ZZ Top Was My Backup. Yes, “That” ZZ Top

Saturday 2345 hours – It was not at all unusual for the sheriff to schedule his patrol deputies to work the graveyard shift alone, covering the entire county with our nearest backup—a state trooper or a police officer from a nearby city, or a deputy or two from the next county over—sometimes 30-45 minutes away, or more.

At first, the thought of covering such a vast amount of real estate was a bit daunting. But we did it without complaint. After all, to question the high sheriff, a man as rough and gruff as any typically stereotyped southern TV sheriff, was practically a death sentence. Or, at the very least, a guaranteed trip to the unemployment line.

The boss seemed to enjoy applying pressure, holding his employees held tightly beneath his thumb. Needless to say, at times conditions, were a bit stressful, to say the least.

So this particular Saturday night, after enjoying a nice, hot TV dinner (single dad with daughter away for the weekend), I did the usual routine of walking to my driveway where I took a seat behind the wheel of my milk-chocolate-brown patrol car. I checked the light bar and wig-wag headlights to be sure they were working properly, moved a pair of cheap sunglasses from the dashboard to the center console, and then used the radio to let dispatch know I was on duty.

10-41, the 10-code in our neck of the woods for “On-Duty”

A few minutes later I was deep in the county, making the rounds to the various businesses—hotels, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, nightclubs, etc.—to let the night shift employees and partiers see a police car cruising through the parking lots. Not that it was any real crime deterrent, but it made the lonely clerks feel better. Seeing another human let them know they weren’t alone in the world. Those of you who work the late-night shifts know the feeling.

I also drove through the lots of businesses that had closed hours earlier, shining my spotlight through storefront windows and into alleyways, checking doors, and calling in the license plates and VIN numbers of cars that shouldn’t be parked where they were (sometimes a quick check revealed a stolen car or one that was used while committing a crime).

0115 hours – A little over an hour into the shift and I’d already covered a lot of ground. Nothing major had occurred. I’d checked a vehicle I spotted a hundred yards down a dirt path—a couple of half-dressed teens who’d steamed up the windows in dear old dad’s station wagon—, stopped a car that  suddenly veered from one side of the road to the other (the guy, a sort of rough boy with a large scorpion tattoo on his neck, said he’d dropped a Twinkee onto the floorboard and was trying to retrieve it, causing him to jerk the steering wheel).

I was heading to the north side of the county to make my rounds there when dispatch called to report a disturbance at a south-side hotel next to the interstate. She said she’d heard yelling in the background and then what could’ve been gun shots. I was at least 20 minutes away.I made the trip in fifteen, driving like a bat out of hell with my foot jamming the accelerator to the floor.

On the way, my alternating headlights, the rotating overhead lights, and the strobes in the back window, all winked and blinked and flashed at once, but were totally out of sync with one another. To add to the confusing light show, Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog spewed from the car speakers. John Bonham’s syncopated drumming, already sort but not quite of out of time with Page’s lightning-fast guitar licks, added a Twilight-Zonish back-beat to a constantly revolving kaleidoscope that should have been quite distracting. I, however, paid it no mind. Tunnel vision is normally a cop’s nemesis. This time, however, it kept my focus on the roadway and not the ten ring circus that was going on in and outside of my patrol car.

As I approached the chain hotel’s parking lot I turned off my lights and the radio (Zeppelin had long since finished their time on the turntable and the Beatles were then in high gear). I keyed the mic and signed 10-23 (arrived at scene).

The lot was packed with cars of all types, but I saw no signs of a fight. I decided to drive around the hotel to hopefully get a feel for what was going on before speaking with the night manager (often, callers exaggerate situations).

When I rounded the first corner I quickly realized that this was no exaggeration. I needed backup, and plenty of it. There must have 200 people outside, with at least 75 engaged in a massive fight. There were another 15 or 20 going at it on the upper walkways.

I told the dispatcher to send everyone and everyone she could find. A second later I heard the dispatcher calling for troopers and any other available help from the nearest city. Shoot, they could’ve sent every cop on the payroll and that still wouldn’t have been enough to suit me. At that point, I’d have welcome a boy scout troop and a church choir as long as they didn’t mind possibly loosing a couple of teeth.

I even saw one woman in the midst of delivering a flurry of punches to the head of another woman. The recipient of the vicious pounding was overdressed for parking lot brawling, to say the least. I say this because each time she was struck, the pearl necklace she wore whirled around her neck like a cowboy’s lasso.

10-33, our 10-code for “Officer Down” or “Officer Needs Assistance”

Delivering the “Hot Sauce.”

I checked my arsenal of weapons. I had my Beretta 9mm, a PR-24 (side handle baton), a riot-size can of pepperspray, and a shotgun. I looked back to the crowd. Then back to my little 9mm and tiny PR-24. Both seemed to be shrinking in size as the seconds passed. The odds were not in my favor.

I sounded a blast from my siren, hoping the masses would realize that the police were on the scene and ready to start kicking butt and taking prisoners. Nothing. No reaction whatsoever. Time for plan B, to sit in my car and wait for the cavalry, meanwhile, hoping the crowd wouldn’t turn my car over on its roof with me inside.

But doing nothing was just not in my nature. Instead, and sort of foolishly, I got out of my car with my trusty side-handle baton in my left hand and the other on my still-holstered gun. Somebody, and I didn’t care who, was going to jail.

