Behind the Badge and Over the Hill

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Over the hill, they said. The nerve of those youngsters, with their shiny round faces and buzz-cut hairdos. Why, it was just ten or fifteen years ago when I could deftly place sixty rounds dead-center of the target, leaving nothing but an irregularly-shaped and tattered fist-size hole.

I could read a rear license place from a distance of twenty car lengths or more. And I could chase a punk for miles and then bring him down and handcuff him, like a rancher ropes a steer.  Toe-to-toe and fist-to-fist, I could hold my own against any combative man, or woman.

Push-ups … could do them all night long.

Pursuit driving … piece of cake.

Now, mere days after receiving my thirty-year service pin, well …

Each time I lift my left foot to put on a sock, there’s a strange and quite sharp pain that shoots through the hip on the same side. So I’ve resorted to slipping the sock over my foot while it’s flat on the floor. This works okay, but leaning over far enough to reach my toes tends to cause a painful twinge in my lower back.

Tomorrow we’re scheduled to re-qualify at the range. I hope I score the required 70%. Otherwise, you get a second try at it before the department sends you packing. Can’t shoot, can’t be a cop. Simple as that. The last time I was there I sort of pointed my gun at where I thought the middle of the target should be and then hoped for the best. I scored 72%. I was just happy I passed and was able to keep my job.

Either bad guys are getting faster these days, or my old legs have decided they no longer care if we catch them or not. And my breathing … wow, when did all that wheezing start? I used to be able to run ten miles without feeling as if my inside were about to explode into tiny bits of fire.

Speaking of getting faster. Today’s crooks must be driving super-fast, souped-up cars because I can’t seem to keep up during pursuits. They dodge and weave and glide through traffic like an olympic figure skater slips and slides across an ice rink. Me, my movements are herky-jerky, at best. I think the patrol cars they give us these days are designed to resist quick steering and acceleration. And they definitely prefer to move along at slower speeds than the cars we used to drive twenty years ago. Man, those cars could cut through traffic like a freshly-honed paring knife slices through butter.

Police supply companies have lost all my respect. Believe it or not, they’re cutting corners like all other businesses. The shoes they sell us are horrible. I say this with authority. Yes, I know what I’m talking bout. These two feet of mine are screaming at the end of the day. I know, without a doubt, it’s the shoes. My feet are not to blame. Sure, there’s a little arthritis in the toes. Still … It’s the shoes.

It seems like just yesterday when I put my hands on someone to cuff them and they did not could not pull free. Today, these youngster must spend every waking moment in a gym because they, every one of them, are as strong as a team of plow horses.  It’s tough to get restraints around the wrists of these super-strong people. Women are equally as strong. It has to be them, because I’m just as strong as I ever was. Really, I am.

I’ve still not quite mastered the computer thing. I’d still rather hand-write reports. Or, the old Royal in the corner is still just as fast and good as ever. Ribbon’s almost new, too.

The boss tells me there’s an opening in the evidence room. The job consists of taking stuff officers bring in, assign it a number, and then stick it on a shelf until someone comes by to pick it up. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. That’s the job. Day after day after day. She wants me to take it. I don’t want to. Can’t really make out all the fine print on those evidence labels. I guess my eyes are just tired after all those years of reading and writing detailed reports.

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Maybe, though, I should take the sergeant’s advice. After all, she says, next time I go to the range I may shoot a 68.

And, well, a 68 just isn’t good enough …

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… and I love my job.

Really, I do.

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Lucky Thomas: Probable Cause and Collard Greens, a Recipe for Arrest

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Lucky Thomas got himself nabbed by a day-shift flatfoot after his latest job, a quick little “in-and-out” B&E of Linda’s Ammo Depot.

An over eager copper spied Lucky climbing out of Linda’s office window with a bag of “goodies” in hand. The beat cop yelled, “Stop!” but the word merely shifted Lucky’s feet into high gear, setting the stage for an early morning foot pursuit.

The officer, with keys jingling and jangling and holster slapping and popping against his outer thigh, chased the career bandit down Pleasant Street, then two blocks on Happy Lane and eight blocks up Freedom Way, before Lucky ducked into the alley between Ida Sue’s Thrift Store and Rosco’s Rib Shack.

Lucky, a former track star at the local high school, probably would have lost the big cop had he not slipped on a pile of yesterday’s slick-as-eel-snot collard greens and greasy ham hocks that Rosco left out for the pair of hungry raccoons—Rocky and Roxie—that pay nightly visits to the Shack’s overflowing, maggot-laden dumpsters.

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An exhausted and nervous Lucky barely had time to catch his breath when he felt the steel cuffs clamping around his wrists. The sound of the jaws ratcheting closed was all Lucky needed to hear to know that he’d been arrested, again.

So, not-so-Lucky had no problem knowing he’d been arrested. The handcuffs circling both wrists were all the proof he needed. But is it always that clear to people? Does an arrest always end in handcuffs? Well …

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Lucky’s lawyer, I.M. Shady, a shyster of less-than-stellar reputation among his peers, who needs not open a door to enter a room (he slithers beneath them), argued that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest his client. However, Circuit Judge Hugh Didit, quickly delivered a guilty verdict and sentenced Lucky to twelve months in the county jail.

Judge Didit, citing the officer’s perfect eyesight and that those two perfect-peepers saw Lucky climbing out of the window with a bag of stolen goods was, well, all the probable cause needed. “Guilty!” said the judge, in that distinct booming voice that had been known to rattle the feet and ankles of the clerks working on the floor above the courtroom. “Take him directly to jail, and do not pass … well, you know the drill. Get him outta here. Next case! Oh, and counselor, I suggest you study the meaning of probable cause before coming back in my court.”

