Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shots Fired

My heart started racing as I heard the first of several shots ring out. We both looked at each other and muttered the already understood thoughts of “that was pretty close”.

Our short meeting with the patrol officer at 2 St. and Harrison Dr. was cut short as we purposefully turned down the street, east, toward the sound.

I have never had more of an acute awareness of my surroundings as I did at this moment. I visually and auditorily noted each part of my surroundings. I could have counted the number of ants marching across the street.

My awareness was heightened with knowledge of the Homicide that occurred at the nearby apartment complex only one week prior. With the rapid succession of shots I was not discounting retaliation.

I peddled at a snail’s pace scanning the dark landscape for anything; a suspect, victim, evidence, witness or something out of the ordinary.

It wasn’t until I broadened my visual search that I saw the sole occupant of the abandoned roadway.

Freeman and I saw him at the same time and instinctively flanked him to the left as we approached. I visually scrutinized his every movement but maintained a heightened interest in his hands. I immediately noted that his hands were free of weapons but saw that his left hand snugly clasping the outside of his shorts.

When close enough, I dismounted my bike and approached him from the left. Freeman rode around to the back and stealthily dismounted his bike. I immediately told the subject to put his hand in the air. He slowly put his hands in the air as he looked over his shoulder at Freeman then glanced from side to side. I recognized his visual scan as someone contemplating flight.

I let him know the seriousness of my demands as I shouted for him to put his hands in the air, “NOW!”

Freeman told him to pull his shirt up. He steadily took hold of the top of his shirt and lifted it antagonistically little. Without a clear view of his waist band Freeman told him to raise the shirt higher.

My instincts and suspicions were confirmed as I saw the butt of a small caliber gun protruding from his left waist band.

My mind refuses to recall how I drew my firearm, but there I was, gun in hand pointing it at the suspect. (At the rate my adrenaline was pumping and my heart was racing, it is nothing short of miraculous that I recall this much).

I told him the suspect to drop to his knees. His mind must have been clouded because it wasn’t until the second time I told him, with a .45 staring at him in the eyes, that he complied.

He quickly dropped to his knees and was taken into custody.


It was later determined that there was no homicide. There was not even a victim. It was revealed that the suspect had a new gun he wanted to try. He left his apartment complex to fire several rounds over a new neighborhood. He must have skipped the science lesson that taught, “What goes up must come down.”

He was later booked on two felonies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


It was mostly luck that Freeman saw the silhouette of a man in the alley way. We had peddled past the same alley at least four times earlier in the evening and, as usual, it was vacant. This time it was not.

Though I strained to see the murky outline of a person against the dark city backdrop, I did see it. We were at least two blocks away as we silently strolled down the alley as stealthily as possible.

Mine eyes remained focused on the unmoving silhouette and I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t ride my bike strait into a large rock or boulder and flip over the handlebars.

As we encroached on the subject he suddenly started moving.

Like a startled wild animal he fled to the closest opening in the alley.

Freeman shined his light toward the unsuspecting suspect.

I was startled with what I witnessed.

Running toward an abandoned apartment, I saw the backside of a tall, middle aged, naked man.

Naked or not, we gave chase.

The Hispanic male, still wearing his birthday suit, grabbed on to the door handle of an abandoned apartment. He desperately shook the locked apartment door with no success.

With two officers quickly approaching he darted for a wooden fence. With his naked body pressed up against the wooden slats, he reached for the metal latch to unlock the gate. After, perhaps, a sliver or two, he opened the latch and pushed open the door.

He sprinted around the gate and crouched down in the corner behind it.

Not knowing what the exposed subject was doing behind the gate, Freeman slammed his front tire into the wood, causing the gate to whip around and crash into the suspect.

The disrobed man remained wedged somewhere between the gate and block wall. When the suspect failed to move from behind the gate, Freeman gave the fence a hard kick, promptly followed by a second one.

The suspect endured the bombardment of wooden slats well as we later discovered he was trying to put his pants on between kicks.

Once we saw that he had no weapons hidden behind the wall, we allowed him to get dressed. After the suspect put his cloths on, still missing shoes and socks, we talked to him about why he was naked in the alley.

All he could say, with most the interview in Spanish, was that he was trying to find a place to poop. He could not explain why he was in the alley for five minutes looking for a place to go, or why he removed his pants, shirt, and shoes to do so. He could not even explain why he did not go at his own home only 30 feet away.

All he could say was that he had to go and he was looking for a rock.


We could not find anyone in the area to be the victim of indecent exposure. So before we released him from scene, I explained to the subject that the real victim here was my partner who had to see him “desnudo” (des – new - dough).

Freeman, who thought he had translated the conversation well, later asked me if I told the suspect that he was the real victim because he saw his “noodle”. (Though technically accurate either way, I had to explain that desnudo means naked).

Though this was not the first naked subject I have chased, I am hoping it is the last.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Day

It was still quite warm for an early September morning as the sun finished rising over the desert horizon. I glanced around at the sea of white shirts and black ties, polished shoes, short hair cuts and the occasional bun style hairdo.

I felt more nervous than I had anticipated. What little breakfast I had before arrival, now felt knotted up somewhere between my throat and stomach.

Most everyone was quietly waiting but a few side conversations broke the silence with hushed words spoken slightly louder than a quiet whisper. I could hear birds singing in the distance and guessed they had a right to be care free; it wasn’t their first day at the police academy.

As the official starting time grew closer you could almost cut the cloud of anticipation with a knife. The side conversations ceased and everyone stood around waiting for what would happen next.

I glanced at my watch and saw that the start time had inched passed. As I looked downward I noticed a shimmer of light catch the corner of my eye. I looked up and saw that the light was the sun’s refection off a well polished badge.

The badge belonged to one of four menacing looking men walking into the parking lot. They were dressed in crisply pressed uniforms, highly polished shoes and the soon to be unforgettable campaign hats; a broad-brimmed felt hat with a high crown pinched at the four corners (like Smokey the Bear).

The large uniformed bodies walked purposefully toward the group with almost mechanical movement. They arrived uniformly, stopping at the end of the sidewalk, and one of them stepped forward and pointing at the ground.

“Line up facing east, shoulder to shoulder, starting right here.”

As if more motivation was needed, he yelled out, “MOVE!”

Like a stampede of wild animals, everyone scrabbled to find a spot in line.

“You call this a strait line?” yelled the voice behind the campaign hat.

First day stress was obvious as line mimicked the shape of a J. After several harsh words were uttered from under the campaign hat, and scrambled adjustments were made, the confusing wave of rushing recruits managed a satisfactory line.

Without a moment to bask in the enjoyment of our first completed group task, the next command echoed off the desert landscape, “Turn to your right and follow the recruit in front of you…..... move!”

We marched out of the parking lot and made our way through the labyrinth of what would soon to be our home; the academy campus.

At the far end of campus we made our way into a very plain looking class room. The front of the class room was covered wall to wall with a bare whiteboard. The two side walls were equally bare with an empty cork message board at the end of each one. At the front of the class hung two blue banners with yellow numbers, “391” and “393”.

The floor was crowded with long tables which had room for four chairs each. Stacked on the table in front of each chair were neatly assembled binders and folders with a large name tag set on top.
Fifty-two of us filed into the room and were promptly told to find our name tag. I quickly found mine in the back of the room where the names were conveniently placed in alphabetical order.

Once in the room, several of us began to sit in the chairs when a loud stern voice grunted from the back of the room, “No one told you to sit down!”

The screech of metal chairs running across tile floor filled the room as we reacquired our place behind our chairs. All four corners of the room were filled with the same stern looking officers wearing the same pressed uniforms and shined shoes.

After standing for an uncomfortable amount of time, the back door suddenly swung open. I saw a noticeably shorter uniformed officer, this time with three stripes lining the arm on each shoulder, walk into the room. I glanced back to see who it was when I saw him immediately step up into a recruit’s face. With the brim of the campaign hat pressing into the recruits forehead, I heard an accented voice say, “Are you eye-balling me recruit?”

A nervous “No Sir” rolled off the recruit’s tongue as his eyes darted for any location besides the two beady eyes under the campaign hat. I, almost in unison with the rest of the class, looked at the front white board in order to avoid any similar greeting.

The room, silent enough to hear a pin drop, now echoed with the sound of heavy boots pacing the floor. The Sergeant filled the sterile room with instructions on how to stand at attention.

