Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, the Key to Surviving a Shootout

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Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

There it is, the word sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in the movie “Mary Poppins“. Now, say it out loud. Or, if you prefer, say it in reverse – dociousaliexpilisticfragicalirupes. Either way, it takes us somewhere between one and two seconds for it to roll off our tongues, give or take a tenth of a second, or two. And that’s saying it as fast as you possibly can.

I suppose I could stop here and let you go about the remainder of your day with this ear worm digging its way into your brains:

 

It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious

If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay…

But let’s stick with the time it takes to say that word. For me it’s somewhere between 1.01 seconds and 1.22 seconds, depending upon how quickly I start after clicking the button on the stopwatch.

Now, imagine that you’re a police officer who’s responded to a call where a suspect used a baseball bat to beat his spouse and children. And, he’s killed two neighbors, both men and both beaten to death, who’d tried to intervene.

You arrive at the scene and hear yelling, screams, and children crying from inside the home. You knock. No answer. Still more screaming. So you force open the door and rush inside where you’re immediately faced with a man pointing a handgun at a badly battered woman. His rage is clear and he’s threatened to kill anyone who gets in his way, police included. He begins to turn toward you. How do you respond to the threat?

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Well, the scene was a bit surprising. Not what you’d expected to see. So yes, it was a shock to your system, and now your body and brain must first of all figure out what’s going on (perception). Then, the brain instructs the body to stand by while it analyzes the scenario (okay, he has a gun and I think I’m about to be shot). Next, while the body is still on hold, the brain begins to formulate a plan (I’ve got to do something, and I’d better do it asap). Finally, the brain pokes the body and tells it to go for what it was trained to do—draw pistol, point the business end of it at the threat, insert finger into trigger guard, squeeze trigger.

To give you an idea as to how long it takes a trained police officer to accomplish those steps, let’s revisit Mary Poppins and Bert the chimney sweep, and that wacky word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Remember, it takes us a little over one second to say the entire word.

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To put this scenario into perspective, a police officer’s reaction time (based on a study of 46 trained officers), when they already know the threat is there, AND, with their finger already on the trigger, is 0.365 seconds. That’s far less than half the time it takes Bert to sing that famous word.

So, when confronted with a potential deadly force situation, officers must perceive/identify the threat, evaluate the situation, develop a plan of action, and then set that plan in motion.

In short, police officers must decide what to do and then do it in the time it takes to say “supercali.” Not even the entire word.

Are you able to make complex decisions in less than a second? How about decisions that involve life or death?

I dare say that many of us can’t decide what to select from a fast food menu within that scant time frame.

Sure, it’s super easy to look back at deadly force incidents and offer opinions as to how they should, or should not have been handled. But only the people who were there at the precise moment the trigger was pulled know the real story. They alone know how they perceived and reacted to the threat to them and/or others.

Justified, or not, it takes less than a second to react, and a lifetime to deal with the decision … and the sound of that is most definitely and without a doubt, something quite atrocious.

 

 

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10 Things Cops Should Do, and 10 They Shouldn’t

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And…

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*It is important to note that it is legally permissible for officers to lie to suspects during interrogations. They cannot, however, use force/coercion, or threats, to help gain a confession. Nor may officers promise a deal for sentence reductions, which prison the suspect will go to, etc. The first (sentence reductions) is something only judges and prosecutors have control over, not the police. And, it is the prison system that decides where an inmate is to be housed, not the court. A judge can make a recommendation, but not the actually housing assignment.

 

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Children Who Live In Meth Homes: The Dangers and Long-Term Effects

The dangers for children living in a home where methamphetamine is manufactured are many, and they’re not all related to the finished product. Sure, small children could easily ingest the stuff, and you’ve all heard about the danger of fire and explosion. But have you considered …

1. Methamphetamine is made from a concoction of chemicals and other material that makes you scratch your head wondering why a person would want to put this stuff into their bodies. For example—muriatic acid (the stuff used to clean swimming pool and freshly laid brick walls), ammonia, methanol, ether, benzene, methylene chloride, trichloroethane, toluene, anhydrous ammonia, red phosphorous, and iodine.

Not only are the kids who live in these environments exposed to the immediate effects of harsh and toxic chemicals, they also must endure long-lasting and lingering effects because things like carpeting and draperies absorb vaporized chemicals. And let’s not forget other familiar items that may absorb the fumes, such as baby bottles and nipples, and clothing. The list is long.

Sampling_methamphetamine_levels

2. People who make meth are often users as well. Therefore, children in the home almost certainly ingest second-hand smoke. Not to mention the accidental needle-sticks from contacting improperly stored syringes (in ash trays, on table tops, etc.).