Luckily, the troops began to arrive just as I hitched up my pants and waded into the pile, spraying a mist of pepperspray as I went. The other officers entered the fracas at different points, and we began to separate the instigators from those who really didn’t want to fight, but were because everyone else was doing it. Still, this was an all out brawl, the kind where police defensive tactics are often abandoned in favor of the ever popular “do-watcha-gotta-do” tactics. In fact, I remember seeing one officer using a baseball bat to prevent a group of men from attacking him. Where he got the bat, I haven’t a clue.

Eventually, the group’s size diminished and we were able to gain control with very few bruises, scrapes, and torn uniforms. Each of us arrested as many people as we had handcuffs and other restraints, and we had them packed in police cars like sardines. I’d arrived there alone, but left leading a long caravan of assorted police cars from several jurisdictions.

Once each of the little darlin’s had been booked and tucked in for the night, I thanked everyone for their help and watched as they all drove away. It was nearly 0500 when I headed back to the county for a final pass of the night.

0520 hours – Dispatch called to report a fight at yet another south-side hotel. Yes, she’d said, there were weapons involved and shots had been fired. Ironically, ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man was playing on the radio at the time I received the call. I looked down at the spot where my badge used to be attached to my shirt. My shoes were scuffed and my pants had streaks of ground-in asphalt across the knees and along the side of one leg. The knuckles on my gun hand hurt and my lower lip was swollen. Sharply dressed, I was not.

ZZ Top Was My Backup. Yes, “That” ZZ Top

I switched on my emergency lights and siren and mashed the gas pedal to the floor. Then I turned up the volume on the radio and I and ZZ Top headed south like a bat out of hell.

“Clean shirt, new shoes, and I don’t know where I am goin’ to…”

Man, I loved that job.

But these days, well, I’m 10-42 … Off Duty

Have mercy
A haw, haw, haw, haw

 

Save a Cop, Ride a Bearcat

Before you read the first word word of the article below, I want you to know that it’s far from what I normally present to you. If the following text offends you, well, let me say right now that I apologize. I do not, however, apologize for the message. So here goes…

There’s been lot’s of name-calling and outright hatred spewing from the mouths of many people who are totally against law enforcement agencies utilizing what some are calling military-like equipment—armored vehicles, camouflage and/or night-black uniforms, Kevlar helmets and other protective gear, and automatic weapons. Those are only a few of the despised items, by the way. The list is long.

Police Equipment is Scary!

I recently read an article where the author, a “news” reporter, wrote that police officers absolutely do not need any of the aforementioned gear and equipment, nor should any of it be made available to them. The writer went on to say that officers should return to the days of six-shooters, avoid physical confrontations, and never, ever use deadly force. Instead, the writer suggested that officers should simply talk bad guys into giving up their weapons and ask them to surrender. No surrender? In that case, he stated that officers should be taught to passively disarm and handcuff the naughty folks and cart them off to jail.

Bearcats are nothing more than metal boxes on wheels

Obviously, this person lives on a planet other than earth. And, there’s no doubt the author of that ridiculous piece has never, not once, come face-to-face with the business end of a gun or knife. Well, Mr. Don’t-Know-S**t, I’ve ducked a few rounds in my day. I’ve been cut and stabbed more than once. And I’m only one of thousands of officers who’ve “been there, done that”, and in my day things were nowhere near as bad as they are now.

It’s not a good feeling to think you’re about to die because some two-bit thug would rather shoot you or stab you than be arrested. By the way, a thug is a criminal. The term has nothing to do with race. Skin color makes no difference to me. A thug is a thug is a thug—green, blue, purple, or pink.

Metal boxes on wheels are soooo …. spooky, right? No weapons whatsoever! (Writers’ Police Academy photo)

Okay, where was I? Stabbings, I believe, and I’ll be the first to say that those particular wounds hurt. Knife wounds are extremely painful, actually. I occasionally feel/imagine the pain from my old wounds. It seems very real, at times. And to make stabbings and cuttings even worse, I’m not fond of bleeding so profusely that my hands are slimy and slick to the point where I can’t hold onto my pistol or handcuffs, not to mention struggling to arrest and handcuff the bad guy who’s trying to puncture my liver with his mom’s best carving knife.

Today’s bad guys are armed to the teeth. They train to fight and they practice shooting. They study police officers, trying to find their weaknesses. They develop ways to beat the system. And they kill cops. Let me say that again to be sure you heard me, Mr. Anti-Cop-Writer.

BAD. GUYS. KILL. COPS.

It’s almost like a game, or a badge of honor. Many of these killers are cowards, so they use high-powered rifles to ambush officers from safe distances. Some even ambush cops while they’re enjoying a meal, like the two cop-killers in Las Vegas a while back. Of course, there are the baby and child murderers who go to schools and shoot little kids to death. They, too, have used high-powered rifles. Whatever it takes to kill.

Do you think it’s fun entering a building not knowing what, or who, is waiting on the inside? How about entering a school full of kids and teachers, knowing a killer is there salivating at the idea of killing you. Sounds like a great time, doesn’t it?

Do you, Mr. Article-Writer, truly believe that cops enjoy the fear that causes them to sweat when the temperature outside is below freezing? Is it the perfect day when you tremble and feel your heart pounding against the inside of your chest because deep inside you know you could be shot and killed at any moment?

Save a Cop, Ride a Bearcat

Even more horrifying is knowing that children are being slaughtered while you step across the lifeless bodies of those already dead. Sure, you’re hoping to save those still alive, but will you get to them in time? If only you had some of that protective gear, like the Kevlar helmet that would stop a bullet from ripping through your skull like a hot knife through butter. A real hoot, isn’t it? Yeah, a real knee-slapper. Fun, fun, fun.

The mere sight of the rear compartment of a police Bearcat is terrifying to all who enter. OMG, It’s a freakin’ metal box that stops bullets. That’s it!

