Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is There Anybody Out There?

It's been almost three years since I posted an entry on this blog. Does anyone still read it? I am considering starting the blog up again and am wondering if there is any interest.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Pulling Rank (and the plug)

To my family, friends and readers,

I've been told by my Lieutenant the content of my blog does not adhere strictly to the policy of the department and could subject me to an administrative investigation of wrongdoing.

I was told the opinion of the Precinct Commander, upon learning of my blog was, "shut it down."
His assessment was some of the content could be considered a violation of privacy.

I was careful to avoid using names, addresses, dates, or any other information I felt may identify a specific individual. Nevertheless, it was made clear to me a potential for liability exists for both the department and for me.

Although I was not provided with any specific policy, order, code, or rule I was in violation of it was implied the content of my postings was not appropriate.

I was not ordered to discontinue my blog but was given this sole restriction: I am free to write about whatever I want to as long as it is not "police related."

I've tried envisioning a written account of the observations and experiences of a police officer without including anything 'police related.' I have yet to visualize exactly how this would be done.

In any case, I'm not ready to jeopardize my career at this time for the sake of a web log. I also lack the motivation to turn this into a rebellious fight for freedom of speech. So for the time being, I've chosen to take a break from my writing until I've had a chance to figure out how it can be done in a harmless but interesting manner.

I wanted to take a moment to say 'Thank You" for the comments, feedback, praise, and even criticism you've shown me over the past few years. I never would have guessed I'd have over 100,000 visits to my blog.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


A Mom gathered 2 of her kids and headed out to the grocery store leaving her 3 year old son home with Dad. About an hour into the shopping trip, Dad called his wife to ask if she brought the 3 year old with her to the store.
"No", she replied. "I told you I was leaving him home with you."
"That's what I thought but I can't find him anywhere and was hoping he was with you."

Mom raced home to find her husband checking the house for every possible hiding place. They screamed his name and double checked every room. The front door was unlocked when she left for the store and the son had gone outside in the past to play in the front yard or with the other neighborhood kids.

She dials 911 and is on the verge of hysteria. Convinced her son has been kidnapped she is paralyzed with fear. My trainee and I arrive first at the house but don't see the parents. Mom is running door to door recruiting an army of frantic neighbors desperately searching for the boy. Mom sees us and runs over sobbing uncontrollably. We do our best to get the boy's description, clothing, and possible destinations. She tells us Dad is driving around the area and several neighbors can be heard yelling his name and checking bushes, garages, and cars.

I ask the mother if she has a swimming pool. Her eyes widen with terror and whimpers, "no, but my neighbors do." She had not thought of this possibility and I could tell my question sent her mind to an unknown level of desperation. I tell her, "Calm down. We're going to find your boy." I look her directly in the eyes as I speak and hope she believes my assurance. I tell her to wait out in front of the house in case he wandered by.

With several other officers in the area, I go into the house to make sure the boy's not there. My Sergeant has arrived and is also checking inside the home. As I'm looking under beds and opening cupboards, I hear my Sergeant announce, "He's right here." He gets on the radio and advises the other officers the boy has been found. I join him in a girl's bedroom and see the little guy wrapped in a sleeping bag fast asleep in the closet.

I walk towards the front door feeling the exhilaration building inside me. I know my next words will affect Mom in a way she's probably never felt or even anticipated.

"Mom.", I say. "We found him. He's inside."
"WHAT!!" she shrieks.
"He's fine...sleeping in the bedroom closet."

Mom released a scream of fearful elation as she bolted for the house yelling her son's name. She ran into the boy's bedroom so I redirected her to his older sister's bedroom across the hall. She ran over to the closet, fell to her knees and scooped up the bundle of bedding and boy. She repeatedly screamed his name as the outpouring emotion took over. The boy awoke confused and dazed to be in his hysterical mother's arms.

"Oh my God, he's never done this before. I checked everywhere and yelled for him. I can't believe he was sleeping in there the whole time.", mom cried.

I told her to call her husband and let him know his boy was safe.

As I walked outside to my patrol car, mom carried her boy out into the yard to thank the neighbor's for their immediate and dedicated help. Dad pulled up and got out of his car. His cheeks were streaked with tears of relief, fear, and guilt. He gave me a smile and a nod since speech had not yet returned to his faculty of senses. He joined his wife and son with a long embrace.