He introduced himself as Sergeant Velasquez.

I can not recall the remainder of the instructions as the once piercing voice of Sergeant Velasquez began to sound similar to someone talking into a tin can. I could feel the sweat beading on my forehead as the room slowly started to spin. Before the voice completely disappeared and the room spun out of control, I turned to asked one of the menacing statures if I could sit down.

Almost before they could respond I pulled a seat out and sat down. I felt the blood rush back into my legs and head as the spinning room slowed to a gentle roll.

As my ashen face regained color, one of the Recruit Training Officers (RTO) reminded me to not lock my knees when standing at attention. I thought to myself that this information would have been useful from my new sergeant during the instruction phase.

I sat still and hoped to not be noticed as I sat in the back of the room. I could only imagine the angry harangue if the last recruit had only “eye-balled” the Sergeant.

I wanted to be invisible.

As soon as I regained composure I stood up, silently pushed my chair in, and stood at attention for the remainder of what seemed like eternity. (Knees slightly bent to avoid passing out).

When the sermon was done, we were ordered to sit down….

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August Would Be Our Month....

After spending half the day writing reports from the first half of the week, we finally mounted our bikes and hit the road. This time, for reasons unknown, we headed north out of the gates instead of south.

We heard the normal radio traffic but gave little heed to the monotonous chatter for we were focused on finding something good.

I vaguely remember hearing the common “Noise Disturbance” call, but as the officer was called to the address it stood out in my mind; 500 N 4 St. I know the lowly scum who live in the run down duplex at this location. To call them “non-police friendly” would be a huge understatement.

We were already meandering that direction when the officer, who rarely makes such a request, called for a “907” (9 oh 7, officer needs assistance).

I started peddling faster and flew down Riley, toward 4th St, and arrived on scene in time to see the scum arguing with the officer.

The call was valid, with a radio blasting in the background, and the officer was doing his job as he asked the owner for his ID.

Leaving out some expletives, the owner, while throwing a garden hose to the ground and balling his fists, said he would get his ID from his car. The owner started purposefully marching toward his SUV to open the door. The officer told him several times to “NOT OPEN THE DOOR!” (We don’t know where the scum keep their guns, knifes, or other fighting paraphernalia).

The car owner refused to listen and reached for the door handle.

With a swift reaction the officer held the door closed as I simultaneously drew my Taser and Freeman drew his gun (for lethal coverage).

The red dot from my laser was in the middle of the shirtless man’s back and my finger was inching forward to find the trigger.

The Mr. Scum stepped back from the door and told us we were violating his “@!##@& rights.” He balled up his fists, widened his stance, and gave the officer the mile long stare.

My finger found the trigger as my Sergeant came on scene and told the guy to calm down.

A twitch or a hard batting of the eye would have brought my index finger a half inch back to release the light.

The suspect did neither.

His fists became hands and his stance softened. He followed instructions and sat down.
The suspect’s information was gathered and a large crowd of incoming officers and nosey onlookers circled the area.

Mr. Scum was dealt with as I stood back and watched the incoming onlookers.

As I watched, I saw a tall familiar looking man walk up on scene. I politely asked if there was anything he needed. The awkwardly tall and goofy looking subject said he just wanted to know what was going on. As I spoke to Mr. Tall, Freeman promptly reminded me that this subject had a felony arrest warrant from one of our previous crack cocaine arrests.

The new suspect was told to sit down as we called in the warrant. As the validity of the warrant was confirmed, Mr. Tall was hauled off to jail.

As quickly as we possibly could, we mounted our bikes and continued our search for those needing to be talked to.

We were less than a block away as we strolled through Sonic Park (conveniently named after the Sonic Drive In located directly behind it). We saw some movement on the playground set and due to the lack of parents in the area, we assumed it was a young adult either writing graffiti or using drugs.

We shined our lights on the platform and saw the scattered flakes of marijuana resting next to a magazine. As we arrested the 19 year old for marijuana we learned of his outstanding warrant. Mr. Weed was hauled off to jail.

As quickly as we possibly could, we mounted our bikes and continued our search for those needing to be talked to.

We rode south.

We had just finished talking about the rare occasion of rolling up on a suspect burglarizing or stealing a car when suddenly a Gold colored truck come to a screeching halt in the middle of the intersection.

A male subject jumped out of the car and frantically waved his arms in the air and said, “They just broke into my car and stole my radio!” The new victim pointed to a house around the corner and said, “They ran in there!”

We called for a few units as we cautiously approached the side gate to the home where we saw and heard movement in the back yard.

Without warning the side gate opened.

When the subjects saw the police they scattered like cockroaches in a newly lit room. We pulled them out of the yard one at time until we had four drunken teenagers sitting on the curb. I stepped over toppled beer cans as I made my way over to the owner of the home. She was more worried about the commotion than her 17 year old son drinking with his teenage friends in the backyard.

The owner was told of the alleged burglary and reluctantly provided consent to search the yard for evidence.

It was hardly a search as Freeman found the car stereo and amplifier on the side of the house.

Though the victim could not positively identify the suspect, Freeman got the suspect to admit what he did. The 19 year old suspect later admitted to taking to radio to help pay for his newly born child.

Mr. Baby’s Daddy was hauled off to jail.

Our night was cut short because we had to finish the paperwork in order for Mr. Baby’s Daddy to be booked in jail.

Our smiles bordered on cocky as Freeman and I agreed that August would be our month….

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What is a Policeman?

What is a policeman?

A policeman is a composite of what all men are… a mingling of saint and sinners…dust and deity. Cold statistics wave the fan over the stinkers… underscore instances of dishonesty and brutality because they are news.

What that REALLY means is they are exceptional, unusual – conty commonplace. Buried under the froth is the fact that less than one half of one percent of policemen misfit that uniform. And that’s a better average than among clergymen.

What is a policeman made of He of all men is at one the most needed and most unwanted… a strangely nameless creature who is “sir” to his face…and “pig” to his back.

He must be such a diplomat that he can settle differences between individuals…. So that each will think he won… But if the policeman is neat, he’s a flirt. If he’s not, he’s a grouch.

In an instant he must make decisions which require months for a lawyer. But if he hurries, he’s careless. If he’s deliberate, he’s lazy. He must be first to an accident… infallible with diagnosis…he must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and above all be sure the victim goes home without a limp, or expect to be sued.

The police officer must know every gun…draw on the run….and hit where it doesn’t hurt. He must be able to whip two men his size and half his age…without damaging his uniform and without being brutal. If you hit him, he’s a coward. If he hits you, he’s a bully.

A policeman must know everything and not tell. He must know where all the sin is and not partake.

The policeman must, from a single human hair, be able to describe the crime, the weapon and the criminal …and tell you where the criminal is hiding. But if he catches the criminal he’s lucky… if he doesn’t he’s a dunce. If he gets promoted he has political pull. If he doesn’t he’s a dullard.

The policeman must chase bum leads to a dead end and stake out ten nights to tag one witness who saw it happen, but refused to remember.

He runs files and writes reports until his eyes ache to build a case against some felon who will get dealed out by a shameless shamus or an honorable who isn’t.

A policeman must be a minister… social worker… a diplomat… a though guy… and a gentleman.

An of course he will have to be a genius… for he will have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.
-Author Unknown

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kings of the Street

Update: (Also see You Don't Run from the Bike Squad...)

It was just another ordinary day, monotonous, almost like watching a rerun of your favorite television show; you are a little bored because you have seen the same thing before but you can’t help but watch because its still a good show.

Our night was coming to an end when out of nowhere we saw a subject riding a bike leaving the Parkside apartments.

We cautiously approached him as he rode our direction. A simple request was made for him to stop and I almost thought we would end our night with a chase but he came to a sliding stop using his feet for brakes.

We soon recognized him from previous stops as one of the Old Town OG’s. He was Hispanic and had slicked back dark hair with a button down shirt and blue jeans and the almost cliché white T underneath. He was the epitome of any Mexican gangster that had grown to be a veteran of the streets. He spent his time in prison and has earned the respect of the up and coming gang generation.

As he stopped his bike he looked up at Freeman and I with a half crooked drunken smile. He shook his head and raised his hand to the air shaking his finger to mimic his head.

With a deep raspy accented Chicano voice, he said, “You are the ones who caught Bubba.”

