Monday, July 31, 2006

My Bad

Yesterday I responded to a burglary of a wall-mounted air conditioner from a vacant house. When I arrived, the realtor that was preparing to show the house told me the next door neighbor claimed to see people in the backyard of the house a few nights prior. She mentioned the neighbor acted suspicious and and kept asking about the burglary.

I went next door and spoke with the neighbor 'witness' who didn't have any information about a possible suspect. He lived in a guest house in the backyard and seemed a bit suspicious. As he went back inside to answer the phone, I noticed a new Mercedes parked in the backyard. The run-down rental house and neighbor were not the kind of place you'd expect to find such a nice car (parked in the backyard, no less). I made note of the license plate and returned to my patrol car parked out front.

I checked the license plate in my computer and, 'surprise! -the car was stolen.' I called for another unit to meet me at the location to plan my next step. We decided to position ourselves to wait and see if anyone attempted to drive off in the car. This way, we could catch the suspect in the act and make an arrest for vehicle theft. After about an hour, I decided to walk down the alley and peer over the wall to check on the Mercedes. I approached the backyard and looked over the wall and saw..nothing. The car had left while I was out front waiting for backup. I was so angry and embarasses that I let the stolen car get away. Oh well, I guess you can't expect to win them all.

On my second burglary call of the night, I had a bit more luck. The burglar left the house after taking a few thousand dollars worth of items. In his panic to run out the back door and climb the fence, he dropped his backpack. Inside the backpack was his wallet and driver license. I was able to find his phone number and promptly called it. His father answered and became very angry when I told him of the evidence I had linking his son to the burglary. He assured me he would take care of his son. Whether he makes good on this promise doesn't matter since the son will be arrested in a matter of days for the crime.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A dark night

Last night a call for help came from a local resort. Several special-needs teenagars and young adults were staying at the resort while their group home was being renovated. After dark some of the kids were in the pool area with a caretaker. While the caretaker was distracted, a sixteen year old boy became missing. For thirty minutes, the staff searched the property for the missing teen but could not find him.

Then, one of the other kids saw a shadowy shape at the bottom of the pool. The pool did not have its light on and the water was very dark. The teenager was epileptic and apparently had a seizure while sitting near the edge of the pool. He fell into the water without being heard and drowned. The staff and other kids were very distraught over the incident.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

No Lifeguard on Duty

My squadmates responded to a child drowning at a downtown hotel and so did the media. When they arrived, they saw two men in a heated argument in the pool area. They quickly established there were no children involved.

Instead, they learned a guy jumped in the pool and started acting like he was drowning. He had been drinking and thought it would be funny to joke around with his friends. Unfortunately, another guy had been drinking even more than the first guy and actually thought he was drowning. Acting the hero, he jumped in to save the man in distress. He was trying to pull the 'victim' to the side of the pool while the guy fought him off. The more the victim fought, the more the hero thought he was struggling to stay above water. Once safely ashore, a verbal argument erupted. The hero was a self-proclaimed homosexual (not that the skin tight florescent yellow Speedo didn't give him away). The prankster was unhappy about being man-handled by the big and flamboyant hero (he was about 6'3" and 250 lbs).

When the hotel security guard tried to separate the men, Mr. hero punched him in the face. He was awarded with a pair of shiny silver bracelets and an escort into the backseat of a patrol car. Apparently, he was very upset about the whole rescue-gone-bad incident and became enraged. He somehow slipped out of one handcuff and began punching and kicking the interior of the police car. Now, several officers had to remove him from the car, reattach the cuffs and get him to the police station. Unfortunately, he came out fighting. It took several officers to get him under control.

Because the call was originally broadcast as a child drowning, the local media was there with cameras running. I got to see my squadmates get tossed around by a guy in a Speedo who was yelling, "I'm HIV....I'm HIV...." I don't know if he was actually HIV positive or not but there was a lot of exposure to blood so I'm hoping he's not. My embarassed colleagues had to repeatedly watched themselves on TV as the news stations kept rerunning the story.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I'm back at the academy this week for some follow-up training. Topics include community policing, code enforcement and basic Spanish for officers.

