Pat: The Little Cop Who Couldn’t

Some people are simply not designed to be cops. There, I’ve said it. And it’s true.

Ask any police officer and they’ll tell you that it takes a special kind of person to successfully wear a gun and badge. Sure, “law dawgs” come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors, and from varying backgrounds. But there was one officer who shouldn’t have made it past the interview stage, and that cop was quickly nicknamed “The Little Cop Who Couldn’t.”

First of all, for the purpose of this blog, we need to assign a name to the officer—a gender-neutral name. Therefore, it’ll be up to you to paint your own mental picture of him/her. And the name I choose is Pat.

The story goes something like this…

Pat was a unique police officer who stood at a towering 4′-11″ tall, with shoes on (4′-10″ wearing really thick socks and no shoes).

Not a single supply company stocked police uniforms in child sizes, so Pat’s clothing had to be specially made and ordered from a company that advertised, I think, on the back cover of Archie comic books. Even then, a good bit of tailoring had to be done, snipping here and stitching there, to insure a proper fit. Seriously, the little pant legs were shorter than the sleeves on my dress shirts.

If someone had bronzed Pat’s work shoes they’d have looked a lot like “baby’s first shoes.”

During basic training, one of the practical exercises for the class was to direct traffic at a busy city intersection. Trainees were required to be in full uniform for the exercise, including hats. Well, they just don’t make police hats that small, so Pat borrowed one from a fellow classmate, looking like a kid playing dress-up in adult clothing. Besides, not everyone can pull of the “police-hat look.” On the other hand, some look absolutely fabulous!

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Green Bay Police Mounted Patrol

Anyway, the recruit who’d just completed his turn in the intersection had successfully, without a single crash, stopped traffic from all four directions so Pat could assume the position in the middle of the street. Then, firmly in control of dozens upon dozens of idling vehicles of all sizes and makes, and with arms outstretched and a forceful tweet from a shiny and brand new whistle, Pat sharply and crisply motioned for one lane of traffic to move forward. Cars and trucks zipped by and Pat smiled, nodded, and winked at the drivers as they passed. Pat had it going on.

And all was going well until Pat gave the whistle another blast to stop the oncoming traffic, and then turned to the left to start the next lane of traffic moving. Well, Pat’s tiny head turned left, rotating inside the cap, but the too-large hat remained facing forward. The entire class erupted in laughter. Suddenly chaos broke out. Horns blew. Drivers started moving from all directions. Traffic was soon knotted up like a tin can full of wriggling fishing worms.

Pat once responded to a shoplifting call—an 11-year-old girl swiped a twenty-five cent candy bar from a local K-Mart—and just as Pat was about to enter the store the kid ran outside. Pat grabbed the little darlin’ who then pushed Pat down to the pavement. Pat got up and grabbed the 70-ish-pound kid and it was on. According to bystanders who, by the way, called 911 to report an officer needing assistance because the child was absolutely beating the tar out of Pat. One witness told responding officers that Pat resembled one of those blow-up clown punching bags that pops back upright after each blow, the kind with the big red nose that squeaks when struck.

Then there was the time when Pat’s fellow officers responded to a large fight outside a local bar. The dispatcher cautioned that weapons were involved and that several people were already injured and down. Pat was in the middle answering a domestic he-said/she-said when the call came in.

Responding officers saw the large crowd and immediately called for backup, which, at that point, meant calling in sheriff’s deputies and state troopers, since every available officer, except Pat, was already on the scene. The fight was brutal, with officers and bad guys were going at it, toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow. Officers were outnumbered four-to-one, at least.

And then they heard it … a lone siren wailing and yelping in the distance, like the sound of a ship’s horn mournfully floating across vast salt water marshes at low tide. Soon, intermittent flashes of blue light began to reflect from brick storefronts and plate glass windows. Mannequins, fur coats, and hunting apparel were all washed in the same winking and blinking azure light.

Suddenly, a patrol car shot out of the darkness. With strobes pulsing, siren screaming, and headlamps wig-wagging, Pat’s marked blue and white bore down on the parking lot and the fight that was well underway.

