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.


Rachel said...

I hate the first day of anything. The first day of school was always scary. I'm glad I've never had a first day in a situation like the ones you have.

Angela said...

There are several things that I wish I could magically have a year or so experience with. Good story.

Missy said...

That's pretty spooky. It could have been a yetty. All the latest novels and horror movies seem to suggest that it's either a human with a highly contagious zombie virus or a blood thirsty vampire. You're lucky your not a zombie right now... or a vampire.
Mmmmm, maybe you are a vampire now and you're just not telling the whole story. Ut-oh.
Did you go back and look where it had been hiding? Maybe it was eating someone or something when you showed up, that could be why it didn't try to eat you.
Ok, I don't really think it was a zombie or vampire. In all seriousness, though, that is pretty creepy.
Even a large human wouldn't survive a long enough drop. Actually, especially a larger person would not survive. When you fall from high enough, water is just as soft as cement; you say the riverbed was dry. How far is the bridge from the dry bed?
This sounds like a mission for Mythbusters. You could call them and tell them your story. I bet they'd jump all over it.
I wonder what it was.

Lyenna said...

Ah the learning curve. I hate the learning curve. You know I bet your fellow police officers have similar stories, they just don't want to admit it. I guess it's the curse of the rookie. And Seriously how far was that drop?!

Z said...

Okay, I was exaggerating when I said no human would survive. But I figure most would be seriously injured.

The drop is about 20ft.

Kelly and Megan said...

I think you have more than made up for your first day blunders!

Tina said...

Hey cousin! Great story! You have talent.....