated. She lived in a non-air conditioned room attached to the back of the house. I stood guard over a bloody pool of vomit on the floor where she was found by her fiance. I don't know what kind of illness/injury she had but there were dozens of empty bottles of pain killers around the room. Her driver license picture reminded me of a college sorority girl rather than a suicide victim (apparently this was not the first attempt).

Next up: 74 year-old man smashes out car windows with hammer! That's right, someone parked a Chevy blazer on his rental property without his permission. After learning it did not belong to any of his tenants, he tried to have it towed but was unable to find a company to do it without a tow contract for his property. So he decided to take matters into his own hand. Several witnesses he smashed seven windows and the windshield.

Here was our conversation after I read him his miranda rights:
me: Why did you smash the windows?
old man: I was trying to get into the vehicle to see if I could drive it off my property.

me: Where you going to crawl through the broken windshield into the car?
old man: That may have been an oversight on my part.

me: Why did you smash seven windows?
old man: I smashed the drivers window but the door lock was broken (lie) so then I smashed the passenger window. I think I only smashed two windows.

me: What about the other five windows -why did you smash them?
old man: I think those five were already broken.

me: Then why didn't you try to open a door through one of the five 'already broken' windows?
old man: I didn't think about doing that.

me: Is it possible you smashed all seven windows out of anger and that you're lying to me about the reason?
old man: How much of this am I supposed to tell you?
me: You can tell me anything you want.
old man: Maybe I better stop talking now.

He was arrested for a class 5 felony of criminal damage and booked into the county jail. He didn't understand why he didn't have the right to destroy a vehicle left on his property.

At dusk, a driver hit a pedestrian at 16th St and Indian School. The pedestrian was crossing the street to the bus stop (outside the crosswalk). He later died at the hospital.
At the same time, a driver was killed in a collision near 19th Ave and Bethany Home. Preliminary findings were that he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Towards the end of the night I discovered that there was nobody on my new squad qualified to operate a camera (for crime scene photographs). I just happened to get certified as a camera operator during my training phase when my trainer brought me along to his scheduled certification class. All of a sudden I'm the new camera man for my squad. My sergeant called me "Kodak" and it quickly caught on with some of my squadmates. It looks like I don't have to wait a week to get a nickname. It's not as good as "Goose" or "Jester" like in Top Gun but I guess it'll do.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

CSI Night

I responded to a shooting call last night and was the first one there. A man driving his car was passed by another that shot through his windshield and hit him in the upper arm. His shirt sleeve was soaked in blood but he was relatively calm.

He was transported to the hospital and was realesed a short time later. After taking photos of the car, I had my first CSI moment when I noticed a small hole in the driver's seat headrest. I put on a pair of gloves and retreived the flattened bullet from inside the headrest. It missed the driver's head by only a few inches.

I also responded to a bank robbery and stood by while the detectives and crime scene technician processed the scene for evidence. My role was to make sure no customers crossed the police tape line and contaminated the door or teller window. This wasn't the most exciting assignment but it still counts as CSI work.

I transported a mentally ill 25 year old guy that asked me the following questions on the way to the health center:
"Do you still make those beer brats, sir?"
"Did you know my friend just called me 'juice'?"
"Officer; do you mind if I sing and sleep?"

He also asked, "How are you doing?" about 15 times on the way there (each time like it was the first time we met).

I also me the classic "cat lady" last night living in a run down trailer with about 25 cats. There were huge pans of water and catfood on her deck and the smell of animal urine was almost unbearable. Of course, she was very chatty and wanted to talk for hours inside her ammonia-methane vapor trailer.

I just found out my new assigment starting next week. I'll be working 2nd shift (2:00pm to midnight) with Mon-Tue-Wed off. My beat will be the east part of the city somewhere between. I was lucky not to be sent to 3rd shift (graveyards).