I expected a hidden threat to be the next words out of his mouth but was surprised to hear, in the same accented tone with the crooked smile, ‘You guys are the Kings of the street.”

With the obvious perplexed looks on our faces he explained that Bubba was a nuisance to everyone as he would burglarize and threaten his own. He continued by saying that Bubba could get away from anyone and could fit through a hole, (as he lifted his hands about one foot apart,) this size.

He shook his head again as he repeated, almost under his breath, “The kings of the street”.

He called us crazy for being on bikes but said we are effective. He said people are afraid to break the law when we are around.

After the short contact he rode away and we rode back in to the station for the night.

…..Its funny to me that one little bike squad (of two) could make enough difference on the streets to be called, by one of it’s most experienced veterans, the “Kings of the Street.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nothing Better to Do.

It was getting late and I was a little disappointed with myself. I was working one of the worst neighborhoods in Arizona in the middle of the night and I had still not found anything to do. At this point I was willing to stop anyone for any simple violation I could explore.

I turned west from 111 Ave and passed an ordinary looking minivan. There was nothing suspicious but I was willing to stop it if I found a quick violation. As is customary for me to do at this time of night, I glanced in my side mirror as the van passed to see if the it had a license plate light. It did not.

After viewing the traffic violation, I nonchalantly gave my patrol car a u-turn to make a traffic stop.

Before I completed the turn, I heard the van’s tires squeal as I watched the driver quickly round the corner at the end of the street.

With a little more aggression, I fish tailed out of my u-turn to advance to the corner as quickly as possible.

The van was gone.

I made a guess as to which street the van went down and I guessed right.

I saw the van, now blacked out, speeding down Cocopah St.

(They teach you in the academy to not get “tunnel vision”. They want you to stay aware of your surroundings and not become fully focused on only one thing in order to keep you, and those around you, safe.)

My training went out the window.

My right foot became heavy and the engine roared all the way down Cocopah St. I slid around the corner and made a sharp left at the next street to follow the van.

I flew around the next turn in time to see the minivan turn up Mohave St.

With my engine temperature rising and brakes smoking, I was glad to see the van decelerate to a slow roll.

All of a sudden the driver door flew open. A skinny male suspect hit the ground sprinting.

He dashed down the street and whipped around the corner down a dark alleyway.

I quickly learned that a car can (but shouldn’t) be put into park while still rolling.

I flew out of the patrol car and ran full speed toward the alleyway. As I ran I helplessly watched the van continue to roll down the street and crash into a house.

I whipped around the corner into the alley and watched the suspect run from a distance as I quickly gained ground.

I had to dart around trash cans, overgrown weeds, large boulders, telephone poles, and the occasional barking dog as I continued the pursuit.

After trailing the suspect for a complete block he must have thought he lost me, or was extremely tired, because he started to slow.

I rounded the last corner in time to tell the suspect to “Stop!”

I was almost caught off guard when he did. He put his hands in the air and went down to his knees.

I slapped cuffs on the kid and escorted him back to where I left my patrol car.

I was somewhat relieved when I saw that my smoking overheated patrol car was not missing. In my excited departure I left the door open, keys in the ignition and the engine running.

I tossed the kid in the back of the vehicle and started to put the pieces of the puzzle back together, now I had to figure out why he ran……

It turned out that the minivan did not run into the side of a house, it rammed a chain link fence (not much damage). The vehicle had no license plate so I checked the VIN number. The car did not come back as stolen. As a matter of fact, there was a key in the ignition.

Would a snot nose kid flee from the cops because he was driving without a license?

The vehicle registration came back to a car dealer out of phoenix. The car dealer address did not exist and there were no valid phone numbers.

How could I know if the van was stolen?

I slid my tape recorder into my pocket and spoke to the juvenile, or as we call them, "J". I had to read him his rights but he was still willing to talk.

Though I was clueless thus far about the true nature of the case, I continued the interrogation. Using a ruse, I told the J that I knew he stole the car.

I told him that the vehicle was under surveillance by under cover officers and they had trailed him. I told him that I had his photo from the hidden cameras inside the passenger compartment. I lead him to understand that I already knew anything he was going to tell me so he should be honest.

I knew very well that the ruse was either going to blow up in my face, or the J would buy every word.

He caved.

Almost in tears the J told me everything. He told me that he saw the parked van and found the door unlocked. He told me the key was in the ashtray and the engine started so he took it.

While I finished up the interview and daylight broke, I saw that people began to gather around the scene. Most onlookers were just curious neighbors. But one J in the crowd stood out. He was wearing a baggie shirt, like my suspect, and was about the same age. I also noted that his shirt was little dirty.

Most people, especially kids, do not wake up at the crack of dawn to put on a dirty shirt to see what happened to the distant neighbor’s fence.

I separated the J from the crowd and asked him, using a ruse (because I had no inkling of an idea that someone else was in the car), why he jumped out of the car to run then decide to come back.
The J said he did not know what I was talking about as he looked down and to left. With the signs of a true liar, I pushed the issue and told him not to lie to me because I already knew the truth. (When I lied…I mean used a ruse…., I did not look down and to the left).

This J caved too.

After he admitted to being in the stolen car with his buddy I slapped some shinny bracelets on his fragile wrists and hauled him off to jail with his friend.

I have heard many people ask, many times, "Do you have nothing better to do then stop me for that!?" To be honest, sometimes I don't and cases like this are the reason why.
So the next time I stop “you” for some silly traffic violation, please know that I do it because I am in the process of keeping “your” neighborhood safe.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Gotta Go....

It was the middle of the week, probably a Thursday, and still daylight. There was not much traffic, vehicle or pedestrian, and we where cruising on our bikes looking for someone to chat with. The day, thus far, was fairly mundane as we had made our usual stops with the same people he had talked to a hundred times.

Freeman and I were riding down Harrison St from 4th St when I got a call from my wife. The day was slow and no one was around so I had time to answer. I continued to ride my bike westbound on Harrison St as I spoke to her on the phone about whatever we had going on.

Just then I saw an ordinary subject fail to stop at a stop sign as he crossed the road in front of me. Without speaking a word I gave Freeman a look that he promptly returned. The look was understood by both of us as meaning it was someone we were going to stop. Freeman rode ahead to speak to the subject while I casually turned south and continued to talk on my phone.

I half watched as Freeman swiftly caught up to the subject. Though I was not close enough to hear, Freeman must have said something to the effect of, “Can you stop and chat with us for a second?”

I watched with more attentiveness as the subject on the bike failed to make eye contact with Freeman or slow his bike. I knew what was about to take place so I gave my wife a quick “I gotta go” while she was in mid sentence. I hung up the phone and slid it into my pocket.

The chase well on its way as the suspect quickened his pace and turned down Davis St, fleeing to the east on his bike. Freeman was easily following behind with a determined, almost fiery, look on his face, knowing that this guy was not going to get away.

I was at full speed as I few around the corner in time to see Freeman cut in front of the suspect. The suspect either had to hit the curb, try to go through Freeman, or stop. He chose wisely as he skidded to a stop and lost his balance. Freeman reached out and helped guide the suspect in the direction he was already headed, to the street.

The suspect hit the ground with a thud but promptly bounced back to his feet and started to run. As smoothly and simultaneously as two Olympic synchronized swimmers, Freeman and I dismounted our bikes and pursued the chase.

The chase ended as quickly as it began with Freeman pile driving the suspect into the curb head first. The suspect, who surprisingly remained consciences after two hard falls, now refused to listen to verbal commands. He placed his hands in his front waist band area; out of view (This area is where a criminal is most likely to store a weapon).

Almost unconscientiously, I found that my taser was removed from its holster and in my hand. The taser quickly found the center of the suspects back where I squeezed the trigger and released 50,000 volts of unforgiving hurt.

The suspect let out a shrill scream as he unwillingly took the five second ride. When the five seconds were up, he grunted with the last bit of breath left in his lungs saying, “you got me.”
As Freeman grasped onto the suspect’s left arm, I watched his right arm slide back to his waist. I heard another exasperated grunt and watched the suspect’s face wince in indescribable pain as my finger found the trigger again. After the unlearned lesson was retaught, I heard an exhausted voice say,”I’m done,” as he willingly placed his hands and arms out to the side.

After he was fully detained, we searched his waist for what we believed would be a knife or gun. Instead of a weapon we located an opened cigarette package containing a meth pipe, $80 worth of recently purchased meth, and some marijuana.