3. Children living in “meth homes” are normally at a severe risk of abuse and neglect due to parents who use methamphetamine, a drug that often makes its users extremely violent—irritable and careless at the lower end of the spectrum. Parents (users) often fall asleep for many hours or days after binging on meth, leaving small children to care for themselves. In fact, small children often end up caring for the addict/parent.

4. At some in-home meth labs, the “cook” often dumps the toxic byproducts into the plumbing drains, contaminating the entire waste system, including sinks and toilets. Therefore, children are in constant contact with not only the active chemicals, they are also exposed to the byproducts, which are just as deadly.

5. Meth chemicals are often stored in 2-liter soft drink bottles, which small kids easily mistake for the product they associate with those type bottles—colas, etc.

6. Meth homes/labs are notoriously filthy—hundreds, if not thousands, of roaches, flies, and fleas, dirty clothes everywhere, dirty dishes, used condoms, used needles, cigarette butts, half-eaten plates of food, spills, grime, razor blades lying about, pet urine and feces throughout, well, you get the picture. Unsanitary and unsafe to say the least.

7. Small children have often been found with meth powder on their clothing and bare feet.

8. The risk of fire and explosion is great. In fact, a substantial number (15% or so) of meth labs are discovered due to fire and/or explosion. The ingredients used to make methamphetamine are highly volatile and can be set off simply by accidentally mixing incompatible chemicals. Of course, manufacturing explosive/flammable material in a mobile home where the chemicals are stored next to stoves, ovens, and heat sources is never a good idea.

Meth and pipe (DEA photo – thanks again to my friends at the Drug Enforcement Agency for the use of their photos in my book on police procedure).

Other than the obvious physical health issues, children in meth homes are also prone to:

a) attachment disorders when parents fail to care for their most basic needs.

b) extremely low self-esteem

c) feelings of shame

d) substandard social skills

The consequences of living in a meth home are not limited to short term effects. Some deep-rooted and lasting effects after exposure to their parents behavior places the child at a greater risk of they too becoming involved in criminal activity, drug use and addiction, and violence.

It is important to note that normal cleaning (scrubbing, dusting, and mopping WILL NOT remove all of the chemical residue from surfaces in meth labs/homes. Residues have been found even on eating utensils and dishes after what was thought to be a thorough cleaning.

Exposure to methamphetamine can result in:

– brain damage

– kidney failure

– liver and spleen damage

– birth defects

– DEATH

"ICE" Methamphetamine crystals small in bag
“ICE” Methamphetamine crystals small in bag ~ DEA photo

Street Names for Meth – Speed, Meth, Ice, Crystal, Chalk, Crank, Tweak, Uppers, Black Beauties, Glass, Bikers Coffee, Quick, Poor Man’s Cocaine, Hillbilly Crack, Crystal Meth, Stove Top, Trash, Go-Fast.

Methamphetamine, although highly addictive and dangerous, is a Schedule II drug. Interestingly, is it classed lower than marijuana, a Schedule I drug, meaning the federal government sees it as having no medicinal value.

And, speaking of the DEA, here’s an oldie …

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So, You Want To Be A Detective?

Have you got what it takes to join the ranks of the world’s crime-solvers?

Sure, many people secretly long to clip a badge to their belts and then set out on the never-ending quest to save … well, everyone. But, there are a few things you should think about before you give up your day job to begin the hunt for your first serial killer. I’m betting you just might change your mind once you know that …

1. Bad guys and gals are rarely as attractive and well-groomed as those you see on TV. Instead, they often have poor hygiene and smell like really old gym socks.

Some love to flirt with detectives, batting their long eyelashes (male and female) and blowing kisses through breath laced with last night’s vodka and onion dip. Many do really disgusting things when you’re not looking. Like the guy who, when left alone in the interview room, stuck his hands down the front of his pants, rummaging around down there for a few seconds. Then, when the detective came back inside to continue the questioning, the little darling wanted to shake hands and be all “touchy-feely.” Thank goodness for video cameras. And you were wondering why cops don’t shake hands with suspects? Well, now you know.

2. Detectives spend a great deal of their time inside homes, the residences of criminals and witnesses to crimes, that should have been condemned by the health department years ago. It’s not unusual, while questioning someone, to have roaches suddenly and almost magically appear on your clothing. You then look around to see if you can locate the source of the unexpected attack of creepy-crawlers, and the walls seem to be undulating. No, you haven’t inhaled some weird drug. It’s a huge sea of roaches crawling across the vertical surfaces.