Image this, just for a second, Mr. I-Hate-Cops. You’re at work, clacking away at the keys on your laptop, when the guy in the next cubicle stands up and yells, “I hate you!” Then he pulls out a pistol and shoots you and your coworker, Bobby Jenkins. No warning. Just four or five rounds to your head. The same to Mr. Jenkins, the former father of three little girls.

Or, your boss sends you to a client’s house to pick up some paperwork. You knock on the man’s door and the last thing you hear in your short 37 years of life, is a shotgun blast. Just like that, Mr. Do-Not-Know-What-I’m-Talking-About, your wife is left to raise your kids and care for your elderly mother while maggots feed on your flesh and beetles slurp up what’s left of your internal organs.

MRAPs Need Love, Too!

Would you not want all the protection you could possibly have to prevent being killed? Is it really so horrifying to see a cop wearing a pair of camouflage pants and vest, knowing that those simple things would help him make it home safe and sound, where his kids could feel his arms around them one more time?

In 2016, Dallas police were ordered to leave their protective gear behind during a protest. Five officers were killed and nine others wounded – because politicians thought the protective equipment might offend someone.

Are you, Mr. Cold-Hearted-and-Clueless, so offended by a bulletproof steel box on wheels that you don’t value the lives of the men and women inside?

MRAPs save officer lives. They are not TANKS!! No weapons. none!

Those tools—that’s all they are, you know, not some evil contraptions built by a zombie king—keep officers safe. They keep the officers inside safe, and they keep them alive.

I know, you’d rather that police officers run into a hail of automatic gunfire carrying only a whistle and some really stern words. Well, Mr. S**t-For-Brains, I invite you to search for an armed cop killer in a dark warehouse, carrying only your mighty keyboard for protection. And when a robber kicks in your door and grabs your wife or daughter, don’t call 911. Instead, I want you to aim your computer mouse right between the rapist’s eyes and tell him to drop his weapon and leave your home immediately. Better yet, grab a whistle and blow it. I’m sure he’d tuck his tail and flee. Be sure to tell him he’s a naughty boy as he runs away.

Your argument, Mr. Chicken-S**t, about law enforcement wasting your tax money on those “so-called” toys is totally invalid. The equipment you see making its way into police departments is mostly surplus military equipment, and it’s free to law enforcement through various grants. I was in charge of the program at my department, and I made regular trips to a DOD warehouse to pick up various much-needed items.

Sure, I could’ve grabbed a hovercraft or a couple of armored vehicles because they were there for the asking and taking. Otherwise, the stuff just sits and collects dust and rust. Actually, there are acres and acres of unused rusty and dusty military equipment, so why not put it to good use protecting the lives of the men and women who keep even your sorry hind parts safe.

It’s Free and It Saves Lives

So there, I’ve had my say and I probably won’t address this topic again. As for the author of the article I read, well, it was obvious he’d used only the information needed to push his one-sided agenda (and possibly to sell a book or increase ratings). Unfortunately, people will read the piece and form a conclusion based on nothing more than one man’s hatred of something he knows nothing about. Absolutely nothing.

Finally, and this is to Mr. I-Hope-We-Never-Meet, I want you to understand something—many good men and women have died this year in the line of duty. They were out there protecting us.They did not  deserve to die.

Some of those murdered officers were shot to death by ambush or other means. But it doesn’t matter how they were killed. What does matter is that they died while running toward the gunfire, when necessary, not by running away from danger. Had they been inside one of those free armored vehicles at the time, Mr. Article-Writer, well, chances are they’d still be here with us and their families, including small children.

Important facts

German book translator Jeannette Bauroth behind the wheel of a police MRAP – No on-board weapons. None!

– One police officer dies every 58 hours.

– Nearly 60,000 officers are violently assaulted each year.

– There are are occasional stories about “bad cops.” Perhaps two or three in some weeks and none in others. Out of 900,000 police officers in the U.S., those numbers, even though bad, seem a bit smaller when looking at the whole picture. But the public rarely ever sees the big picture.

How many of these lives could have been saved had the officers been issued better protective gear/vehicles? Does the appearance of the equipment really matter more than the lives of good men and women who work long hours for low pay while protecting our families from harm? Wouldn’t you want your husband, wife, brother, sister, daughter, son, father, or mother to have everything possible to help keep them alive? Or, is a personal agenda/opinion more important than the healthy heartbeat of someone’s loved one?

I’ve heard this advice many times, Mr. Is-Probably-Afraid-of-Puppies-and-Rainbows, a real super-duper keyboard warrior, and it’s something you should try at least once … and that’s to write what you know. Hint … this topic wasn’t it.

Now I’m done…

*Please, no debate or arguments about gun control issues, or to bash cops. Take those things to your own sites, if you don’t mind. This stuff wears me out. Oh, no politics, race, or religion. They, too, wear me down.

*Photos of the police vehicles – Writers’ Police Academy. The reporter – typical keyboard warrior. No clue what life is like outside mom’s basement.

Grandfathers and Grandkids: Broken Tools

A weed eater that refuses to start no matter how many times I pull its cardiac-event-inducing rope. A leaf blower cut from the same cloth. An asthmatic air compressor. Pliers that no longer … ply (is that even a word?). And, well, you get the idea. My tools are broken.

It seems like just yesterday when I could sound the alarm, calling all my tools to be ready at a moment’s notice. And there they’d stand, handle to handle with looks of determination on their gleaming metal surfaces. Together, we could build or fix anything.

Recently, however, when I called my tools to action their response was lackluster at best. Why, it nearly took an act of congress (well, a congress that will actually do something) to get them out of their drawers and off the garage shelves.