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Instead of stopping in the street, the tiny officer, who by the way, had to sit on a pillow to see over the dashboard (no, I’m not kidding), steered the car over the curb with a bump and a bang, pulling directly into the narrow parking lot. The car came to a stop not five feet away from the rumble.

Pat didn’t waste any time before flinging open the car door and stepping out, leaving the emergency lights in full frenzy mode, and siren crying out like an alley cat with its tail caught in a fox trap. Then Pat stepped out of the car, sort of …

You see, Pat’s pistol and holster had somehow gotten tangled with the seat belt, reeling Pat back into the car like a Yo-Yo on the upswing. Pat’s Maglite hit the pavement and broke apart, spilling D-cell batteries and the lens and bulb in all directions. The pillow fell out and slid beneath the vehicle.

And the hat. That &%*@ hat.

Yes, resting on Pat’s miniature dome was the cop/bus driver hat which, of course, remained motionless while Pat’s softball-size head spun around like a lighthouse beacon as he/she surveyed the scene and the whereabouts of the now missing batteries and seat cushion.

Suddenly, as if a magic spell had been cast, the fight stopped. Everyone, good guys and bad, all turned to watch “The Pat Show” unfold. Even the bad guys chuckled at the ridiculousness playing out before their very eyes—Pat on hands and knees retrieving lost gear and, of course, the pillow. At least the fight was over.

By the way, Pat’s hands were so small that the department had to purchase a pistol a bit smaller than standard cop issue, but Pat’s index finger was still too short to reach the trigger. Instead, he/she learned to shoot using his/her middle finger to pull the trigger. Didn’t matter, though, because Pat still barely managed to shoot a satisfactory score on the range.

So I guess the true test of becoming a police officer is not how strong the desire or how big the heart, it’s how well the head fits the hat. And, of course, you must be “this tall” to drive a police car.

Pat did have a few good officer-type qualities. Such as…

Crime scene photography. Pat was already close to the ground, so locating tiny bits of evidence was a breeze.

Surveillance

Locating “bugs”.

Pat could sit for hours at a time, watching surveillance tapes.

Undercover assignments were Pat’s favorite.

Of course, Pat’s drinking was a problem.

And there were rumors of a serious “Binky” habit…

Joining the dive team presented new challenges for Pat.

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Pat was tough, though, and managed to singlehandedly bring in even the biggest and baddest of the bad guys.

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In the end, though, it was the intradepartmental affair that ended Pat’s career.

 

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22 Facts Prove I’m a Trumpet-Playing, Guitar-Plucking Crime-Solver

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Things you may or may not know about me. Yes, someone challenged me to compose a list of twenty-five.

Here’s twenty-two. One statement is a lie. Three are top secret. Can you spot the false statement?

The list:

1. I do not edit this blog. What you see is each day is usually a first pass, and the errors found on the site are sometimes pretty funny.

2. Things not discussed on this blog—politics, gun control, religion, sex. Why not? Just take a peek at the bloodbath known as Facebook and you’ll see why I choose to not wade into a battle that no one could possibly win.

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I choose to stick to reporting facts. No choosing sides. Just plain old fact.

By the way, thanks to all the insane gnashing of teeth and bickering and name-calling and fake news, I’ve stopped reading Facebook posts. Nada. Nothing. I surrender. The hatred won. So I’m sorry if I’m missing your good news, but I prefer to remember my friends as, well, my friends. I still post news to social media, but to subject myself to seeing friends at each other’s throats, calling one another ever vile name in the book … no thanks.

So no more reading things on social media for me. Not for a while.

3. I started this blog in January, nine years ago, and I’ve missed only a couple of days of offering new articles. I even wrote and posted a morphine-induced article mere minutes after waking up from major neck surgery. However, I missed yesterday. My excuse—tons of 2017 Writers’ Police Academy details to work out.

4. I enjoy music quite a bit, and I play, or have played several instruments, including guitar, bass guitar, drums, trumpet, tuba, french horn, and clarinet. Well, the clarinet thing was a passing fancy, but the others I’ve played with some degree of success. I’ve played guitar, bass, drums, and/or trumpet in numerous bands over the years. I sat first chair, first trumpet (soloist) in our concert band and with the marching and jazz bands.

I learned to play the trumpet in an odd way.