On Sunday I was called to a crime scene right next to my precinct. I arrived to a large perimeter of yellow crime scene tape, detectives, and the 'MAC' van (our mobile-command RV). There was a body of a white male in his mid thirties lying face up in the parking lot. He was wearing a button-up short sleeve shirt, cargo pants, and hiking boots. His legs were crossed at the ankles, fists resting on top of his hips. A pair of glasses and a driver's license were carefully placed on the ground a few feet away. From a distance, it looked like a tired hiker taking a nap. Upon closer look, I saw the handle of a large kitchen knife protruding straight up from his chest.

What seemed like a brutal murder soon revealed itself to be a bold suicide. Two of my squadmates were sent to the parent's house of this victim. They were met by an older mother and father at the door and shown a hand written note stating "You'll find me at 24th steet and Lincoln Dr." The parents did not yet know the disposition of their son but had a feeling something bad had happened. The 38-year old son still lived at home and was described as socially challenged. He was employed by his father for the past 20 years but his father was getting older and had decided to retire. The parents began encouraging their son to find a new job but the prospect of starting a new career with an unknown company was too much for him to handle.

I felt sorry for the guy and couldn't believe he chose such a painful and gruesome method to end his own life. The detectives determined he probably pressed the tip of the knife to the skin between two upper ribs and then fell chest-first into the ground. the blade was thrust all the way up to the handle and pierced his heart. He was face-up when I saw him after the fire department rolled him over to confirm he was not alive.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


998- That's the radio code for an officer-involved shooting (where an officer shoots a suspect). This is the second most urgent transmission next to 999 (officer needs urgent assistence -usually means he/she has been shot).

I heard my first 998 radio call yesterday as a solo officer (the other one came while I was training). The radio crackles a distinctive emergency tone and the dispatcher's voice announces, "998, repeat 998" and then gives the location. I was just finishing up a traffic stop when the emergencey call was broadcast. An undescribable sensation came over me as I realized I was just a few miles away.

I threw the citations to the driver, ran back to my car and drove code 3 (lights and sirens) to the scene. The anticipation was intense as I did not know if the incident was still in progress. Would I come upon a gunfight? Where and How should I park my car?? Which direction should I approach from to not be downrange?? How many suspects and what kind of guns are there?? All the way there I planned my approach: Locate adequate cover, remember the proper grip and target-sighting of my weapon. Be aware of bystanders. Scan the surroundings to avoid tunnel vision. Focus on my radio (auditory exclusion is common in times of stress). Most of all: Don't panic -it clouds judgement and ruins proper tactics.

All these things raced in my mind. As I rounded the corner, I spotted several other police cars already surrounding the scene. Apparently a man shot a woman outside a convenience store and then engaged in a gunfight with officers. The woman was transported to the hospital and should be all right; the man was killed. I learned the officer was not injured and felt a great sense of relief. There were plenty of other officers at the scene so I only stayed for a few minutes before returning to my patrol area. It's reassuring to see the immediate and immense response when an officer needs help. I'm glad to work in a city with so many dedicated and honorable colleagues.

The hunt continues for the serial killer. An enormous amount of resources are being poured into catching this guy. The reward for his capture has been raised to $100,000 and we're doing all we can to put and end to him.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Illegal Dumping

Here's a few delightful an encounters I wanted to share with you:

I was driving around the back side of a supermarket and spotted a man in his 30's standing behind a trash dumpster. His pants were down around his ankles and he was slightly crouched and bent forward. He looked right at me but made no attempt to conceal his nudity. I picked up the microphone for my patrol car loudspeaker and commanded him, "PULL UP YOUR PANTS AND GET OUT OF HERE.."
He was probably half way through a bowel movement when I pulled up and he didn't know if he could reverse its direction or just let it fall -he chose the latter.
A few seconds later a large turd dropped from his rear onto the ground. He then pulled up his pants, climbed onto his bike and rode away. I think he was in a hurry to finish the job elsewhere.