When I finally managed to assemble my once faithful tools … well, I could hardly believe my eyes. What had happened to my rugged and sturdy friends? The screwdrivers, for example, were nervous and barely able to stop trembling long enough to connect with the slots on the screws needed to secure pictures and other do-dads to our freshly painted walls. Other hand tools were equally as shaky. It was a true puzzle. After all, they were all perfectly fine when I put them away after our last team venture.

#brokentools

Nuts, bolts, nails, and other fasteners were also in on the mysterious rebellion. The boxes of screws that line my workshop shelves quickly stepped forward to mess with me as well. That’s right, sometime between the last project and the new one, my assortment of sneaky drywall screws had reduced the size of the text on their containers. I couldn’t read the labels! I think it’s an attempt to prevent me from using any, keeping their twisted family members together.

There’s more—worn out wrenches, dead drill batteries, and to top it all off, my hammers are heavier than they used to be. What, I wondered, could they have possibly consumed that caused them to add all that extra weight? Was it due to a lack of exercise? Adding insult to injury, some prick glued my sledgehammer to the floor. Can’t budge it.

So, standing in the center of my workshop I slowly examined each item on each of the shelves. I was a visitor to an old-tools retirement home. Then it hit me, and my mind took me back to when I was a kid staying with my grandparents, something I did every summer.

Grandfathers Can Do Anything!

My grandfather was extremely handy. He could build, fix, paint, hammer with the best of them. In fact, he may very well have been the best fixer-upper man on the planet. In my eyes, he was the king of all things hammer and nails. I watched him work and, in turn, I learned his secrets. AND, I recalled that he performed his DIY miracles using…broken tools. Yes, his tools, too, were in a shoddy state—hints of decay, worn pull-ropes, dents, nicks, scratches, and so on.

Broken tools – life is short.
#brokentools

My fingers in those days, small and stubby, were not of sufficient length to fully close around the handle of my grandfather’s rusty-red pipe wrench. Nor were my young muscles strong enough to heft the blasted thing from its spot in my grandfather’s homemade wooden toolbox, a box filled with damaged goods. While digging through the vast assortment of antiquities, I remember thinking that when I grew up I’d never let my tools get in such a state.

My Grandfather’s Toolbox

Well, it’s been fifty years since I first dug my paws around in my grandfather’s toolbox. It took me that entire half-century to realize that broken tools are THE sign that someone has reached the threshold that divides the uphill climb of youth to the point where it all goes downhill. And there, my friends, is the place where I am today, in the midst of broken tools. I have become my grandfather.

Now, I could sit around the house and pout and whine about my advancing years and the dismembered and rusty work implements in my garage. But that’s not me. I’m not yet ready to totally succumb to the dreaded “broken tool syndrome.”

In fact, I did what all adult men should do at the first sign of the dreaded disease. I drove straight to a local home improvement store where I purchased a new, battery-powered weed eater and a battery-powered leaf blower. Why battery power? Because I’m too freakin’ old to pull those ropes! That’s why. Besides, the city doesn’t allow large livestock (grazing animals) in our yards. They do, however, allow residents to own a few chickens, but they only eat bugs, not grass and weeds.

Yes, my tools are broken, but I’m not stupid. I know I’ve grown older and arthritis doesn’t permit me to do many of things I used to enjoy. Yard work falls directly into this category. Sadly, I’ve had to hire a professional to assist me with my outdoor chores. Fortunately, we get along just fine. He’s a bit stubborn at times, but gets the job done.

By the way, the hammer pictured above (with the broken mirror) belonged to my grandfather. Prior to his ownership, it belonged to his father. I still use it.

Grandfathers and Grandkids: Broken Tools

I plan to pass on all of my grandfather’s tools to our grandson, Tyler. Actually, he first used a couple of them when he helped me with a project several years ago. His hands were small, too small to hold them properly, but he tried. We even used some of those tools to cobble together a few wooden toys—police tools. And then we played cops and robbers, for hours.

Several years have passed since those days. Tyler is now in high school. He’s a champion wrestler and martial artist with a room filled with trophies and numerous other awards.

It was an important moment for me, the day I first placed one of my grandfather’s tools into the hands of my grandson. Silly, I know. I also know the sentiment surrounding these tools will most likely fade with time, possibly as soon as the day I’m no longer here.

Still, I will rest easy knowing they’re in Tyler’s hands.

#ThankGodforkids #Grandkidstoo

#WilliamLeeGolden #OakRidgeBoys

10 Survival Tips For Cops … Well, Sort Of

1. Never underestimate suspects. The little ones are just as capable of inflicting enormous amounts of pain as their larger peers. In fact, the hardest I’ve ever been hit with a bare hand was by a woman who didn’t take too kindly to me arresting her extremely combative adult son. The young man, by the way, had just committed an armed robbery and I’d chased him on foot for several blocks. The chase ended inside dear old, sweet little (225 lb.) Mama’s house, a woman with a fist like steel and a punch like a jack hammer.

2. Crooks sometimes make really stupid comments So keep your ears open. Listen to your suspects and witnesses. After all, you just may hear a few comments like I did back in the day. Such as …

“Come on, man. I spent my last twenty bucks on that rock. At least let me smoke it before you take me to jail.”

“I didn’t rob that guy. The one I robbed had blonde hair.”

“He was already dead when I shot him. I think he had a heart attack or something when he saw my gun.”

“I was not driving that get-a-way car. The one I was driving when we robbed that store was a Mustang.”

“He couldn’t have recognized me. I was wearing a mask.”

