Monday, October 23, 2006

What a Blessing

I was getting out of my car and walking towards an apartment complex when I spotted a crazy woman walking down the middle of the street. She was walking quickly and talking to herself. Then, she saw me and launched into a verbal tirade:
"YOU killed my son you motherfu**er!!! Twenty one years old and you killed him. Fu** you policeman. CPS took my kids away and you shot my boy. That's right, I know you done it and I hope you die!!! (She was furious; pointing her finger at me, waving her arms and snarling like a rabid dog.)

I looked at her but kept walking careful not to provoke her by responding. Then in a frustrated voice she added, "Goddamn police. God Bless you. The Lord says I've gotta save you too so God bless and be safe, Motherfu**er."

Awhile ago I went to an apartment that was flooded and the manager refused to fix the plumbing. I arrived and found a hispanic family sitting in chairs outside their apartment. The man and woman didn't speak English so one of the neighborhood kids came over to translate. Just as I was getting the story from the mother, she lifts her shirt exposing both breasts and a large flabby belly. She picks up a baby and begins to breastfeed him. I'm not sure why her other breast needed to be exposed but she eventually pulled down one side of her shirt so just the nursing breast was showing. The baby finished nursing and was returned to the ground. Mom, however didn't bother pulling her shirt down so I was forced to take the report with one flatty boob hanging out. The whole time this was happening, her husband sat a few feet away and never said a word or tried to cover her up. There were several adults and children walking around; none of which seemed concerned about the flashing. I'm all for nursing in public but is it too much to ask to put those things away when not in use?

I enrolled in a two-day lockpicking class in December and am eager to attend. I've always thought it would be cool to be able to pick locks like in the movies and now I'll have a chance to learn. TIf only this class took place a few weeks ago before I had to break into my car after locking my keys inside while hiking.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Night of Gettin' Lucky

A man was in his living room watching TV when he heard two gunshots in front of his house. The large picture window behind him shattered. A bullet pierced the window and got stuck in the curtain directly behind his head. The bullet must have been slowed down enough by some bushes and the thick glass to get stuck in his curtain instead of his head. We found the spent shell casings but nothing else.

A young woman working alone at a check cashing store was getting ready to close for the night. A man walked in with his hands in his jacket pockets and told her he had a gun. In this state, simulating a weapon during a robbery is treated the same as if using a real gun. He demanded money and fled on foot. I was shocked that she was working alone in that part of town. I then learned she had too much money in her drawer and would probably lose her job for not putting the excess cash into the safe. We searched the area but did not find the felon. We did, however, find his backpack in a nearby alley containing his disguise. He apparently ran to the alley, changed clothes and escaped the area. He just forgot to take one thing: The cash. In his discarded backpack we found all of the money taken in the robbery.
(As an aside -This particular alley is used frequently by transients as a 'dumping' ground. I'm not talking about broken appliances and old furniture. I mean homeless men empty their bowels onto the ground. The placed reeked and was dotted with little human crap piles. The backpack happened to be placed on top of a somewhat fresh deposit. My partner picked up the backpack and was bringing it to his car to impound as evidence when we saw the disgustingness stuck to the bottom. He set it down and then saw the money inside. He told our sergeant over the radio,
"Sarge, we found the backpack sitting on a pile of poop in the alley and all of the money is here." "Okay, great; Save it so the detectives can test it for biological evidence.", she replied.
"The backpack, or the poop?" , he asked.
He and I then busted out laughing at how stupid that must have sounded over the radio.)

A citizen called about a teenager in the neighborhood walking around pointing a gun at people. I arrived first and saw two boys in the street. I pulled up a safe distance behind them and angled my patrol car to put the engine block between me and the two boys. I got out of the car, drew my gun and commanded them to stop. "Put your hands up and face away from me!", I shouted. They raised their arms and turned their backs to me. "Which one of you has a gun?" I yelled. One of the boys reached down to his shorts pocket. "HANDS IN THE AIR!!!" I shouted again. He quickly moved his arm back over his head. If he had been facing me and reached for a gun, he may have been killed. Other officers arrived and I approached after getting him to get on the ground. I pulled a plastic BB gun out his shorts pocket. He was coming home from school and told me he was going to scare away anyone that tried to mess with him. We tried to explain to him that ordinary citizens carry real guns and would have been justified in shooting him if they felt threatened by his realistic toy. He has no clue how bad things could have turned out if he pulled that toy out of his pocket.