The suspect had used the last of his money to purchase meth and was unwilling to have it taken from him without a fight.

The suspect was later booked on his new drug charges, failing to obey a police officer, and two outstanding felony warrants.

Monday, June 1, 2009

All In A Days Work

Chapter One

I promised my boys that I would ride bikes with them as soon as I finished edging and mowing the backyard lawn with my wife. They played in the backyard and let me work while anxiously waiting for me to finish.

I just finished edging the backyard when I received a phone call from Reggie. Reggie, a fellow SWAT team member, does not call me much, so I knew it meant we were getting a call out.

I helped my wife move the trampoline so she could finish mowing the lawn, then I called Freeman; my bike, carpool, and SWAT partner. I called to see if he got the text message for the call out. He had and was on his way to pick me up.

I gathered my equipment and told my boys that Dad was getting called to work to get a bad guy. My oldest boy told me that I can get bad guys anytime as his eyes swelled up with tears. He reminded me of my promise to take him on a bike ride as soon as I finished the yard. He pointed out the completion of my first task.

I patted my boys on the head and told them I was sorry, I gave my wife a kiss, and gave the little one a kiss on her forehead as I headed out the door. I promised I would be home first thing in the morning to do whatever they wanted.

Freeman arrived at my home on cue and I clambered into his truck and headed to the South Station.

At the station we gathered our gear from the lockers (vest, helmet, goggles, rifle, ammo, gloves, radio, flash bangs, zip tie hand cuffs, knee pads, ear protection, boots, pants, and shirt) and headed to the briefing room.

Every SWAT member did their part to prepare the armored car with plenty of water for the scorching Arizona morning. We got dressed with our equipment and made sure the rifles were well oiled. We started hydrating in preparation for the long afternoon.

We sat through briefing and were advised of the reason for the callout. On 5-28-2009 at about 2353 hours our suspect found the later fatally wounded victim he had been looking for. With one close range shot gun blast to the upper chest, the victim bled out on the doorstep of the witness.

The suspect was identified by several witnesses and it was later learned that he was hanging out at his girlfriend’s apartment in the projects: hence the SWAT callout.

The briefing concluded as two neighboring SWAT teams arrived to assist. They brought their far superior armored vehicles known as the Bear and the Bear Cat. Our assignment was to extract the well armed homicide suspect from the government project housing.

With several contingency plans in place we arrived on scene and quickly surrounded the duplex apartment. I was the first operator off of the Bear armored vehicle and took a position of cover in front. I covered down on the front door to the apartment.
Our sniper was positioned just south of me in an open field. He had equal cover on the front and side doors. Freeman was in the second armored vehicle and immediately contacted the occupants of the attached apartment (duplex) and extracted the family to safety.

I moved the small red dot from my AR15 rifle EOTech around the front door and expected it to open at any moment.

With all the SWAT operators in place, the driver of the Bear got on the bull horn and told the suspect that his residence was surrounded. He told everyone to exit the residence through the front door with their hands in the air.

Within moments the front door opened. My heart skipped a beat as my little red dot found it’s way to the bridge of the suspects nose. I immediately recognized the suspect from his picture as I told him to place his hands high in the air. My little red dot moved from the bridge of his nose to the center of his chest and back again as I coached him on how to exit the residence.

To most everyone’s surprise, the suspect complied with every order without a fight. He was quickly taken into custody by the arrest team and hauled off to jail for processing. We finished clearing the residence of any additional suspects and turned the home over to detectives for the completion of their search warrant.

After hours of preparation and a surprisingly speedy execution, we were done. Freeman and I made it back to the station in time to eat a quick lunch and start our bike patrol shift.

We changed out of our SWAT garb and put on the patrol gear. After hydrating for a brief moment, we left out the back gate.

Chapter Two

Right out the gate, Freeman and I made some quick stops. We spoke to some suspicious characters but had nothing major. The sun began to set and the scorching heat dwindled to a sweltering heat.

We rounded the corner at Hill and Central and saw two bicyclists at Madden Dr and Central.

We had some civil bike infractions and had every intention of stopping the two bike riders at the corner. As we told them to stop, however, the younger Hispanic male, riding a small BMX style bike, failed to make eye contact and started to turn north down the center of Central Ave.

I followed the young Hispanic male as every bit of my five years of experience told me he was about to flee.

Just as the suspect started peddling faster I knew why I recognized him.

At the beginning of my workweek the detectives sent out a press release photo and synopsis regarding a known armed robber and burglar known as Shawn. Everyone in the department was looking for the squirrelly thief. A verity of complete squads held special details in his honor with no avail. I had studied the photo, even kept it in my pocket, and knew I would recognize the Dumbo size ears anywhere.

Freeman zoomed past me to follow Shawn as I grabbed my radio and told dispatch that Bike-11 was in pursuit.

Though I could not remember his name, I wanted everyone to know that it was Shawn we were chasing.

I told dispatch, “We are in pursuit northbound on Central Ave from Madden Dr with…..I don’t remember his name but the detectives are looking for him.”

With that exceptionally long statement out of the way I refocused on the chase. Freeman and I followed Shawn down an unpaved alley where he luckily escaped a crash into a block wall.

We came out of the alley and Shawn chose to head down a dead end street. Shawn, having peddled his little tired legs as fast as he could, attempted to dismount his bike to flee on foot. As his feet connected with the pavement his legs turned to rubber. Shawn threw his hands in the air and appeared to be attempting an Olympic dive as he slammed head first into the hardened dirt of the unkept front yard. He let out an exasperated grunt as his body collided with the dirt floor.

Shawn tried to leap back up to his feet but his rubber legs gave way again, causing him to do another swan dive into the dirt. Freeman, who had somehow dismounted his bike and run to the far side of Shawn before the Olympic flop, now had his knee at the middle of Shawn’s back.

I came to a screeching halt and nearly ran over Shawn’s midsection with my front tire. I dismounted my bike and grabbed Shawn’s arm with a hard twist before we were able to get him into custody. I thought to myself, “You don’t run from the Bike Squad,” as I told dispatch our current location.

To add a twist of irony to the story, I remembered that Shawn is Bubba’s step brother (See previous Blog “You Don’t Run from the Bike Squad!”).
I had to muster the strength to keep a strait face as I told Shawn, “When you get to prison with Bubba, tell him that the same people who caught him, caught you.”

Shawn was turned over to the first arriving unit and we continued our bike patrol.

Chapter Three

Freeman and I, still glowing with excitement from the last catch, turned a corner or two in time to catch up to four juveniles walking down the road. As we caught up with them, and before we could get any words out, we could smell a strong odor of marijuana.

With a few, “we know one of you has weed, hand it over,” phrases, one of them handed over a bag of marijuana with a glass pipe.

After calling mom, completing an interview, and collecting all evidence, we were off in search of another.

We rode down the street and into a Mobile home park. As we turned past the front office we found a group of teens drinking alcohol. Four arrests later, with at least two angry parents (angry with the kids not us), we rolled into the station.

After impounding the evidence and securing our paperwork, we dressed down and headed home for the night.

With smiles on our faces we reflected on the day. Not everyone can say that they detained a homicide suspect, chased down a robbery suspect (on a bike), caught and arrested a group of preteens with drugs, and busted a group of teens drinking beer, all in one day.

I still have a smile on my face. I enjoy what I do and though small, I make a difference. You can say it's all in a days work.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oh The Things I Have Seen!

Oh the things I have seen!

This blog is not for the queasy or faint of heart.

Dispatch advised that the neighboring city was in a high speed pursuit that ended in a wreck at 115 Ave and I-10. I was less than a block away when it happened and I immediately followed the billow of smoke to the far side of the freeway. I made my way up the eastbound off ramp.
The freeway soon appeared like a red and blue rock concert as numerous emergency vehicles surrounded the area with sirens, horns, and lights.
I arrived as one of the first officer’s on scene and found it difficult to find the shape of a car in the flattened, black, four door heap of mangled metal. I threw my vehicle in park and quickly removed my fire extinguisher to put out a small engine fire. I watched as arriving officer’s surrounded the jumbled remains and removed the two conscience female passengers and carried them to a safe distance in case the engine fire got out of hand.