3. Never engage in a foot pursuit when you have a perfectly healthy rookie riding shotgun.

Delivering the “Hot Sauce.”

4. When you and your partner are in the process of arresting a combative slimeball-scumbag, always know who’s spraying the “hot sauce.” It’s a real pain in the rear when the buttwipe ducks at the precise moment both of you squeeze the button. Ever try arresting a guy when neither you nor your partner can see anything? It’s not pretty. There’s nothing like watching two crying cops wrestle an innocent waitress in the middle of bar fight while the bad guy calmly walks away.

5. If you have to return gunfire more than 6 times, the bad guy can still see you. Move to better cover.

6. The raincoat in your trunk is meant for the rookie riding in your passenger seat. No need for both of you to stand in the downpour. Besides, someone has to man the radio and finish the coffee. Waste not, want not.

7. Flashlights are dual-purpose tools. The handle is great for ending confrontations. When the delivery is just right, at the precise moment the battery-filled tube connects with a forehead, it sounds kind of like an aluminum baseball bat hitting a softball. The other end is perfect for helping you see (in the dark) the crook’s eyes spinning like windmills after the little “love tap.”

8. Never rush into a fight-in-progress. Instead, wait a few seconds. Let the two goons wear themselves out. Then, like a lion after its prey, you can grab the one who’s the most tired and perhaps a bit wounded, while the rookie gets the still-fighting and extremely angry and massively-strong gorilla.

9. Never leave your patrol car, even for a second, with the keys in it. There’s nothing worse than chasing a bad guy on foot, wrestling with him for ten minutes, then marching the handcuffed thug back to the empty spot where you just know you left your car. I promise you’ll hear howls of laughter from the bad guy, who, by the way, will remind you of “the day you lost your police car” for the rest of your career. He’ll shout it from the curbside, the jail cell, from his prison window, and from his mother’s front porch.

10. Be sure you never, ever write a check with your mouth that your rear end can’t cash. Nothing worse than talking a big game only to find yourself sitting on the pavement looking up at a laughing bad guy who’s now holding your only pair of handcuffs.

A bruised ego hurts far more than a black eye.

,

A List That’s NOT Fake News! – Rapid DNA, Hidden Cobras, REDDI, and ISMI-Catchers

Here’s a list of 6 important very real details that should/could be of interest to writers who want to go the extra mile when delivering believable make-believe.

  1. North Korea has launched a malicious cyber activity known as Hidden Cobra. According to Homeland Security and the FBI (this information comes via legitimate outlets, not through a web of anonymous and unnamed sources and leakers), Hidden Cobra works by capturing sensitive information, and by disrupting day-to-day operations. The Department of Homeland Security urges everyone, especially organizations of sensitive natures (banks, law enforcement, etc.) to upgrade to the latest editions of Adobe Flash Player, Hangul Word Processor, and Silverlight, and to review and block all IP addresses listed in the “indicators of compromise” list they provide. For full details, please visit the DHS site here, or the Hidden Cobra link above.
  2. Rapid DNA has been successfully tested in matching families with victims in mass casualties. The process greatly reduces the time it takes to (per the DHS) “reunify families and mass-casualty victims.”

Here’s a fairly recent video of Sen. Hatch questioning AG Sessions about the importance of Rapid DNA use in law enforcement and the need to approve it’s use.

3. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, along with ILC Dover and West Virginia University helped develop the Resilient Tunnel Plug. This gigantic balloon-like inflatable device is designed to prevent flooding and chemical and gas attacks to a various tunnels, such as railway and automotive passageways. It’s sort of like a puffer fish in that when danger is sensed, the plug, like the puffer fish, inflates to ward off the trouble. When deployed (automatically or manually), the plug  falls from it’s storage compartment and inflates until it snugly fills and seals the tunnel opening. I understand that until the device is approved and in place and ready to work, puffer fish volunteers, among other portly swimming future-filets, are on the way to major waterside cities to assume the roles of temporary tunnel-pluggers.

4. Cell-site simulators—IMSI-catchers—are used by law enforcement, and others (bad guys), for the purpose of capturing cellphone conversations, pinpointing the exact location of a targeted phone, and even for the distribution of spam. The use of these devices by criminals has become more prevalent and, as a result, researchers at the University of Washington developed Sea Glass, a system designed to detect unusual activity in the cellular landscape. In other words, Sea Glass knows when it’s near an IMSI-catcher and it signals to its user when they’re close to one.

During a lengthy testing period in two major U.S. cities, 15 ride-share vehicles were equipped with Sea glass devices. The results indicated a pattern consistent with activity of several ISMI-catchers (also called Stargazers, among a few other names) positioned within the cities.

5. REDDI is the Department of Homeland Security’s latest program for training explosive detection K-9s. The purpose of this new training—to expose K-9 teams to current real-world conditions—is to further enhance the dogs’ ability to detect the presence of bombs/explosives. As you can see (right), the animals selected for the program are extremely smart, fearless, and well-schooled.

6. The Office of Naval Research awarded Dr. Nitin Agarwal a $1,530,778 grant to study sources of false information on the Internet and how it’s spread through social media. The study will also focus on how people and groups use this faux information to conduct cyber propaganda campaigns. Dr. Agarwal is the chair and a professor of information science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Understanding The Old Guy at the End of the Street: The Rest of the Story

I’m the old guy at the end of the street. The Grumpy Gus who doesn’t want kids in his yard. In fact, I don’t want to hear their squeals and the squalls or their giggles and games. I don’t want to see their toy cars and trucks, their skateboards, basketballs, and pigtails and buzzcuts. None of it. I do not want them in my yard. Nor do I want them in my driveway scrawling cutesy multi-colored chalk pictures across the concrete. I don’t even want them playing in front of my house.

