Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Holiday Lull

There was a noticeable drop in the amount of criminal activity last week. I attributed it to the holiday spirit of cheer and goodwill. A squadmate said, "I've always believed the cockroaches scurry from the cold." Yes, winter has finally arrived in the city. Those of you in other parts of the country will relate when I tell you it is cold here at night. It was in the low 60's last week and in the upper 50's on at least one night. I'm still wearing my short-sleeve uniform and now covet my bullet-proof vest for the warmth it provides and forgive it for the torturous dicomfort it afforded all summer. I've even modified my icy Diet Coke regiment into one of coffee.

I arrived at my precinct the other day and could hear the wall pounding thuds of a prisoner inside one of the holding cells. I entered the building and approached the holding area to see what the fuss was about. A woman in her twenties was in the cell screaming profanities, vollying murderous threats, and kicking madly at the door. She was already handcuffed to the concrete bench and had shed the towel that was provided to her for clothing. She was arrested earlier in the day for driving naked through the city, driving to an affluent mountainside neighborhood, and ramming her car through the gates of a $10 million medieval style castle. She crashed through another wall and tried to flee. She then punched an officer in the face as he tried to take her into custody. She was apparently on a crystal meth binge and was out of her mind. To top it off we learned she was the wife of a police officer. She told us his name and one of my squadmates knew him as they went through the police academy together. The husband-officer was called and told us he was in the process of divorcing her (I wonder why??).

She calmed down and was happy and pleasant while being transported to the county jail. Once inside the giant steel entry doors, however, she realized she was not be driven to a friend's house and again went ballistic. Several officers and jail detention officers were needed to get her booked and placed in a cell.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


pro‧bi‧ty [proh-bi-tee] -Integrity and uprightness; honesty.

I was stopped a traffic light and watched a transient stagger into a convenience store on the other side of the intersection. My spidy-sense kicked in so I crossed the intersection and pulled into the parking lot of the store and wait for him to come out. When he walks out a few minutes later, I was expecting to see a case of beer or a bottle of wine but he was empty handed. Then the cashier runs out the door pointing at him and yelling to me, "He stole a beer." I stopped Mr. Shoplifter, saw the 24 ounce can stiking out of his front pocket, and arrested him. Our district attorney will not prosecute for such an inexpensive item but wouldn't you know it: This upstanding citizen had 4 warrants and was wanted by detectives for violating his sex offender registration requirements and for skipping a court date for an aggravated assault charge. Another ne'er do good put away for the night.

The Integrity Award goes to:
The lady who called police after trying to make a deposit through her bank ATM and discovering $400 already sitting in the deposit bin. Apparently, the person using the ATM before her attempted to deposit the cash but didn't do it correctly. She told me she makes a few hundred dollars a week babysitting and couldn't stand the thought of some other hard-working person losing $400 during the holidays. It's refreshing to meet people with a strong sense of integrity and honesty.

The Lack-of-Integrity Award goes to:
The person who parked his/her car in the disabled parking space at the city's most upscale and expensive shopping square. What's worse is the person's sneaky attempt of hanging an expired handicap placard in the windshield. He/she probably thought the police don't check the expiration dates on these disability parking placards. Hopefully, the $200 citation will teach the person a little lesson in integrity. The placard in the car's window expired over a year ago and I wondered how many times Mr. Rulesdontapplytome or Ms. Imbetterthanyou got away with this shameful ploy.

Thank you, taxpayers;
For the catered Thanksgiving dinner you funded for the city police employees. The turkey sub sandwich, chips and salsa, and sugar cookie really hit the spot last night at the end of my shift. Next year, how about a glass of milk or a soda to wash it all down with?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I'm two months away from completing my probationary period. I missed a court date a few weeks ago which is a big no-no in my department. It was for a ticket I wrote to a woman driving on a suspended license. Her charges were dismissed and I wasted the city prosecutor's time.

I received a written reprimand for the missed court date which was prepared just in time for my patrol car collision investigation to be completed. I was found at fault (as expected) but having two infractions a month apart put me into a higher level on the discipline chart. I was assured by my Sergeant my reprimand was a minor deal but I still regret having had it at all.
As we were taught in the academy, one must perservere and take responsibility for one's actions. All of our disciplinary memos written in the Academy ended with, "I will correct this behavior in the future. I have no excuse."

This would be a deserving lesson to teach to our kids at an earlier age. Too often, kids are allowed to make excuses or blame others for their own wrongdoings. What a different world it would be if we all learned to fess up and accept responsibility for our actions. There's few things more irritating than pulling over a driver and have to hear to all the lame excuses and flat out lies.

Here's a tip for anyone getting pulled over by the police: Admit your wrong, show regret (but don't overdo it with apologizing), remain calm and be prepared to accept a ticket. This will get you out of the ticket more times than not. Flattery, pleading/crying, aggressiveness, and argumentative behavior will usually work against you.