Not Gettin' Lucky:
A woman called to complain about a middle-aged man that repeatedly walked down the alley behind her house and stashed a plastic grocery bag in some bushes. A while later, a teenage girl would come to the alley and retrieve the bag. This had been happening sporadically over the last few weeks and she was convinced it was some kind of drug trafficing operation. I walked over to the hidden bag and found two VHS video tapes (Where the Boys Aren't #4, and Tae Blow) and a packaged condom. I have no idea what kind of wierd arrangement this was to have a drop spot for porn movies and different people coming and going. I had no way of following up on the ages of the man/girl and can only hope it's not as bad as it looked.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Centennial Post

I can't believe I've reached my 100th post. It seems like yesterday I was sitting nervously in a classroom at the police academy trying to get through another sleep-deprived, stress induced day.

Last week I was conducting traffic duty in a closed intersection where a vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian. After striking the man, the vehicle drove down the block and hit a curb which jarred loose the headlight assembly. The broken pieces of headlight and its housing dropped to the ground. My job was to 'guard' the pile to ensure it was not tampered with. Three hours later the detectives arrived to process the scene. From what I heard, the man was crossing the street outside the crosswalk. This is the second fatal accident I've been to where the driver did not appear to be at fault but faced felony charges for leaving the scene.

One thing that amazes me is drivers that pay no attention to police cars with lights activated, traffic cones, flares, and yellow crime scene tape and attempt to drive through the closure. A woman did just that while I was standing in the closed street. She had turned left onto the closed street by driving around the police car blocking the left-hand turn lane, driving into oncoming traffic lane to avoid the cones, flares, and another police car blocking the street and was approaching the area where the detectives were processing the scene of the fatal accident. I stopped her car while on foot and asked her what she was doing.
"I need to get through to my hotel down there." she replied.
"Why do you think there is a police car parked in the left-hand turn lane back there?", I asked. "Well, I'm not from here and don't know the rules of driving."
"Do you use left-hand turn lanes in the city you're from?"
"Yes, but I need to get to my hotel on the other side and thought I could just drive through."
"There's a reason for the police cars, flares, cones, and bright yellow tape that reads POLICE DO NOT CROSS."
"I know you don't want other people driving through here but I need to get through so can I please?"
"Maam, you will have to turn around and drive around this closed intersection."

I can understand when people are confused and inadvertantly drive where they're not supposed to but the majority of drivers I encounter know the street is closed and just think it'll be okay for them to drive through because they are more important than everyone else and shouldn't have to be inconvenienced by some stranger's death. Besides, they're used to taking a certain route home and don't really feel like finding an alternate one.

A little while later, an older pickup truck drove slowly up to the police car blocking the street and parked facing the squad car's passenger door. I thought I was going to witness the world's slowest t-bone collision but he managed to stop a few feet away from impact. The driver put the truck in park, leaned his head out the window and puked all over the door, running board, and street. I don't know if he was attracted to all the lights and flares but he was obviously intoxicated. As if the vomiting wasn't enough evidence, he was asked to perform some field sobriety tests which were quickly aborted once we saw the high potential for a face dive into the asphalt. He was given a blood test and arrested for DUI. It's not often we make a DUI arrest by just parking in an intersection and waiting for them to turn themselves in.

Monday, October 16, 2006


A man having dinner with his son was called by his ex-wife who told him, "I'm having an anxiety attack; If you don't let me see my son, I'm going to take some pills." She had attempted suicide in the past so the man called police to check on her. I arrived at her newly renovated house with a fellow officer and looked through the front window. I could see a woman lying on the couch with a glass of wine on the table in front of her. I knocked on the door, announced 'police' and asked her to open the door.

She got up slowly, staggered to the door and opened it. "Are you allright?", I asked. "I'm fine", she whispered hoarsely. I asked if she had taken some pills and she nodded. I found two empty bottles of painkillers in her bathroom and an empty bottle of wine on the counter. There were 90 pills missing but she had the bottles for a week so we didn't know how many she had ingested. She was groggy and returned to the couch. Judging by her nice house, car, and business card, she appeared to be successful.