Speaking of illegal dumping; Can you guess what's under the tarp?

Look closely and you will see a pair of hooved legs protruding. If you guessed 'horse' you're right. When this guy's horse died in his backyard, he thought he'd take the opportunity to share it with the neighborhood. So, he hooked it up to his truck, dragged it through his RV gate and left it on the sidewalk so that the blood and other fluids could pool together in the gutter. He probably thought the kids next door would enjoy playing with a super-sized carcass decomposing in the sweltering heat. Even the neighbors a few blocks away were treated to the unusually rich odor.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Excuses and Other Intelligent Dialog

Here are some excuses and other lively conversations I've come across from bad drivers over the past few months:

Q: Do you know why I stopped you?
A: Yes, I ran the red light.
Q: Why did you run the light?
A: I'm dehydrated.

Q: If you know your drivers license is suspended, why are you driving?
A: I had to get my nails done.
Q: You HAD to??
A: Yes, I need money to pay off other tickets I got for driving on a suspended license and am trying to get a new job. I need a manicure to look good for a job interview.

Q:Do you have a driver's license?
A: Yes.
Q: Can I see it, please?
A: It's suspended and was taken away from me.
Q: So you don't actually have a driver's license, right?
A: Yes I do, but it got taken away.

Q:Why is your three year old riding in the front seat?
A: She doesn't want to sit in her carseat in the back.
Q: Little girl -can you please get into your........
(driver): See??
Q: Would you rather put her in the carseat or get a ticket?
A: I'll put her in her carseat.

Q:Why do yo have marijuana in your pocket?
A: I've been taking care of my mom.

Here's a picture of what's left of a truck after a fire erupted from under the hood. The driver told me she paid a friend to "fix" the ignition wiring instead of taking it to a shop to save money. She had just picked up the truck and was taking it for a test drive around the block. She smelled a strong odor of gasoline as she drove. This is proof that leaking gas and faulty wiring are a bad combination. The only thing left inside was the copper wiring from the stereo.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Seatbelt Game

I've been witnessing a new kind of game lately being played by city drivers. It all begins when a driver notices my patrol car behind or next to them. Realizing they're not wearing a seatbelt, they decide they must fasten the seatbelt without drawing my attention. This is done by a variety of methods which I've attempted to document below:

1. The slo-mo: The driver remains totally motionless except for the right hand that slowly glides up from the hips, across the body, over the left shoulder to the dangling buckle. The trick is to look straight forward and keep perfectly still while gently pulling the seatbelt buckle down to its clasp using only the right hand.

2. The pseud0-stretch: Most likely derived from a similar tactic used on a date at the movies to get your arm around your lovie. You know; lean the head back slightly, raise both hands behind the shoulders, and add a fake yawn to make the stretch look authentic. Once the apex of the 'stretch' is reached, the buckle is grabbed on the way back down.

3. The Travolta: A sudden flood of disco-dance moves involving the head, shoulders, and arms. The spasmadic and unpredictable movements are intended to hide the seatbelt fastening.

These are just of a few of the methods I've seen so far. It happens so frequently now that I can't help but be amused watching the ingenuity of the American driver. It's ironic that these drivers fear a $30 ticket more than the injury or death likely to occur in a collision when not wearing a seatbelt. What's more; you can't be pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt -it's a secondary offense that you can only get a ticket for if you've been pulled over for some other traffic violation.

My three-day weekend has ended and tomorrow we meet our new sergeant. My current one got a promotion and will be assigned to a different division. My squadmates and I will miss him but knew it wouldn't be long before he left for bigger and better things. This week I'll be on the lookout for the so-called Baseline rapist that is believed to live in my beat area (around 32nd St. and Thomas). The murder he committed last Thursday happened during my lunch break while I was a few miles away. Had he struck any earlier/later, there was a good chance I would have been nearby.