Mice, not wanting to be excluded from the party, peek out from behind a stove topped with a month’s dirty pots and pans. And, lucky you, the mother of the little darling you think just killed someone, has offered you a nice, cold glass of iced tea, straight from the refrigerator that’s speckled with tons of roach crap. The bad part of the tea offering is that, for a moment, you actually considered accepting it because the house has no air-conditioning and it is nearly 100 degrees inside that sweet little abode. But the heat doesn’t stop eight bony, underfed cats from running, playing, puking, spraying, and defecating on the furniture and well-worn linoleum floors.

3. Investigators are the lucky folks who have the pleasure of enjoying a nice dinner at home with the spouse and kids, and minutes later find themselves standing in a room where some poor soul’s brains are dripping from his bedroom ceiling. All because the victim didn’t have the decency to sleep with a man’s wife somewhere other than the married couple’s bed. And the wife, well, she’s blubbering “I’m sorrys” all over the place while her husband is escorted, in handcuffs, to a waiting patrol car.

Meanwhile, detectives have the pleasure of bagging and tagging evidence in the bloody bedroom, taking care not to step on bits of the victim’s skull. After all, even for you, an experienced homicide detective, it’s still a bit disgusting to get home at 4 a.m. and find a murder victim’s blood on your shirt sleeve, or a piece of the guy’s head stuck to your shoe. Better yet, your spouse makes the gruesome discovery the next day while tidying up.

4. One of the perks of becoming a detective is that you no longer have to deal with drunks, the little darlings who can be a real pain in the keister, right?

Unfortunately, a large number of criminals are intoxicated on cheap wine or beer, or both, or high on something that promotes the undeniable urge to eat a human face, when they commit their little illegal faux pas. Unfortunately, they’re often in the same condition when detectives pick them up for questioning. So, combine a lot of drinking and drug use with fear and nervousness and what do you get? Yep, last night’s chili dogs, fries, pickled pigs feet, and chocolate ice cream all over your brand new suit. Not to mention the overflow that hits your desktop and case files.

5. Ever try fighting while wearing a suit and shiny shoes? How about wrestling with a 300 lb. angry woman while attempting to get a pair of handcuffs on her, all while rolling around in a muddy driveway? Then, as always, junior and three sisters jump on the pile, trying to stop you from taking dear old mom into custody. After all, all she did was kill dear old dad with a meat cleaver.

I’ll be the first to say this … never underestimate the strength of women. They will slap you three ways into Sunday, if you’re not careful.

My jaw still aches today from the time when …

6. Detectives drive really cool cars, like my old dark blue Chevrolet Caprice, the one that would only reach 80 mph when I held the accelerator to the floor on a three-mile downhill grade. It’s not cool to be in pursuit of a wanted suspect, a guy running from you, and have every patrol car in the area pass you as if you were sitting still.

Investigators often get hand-me-down cars, like old patrol cars minus the markings—the cars that are no longer good enough for the streets. Knobs, buttons, and dials are often missing. Radios don’t work. The carpets and seats are stained with urine and puke, so much so that the cloth now feels like leather. Glamorous, wouldn’t you say?

So, there’s six reasons why it’s really cool to be a detective. And you thought all they did was sit around all day shining those pretty gold badges. Sure, they wipe them down, regularly, but not for the reasons you thought. Nope, they’re actually cleaning off vomit, roach dung, and blood.

Nice day at the office, huh?

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering the fallen

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Mater Sergeant Debra Clayton, 42

Orlando Florida Police Department

January 9, 2017 – Master Sergeant Debra Clayton was shot and killed when she encountered and attempted to apprehend a suspect wanted for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend. The suspect later carjacked a vehicle and shot another officer as he attempted to apprehend him. He is still at large.

Sergeant Clayton is survived by her husband and son.

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Deputy First Class Norman Lewis

Orange County Florida Sheriff’s Office

January 9, 2017 – Deputy Norman Lewis was killed in a motorcycle crash when a car turned in front of him during the frantic search for the suspect who shot and killed Sergeant Debra Clayton.

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Detective Chad Parque, 32

North Las Vegas Nevada Police Department

January 7, 2017 – Detective Chad Parque succumbed to injuries sustained in a vehicle crash when his patrol car was struck head-on by a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction in his lane. He is survived by his wife, children, and siblings.

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Chief of Police Randy Gibson

Kalama Washington Police Department

January 10, 2017 – Chief Randy Gibson died from respiratory arrest following a struggle with a violent suspect. He is survived by his wife.

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Detective Steven McDonald, 59

New York City Police Department

January 10, 2017 – Detective Steven McDonald died as a result of gunshot wounds he received 31 years ago when he encountered a teen robbery suspect. While questioning the teen, the young man drew a handgun and shot Detective McDonald in the head and neck. He’d been paralyzed since the shooting, and was confined to the use of a wheelchair and a machine to assist with breathing.

Detective McDonald is survived by his wife and son. His son is now a sergeant with the NYPD.

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