Speaking of pulling over, the other week I witnessed some of the worst driving yet. It was afternoon and I was driving normal speed down a major road. Drivers in front of me were changing lanes, stopping unexpectantly, and pulling over to both sides of the road. After a mile or so of this I realized I left my overhead red and blue lights on from the previous car I had pulled over. I had written a ticket and re-entered normal traffic with my lights on. I can only imagine what other drivers were thinking when they saw me coming down the street at 35 mph with lights on but no siren blaring.

Monday, November 20, 2006


A 22 year old man learned from his girlfriend he was going to be a father. He wasn't ready for the news and decided to go to the bar and pound some beers and shots of tequila. Once he had his fill he got into his car, pulled out of the parking lot and caused a four-car collision.

I arrested him after performing some field sobriety tests and brought him to the station to be processed on the breathalyzer machine. I was not surprised when he blew a .250 (over three times the legal limit). The entire time he repeatedly informed me he was not drunk and, therefor, should be allowed to go home. "Please, officer. This is going to mess me up. Don't you agree? Well, then why don't you take me home. I promise I won't drive anymore."

Normally, he would receive citations and be released to a responsible party to take him home. But, one of my squadmates walked in and immediately recognized him. He arrested this same guy a month ago for causing a traffic collision while DUI.

Because of the prior DUI, his license restricted him to driving to work and school only. Since he was coming from the bar, his new DUI was elevated to Aggravated DUI. This is a class 4 felony and requires booking into the county jail. When I informed him he was being booked, his demeanor changed into Mr. Arrogant-KnowItAll-Sarcastic:
"You're not taking me to jail."
"Yes I am."
"I refuse to go to jail tonight."
"You don't have a choice."
"I know my rights and I am refusing to go to jail. I told you I'm not drunk."
"Well, the breathalyzer machine indicates your blood alcohol content is .250. The law defines impairment at .08."
"That's just your machine, I'm telling you I'm not drunk."
"You'll have a chance to present your defense to the judge once you're in jail."
"I'll beat this charge and be driving again when I get out."
"Good luck."

Once at the jail, he became a smart-ass and told the intake nurse he was suicidal thinking this would afford him some kind of special treatment. He was right: He was assigned to a 'safe cell' which requires the prisoner to be stripped nude and placed in a tiny, featureless room with rubber walls and a hole in the floor for a toilet. Enjoy your stay.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Night Watchman

Cops are a weird bunch. Who else has to wear body armor to work everyday in anticipation of being shot at? Or exposes themself to the dirtiest, foulest, and most disturbing situations and environments?

How do I know we're weird? Take this guy in my precinct. He works the overnight shift and doesn't leave the parking lot until a life-sized plastic owl is secured atop the roof of his truck. This is the kind of menacing fake owl people use to keep pigeons away. I've never seen any birds in our parking lot at night and wondered what he's trying to keep his truck safe from.

I Googled the Great Horned Owl to learn more about its prey and found the following possibilities:
An extremely wide range of prey species (at least 253 identified) are captured, but rabbits and hares are its preferred prey. Mammalian prey includes all coexisting rodents, squirrels, mink, skunks, raccoons, armadillos, porcupines, domestic cats and dogs, shrews, moles, muskrats, and bats. Bird prey includes all other Owls (except Snowy Owl), grouse, woodpeckers, crows, turkeys, pigeons, Red-tailed Hawks, bitterns, Great Blue Heron, ducks, swans, gulls, etc. Reptiles include snakes, turtles, lizards, and young alligators. Amphibians include frogs, toads, and salamanders. Other foods include fish, large insects, scorpions, centipedes, crayfish, worms, and spiders.

Now I understand. It must be a great relief knowing you can return to your car without being ambushed by a lurking duck, salamander, or armadillo. Also, how many times have you approached your parked vehicle only to find a domestic dog standing on the hood or a young alligator stretched out on the roof? But what I find most interesting is this owl eats other owls. Is this officer trying to scare away real owls? Is so, this plan could drastically backfire as a real Great Horned Owl may see this plastic fellow and swoop down for a kill of its own.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Monday

For the employees of particular company, Monday will be a bad morning. On Sunday night, I responded to a call of an open door at a business complex. I arrived with a squadmate and checked the building. All the offices and employee cubicles were trashed. Papers, office supplies, and personal belongings were thrown all over the place. There were about 60 computers missing. The burglar(s) left the cheap monitors and carted out the $1100 harddrives. Each computer contained personal data for the company's clients including names, addresses, and social security numbers. The suspects took their time to go through every drawer and filing cabinet in the building. Due to the dollar amount of the theft and the sensitive nature of the material taken, detectives were called out to process the scene. This took almost the entire shift as each desk was photographed. The layout of the business reminded me of my prior job in a corporate office and I kept imagining what it would be like for dozens of employees to come to work and see the place ransacked.

I took photographs of a young man last night as evidence after he tested positive for Extreme DUI. This guy was driving home from a bar and collided with a motorcycle. The motorcyclist's leg was severed and he was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The driver was charged with aggravated assault (which could be changed to manslaughter if the other guy dies.)