I played tuba in the junior high band (some of us younger folks also performed with our award-winning high school marching band). As odd luck would have it, we were scheduled to play for a homecoming parade and halftime show at a well-known university when the lead trumpet player became ill and couldn’t perform.

I’d never played the trumpet in public and really didn’t know how. Couldn’t even read the music since tuba sheet music is in written bass clef and trumpet is in treble, meaning the notes on the staff have differing values (a note on the staff for a trumpet, while located in the same spot, is different than a note in the same position when played on a tuba).

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A tiny bit of music theory here, to help you better understand how complex this situation was for me:

  • The five lines (above) are called a “staff.”
  • Those lines and the spaces between represent different pitches.
  • With a blank staff we can’t tell what notes to play, right? So composers use Clefs to mark which notes correspond to individual lines and/or spaces. The Treble Clef (pictured above, is also known as the G Clef) and the Bass Clef (also pictured above) is the F Clef. By the way, I drew both clefs on the same staff. This was merely to illustrate how they appear on sheet music. In the real world, the two clefs would not appear together on the same staff.

The Treble Clef spirals around the second line from the bottom. This spiral tells us that notes on this line are G.

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The Bass Clef has two dots, above and below the second line from the top. The dots indicate that this line is F.

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Clear as mud, right? But, is it merely fuel to assist in a convincing lie? :)

Anyway, the band director came to me, extremely distraught, and asked if I thought I could play the trumpet parts if he wrote the valve positions (which valve to press for each note) beneath the notes.

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We had two trumpet-heavy songs to perform, both by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass—A Taste of Honey and Tijuana Taxi. So there I went, marching with the band (left, right, left, right, and so on, lifting my knees parallel to the ground and toes pointed down) with a piece of sheet music attached to the lyre hooked to my borrowed horn.

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Trumpet with lyre attached, holding sheet music.

Before handing me the sheet music, the band director used a pencil to mark the valve positions for each note on the page. Otherwise, I had no clue which note was which.

This is similar to what I had to go by, tiny sheets of music marked with crude drawings of valve positions and note names. And I had to decipher this in real time while marching!

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Anyway, I got through it and, remarkably, we won the first place award for best marching band in the parade. The halftime show was also a success, in spite of having to change the routine a bit since I was then in a new position.

With knees knocking and fear plucking every nerve, I played a trumpet solo, right there on the 50 yard line at a major U.S. university. Remember, this was my first time in public playing a trumpet, and I did not know how! But I’ve always been ready for challenge. However, I’m sort of done with challenges these days. Now, I opt for quiet, calm, and peace. Except, of course, during the Writers’ Police Academy! By the way, my switch to trumpet became a permanent move, from that day forward.

5. Denene and I once owned a really nice gym, a remodeling company, a music store, and a computer business. We’ve also owned rental property.

6. I enjoy small woodworking projects, when I have the time. I have also been known to do larger jobs, such as room additions and roofing. I made these a while back.

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7. I was once in a nice restaurant, enjoying a delicious bowl of clam chowder, when one of the Oak Ridge Boys, who was also at our table, started singing to my wife, Denene.

8. I, unlike you guys, knew prior to showing the video at the WPA, that Michael Cudlitz (star of The Walking Dead, Southland, and the Band of Brothers), was not wearing pants when he shot the recording announcing the winner of the Writers’ Police Academy Golden Donut Short Story Contest. He’d forgotten to do the video for us, but remembered it after he’d gone to bed. So he got up, slipped on a shirt, and … well, I’ll bet you view the video differently now!

9. I once taught self-defense and rape prevention to college students. The program was part of the schools’ orientation for new students.

10. I taught business math at a Virginia High School. Deciding it would be safer and less stressful to work as a police officer, I made the change.

11. I was a Boy Scout camp counselor for a few years. My jobs during that time included teaching archery and rifle and shotgun, and overseeing some of the daily operation of the camp dining hall. I also served as camp bugler.