As the two females were carried to safety I watched the overweight driver take his last gargled breath while his mangled lifeless body hung out the driver’s window. His body hung out the window feet first as he had been partially ejected during the collision but was held back by the fact that his head was crushed between the seat and roof.
As I further examined the wreckage, I walked to the back of the car and saw that the fourth passenger remained in his seat. No one attempted to extract him either, mostly due to his split skull oozing with a grayish-red brain matter that slowly dripped onto the rear floor mat.

The driver of the stolen sedan lost control of the vehicle when he erroneously maneuvered through the rocky gore area (between the freeway and off ramp) causing the vehicle to spin out of control until it violently encountered a full grown palm tree. The front passenger had been instantly killed when the vehicle slammed into the palm tree at over 60 mph. The driver died a short time later. The two females survived the crash.
I responded to a trailer park on Main Street in reference to a stabbing report. Upon arrival I contacted a shirtless Hispanic male complaining of chest pain. The cause of his pain was obvious as I watched his filleted upper chest precariously hanging on a flap of skin.

I believed the chest pain was also due to the numerous puncture wounds in his lower abdomen and self defense slashes on his hands, wrists, and arms.
The Spanish speaking victim got into an argument with his roommate earlier in the night. After all was said (and thought to be done) the victim went to bed and fell asleep. The roommate, still angry from the argument, grabbed a large kitchen knife, entered the bedroom, and stabbed the victim several times. The victim survived and the suspect fled to Mexico.
I responded to a reported shooting in the area of Thomas Rd and 107 Ave. Upon arrival, I contacted a Hispanic male teenager lying on the living room floor wincing in pain. Not seeing any obvious gun shot wound I asked him if he was okay. He responded by pulling the font of his pants down and yelling out “I shot my @$%#$# off!”
The image of the bloody appendage was etched in my mind forever as it reminded me of a half eaten hot dog that had been nuked in the microwave for too long.
I guess the teen decided to play around with a pump action shotgun loaded with bird shot and for some unfathomable reason he pointed the shotgun a little too low. (And pulled the trigger)

The bird shot instantly removed his member as the bloody carnage was strewn down the hallway in a perfect geometric line. Small bb's speckled the floor and wall from the blast. Upon further examination of the irreplaceable minced limb on the wall, I saw flies and other insects enjoying their fresh meal for the night.

(Again, for reasons unknown, the victim had time to rack the shotgun which ejected the spent casing from the barrel, prior to calling the police)
I still have my suspicions that said teenager was putting the now fly dinner where it did not belong, and someone taught him an unforgettable lesson. But he stuck to his story.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What a Great Day to Come Back!

I had fractured my right index finger (trigger finger) in two places while playing flag football with fellow police officers. I finished three games after breaking the finger and refused to believe that anything was wrong until it swelled up so big that I couldn’t bend it anymore.
I went to see a doctor and eventually a surgeon. I was told by the surgeon that I would, in all probability, lose most of the range of motion in my finger. It was difficult to imagine that one little finger could cause so many problems, but I remained positive.

The surgery was successful but the doctor said the fracture was a lot worse than previously thought. I had two pins protruding from my finger for several weeks and was the butt of most nose picking jokes.

When it came time to remove the pins I was significantly surprised by my lack of dexterity and mobility in my finger. I couldn’t even force my finger to bend with my other hand. I thought to myself several times, “How would I ever pull the trigger on my gun again?”

I didn’t want to imagine the possibility of not being able to return to a job that I love because of some dumb broken finger.

I worked hard during my physical therapy and after several months of working Light Duty behind a desk, I was back.

The slothful people of Old Town had gone unchecked for several weeks, and now was their time to be hunted by the bike squad.

After finishing our prep work for the day, we mounted the bikes and headed out the gate.

We were as gitty as two school girls to be back, but as hungry as ravished wolves to get back into action.

Our first stop was successful as we made a felony warrant arrest and found some drugs. After four hours of pounding the pavement, we debated grabbing a bite to eat. Freeman said he was not quite hungry yet and was enjoying our success too much to waist time eating.

Without much of a debate, we headed to a high drug traffic area on Hill Drive to see what we could find. As we rounded the corner we saw our prey; he was a white male junkie in his mid thirties riding a bike. His name, not ever to be forgotten, is Raul.

We followed Raul north on Fifth St where he clearly ran a stop sign on his bike to head east on Riley Dr.

I sped up to make the stop and with a short distance between us I told Raul to “Pull over!” Raul gave the half head turn and shouted, “What did I do?” as he started to peddle faster. The race was on!

Raul was losing ground but saw his escape route through an open gate into a residential yard. Raul stumbled off of his bike and started to run on foot. I went to follow when all of a sudden Freeman flew past me on his bike and said he would chase him and told me to cut Raul off on the other side.

Raul had already cleared the first 6 ft chain-link fence and was headed across the alley toward the next.

Freeman flew off his bike, all but hurdled the first fence, and was on his way down from the second one by the time I turned to the end of the street.

I sailed around the alleyway toward the next street when I saw Raul running east from the fenced yards.

As quickly as Freeman had cleared the fences I was surprised that Raul was not already hog tied in the front yard. I watched Raul run past me and glanced back at Freeman to hear him yell, “Get him, he’s coming right at you!”

I saw Freeman wince in pain, holding his left arm, as he said this. I knew that somehow Raul had hurt my partner. Raul, in my mind, was no better off than a sitting duck.

With ease I turned to follow Raul on my bike as he ran into a car port and tried to clear a gate. I slid my bike out from under me as I approached the fence and watched Raul struggle to hang on as the gate unexpectedly swung open. As the fence came to a stop I saw him awkwardly fall to the ground. He stammered back onto his feet as he continued to flee through the back yard.

With wild anger spewing from within like an erupting volcano, I wanted nothing more than to seriously hurt Raul for whatever he did to my partner. Raul was slow and clumsy by now and I was locked onto him like a laser guided missile. With as much force as two colliding humans could produce I slammed into Raul. Raul flew sideways and smashed into a metal fountain and flopped onto the ground.

I pounced on top and ripped Raul’s arms from underneath him as I put him in hand cuffs.
I was less then gentle with Raul as I lifted him from the ground and dragged him to the front yard. I advised dispatch that I had one subject in custody.

As soon as Freeman knew I was okay and I had one in custody, he asked for Fire to roll in.

We came to find out that the reason Raul ran was he had drug paraphernalia in his possession. Raul said he was on Hill Drive to buy some meth but said the dealer’s would not sell to him because the “bike guys were around”. Raul was booked in jail and only received a 90 day sentence for resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Freeman later told me that as he cleared the last fence, within inches of Raul, he landed on an empty trash bin which easily toppled over. Freeman braced for the impact by placing his left arm in front of him and the force of the impact shattered and dislocated his elbow.

Needless to say that Raul was out of jail and back in the street stealing and using drugs before Freeman was back at work.

What a great day to come back!

What a terrible day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Stinky Situation....

Briefing just ended and I left in a patrol car to start the day. I went strait to Durango Park, a large housing development located just south of an old run down neighborhood called Cashion.

I went to this area based on the briefing where we discussed the increasing number of burglaries in Durango Park.

I have already described an area known as Old Town which I called the loathsome epicenter of theft. As bad as Old Town might seem, Cashion is about 10 times worse. Cashion is one square mile of gangs, drugs, shootings, robberies, and homicides. (Also known as one of my favorite places to work, sorry Mom).

To give an example of the mostly corrupt square mile, one time, when doing bike patrol in Cashion, we parked our patrol car in front of a well lit community park. After completing patrol for the night we returned to our patrol car to find a large brick thrown through the back window. The driver’s side window was busted out as well. Upon further examination we determined that some Cashionite (what we call the people of Cashion) attempted to steal the locked computer from the passenger compartment. The Cashioninte trifled through our glove box and paperwork as well. Nothing was taken because they couldn't get into the trunk, but damage was done.

Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to most of the good people of the Durango Park community, the Cashionites tend to trickle into their neighborhood to commit thefts, burglaries, home invasions, and robberies.

I entered Durango Park as I turned south from Durango St onto Whyman Blvd. I immediately noticed a red in color passenger vehicle blow through a stop sign and head south on Whyman Blvd, directly in front of me.

The driver zipped around the corner then floored the gas as he quickly sped to over 65 mph through a school zone in this residential neighborhood. When I finally caught up with the vehicle I was sure that the Cashionite occupant had just committed some kind of theft or burglary.