I saw raw emotions that day like I've never experienced close up. I can't imagine the feeling of believing one of my own kids to be missing. I know how the mind races towards the unthinkable when panic and fear set in. I'm just glad this time the 'unthinkable' was an overlooked boy safe asleep in his sister's closet.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thank you, David Spade

Everyone is well aware of the financial difficulties being played out across the country. The city I live and work in has the highest budget deficit in the nation (22% of the city's general fund). The general fund is used to pay for all city services including police and fire departments.

To make up for this shortfall, all kinds of city services have been reduced or eliminated and many city employees will likely lose their jobs. Luckily for me, police and fire department personnel will not be reduced (for the time being).

During this time of tight budgets, the police department has been forced to put off or abandon certain programs. One of these was the patrol officer rifle program. The idea was to have at least one officer on each squad carry a rifle. The fight against crime has escalated and we have seen an increase in the use of high powered rifles and automatic weapons by criminals. Our handguns and sparse shotguns are no match for the arsenal being used by the bad guys.

Just when we thought the rifle program would be cut out of the budget, former Phoenix resident David Spade stepped in and donated $100,000 to the department. His gift provided and extra 50 AR-15 rifles (along with equipment, ammunition, and training) to the police force.

I was the rifle carrier on my previous squad but had to give it up when I moved to my new training squad. I was disappointed when I learned there was no rifles available for the training squad.

Now, however, I have David Spade to thank for my newest piece of equipment:

My brand new Bushmaster AR-15 rifle.

This isn't the first time David has helped out with the police department. On September 18, 2007 my friend and fellow officer Nick Erfle was shot and killed while on duty. I see Nick's portrait on the memorial wall at my station before every briefing. He left behind a wife and two young sons. David donated $25,000 to Officer Erfle's family when he heard about the killing. I've always thought David was a great comedian and actor but I now believe he's an even greater human being.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Family Matters

A 35 year old man was recently released from state prison serving a 10 year sentence for armed robbery and vehicle theft. He was released on parole 18 months early for good behavior. He returned to civilian life with a resolution to become a law abiding citizen.

He reconciled with his family who welcomed him home with hopes for a better future together. They were short on space as five adults and one child lived together in the small 2 bedroom apartment. They were happy to be together, though, and hoped he would be able to help care for his 23 year old special-needs sister while Mom worked.

After a few months, things began to sour. It was unfortunate he was unable to find work but even more so that he didn't even bother looking. One thing he did find, however, was alcohol -and lots of it. He decided it was much easier to pass the time drinking 40 ounce malt liquors with his buddies than to actually attempt a productive life. Mom was becoming fed up with him but it wasn't the drunkenness that pushed her over the edge;

It was the rape of his 23 year old mentally challenged sister that did it.

Mom came home to find him and his buddy passed out on the couches. She called police to have him escorted out. While we were on the way, her daughter (and his sister) called her to report he had sexually assaulted her 3 times in the last 2 weeks. One time, her 4 year old son walked in on them in the act. Mother was appalled, furious, and thankful police were there to stop her from fulfilling her own punishment on him.

Of course he denied sister's accusations and blamed it on her mental instability. When I informed him she had undergone a forensic examination at the hospital in which DNA evidence was collected, his eyes opened wide with fright. Even through his drunken state I could sense him contemplating his pending return to state prison with the possibility of another decade or so of added time.

We contacted his Parole Officer (PO) by phone and told him of the convict's current drunken state. One of the provisions of his parole was no consumption of alcohol. The PO revoked his parole which meant an immediate trip back to prison to serve the remaining year and a half of his original sentence. While there, the detectives will be busy preparing multiple charges of sexual assault.

People do all kinds of bad things but those who victimize a vulnerable member of their own family epitomize the sentiment: "Lock 'em up and throw away the key."

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I was driving my patrol car towards a busy intersection and spotted a small SUV speed out of a parking lot and then turn right onto a major street without stopping for the red light. I sped up to follow and saw the vehicle make another quick right turn into a neighborhood without signalling.

This SUV was driving erratically and speeding through a neighborhood streets so I caught up and pulled him over. A 20 year old man immediately jumps out of the driver's side and starts walking towards me. Anytime a driver approaches this quickly signals danger to me so I met him with gun drawn (this is why you should wait in your car with hands on the steering wheel and let the officer approach -unless instructed otherwise.)

He sees my gun pointed squarely at his chest and holds up his hands to show me his empty hands. I yell, "What the hell are you driving like that for?!"
"I just got robbed and was chasing the guy."
"Did you call 911 to report the robbery?"
I put my gun away and patted him down to make sure he wasn't armed.
"How were you robbed?", I ask.
"Well, this guy I know needed some money so I loaned him $120. Then he took off so I chased him to get it back."