12. I haven’t fired a gun in over 15 years.

13. I have a tattoo of Mickey Mouse.

14. I, my brother, and a friend won a karaoke contest. Our song? “Stop, in the Name of Love” by The Supremes.

15. My brother, the same friend, and I were fishing in a narrow but deep river. I tossed out my line, hoping to catch a nice large-mouth bass. When I made the cast, the lure went up and over a tree branch before coming to a stop four feet above the surface of water. Unsure how I was going to retrieve the lure, we began to paddle closer to it to try. Suddenly, a huge bass leapt from the water and swallowed the lure, leaving the large fish dangling from the line, like a yo-yo at the bottom of a long string. Just as I was about to grab the fish (the largest of the day, by the way) the bass let go and fell into the water, never to be seen again.

16. I was a high-jumper and sprinter on my high school track team.

17. For extra money, I once worked a part-time job where I repaired damaged (new, and empty) wooden caskets.

18. A doctor once told me I was at the end of my life and I should get my affairs in order, immediately. However, I lived.

19. I have worked as a laborer, pulling tobacco and picking cotton from sunup to sundown. My pay was $3 per day plus meals, one Pepsi, and a package of snack crackers. I worked on this farm for an entire summer, vowing each day to never, ever do it again.

20. I can write forward with my right hand and backward (mirror image) with my right … at the same time.

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Hey, DaVinci could do it too. If it’s good enough for him … Or, are we both lying about this unusual ability?

21. I was called to assist with catching a guy who’d overpowered a wiry jail officer to escape his cell. When I went in the back (thats what we called going inside the high security area) the prisoner was standing next to a supply room throwing rolls of toilet tissue at the skinny and distraught jailer who was trying to catch him. The prisoner was 6′-5″ and the jailer was 5′-6″ and weighed 120 lbs. on a heavy day. Hilarious sight.

So that’s it for me. Were you able to use your highly-honed detective skills to spot the false “fact?”

What about you? What’s one thing we don’t know about you? Remember, no politics, gun control, religion, or sex. Hmm … omitting those topics might leave some people with nothing to say … :)

Just in case …

 

 

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Fake News: I’d Rather Go to the Dentist

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The entire staff of the Graveyard Shift took a field trip yesterday. We boarded a big bus and drove over four hours to the offices of newspaper giant, The Bottomfeeder Gazette. We wanted to see how their hardworking news reporters come up with those gritty stories they crank out each day. We wanted to tag along when they hit the streets, conducting interviews and digging up the dirt. We wanted to learn how they’re able to garner all that juicy, gossipy stuff they print each day.

Well, I was shocked. We didn’t leave the building. Not even for lunch. They had gluten-free kale chips and bottled water brought in by a man-bun guy dressed in skinny jeans and a Grateful Dead t-shirt.

So here’s how this media group came up with their news stories du jour. I was shocked. We all sat around a large empty room, on the floor with our backs against the wall. There were fourteen of us in all. Five in our crew and nine Bottomfeeder reporters. Oh, and the editor. So fifteen.

The editor started the ball rolling by asking for story ideas. Someone said, “The sheriff is up for reelection.”

The editor paused to ponder the thought. We all sat there in silence, watching his face undergo several transformations, moves to help him think, I surmised. First he wrinkled his forehead, raising his bushy brows until they nearly touched in the middle. Next, he scratched his chin using a single index finger. And then he said, “I like it. Let’s run with it. Who wants to go first? Headline?”

Another man-bun guy, this one with a permanent five-o’clock shadow and a lazy eye, set up a large white board and stood at its side with a green marker in his hand. A young woman raised a hand, the one holding a Starbucks coffee cup with the name “Celine” penned in a delicate “Sharpie” script. Beneath the name was written (in the same hand) “Likethesinger.” I’m guessing the clerk assumed the young woman’s full name was Celine Likethesinger.

Anyway, the editor called on Celine (like the singer) who promptly said, “I remember when the sheriff was the crossing guard at my elementary school. He’s a sweet man.” So bun guy reached over to the white board and wrote:

Crossing Guard/likes children, a lot

Someone to my right shouted, “I went to school with his kids.”

Man Bun put his marker to board once again.

Has kids

Another voce from the room, “He’s a member of my dad’s golf club.”

Plays golf … with campaign contributors?

“I heard he doesn’t let his kids go to parties.’

Questionable parenting skills

“I once saw him in pursuit of a robber.”

Reckless driver/Speeds through town/Dangerous

“I saw him go inside the liquor store with one of his campaign posters.”