I lit up the car which slowly came to a stop on the wrong side of the road. I cautiously approached the driver’s side door where the driver appeared extremely nervous and fidgety. I looked in through the vehicle windows and saw construction equipment and copper wire, a sure sign of many burglars.

I contacted the driver and asked for the usual license, registration and insurance. The driver complied but still seemed nervous and was starting to sweat.
I asked for an additional unit and before the driver could give his excuse I told him to remain in the vehicle. I took his credentials back to my car and conducted the usual warrants and driving history check.

When the driver was negative for warrants and had a clean driving history, I completed a citation for the stop sign violation and speed greater than reasonable and prudent. While I scratched the cite, I watched the extremely nervous driver reach around in the car and continually look in the rear view mirror to monitor my actions.

When I completed my citation, I reproached the driver and was overwhelmed with a noxious smell. I looked at the driver and observed an almost foam-like, brown, runny substance oozing from his right leg where his shorts stopped. I looked at the driver’s face which was turning crimson from embarrassment. Apparently he was not nervous; he just had a serious case of the runs!

I almost felt bad as I handed him the speeding ticket to sign and stood a few feet back to avoid the putrid stench.

I could hardly imagine his embarrassment again when I had to retell the complete story in a packed courtroom. Though the judge didn’t buy it, the driver felt justified in speeding to get to the restroom!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Bigfoot

It is almost like being thrown into the middle of a lake after only having a few swim lessons. I had finished the academy and FTO (Field Training) and I was put into a patrol car for the first time on my own.

I tried to make up for my inexperience with my enthusiasm. I felt like a kid again as I could play real cops and robbers. Even if I did not know everything, I was ready to work and I had free reign of the streets.

I was working graveyards and was given Old Town as my first beat. Being that it was well past sundown, and no calls were holding, I started to hunt.

I turned down Western Ave from 8 St and traveled as far east as I could go. This area is known as Western X. Western X was far overdue for a landscape overhaul, as the large ditch at the end of the road, which was next to some railroad tracks, was vastly overgrown with trees and weeds. This area was convenient for most transients and druggies, which are often the same person, to sleep or do drugs.

I stopped my car at this location and I used my spotlight to light up the dark crevasses between the overgrown brush. Just as I passed the last section with the spot light I saw something move. It looked a lot like a person but could have easily been Bigfoot moving behind the mammoth sized bush.

I was pretty excited with my new find and must have been talking too fast. I had to tell dispatch where I was at least ten times before they understood me.

I got out of the police car and shined my flashlight in the area where I saw the movement. I don’t know why I had my flashlight out because it almost made the area darker where my already 1,000,000 candle power spot light was shining.

With the flashlight in hand I told whoever was behind the giant bush to come out.

I heard rustling and my heart started to race as I saw a male subject jump out from behind the bushes. Like a frightened deer, he raced up a small hill onto the railroad tracks and sprinted east.

Now the only reason Western X stops at the overgrown wash, is it runs into a 20 ft embankment of a normally dry river bed called the Agua Fria River. Up the small hill and a few steps east was an old, but still used, Railroad Bridge. The bridge is about 300 ft long and looked old enough to have been built in the early 1950's.

As I watched the man run across the bridge I thought to myself, “This was my first chance at a foot pursuit, I guess I could chase him.”
“But what if I caught him and I had no charges, then what would I do?”

I further pondered, “The railroad tracks are private property, I learned that in the academy, I think. Trespassing is against the law and I am a cop that enforces the law.”
“I guess I will chase.”

This thought process must have taken longer than it was supposed to, because by the time I decided to chase the male subject was about half way down the bridge.

I clumsily clasped for my radio as I started running and called out “FOOT PURSUIT!”
I made my way past the overgrown brush and raced down the railroad tracks trying not to trip over the old wooden slats.

As I ran I couldn’t help but think about the scene from Stand By Me when they had to jump off the end of the bridge to avoid getting hit by the train. I did not want to be stuck in the middle of the bridge if a train did decide to join the chase.

With a thousand thoughts in my head as I ran, and the fact that it was my first true foot chase (SO EXCITING), I told everyone I was running westbound when in fact I was running east. I asked for assistance on Lower Buckeye Rd when what I really needed was assistance on Buckeye Rd. (These roads are about 1 mile apart)

I was huffing and puffing down the tracks to catch up. However, as I ran all the fresh adrenalin and the thousand thoughts in my head did not prepare me for what I witnessed in the middle of the bridge. I tried to adjust my eyes as I saw the runner leap from the bridge to the dry riverbed located far below.

I had to make sure sure a train was not really coming as I arrived at the location where the leap was made. I finished my visual search for the assumed-to-be seriously injured junkie but, to my surprise, I saw nothing but a dark river bottom.
I must have sounded ridiculous as I ended my foot chase with the police code “66 (Police code for disregard my last transmissions) the suspect jumped off the bridge and is nowhere in sight.”

I meandered back to my patrol car and did not look forward to my visit back to the station where I would not hear the end of my squad mates ridicule.

I lost my first foot pursuit, though I half wondered if it really was Bigfoot behind the bushes that night. I never did get a good look at him and no human being would have survived a leap from the old bridge.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lost In Old Town

Our night drew to an end as we finished our last contact by throwing a juvenile in the back of the patrol car in hand cuffs.

As trivial as a curfew arrest might seem, juveniles were ninety percent of the problem in this area. From the armed robberies and vehicle burglaries to the shopliftings and drug use, these juveniles caused most of our troubles.

The store owners and shoppers were begging for help with the juvenile disturbances, so they sent us, the bike squad, to help deal with it.

We were making a difference too; we had chased down a drug dealer (a juvenile), and caught a group of juveniles (with guns) smoking weed in the parking lot. We accomplished all of this, and more, just by talking with some up-to-no-good kids.

So, I did not feel bad or silly when I threw a snot nosed punk kid in the back of my patrol car because he had stayed out too late.

We secured our bikes on the back of the patrol car and we left to take him home. We promptly hopped on the freeway for a short jaunt to Old Town.

As charming or nostalgic as “old town” might sound, it is quite the polar opposite. Old town is where the transient population lingers and the drug trade thrives. The highest amount of robberies, thefts, and homicides happen in old town. It was no surprise that the snot nosed kid called this place home.

My partner, Freeman, drove to the teenager’s home and walked him to the door. After he spoke to Mom to tell her to keep a better eye on her teen, he returned to the car.

I thought Freeman was joking when he said in a serious tone, “where’s your bike?” I told him to stop messing around and to get in the car. When Freeman repeated, “Where’s your bike?” with a panicked looked, I jumped out of the car.

I looked at the bike rack and saw two open flaps and one missing bike. My hart sank as I spewed out nastiest four letter word I could think of, “Crap!”

There was a reason for my uncharacteristic foul mouth, the bike was a loaner.

We were doing well as a squad so the department came to the conclusion that we needed some updated and better bikes. We found a bike shop that had two bikes they were willing to let us test.

Though the PD was concerned about the test ride, knowing that if anything happened to the bikes they would be responsible, they gave permission, reluctantly. Our week was up and the bikes were due back to the shop. You guessed it, “Oh CRAP!”

We collapsed back into the car and quickly turned around. We went down the road, made a turn or two, and felt discouraged as we saw no bike in the roadway. Sadly, it was what we expected for losing a bike in Old Town, the loathsome epicenter of theft.

After riding though Old Town, met with negative findings, we got back onto the freeway in order to continue our search on our way back to the shopping center. Once on the freeway I half expected to find mangled bike parts strewn across the road. To my surprise, there was no bike on the freeway either.

We made our way back to the shopping center with the hope that some store owner or responsible person found the bike. It was not at the shopping center either. Where could the bike be?!

We headed back to Old Town and crept along the freeway searching with the spot light. We knew we needed to give up. We had searched everywhere we could.

With all hope gone, I turned to the only source that I believed could help.

“Heavenly Father,” I said prayfully, “if anyone is going to find my bike in old town, let it be someone who is honest.”

It was past midnight and I knew that all the good people, especially in the old town area, were fast asleep.

Just then, I heard Dispatch clear on the radio, “Bike 11 (our call sign), can you give us a 21 (police code for phone call).”

I called dispatch and spoke to Diane as she said with a slight chuckle, “Are you and Freeman riding tandem?”

Diane then explained that she received a phone call from Jeremy’s parents who said they found a police bike and were returning it to the station.

