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!"