The neighbors talk. They don’t like me because I don’t step outside to chat when they pass by while walking their four-legged pee and crap machines who leave little “bundles of joy” on my property, offensive “stuff” I have to scoop up. I know they leave it on purpose.

The people who live on my street, the adults, think I’m odd. Crazy, some say. They point and they whisper when they see me rolling my garbage cans to the curb each Tuesday evening.

The children won’t stop coming into my yard. They enjoy taunting me. They’re bullies, but in miniature size. They toss my landscaping rocks out into the street and they uproot the accent lighting around my trees and shrubs. They write on my sidewalk and they spray-paint the sides of my car. They’ve scratched both car doors, using a nail or something of the sort, and they steal mail from the mailbox and then scatter it along the street.

I used to like kids. Really, I did. All ages and sizes too. I adored their precious little smiles and their innocent questions and nonstop chatter. I enjoyed watching them play. They made me smile. The sounds of their giggles and squalls and squeals were like music to my ears.

My house, in fact, was once the hub of activity for the neighborhood kids. They came to play with my two children, Seth and Sarah. They’re both grown now, though, with kids of their own, and they moved away many years ago. Long before my current neighbors moved in. I’m the last of the original homeowners in my development.

My new neighbors are strangers. They don’t know a single thing about me. They didn’t know me back when I was still in uniform patrolling the interstate highways and county roads. They didn’t know me on the day when I was stabbed three times—one wound to the head, one in the hand, and the other in my right shoulder. They weren’t around when the house on Maple was fully engulfed in flames and I went in and pulled out the old man trapped inside. Sure, I lost some hair and earned a couple of nasty burns, but the gentleman survived and he stops by to see me once in a while.

My neighbors … well, they don’t know about the incident that started the “kids in the yard” thing.

It was a Wednesday night. My report indicated the the weather was clear, but no moonlight. Road conditions were also clear, and dry. No obstructions. Nothing, including skid marks. There were none.

When I arrived, a citizen was standing by. She’d called it in. Had to drive to a nearby country store to use the payphone hanging on the wall outside, next to the Coke machine. I’d passed by it a million times while on patrol.

The car was upside down, fully engulfed in flames.

The driver was obviously deceased. The woman on the passenger side … her head was missing. I later found it lying in the ditch, staring at me after I pulled a stand of weeds to the side to better see the object hidden at their base.

Three children occupied the backseat. We didn’t know this until after the firefighters extinguished the blaze.

I only knew about one of the rear seat occupants—a little girl. The medical examiner later told me she was seven-years-old. Hers was the only face I could see through the boiling black smoke and yellow-orange fire with heat was so intense it burned my eyebrows and the hair on my arms before I ever reached the car.

Fifteen feet. That’s as close as I could get without being severely burned.

But she was screaming. “Help me, please!”

Her sweet face was knotted in agony. Her eyes … I’ve read it in books before, “Her eyes pleaded with him,” but I never truly grasped what those authors had in mind when they penned the words … until I stood helpless before a girl whose tiny doe eyes pleaded with me to rescue her from the hell she was experiencing.

Tires deflated and dissolved. Paint bubbled like hot tar. The asphalt beneath the burning car melted like butter dancing and sizzling in a hot skillet. Glass shattered. Flames crackled and buzzed and things inside the car popped and fizzed and banged and settled. Car seats burned like fireplace logs. In the middle of of all of this sat the little girl, clawing at the scorching-hot metal car door.

I pushed through the heat and smoke and I tried to grab the child. I tried to open the door but  it was like grabbing molten lava. I reached for her and she for me. But …

She screamed and she screamed and she screamed.

And then she stopped.

Those cries for help still haunt me.

So does the fact that I failed to save her.

It’s not that I don’t like kids. I love them. I really do.

I just can’t take the sounds they make or seeing their happy faces.

They remind me that I failed that little seven-year-old child.

That sweet little face.

I see it every time one of those kids comes into my yard, or when they play in the street in front of my house.

That sweet little face.

So that’s why I’m the old guy at the end of the street.

Because it hurts.

*This tale is based on a ton of fact, but presented in a fictional sort of way. Yes, it’s most definitely true, but it’s about a lot of people, not just Grumpy Gus.

Gus, by the way, is very close to me. Extremely close …

Jesus Likes Chocolate Milkshakes

I found Jesus many years ago ands it was nearly midnight when our face-to-face meeting took place. We met, not in a a typical place of worship, but in a dew-dampened grassy median strip that divides the north and southbound lanes of I95, the north-south illegal drug-trafficking corridor of the East Coast.

Jesus, as the long-haired man identified himself to me, must have been working undercover because he wore a couple of old and ratty men’s dress shirts (one on top of the other), faded army pants, and holy holey Chuck Taylor sneakers. Sure, his hair was long and wavy, and his beard was like the one that’s familiar to us from the portraits we see of the Son of God. But something wasn’t quite right.

Still … his appearance …

But, being the savvy police investigator that I was, I began to pick up on a few clues, and there were several questions scrolling across the marquee inside my brain. Like … Why would Jesus speak with a southern accent? Why would Jesus address me as Captain? Was he current on his knowledge of rank insignias? Why would Jesus attempt to thumb a ride on the interstate? Why were his shoes wet? After all, there’s that “walking on water” thing. Why were his eyes darting from side to side? Was he telepathically watching a tennis match played at Pearly Gate Stadium? And why did the man who once fed thousands with a couple of fish keep asking me for money so he could buy something to eat?