Jeremy is one of the police officers who trained me. He grew up in old town area and his parents apparently still lived close by.

I don’t know why his parents, who are well into their 60’s, were driving through the heart of old town after midnight, but I was extremely grateful.

I said a little, “Thank you,” to Heavenly Father as we returned to the station and I found my bike sitting in the lobby unharmed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I had several months under my belt as a cop and turned in the graveyard shift for the faster paced swing shift. During swing shift hours, unlike those on graves, the streets are full of decent hard working people along with the occasional “dirt bag”.

My job, as far as I am concerned, is to sift through the decent people to find the ones who need officer intervention. My way of sifting through “Joe Hardworker” to get to “Joe Dirtbag” was by conducting traffic and pedestrian stops.

On one such occasion, I had the opportunity to contact someone riding a dirt bike on a public street without a license plate.

I positioned my patrol car directly behind the motorcycle and flipped on the overhead lights and after a moment of noncompliance I hit a couple quick siren bursts to get the rider’s attention. After following the rider for a minute or two with no change of behavior, I figured that he was debating whether to stop or flee.

He chose the latter!

As soon as we approached 119 Ave at Cocopah Cir the suspect opened up the throttle and like a jackrabbit in the desert, he sped down the street, made a sharp turn, and was out of sight.

I cruised up to Joblanca Rd, where the suspect was last seen, and he was gone. I rolled down my windows and could hear nothing; no speeding motorcycle, no crash, and no pedestrians to point him out. He was gone!

I slowly rolled through the neighborhood with the hope of seeing an open garage, possibly with a dirt bike inside, but I was met with negative findings.

I crept past the last house in the neighborhood and saw a woman in the front yard. With my last effort in finding the suspect I asked her, knowing very well that the answer was no, if she had seen anyone speeding through on a motorcycle. The female said, to my delight, that she saw a motorcycle enter a home on the north side of Pima St, just west of 119 Dr.

I gave a quick thank you as I tried to suppress my joy, but failed to do so, as my engine roared the three houses down I needed to travel. I parked my car in the street and was halfway up the driveway before I realized it.

I knocked on the front door and played it cool as a white male subject, wearing the same color shirt as my suspect, answered the door. I was overcome with the smell of alcohol as the subject opened the door and stepped outside.

I asked the subject, later identified as John, if he had been riding a motorcycle. John, while standing in the driveway, reminded me of a teeter totter going back and forth, as he slurred the word “no”. The stench of his breath caused me to take a half step back as I asked him how much he had to drink. John brought the teeter totter to a halt as he leaned against the wall and spewed out the words, “only a twelve pack.” With the subject appearing quite young, I asked him how old he was. He replied, “ninete…twenty one.”

He stalled as he told me his birthday, which to no surprise made him 19 years old, not old enough to drink.

I told John to walk with me to my patrol car as I pulled out my citation book. I started filling out a ticket at the same time mentally noting that John became noticeably nervous. He stepped backwards and started looking around. John stopped answering my questions regarding his full name and continually looked around as he kept asking why I was giving him a ticket.

I threw the cite book back into the patrol car. I had been in a few foot chases to know when someone is giving all the signs of “I’m about to run”.

I grabbed a hold of John’s right wrist as I told him to turn around. John twisted his weasely hand out of mine and started running. The chase was on!

I expected John to run so I was right behind him stride for stride as he awkwardly ran down the street toward a brick wall. I called out over the radio that I was in a foot pursuit and finished just in time to catch John half way up the brick wall.

Unfortunately, John had grabbed onto an adjacent wall and like a leach he would not let go. Holding on to John’s legs, I gave a couple of tugs with no success. With my last effort of playing nicely, I grabbed onto Johns pants, at his waist, and braced both my feet against the wall. With a heavy heave on John’s pants he still did not budge. I was surprised, though, how easily his pants slipped down his legs and onto the ground. Then I noticed it was not just his pants, it was his pants, underwear, socks and shoes. I grabbed a hold of what I had left, John’s naked legs.

John tried pulling his half naked body over the wall again but I held onto his legs and ankles. I half wondered, "How am I to explain this precarious situation to the news who is sure to be videoing this situation?". I gave John one last pull and he refused to budge.

Realizing that John’s manhood was securely resting on top of a brick wall, I came up with what I now call the cheese grater method, I rocked John’s legs back and forth on top of the fence about ten times and was astounded at his motivation stay put. I assume that most people by now would have given up, but not John in his drunken stupor.

I held on to John’s legs as my backup, “Fireballs” Debora, as she would later be known, jumped out of her car. Debora opened the gate and told John to let go of the wall. Debora told him that if he did not let go she would spray him with OC, better known as pepper spray.

John did not listen and Fireballs went to town with the OC. John was covered in OC like a freshly painted car in an auto body shop. Thinking that John would now comply, I released his legs. Like a half naked salamander, John slithered over the wall and out of sight as soon as I let go.

Knowing that several officer’s had arrived in the area and Half Naked John would not get away, I backed out and help set up a perimeter. A K9 unit was summoned and I took a position on the west side.

A moment or two passed when all of a sudden I saw a side gate open and saw an angry male subject holding a golf club in the air yelling. (The man later stated that he was quite upset when he saw a half naked man hiding in his back yard). I saw John try to hunker down behind a bush as he was shooed out of the backyard at golfclub point. John's attempt at hiding was no better then a 3-year-old playing hind-and-seek, thinking that you are not going to find him because his eyes are closed.

I told John that I could see him and he slowly stood up and said, “Okay, okay, you got me.” I told John that he was under arrest and once again, he started running. With John obviously not able to hide a weapon in his birthday suite I willingly gave chase and quickly brought him to the ground.

John was promptly hand cuffed and the chase was over.

And on queue, like a punch line at the end of a joke, John said, “Can I get up, my balls are burning!”

If you are going to run and get pepper sprayed by the police, make sure you are wearing clothes.

Monday, March 30, 2009


(pronounced 5 oh 9)

I had been living in Arizona less than a year, out of the academy for a few months, and on the street as a beat cop, on my own, for only a few weeks. I was trying to get used to the grave yard shift and, more importantly, the type of criminals out while most people were fast asleep.

It was starting to get late and all the normal street traffic was dwindling. The major streets might have had a car or two every half hour but the overall car and foot traffic had dissipated.

My last FTO (Field Training Officer) had a knack and a passion for finding 509’s. (509 is police code for stolen vehicles). His obsession, as some would call it, for finding 509’s rubbed off on me. Yes, I could find an abandoned 509 here and there, but all that would lead to was a report with no suspects. I wanted to find an occupied 509!

For this reason I patrolled one of the high crime area’s of the city for most the night. At this hour any moving vehicle on the road probably needed to be checked out.

I was patrolling northbound on 111 Ave and Pima St when I saw some red tail lights in the distance to the west. I turned west on Pima St and sped up behind the vehicle to get a look at the license plate.

As soon as I pulled up behind the vehicle I heard an engine roar and tires squeal. The race was on as the white in color Honda vehicle blew the stop sign at 113 Ave and headed north toward MC 85. The car was probably stolen and the suspect was going to do what he could to get away.

I did not have to be a cop very long to know that bad guys doing bad things always wanted to get away. For some, it is running when they have a warrant. For you that want to run on foot, thank you, I enjoy the chase and love the tackle. For others, such as this driver, it means driving carelessly and endangering the life of anyone that gets in their way. For you, unfortunately I will call off the chase. I do so, however, in order to avoid the inevitable crash into the unsuspecting mother of three on her way home from the store. A stolen car is what my boss calls a “TV on wheels”, its just a piece of property.

I advised dispatch saying, “Paul 115 (my badge number at the time), I have a white in color Honda vehicle leaving the area of 113 Ave and MC 85 at a high rate of speed.”

“I am not following [to avoid the aforementioned crash] and will be stopped at 113 Ave and Flanagan St.” My heart sank a little as I thought of another occupied 509, or bad guy, getting away.

I watched from a distance as the fleeing Honda blew another stop sign at 113 Ave, sliding sideways onto MC 85.

As I silently watched the vehicle fly around the corner I heard a loud “CRACK!” The vehicle’s engine went silent and the once reckless speed began descending. I crept up to MC 85 and heard a softer “click, click, click” as the driver tried to restart the vehicle. This was my chance!