Frequents liquor stores while on the job

“He arrested a large number of drug dealers.”

Has been seen in the company of major drug dealers

“I wonder what kind of pistol he carries?”

Supported by NRA 

“One of his kids has special needs and is home schooled.”

Doesn’t believe in sending kids to public schools

“His oldest daughter once wrote a book report on Helter Skelter, the story about that Manson creep.”

Follower of Charles Manson/indoctrinates his kids into Manson cult

So this went on for the better part of an hour and this, the way I believe most stories today make it to the papers and in online news sources these days, was the result:

Local Sheriff Seeks Reelection Bid Amidst Cloud of Allegations 

Longtime sheriff, Gi. Meabrake, has announced his bid to seek another term of office. He faces tough opposition this year, especially in light of the inflammatory accusations facing him. A hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday at the county conference center, where Sheriff Meabrake will answer to the charges of child endangerment, drinking on duty, supporting a known convicted murderer, abuse of authority, and reckless driving/endangering the wellbeing of citizens. It has been reported that child services are filing the necessary paperwork to remove the Meabrake children from the home. Officials within the agency say removing the children is for their safety.

Protestors are scheduled to march to the sheriff’s office on Tuesday. They’re demanding that Sheriff Meabrake announce who he supported in the presidential election. They also want free parking, free access to all police equipment, no firearms for deputies, two get out of jail free cards, and the promise that no one will be arrested for the next two years, for anything.

*Disclaimer – News staff has not verified any of these allegations, but we believe it is good journalism to put this out there to give the public the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to believe it.

Sure, this article is dumb. Totally dumb. For the life of me, though, I can’t image that much of today’s news stories derive from a better source(s) than my fictional one above. Do reporters actually interview people? Do they research topics? If so, where and how do they do this? Why is it that facts are no longer important?

I used to read the news, a lot. Now, when online, I simply scroll past most headlines and images, skipping the political rants (from all sides) and ludicrous promises of juicy news about Hillary’s pantsuits that were made by starving child slaves in 3rd world countries, who, by the way, are the offspring of Bill Clinton. I also pass by those fake tales accusing Trump of planting Tribbles on the Enterprise, and about him appointing little Barron as Secretary of State.

Unfortunately, skipping all the roiling, boiling, ranting, raving, hate, lies, and totally fake news, I find that I’m missing out on a lot of the wonderful accomplishments of my friends. But, it is what it is. I’m weary of the hate and of the backstabbing and name-calling, and, well of it all.

What started this little fake news rant of my own? A news story this morning, from a major media source, about … basically nothing.

It’s just one of those days. I’ll get over it.

For now, I’m off to the dentist. Wish me luck.

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Madam Zelda’s Top Twelve 2017 Predictions

In keeping with year-end tradition, Madam Zelda did a reading for us this morning and she’s confident 2017 will be fantastic. Here’s a list of her top twelve predictions. Believe me, she’s always right.

  1. Someone accidentally plays a Kayne West song in reverse and hears the star say admit, “I can’t sing. Not a word. Not a note. Nope, can’t carry a tune, not even in a bucket.”
  2. Universities rush to create safe spaces for students traumatized by what they’ve seen and heard in other safe spaces (yes, coloring books, Play Dough, and tiny ponies can be scary).
  3. The Dictionary Police meet and officially ban the words, Bigly, Electoral College, Candidate, Fake News, Swamp, Email, Russia, Comey, Hacking, Polling, Weiner, and “War On …” (War on Drugs, War on Christmas, etc.).
  4. The U.S. wisely eliminates all elections. Future spots are to be filled by the winners of Rock, Paper, Scissors competitions. All decisions will be final. No recounts, lawsuits, or hacking attempts allowed. NO campaigning!!
  5. The Electoral College closes its doors and the entire campus is razed to make room for a trendy new Filibuster hamburger joint.
  6. California will do something stupid.
  7. The news media is shocked to learn that news is something that actually happens, not the fantasy or agenda that lives inside the minds of some “reporters.”
  8. Doctors discover a cure for social media.
  9. Rumor has it that someone could/might actually perform a country song at the 2017 Country Music Awards. This one is a stretch and probably will not happen.
  10. Amazon’s Alexa is set to become the first all-electronic mayor of a major U.S. city. She’s definitely qualified because her standard answer to tough questions is, “Hmm, I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.”
  11. A criminal will break the law and someone will be shocked that he did, and that someone will start a movement to ban whatever it was the criminal did even though there are 2 Tatrilliongazillion laws already on the books that … here it comes … already forbid the act.
  12. The 2017 Writers’ Police Academy is the biggest and best event we’ve ever produced! The lineup is over the moon exciting! And the keynote and special guest speakers … well, you asked and we delivered. But we’re keeping those details under wraps for now. A clue? Okay, here goes—TV series (plural), lots of bestselling books, actor, top expert, funny, rural, urban, tall, shorter, TV personality, and that’s enough for now. Besides, you’ve already guessed their names, right? No? Oh, I’m sorry, did I not mention the clue list was a combination of three people?