The fire department soon arrived and transported her to the hospital for treatment. I followed her to the hospital and stood by until the doctor told me she would make a full recovery (with possible liver damage.)

The ex-husband told us they divorced after he caught her cheating and that her recent reckless behavior was causing her to lose custody of their son. The man she was having an affair with cut off the relationship and she was struggling with her change of lifestyle. I can't verify the truth of his story but I thought to myself, 'what a shame to lose your family over a physical affair.'

Don't ticket the wealthy:
I issued a parking ticket on a vehicle parked on a dirt lot in my patrol area. This is something I do when it's not busy. Only a few of the guys on my squad issue these and many feel it's not 'real' police work. I admit it's not the same as making felony arrests but I'm sure there are people who support the enforcement of city codes. How many times have you seen lazy people park in handicap parking spaces because they know the chance of getting a ticket is rare?

Anyway, the owner of the car parked on the dirt lot was furious over this ticket. He called my sergeant and demanded an explanation. She explained the city code prevents anyone from parking a vehicle on a non-dust free lot (a lot that is not concrete or asphalt). Well, this guy owns the lot and lives in a very expensive part of town so he would not stand for it. He's convinced if you own the lot it's okay to park on it (wrong!). He even had a sign placed on the lot stating 'no parking; police will tow any vehicles parked on this lot'. My sergeant explained he could request a court hearing to contest the citation. He told her he would continue to park on the lot and wanted a guarantee no more tickets would be issued. She did not give him any guarantees. I am now expecting to go to court over the $135 ticket so I took plenty of photographs to document the violation. I eagerly await the day I meet the millionaire in court.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Last week, I got a call about a woman in a wheelchair that seemed disoriented. I drove to an upscale neighborhood and found a woman in her late 40's in a regular (not electric) wheelchair. I asked her if she was okay and after some effort, she told me she was fine. From her manner of speech, I initially thought she was deaf but soon realized she was in far worse condition. Her left arm and leg were paralyzed and her speech was very labored and difficult to understand. I was able to obtain the phone number of her son and learned she was a stroke victim.

She was dropped off at a bus stop on a major intersection and was supposed to take the bus several miles north to meet her ex-husband. He would be getting off work and would drive her home. She was confused about what street she was supposed to be on and wheeled herself over four miles (about 40 blocks) to where I found her. It was over 90 degrees and she could only use one leg and one arm to propel her wheelchair. I don't know how she made it that far but she was clearly exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated. I called her ex-husband and asked if he could come and get her. He told me he couldn't get off work and was agitated about her missing the bus.

I helped her into my car and drove her to the original bus stop. On the way there, she told me how four years ago she had three strokes in three weeks. The first paralyzed her leg, the second affected her arm, and the third took away her speech. The strokes were the result of some high blood pressure she didn't know she had and was a total surprise. She said her quality of life was destroyed. It was very awkward since I could barely understand some of what she was trying to tell me. She tried repeating some things several times but would then give up in frustration when she couldn't make me understand. As soon as I wheeled her under the covered bus stop it started raining. I waited until the bus arrived and made sure she was on her way.

She made me think about how quickly and unexpectently life can change (and how it's usually for the worse).

There's an indoor shooting range at my precinct and my squad spent a half day practicing. I haven't fired my gun since the academy (9 months ago) and it showed. We shot from 45, 15, and 6 feet away using timed drawing, reloading, and firing exercises. We also shot with one hand (right, and then left) which is harder than it seems. My score was okay but I know I can do much better and will start practicing more frequently.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Protection, or lack thereof

The other day I was sitting in my patrol car stopped at a red light. A small car pulled up along the passenger side of me. A man in his early twenties got out of the car and walked up to my passenger side window. I lowered the window expecting him to report some suspicious activity or to ask some irrelvant question that some people feel compelled to ask any time they encounter a police officer.