Later, I was getting coffee at a convenience store and found a drunk guy out front trying to unlock his car door with a coat hanger. He went inside to get a dring and locked the keys inside. He asked me to help him unlock his door so he could get home. He was stumbling around, slurring his speech and reeked of alcohol.
"Have you been drinking tonight?", I asked.
"Well, officer, I'm not gonna lie to you. I'm drunk."
"Do you think you are in any shape to be driving?"
"I'm only going across the street."
"I think you had better walk. If you get inside your vehicle, I'll arrest you for DUI."
"Okay, you're right. (pause) Hey, I thought you guys serve the public. Why don't you get me a slim jim and open my car door."
"I thought we agreed you were going to walk home."
"It's only across the street. I can drive"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Back in Action

I'll be back at work tonight after a few weeks off. I'm hoping my uniform still fits after all the food I ate during vacation.

Awhile back, an eldery woman called to report a break-in at her house. The house looked undisturbed and all windows and doors were locked securely. We've been to this woman's house before and believe her to have some mental issues.
"How do you know your house was broken into?", my squadmate asked.
"I just know; He does it all the time."
"How does he get in?"
"Through the keyhole in the door."
"How can a man fit through a keyhole?"
"You know what they say, son: If you can get past the first knuckle, you can get it all the way in."
(unsure how to answer) "Okay, we'll look out for the guy."

Public Safety Announcement: Don't Drink and Drive. Even a few drinks are enough to get you in serious trouble.

Arizona DUI notes:

-You can be arrested for DUI even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than .08 (the law says if your impaired "to the slightest degree" you can be charged.)

-If you have BAC of .15 or more, you get charged with DUI and Extreme DUI and are subject to fines/penalties for both charges.

-If you are involved in an accident while DUI where injury occurs, you'll be charged with aggravated assault (a felony) instead of DUI (a misdemeanor). This includes injuries to a passenger in your own car.

-Your car will be impounded for 30 days if you are extreme DUI (costs about $650 to get it back and may be seized permanently by the tow company if not claimed between the 31 and 45th day.)

-fines and penalties include:
DUI: 10 days in jail + $250 minimum fine + $500 prison construction fee + $500 general fee + community service
(If this is 2nd conviction w/in past 5 years): 90 days jail, $250 min + $1,250 + $1,250 + community service + driver license suspended for 1 year + igintion interlock device installed on car after suspension ends (costs thousands).

Extreme DUI: 30 days jail + $250 minimum fine + $1,000 prison construction fee + $1,000 general fee + ignition interlock device installed on vehicle + restitution of all court and incarceration costs.
(If already have DUI conviction in past 5 years): 120 days jail + $500 min + $1,250 + $1,250 + driver license suspended at least 1 year + ignition interlock device + community service.

Obviously, the real danger is causing injury or death to someone else. Even minor collisions will subject you to lawsuits with unlimited monetary damages. Bottom line: Get a designated driver. It's not worth the risk. Be safe and be smart.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Back From Vacation

I just got back from a week in San Diego with the family. After months of begging and pleading, I finally gave in to my family's desire to visit Disneyland. I am a generally cheap person and have a difficult time paying inflated prices for brand-name items (or for theme parks). With over four hundred dollars spent just to get in the gate, I expected a reprieve on the price of food or souveniers; I was wrong. What kind of wealthy people are out there that can afford such things as:
snack-sized bag of Doritos $2.75
1 slice of cheese pizza $6.00 (or $32 for a whole pizza)
1 5x7 picture of family on a ride $13
1 pair kids' sweatpants $22 (these were the cheapest)

I haven't totaled up the entire trip yet but will probably be soliciting for recommendations on a good bankruptcy lawyer soon.

The night before the vacation began, I asked my Seargant if I could leave a little early to finish packing and to get some sleep before the long drive. This is the first time I've ever asked to leave early and should have guessed Murphy's law would soon be kicking in.

That afternoon we got a call from a luxury resort about a room reserved with a fraudulent credit card. When the resort staff asked the guests to leave, they ran out and left some drugs behind. They checked in with fake names and addresses but one of their friends came back to retrieve some property. We soon learned from him where the others were and drove to a run down apartment downtown.

We contacted the guy who rented the room and found more drugs on him. He was also wanted by a different police agency for fraudulent schemes. It was decided a search warrant was necessary to find evidence of fraud and/or drugs in the apartment. Guess who was assigned to stay and 'watch' the apartment while the men were booked into jail? Me, of course. Now, many things in law enforcement move slowly but not too many slower than getting a search warrant.

I sat alone in a dark, smelly, and dirty apartment for hours waiting for my squadmates to return with the warrant. The apartment was disgusting and obviously low rent but was filled with high-end laptop computers, a flat screen T.V., stereo equipment and even a Segway scooter. As I was standing in the darkness, the back door suddenly opened and guy waks in. "Police!!" I announced which scared him quite thoroughly. He turned out to be a friend that was there to check up on the guy we arrested since he wasn't answering his phone. He left and the rest of my squad finally arrived to conduct the search. I stayed to take photographs of a lot of good evidence we recovered. My request for early departure ended with me working overtime.