Needless to say, I was confused. So I questioned him about his identity (treading lightly … just in case).

When I asked where he lived, his lips split into a slight grin before he responded. “My son, I live everywhere. From mountaintop to the bottom of the deepest ocean. I live in the hearts of the saved and in the bodies of the damned.”

Okay, I admit, I was a bit more than curious at this point.

He continued. “I was baptized by John and I seek perfection in all men.”

The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Could he really be …

“Captain, I’d like to go home. Could you help me?”

What’s this, I thought. Jesus needs my help? Is that even possible? And all those years of sitting in summertime church revival services hearing guest preachers stomp and sputter and yell about us ALL going “Home” someday? I thought Jesus was supposed to take ME home, not the opposite.

In all honesty, I was kid back during those revivals so it was likely that I wasn’t paying attention during the preaching about when and where people go and who it is that takes them there. No, it was likely that I was dreaming about being a writer or a cop, or girls, or music, or football, or girls … or maybe my thoughts were on that girl, the out-of-town pastor’s daughter in the pink dress with the light dusting of freckles across her nose and cheeks.

Hey, I was a kid. It was Saturday night. Frogs were singing outside. The moon was bright. School was out for the summer. The church was not air-conditioned and drops of sweat took turns rolling down my spine. I’d already read the program and a few of the hymns at least a dozen times each. There. Was. Nothing. Else. To Do. So I allowed my mind to wand—

Sorry, I was doing it again.

Back to Jesus, who at this point was losing interest in the conversation and was absolutely lost in thought. “I knew I should’ve taken the last exit, the one beside the burning bush. At this rate, I’ll never make it to Palestine before morning.”

Okay, you caught me. That was my imagination talking—what I thought might be going on inside his head. What really happened next was …

“Where is home … sir?” I couldn’t quite bring myself to call him Jesus. At least not this soon in our earthly relationship.

“I live at the hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, Captain. I went for a walk yesterday and haven’t been able to find my way since.”

Well, that was a switch. Jesus telling me that he couldn’t find his way, when I’d been “lost” for a good portion of my life. “Sure,” I said. I’ll be glad to help you. In fact, I’ll call someone right now to see what we need to do to get you home. In the meantime, would you like something to eat?”

“Yes, my son, I would. Could I have a hamburger, some fries, and a chocolate milkshake? That’s my favorite.”

“Sure you can,” I said. “Whatever you want.”

God bless you, son. There’s a place in heaven for you.”

I guess I’ll never know for sure, but stranger things have happened. At the very least, I shared a meal with a very humble man who, by the way, devoured the supper like it was his last.

Ten Things Not To Say Or Do To A Police Officer

 

1. Do Not Touch a police officer. You’ll definitely want to keep your hands to yourself unless your immediate plans include new dental work, a visit to the ER, and a fitting for new black and white striped wearing apparel.

2. Do Not Touch an officer’s gun. See above, but include an abundance of Maglight-induced knots on your head.

3. Do Not Spit on a police officer. See 1 and 2, but include tears … yours.

4. Do Not Urinate inside a police officer’s car. See 1, 2, and 3, but add bloodshed … yours.

5. Do Not Throw Things at police officers. See 1, 2, 3, and 4, but add the surgical removal of the officer’s shiny shoe from the part of you where the sun doesn’t shine.

6. Do Not Run from the police. If they have to chase you they’re bringing a butt-whuppin’ to the party.

7. Do Not Touch a police dog. See 5 above, but replace “shoe” with K-9 teeth.

8. Do Not Make Jokes about the officer’s mother, wife, or kids. If so, expect to not see your own mother, wife, or kids for the next 5-10 years, except during Sunday visits.

9. Do Not Tell officers that you pay their salaries. See 6 above. The butt-whuppin’ in this case is for officers not receiving a pay increase for the past 10 years. And, prior to your startling announcement they didn’t know where to take their complaints. So thanks for taking one for the team, Sparky.

10. Finally, unless you have a line they haven’t heard before, keep them to yourself.

You know the ones …

  • Aren’t you that guy from the Village People?
  • I almost decided to be a cop, but I decided to finish high school instead.
  • Is it true that people become cops because they’re too dumb to operate a spatula and/or a milkshake machine?

Pig Chef

  • Hey, you do realize that if I was doing 97 mph then so were you, so write yourself a ticket.
  • I was speeding so I could get back to your mother. She misses me.
  • What are going to be when you grow up?
  • Your breath smells like donuts.

Note – Obviously this post is intended as a tongue-in-cheek bit of humor. The information above is fictional, unless you were there and have video evidence to prove otherwise. If not, it’s fictional. Really, it is. Maybe.

Peas in a Pod: Cops, Agents, and Eye-Rolling Writers

When it comes to the convoluted business of writing, a few things immediately come to mind. Such as …

  1. Being a writer is like being a politician. You get to make up @#$! and your fans love it.
  2. Being a writer is like being a plumber. Somewhere around the middle of the job you find yourself elbow deep in @#$!
  3. Writers are like prostitutes. They do it for money but the income arrives in small amounts at random times.
  4. Agents are like pimps without the purple suede leisure suits and feathers in their hats. Oh, wait …
  5. A good book is like a large pot of coffee. It keeps you awake all night.
  6. Sitting at a keyboard while clacking away at random characters is something an illiterate chimp can do. Much of today’s media is proof that chimps are better at it.
  7. Autocolonoscopy  Autocorrect is great, except when it isn’t.
  8. A great book is a like a fine statue. Their creators started with an idea and then carved away everything that didn’t help tell the story.
  9. Writers are like cops. They like coffee and whiskey and telling tall tales … and whiskey. I know, this one was an eye-roller …

10. A bad story is like a snow skier. They’re both start at out on a slow upward climb toward the summit. Then it’s all downhill from there until they reach the end, which is often totally uneventful.Unless it’s not. But you’ll never know what it’s like until you start the climb.