I sped up to behind the vehicle as it slowed to a stop in front of the Fry’s Food and Drug parking lot. The driver gave the engine one more hopeless attempt to start as I heard the last, “click.”

The driver door swung open and the white male suspect flew out of the car sprinting south toward the Fry’s parking lot. As quickly as his door opened, I was out of my car to join the chase. I slowly passed the Honda to be sure no suspect was left inside. As soon as I was certain, I was off at full speed.

The suspect started running toward a sidewalk followed by a half wall made of bricks. He looked back to see me chasing at full speed. He did not, however, look back at the sidewalk in time to avoid clumsily tripping over the curb and slamming into the half wall head first.

I slowed my pursuit enough to draw my gun and tell him to show me his hands. The suspect stood up with his back to me and his hands out of view saying, “What are you going to do, shoot me?”

The suspect started running again down the sidewalk toward the empty Fry’s parking lot. As soon as I saw his hands without a weapon I holstered my gun and resumed the chase.

The suspect most likely expected me to be following right behind, I had a different plan! I started flanking the suspect to his right so he would have a hard time knowing my exact position.
After running a moment or two the suspect decided he wanted to know how close I was to him. He looked over his left shoulder and with no one there he started to slow.

Little did he know that I was on the right and had gone from a fast run to a full sprint like a stock car on a strait-a-way. I picked a spot on his back somewhere between his shoulder blades and lower back. I quickly closed the distance and saw his eyes get as big as silver dollars as he finally looked to the right to see my right shoulder slam into his back. I held onto his sides and we both flew into the air. The suspect came down onto the blacktop as hard as he had left it. He slapped onto the blacktop with a loud thud and slid a foot or two. I held on and rode his back across the blacktop as a surfer might ride his board on a wave.

Once the short ride was over I placed him in hand cuffs and listened to him strain for a breath as I asked him why he was running. I helped him up off the ground and watched him limp dramatically as I escorted him to the curb.

Once the suspect was seated on the curb I saw the old Fry’s security guard driving his golf cart over to me saying, “That was the hardest hit I had ever seen.” He continued, “the Cardinals could use someone who hits like that.” He asked if I needed help which I gratefully declined.

The white Honda, as you might have guessed, was stolen. The suspect was booked in jail knowing that if he was going to steal again he would either, 1) Not come back to my city 2) Make sure the car is in working condition before fleeing or 3) Not run from the police if his stolen car breaks down.

Either way, I got my occupied 509.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You Don't Run from the Bike Squad!

I welcomed another routine start to my day. I got dressed, made sure my radio battery was full and my gun was clean. I sat down in the patrol room to check my emails and phone messages. I sat through briefing and engaged in the typical chit chat with fellow officers. I grabbed my bicycle and made sure I had enough citations, evidence bags, and booking sheets.

As quickly as the routine day started, the routine day ended. I mounted the bicycle and we left out the back gate. We, meaning my partner Freeman and I, rode south and then west to check our favorite areas for any suspicious activity.

After about an hour of patrol an officer asked for assistance in locating his suspect in reference to a residential burglary and family fight. I recognized the name he advised on the radio and knew exactly who he was looking for, Bubba.

I had a history with Bubba. The first time I met Bubba he was running from me and other officers because he had several major felony warrants. Bubba disappeared into the night after jumping numerous fences.

The second time I contacted Bubba I was on a bike. I had been looking for him because of the same felony warrants and the fact he got away the first time. To my surprise and excitement I found him walking around the middle of an apartment complex. As soon as I saw him I jumped off of my bike to chase him on foot but he was too far away flew and around a corner and out of sight before I could catch up. (Note to self on this day: It is better to chase someone on your bike then on foot) My partner at the time started chasing Bubba on his bike (much smarter then me) but blew out his tire after the first turn. There is no need to say it, but Bubba got away.

Not too many people get away from me one time, Bubba had me twice. Though Bubba was later caught by several officers after he jumped through a glass window to try and get away, I still had his number and would wait for my next turn.

So now I had my chance, Bubba was wanted for a family fight, a residential burglary, and several warrants. If Bubba was home, he was not getting away this time!

I responded to his residence and while my partner and another officer went to the front door, I was quietly and patiently waiting for Bubba to run out the back.

After all of this, no one was home. We quietly left the area and half heartedly searched the surrounding area for Bubba.

After checking the area we continued our patrol southward and ended up at the far south end of the city. Not but a half hour into our patrol the same officer as before advised that he was following a car where Bubba was a passenger. The officer, having prior experience, said Bubba would probably bail out and run. As soon as the officer finished saying the words, “bail out,” he advised that Bubba had jumped out of the car and was running through yards and jumping fences.

Freeman and I were already on our way and started zipping past houses, jumping curbs, and flying through busy intersections on our bikes in order to get there.

Several officers advised that they were en route to the same location but none could beat the bike guys on scene.

Upon arrival I asked the first officer where Bubba was last seen and he said he was running north through fenced yards. Freeman and I started working the area to find out where he went. On First Street, just north of where Bubba was last seen, I contacted several subjects who were waving me down in their front yard. Before I could give them Bubba's name and description they asked, "Are you looking for Bubba?"

I gave a quick reply of "yes," and a follow up of "where did he go?" The group said Bubba stole a bike from their yard, threw it over their back fence, then rode the stolen bike away. They pointed west so we rode west.

I crossed Central Avenue and immediately saw a small black bike in front of Ed's Fish and Chips. I believed that Bubba rode the bike across the street and decided to hunker down inside the restaurant. I parked my bike and walked into Ed's with the hope of seeing Bubba try and run out the front door, through me.

As soon as I opened the front door I heard a back door quickly open and shut. Just as one might see in an action movie, I darted through the restaurant and out the back door. I ran out the back door and Poof!, Bubba was no where to be seen.

A perimeter was quickly set up and a K9 Unit was summoned to search. It was all for naught because Bubba had escaped again. He could not even be tracked by the dog.

I returned to the home on First Street to tell them I found their bike. They thanked me for finding their bike and said they would call if they saw Bubba again. I was once again disheartened as I walk to my bike and started riding away.

All of a sudden I heard someone yelling from the house, "He came back, he is right here!" I turned around just in time to see Bubba running to the back wall. I got on the radio to start up a new perimeter. Freeman sped to the south on his bike as I sped to the north. Officers were on Central Avenue so the west side was covered. The only part left open was where we all came from, the east side.

In case Bubba decided to double back I rode to the east side and had it covered. As I arrived back on the east side I saw my sergeant running southwest. I heard a commotion then a rattling chain-link fence.

Just when I had thought Bubba had done it again, I saw him running toward a fence and leap over it right in front of me.

Bubba was being chased, and like a scene from the Discovery Channel where the pray is pursued by a predator., the bike guys converged on Bubba from both sides as the sergeant chased from the back.

Bubba ran toward a fenced yard and tried to jump the chain-link fence. However, Freeman was right behind him and dismounted his bike and grabbed him in one smooth effortless movement.

I dropped my bike and ran to help Freeman but Bubba wiggled loose and was over a fence before I could get there. I leaped the fence in pursuit and followed as Bubba reached the end of the yard and cleared another fence. I cleared the fence after him as Bubba continued to clear another, then another fence.

As I cleared the forth fence and zeroed in on the target, Freeman ran around the corner and had Bubba trapped. Bubba stopped and waited for Freeman’s approach then tried to juke his way out. Freeman did not fall for Bubba's last ditch effort to get away and gave Bubba a solid two hand impact push into the side of a house. Bubba flew sideways into the house but somehow kept his feet and continued to run.

With nowhere else to go, Freeman grabbed onto Bubba with a well executed tackle. Bubba started going down to the ground as Freeman's tackle slid toward the lower legs.

I had jumped four fences and was running full steam ahead as I saw Bubba’s upper body open up. At full speed, with an extra 20 lbs of equipment on me, I was glad I was not Bubba. I lowered my shoulder and as if I were dressed in full football equipment, I made contact with Bubba's upper chest. All I heard was as loud grunt then a thud. Bubba mumbled with his last effort to avoid going to jail, "I am not Bubba, I am not Bubba," as Freeman placed him in hand cuffs. It should be noted that there was very little physical resistance from Bubba at this point.

Bubba was escorted to a patrol car by another officer as the old familiar Bike Squad saying came to mind, "You don't run from the Bike Squad!"