Instead, he smiled, reached slowly in through the window and said, "This is for you." He was holding a laminated card that I though was a Tarot card. He then turned around and got back into his car without saying another word. I looked at the card which depicted St. Michael the Archangel casting a demon downwards toward the fire. The back of the card indicated St. Michael is the patron saint of police officers and included a short police officer's prayer. I'm not a very religous person but was moved by his gesture. He didn't try to challenge my beliefs or recruit me to his church; he was a complete stranger that took the time to show a genuine concern for my safety and respect for the job I do. I now carry the card inside the front pocket of my ballistic vest and welcome the extra bit of protection it may provide.

Speaking of protection:
A pair of park rangers came upon a couple of 18 year olds naked in the back of an Isuzu Rodeo at a park in my area. The rangers can only cite for city ordinance violations and called police for assistance. The boy jumped up to the front seat and tried to drive away while his naked girlfriend lay curled up in the cargo area of the SUV. His vehicle was blocked into a parking space so he wasn't able to get very far. I looked inside the SUV and saw undergarments strewn about and a half-empty bottle of Vodka but no evidence of 'protection'. He was given a field sobriety test (walk the imaginary line, etc.) to determine if he was impaired. He failed the tests and was arrested for DUI. On the way to the station, he launched an assault of insults, obscenities, and allegations of racism. What happened to the days when teenagers showed respect for authority? He's lucky he didn't drive away and kill someone but instead he wanted us to know his low opinion of police officers. He never asked about the welfare of his girlfriend that we were left arranging a ride home for.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Repeat Arrestee and Lost Hiker

I had the pleasure of arresting the same guy I arrested weeks ago. Last time it was for pouring a drink on a bar manager after being asked to leave: (

This time, he was eating lunch at a family pizza restaurant when he became angry at some kids sitting near his table. They were part of a large party dining on the patio and the kids came in to watch the football game on T.V. The man told them to go back outside and sit with their parents. He then called them 'dipshits' and shouted, "get your asses outside with your family." A 13 year old boy said, "You're not my dad and I don't have to listen to you." The man grabbed this kid by the arm and started dragging him toward th exit door. The kid got loose and ran outside so the man grabbed another 13 year old by by the shirt and threw him into a table. The mother of the boys wrote down the license plate of the car as the man drove away and then called police. I drove to his beautiful million-dollar house about a mile away and knocked on his front door. He admitted to being at the restaurant and to "scolding" the kids. I arrested him on two counts of aggravated assault (automatically 'aggravated' if the victim is under 15 years old). His previous misdemeanor assault charge is still pending and now he has two felony charges to deal with. He has an obvious temper problem made worse by his alcohol abuse.

Last night we received a call from a friend of a hiker who had left for Camelback Mountain at 5:00 am and never came home. We found his truck parked at the popular Echo Canyon trailhead. It was about 8:00 pm and there was no sign of him. His friends told us he liked to jog on the mountain trails about four times a week and was very knowledgeable about the mountain. He had his cell phone with him but was not answering our repeated calls. After searching the mountain trails for a few hours on foot (and with the helicopter) it was decided to postpone the search until morning. I saw a news story this morning that he was found dead from an apparant fall.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fine Dining

Has anyone ever been to the Marco Polo restaurant near the Biltmore? This used to be one of the finest restaurants in the city in a very ritzy part of town. After a big New Year's eve celebration the owner abrubtly left town. I've heard there may be some mafia connections which might explain the quick departure. Instead of selling the business, it remained fully stocked with wine, food, and all the other necessities of upscale dining. Then the transients and high-school kids realized the service door were not even locked. In a few weeks the place was plundered and vandalized.
Here's what the dining room looks like now:
It's surreal to walk through the once richly decorated restaurant and see the complete destruction. Antique furniture, chairs, and paintings are all smashed and broken. All the interior custom glass is shattered on the floor. There are little 'beds' set up on the floor where the transients sleep and we've caught many teenagers bringing dates in here for some intimacy. Nothing's more romantic to a young girl then walking past puddles of urine and piles of crap to find a sweet spot for cuddling. I'm surprised no kids have been assaulted in here yet.

Last sight of freedom.
Here's the reinforced steel door to the downtown county jail. I took the picture through the windshield of the police wagon I was driving loaded with prisoners. The doors open into an enclosed sally-port where arestees are brought into the jail for processing. Once inside, there are no windows or fresh air; just endless concrete floors, cinderblock walls, and steel doors.