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