Anyway, I hope each of you finds the new year packed to the brim with good things for you and yours.

Happy New Year!

*By the way, January 2017 marks the 9th anniversary of this blog. It’s hard to believe nine years has passed by since the day I first gave blogging a try as a compliment to my book on police procedure. 2017 is also the 9th anniversary of the Writers’ Police Academy. Thanks so much for sticking with me all these years!

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Everything You Thought You Knew About Cops: Cordite, Perps, and … Badge Bunnies?

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Coming in January!

Yes, I’ve come out of hiding for a brief period to teach an intensive online class for RWA’s Kiss of Death Chapter. To make things a bit more interesting, one lucky pupil in the workshop will win a free registration to the 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. The KOD class is open to everyone. You do not need to be a member of the group.

Here’s the title and description. The signup link is at the bottom of this page. I hope we see you there (Jan. 4 – 29, 2017)!

Everything You Thought You Knew About Cops: Cordite, Perps, and … Badge Bunnies?

“The perp, a bleached-blonde badge bunny, couldn’t have gone far. Maybe only a ten minute headstart. I know, because the odor of cordite still hung heavy in the room, like a wet bath towel draped across a by-the-hour hotel shower rod. She’d be easy to crack, too. A belt of cheap scotch and pack of Lucky Strikes and she’d sing like an American Idol contestant—loudly and horribly, followed by a gusher of crocodile tears.”

Does the paragraph above sound familiar? Have you ever written anything that sounded remotely close to it? If so, you may need to take your research efforts to the next level. I know, you’ve been writing about cops for years, thinking you know what makes them tick and why they do what they do.

Sure, you and your characters each believe you have what it takes to bring life to the officers in your latest book. But do you really know what you’re writing? Have you talked to cops? Visited a police station? Ridden in a police car—in the front seat without handcuffs?

Do you know how it feels to wrap your arms around someone in uniform? Does their badge poke into your flesh? Why do cops sometimes wince as if in pain when they slide in and out of their patrol cars? Is body armor made differently for female officers? Is it okay for a female officer to strip-search a male prisoner?

How about…

Does the FBI ride into town on white horses and assume control of any case they choose? Is it mandatory for the FBI to work all kidnapping cases? Is it okay for undercover officers to smoke marijuana while they’re working an assignment? Can they drink alcohol? Who gets a search warrant? How long does it take? Who’s in charge, a police chief or a sheriff?

Why the heck don’t cops shoot the bad guy in the leg instead of blasting a big hole in the center of his chest? Better yet, why don’t they simply give the thug a big karate chop on the back of the neck and take away that machine gun? That would be safer, right?

Why not forget the search warrant and the fact that your hero has been suspended from duty. Just have him open the door and go inside anyway, even though he’s no longer an active-duty officer. The courts and your readers won’t care, right?

What about sex in a patrol car? Does that really happen? What about all that gear? Does it all come off, or …

Well, readers are more knowledgeable about cops than ever before and they expect at least that same level of knowledge from their favorite authors. So, like it or not, it’s time go that extra mile. And you can begin by strapping on your gun belts and body armor, and polishing your badges and shoes, because you’re about to take a wild and fun ride into a side of law enforcement not normally seen by the average citizen.

Please join me in signing 10-41 … On-duty. It’s going to be fun!

https://www.rwa.org/2017coffin

 

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