It didn't take a genius to figure out this was not a robbery. To make sure he wasn't a victim I asked why he would chase a person he willingly loaned money to.

He paused for a moment (probably mentally planning the next lie) and said, "Well, after I gave him the money, he didn't tell me when he was going to pay me back so I chased after him to ask when would he pay me back."

I explained that loaning somebody money was not exactly 'robbery' and that the only crime committed was his driving. I told him I didn't believe his story and knew something else had happened. I suspected he had just been ripped off in a bad drug deal so I asked for his consent to search his pockets. He acted nervous and said he didn't thing there was any reason for that.

My Sergeant arrived as backup and kept an eye on the driver while I walked up to the passenger of the SUV. I asked him what happened but he was clueless. On the floor of the vehicle was a couple syringes, a shoelace, and a spoon with a sticky dark residue. I told my Sergeant in police jargon that I had spotted drug paraphernalia in plain view. This provided us with the probable cause to arrest the driver.

What a shock it was to find a small baggie of heroin in the driver's pocket. He swore it was fake and begged us to test it. On the way to the police station he told me he bought Heroin from a dealer a few days ago but when he and his friends used it, none of them felt anything. Suspecting they were sold phony drugs they called the dealer back to complain. The dealer said he sold them a bad batch by mistake but would make up for it by giving them a much larger quantity for $120. I happened to drive by just as the driver realized the drug dealer took the $120, walked to his car and drove away without giving him anything. He was chasing after him for being ripped off twice in the same week.

He told me several of his friends (many of them high schoolers) were addicted to Heroin and hoped his arrest would help him kick the habit.

If any of you readers are parents of teenage kids please talk to them about Heroin. I've arrested so many young kids hooked on this stuff and have seen even more adults living pathetic lives because of it. It's cheap, easy to find, and socially acceptable to use.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


My new trainee and I pulled into the restaurant parking lot and were just about to start dinner when a domestic violence hot call was broadcast. Our Sergeant was en route to the call so we answered up for backup with another training unit.

We arrived to find our Sergeant waiting outside the front door of an apartment. A grandmother with 3 grandchildren were outside telling us her daughter and son-in-law were in the bedroom fighting. She heard things breaking in the bedroom and thought the fight was physical.

The other training unit arrived and the 5 of us entered the apartment. The living room and kitchen were empty and we heard noised coming from the bedroom. We approached it down a short hallway when a woman came out and closed the door behind her. "We're fighting." she stated calmly and walked past us. "And, he has a knife", she added.

Four of us drew our handguns while Sarge stood back to direct us. The two trainees and I approached the closed bedroom door with guns up. They threw the door open and stepped back. A man in his 20's was standing in the middle of the room with a three-foot Conan the Barbarian sword raised above his head. He wielded the sword with both hands holding it over his right shoulder. He was shaking the sword slightly like a baseball player in the batter's box anxiously awaiting the pitcher's throw. I shouted, "DROP THE SWORD!"
"DROP THE SWORD NOW!" I commanded again.

I advised the other two officers to keep their guns ready and I transitioned to my Taser. I engaged the power switch and aimed the red laser dot in the center of his chest. I commanded one more time, "DROP THE WEAPON!"

His third refusal was also his last. I announced Taser deployment and pulled the trigger. I heard a small popping noise as the Taser cartridge was activated and two metal darts were launched forward. One probe penetrated his left nipple and the other punctured his upper left thigh. The sword instantly dropped to the ground. As 50,000 volts of electricity repeatedly cycled through his body, his body became rigid. With fists clenched and arms at his sides, his paralyzed body fell backwards like a Douglas Fir in December. If a lumberjack was present, I would not have been surprised to hear, "Tiiiiimber!".

With the suspect immobilized on the ground, the training officers holstered their guns and placed him in handcuffs. He was totally compliant and apologetic. He went from mighty dragonslayer to frightened schoolboy in 5 seconds. He looked up at me and whimpered, "Oh my God........That hurt soooo bad."

He then told us he had been drinking and was upset because his wife "wouldn't leave him alone." him. He grabbed the sword and started slicing through household items. When we arrived, he was hoping we would shoot and kill him in front of his wife as "payback" for her nagging. This genius believed his violent death would teach his wife a lesson.

(Taser vs. Sword)
I've heard and read many things about the safety of Tasers. I know they have been blamed for deaths. Without them, our only option would have been the lethal force of our handguns. I don't know for sure if Tasers actually cause deaths but I'm certain they have saved countless lives where police would have been forced to use guns instead.