11. The words of a good book remain forever. The words of a politician remain only until the next big donation comes along.

12. Real-life bad guys, to save themselves a lot of grief, should take the time to read a mystery book. By doing so they’d know the good guys always win in the end.

13. Good books are like the bed in a by-the-hour motel. Lots of action between the covers.

14. Great ideas make great books, except when they don’t.

15. Social media can be like a cancer. No punch line. It truly can be like a cancer.

16. The bravest men and women in the world today are currently sitting at home, ranting and raving away on Facebook, telling people just how brave they are. Then they play video games like the popular Conquer the World Using Really Big Fake Guns and Lots of Noise and with People Who Live and Die a Bunch Each time the Game is Played. So march on, brave basement warriors. March on. Oh, the next time you go upstairs … get a job! There’s always greeting customers at Weirdomart, or selling fries at Booger Joe’s Burger Joint. They’re both hiring.

17. Lone literary agents at writers conferences are like the innocent fawns that tiptoe through the forest—they both know an attack could come at any moment. This is why experienced agents travel in packs. A herd of snarky, seasoned literary agents typically fares well. It’s the newbie who chats with anyone at any time who falls prey to the predatory writer(s). This is the agent we’ll not see again until they receive intensive retraining. He or she will need to hone the skills of avoiding writers at all cost. They must polish the combined technique of how to say, “Send me twenty pages of this delightful manuscript,” while simultaneously devising a clever means of destroying the pages before he/she heads back to their hotel room. Then comes the most difficult lesson of all—how to never, not ever, answer an email or phone call from writers. This one is tough, at first, because the natural instinct is to pick up when our phones jingle, and to open emails as they arrive in our inboxes. However, agents have managed to acquire the ability to ignore writers without a speck of remorse for their rudeness. Amazing ability. simply amazing.

18. A firefighter and a police officer enter a bar at a mystery writers conference. They’ll know better next time.

Finally …

19. Two drunks and a writer enter a bar during a writers conference. Three drunks come out.

20. Twenty separate news articles about the same topic are written by twenty different “reporters” at twenty different media agencies. Each of the twenty stories are dramatically different. Neither relay sthe same “facts.” Some offer praise. Some are dark and dreary. Others are light and happy. Some are filled with opinion (hatred or love). None, however, are accurate. The story is all over the place. Unfortunately, this is today’s reporter. Bull … loney.

And I know exactly what he speaks of, and it’s not something you’d want to step in …

Fake News: Bad Information Overdose

Many of you call on me from time to time to answer questions about police procedure and all things related. To do so, I typically draw on my own personal experience and training, and the knowledge acquired through first-hand encounters over the years.

When I respond to such inquiries, and when writing this blog, teaching workshops, etc., one thing I never do is present inaccurate information, especially something that’s intended to sway a writer’s opinion, feelings, or the outcome of a book. I offer fact. I provide fact. This blog is a factual collection of, well, facts.

The same is true in law enforcement. Embellishing a police report to make things seem in favor of one party over another, or to skew how something happened to cover a particularly unfavorable fact, is wrong. Therefore, it’s not supposed to be done. If so, well, there’s termination and possible time before a judge and/or behind bars.

We tell our children to always be truthful. To do otherwise would be wrong, right? That’s what we teach our kids, right? TELL THE TRUTH!!!

Lies hurt people.

Lies are wrong.

Enter today’s media.

Someone should teach them how to report actual fact. Imagine today’s reporter standing at the mic during a spelling bee …

Moderator – “Mr. Wouldn’tknowthetruthifitbithimonthebutt, your word is NEWS. Please use the 2017 definition.”

“News. Um … something somebody tells you and, um … no matter what it is you must believe it. Then, when passing along the information, you are, um … free to make up crap and insert it into the “news.” And so on. That’s what we do—open our mouths and crap falls out. News.”

I know, and I apologize. The microphone was a bit crudely drawn. Other than than … pretty much on the money.

So, to avoid overdosing on fake news, here’s a handy recipe. I hope it helps.

lies

Truth in the News, a Recipe

Step One – Read “news” from all media sources.

Step Two – Try really hard to find eight or ten somewhat credible not too outlandish reports that seem to repeat similar bits and pieces of things you think could be true, good or not.

Step Three – Write down those “could-be-true” items, if any.

Step Four – Compare “could-be-true” stuff. Again, if any.

Step Five – Whittle down the list to the three stories that seem most believable.

Step Six – Thumbtack the three best stories to the family dartboard.

Step Seven – Close your eyes and toss a dart at the board.

Step Eight – Whichever story struck by the dart is the go-to “real news” story for the day. Don’t worry, it will soon change so be sure to keep plenty of paper and sharpened darts handy.

Step Nine – This one is important – Please, please, please, try not to allow emotion to control how a media report is perceived simply because it contains words you like/something you’d like to believe.

Be calm.

Wait for facts from a trusted source, not one that’s pushing an agenda, even if that agenda is one you favor. Yes, today’s media is, believe it or not, agenda driven.

Remember, things are not always as they appear. Take a breath. Step back. Do a bit of research.

Finally, in today’s Wild West shootout-type coverage of almost any topic, it’s certainly best to not read one “news” source merely because they’re “on your side.” It’s not a healthy approach in today’s climate of “Us Against Them.”