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Sitting in his cell at Sheriff P.U. Stink’s lockup, Lucky often wondered if things would’ve turned out differently had he ducked inside the restaurant or the thrift store. Could the officer have followed him inside without a warrant?

Well, one of the jailhouse lawyers, a long-timer who charges a pair of tennis shoes, two pieces of cake, and a month of cell cleanings to write a Writ of Habeus Corpus, explained the law to Lucky, saying that, sure, during a foot pursuit if the officer sees the bad guy run inside a building she can indeed rush in after him. However …

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During the discussion of “what’s legal and what’s not” it didn’t take long before a crowd of inmates stopped by to listen to the jailhouse lawyer explain the various laws and scenarios. So, enjoying the attention, the self-taught legal eagle further explained why pat-downs (frisking) are legal. He said …

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In fact, the faux attorney even cited the case where it all started, Terry v. Ohio.

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Lucky, after the lecture was over, climbed onto his bunk and stared at the ceiling, wondering what some guy in Ohio had to do with his getting caught two states away. He also decided that he’d never again eat collard greens.

 

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4/20 Day: Are You Celebrating?

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Today is 4/20, the unofficial national holiday for pot smokers. It’s their birthday, Christmas, anniversary, Hanukkah, and kindergarten recess all “rolled” into one smoke-filled day.

The precise history of how April 20 became widely known as “National Weed Day” is not totally clear (surprising … not really). But the most popular notion is that in the early 1970’s a group of Marin County, Ca. students, known as the Waldos, met every year on 4-20 at 4:20. Next thing you know, 420 was the code word for smoking weed. High Times magazine picked it up and, well, the rest is a bit haaazzzyyyy.

So …

It’s Saturday night, Dark Side of the Moon is on the turntable, and bags of M&M’s and Doritos stand ready for … Wait a minute. Before we go any further, to help set the proper mood you absolutely must click on the video and crank up the volume.

Okay, that’s better.

Now, if the previous mention of Pink Floyd and delicious snack foods took you back to the days of black light posters, Janis and Jimi, 8-track tape players, and spilled bong water, well, you already have some understanding of the mechanics of pot smoking. However, it’s a whole new world out there today and, as you know, in some states marijuana is approved to treat certain medical conditions, such as glaucoma, depression, and even cancer.

In other states recreational use of marijuana is absolutely legal. Well, it’s legal with the tiny exception that the federal government still classifies pot as having no medicinal value, which makes it a Schedule I drug—the worst of the worst along with heroin and LSD. Cocaine, interestingly, is a classification lower, a Schedule II drug. To be clear, this translates into the federal government saying that marijuana is, without a doubt, illegal.

Therefore at any time anyone is caught with marijuana in their possession, even when a state’s law says it is legal to do, federal agents could swoop down from one of those spiffy black helicopters and cart the evil pot smoker off to a secret federal prison where they’d spend the next 100 years working in a prison factory making Kevlar helmets or office furniture.

You, as writers and researchers, should know there are two main types of cannabis (marijuana)—Indica and Sativa.

Sativa plants are tall and loosely branched, with narrow leaves (leaf pictured above). Indica plants are short, densely branched, with wide leaves (the appearance is similar to the above photo, but the leaflets are much broader).

By the way, a marijuana leaf is a compound leaf, a leaf composed of individual leaflets. The top photo of the marijuana leaf shows a single leaf with seven individual leaflets (cannabis leaves will have between 5-9 leaflets with serrated edges).

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two main ingredients in the marijuana plant.

THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It’s the component that makes you high. CBD is non-psychoactive (CBD does not make you high) and is the ingredient that’s most attractive as a medicine. Both, however, are used in medical marijuana.

Uses of Medical Cannabis

Sativa is said to be uplifting, therefore it’s used to treat mild depression, social anxiety, ADD, fatigue, and migraines. It’s also thought by some that Sativa helps increase creativity. Sativa is best used during daytime hours.

Indica promises to be relaxing and calming and is used to treat conditions such as, anxiety and panic attacks, pain, glaucoma, muscle cramps, asthma, complications associated with AIDS, epilepsy, gastric disorders, MS, cerebral palsy, Crohn’s Disease, Fibromyalgia, and insomnia. Experts say Indica is best used at night.

There are numerous methods of consuming medical cannabis. For example, smoking, vaporizers, tinctures or tonics, topicals applied directly to the skin as a salve (for joint pain, etc.), and edibles, to name a few.

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Since most of you are probably familiar with pot smoking (you’ve at least heard about it…yeah, right), we’ll address edible cannibas and its many forms and products. Remember, cannibas edibles are not the meek and mild pot brownies of days long ago. Edibles today are much more potent.

Sure, it’s said that edibles do a great job of reducing anxiety and helping to induce deep, restful sleep without the medicated feeling that one experiences after consuming pharmaceutical medications. However, dosing of edible cannibas can be a hit or miss situation. The perfect amount for one person may not be right for another. Therefore, a bit of trial and error can come into play before a user/patient finds the correct size “bite/dose” that best suits their needs.

Of course, should you prefer to not purchase your 420 supplies readymade …

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… you could always prepare your own.

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420 has actually turned into a rather large deal, with big businesses capitalizing on the “holiday.” Companies such as General Mills (Totinos Pizza Rolls) erected huge billboards in Denver where marijuana use is legal (per state law, not federal) that read, “420 is Better on Pizza Rolls.” And another touting the pizza bites— “Stock Up B4/20.”

And let’s not forget Ben and Jerry’s “Half-Baked” ice cream.

Other popular 420 snack favorites include:

  • Funyuns
  • Andy Capps Hot Fries
  • Bacon Fried Oreos
  • Salt & Vinegar chips
  • In-N-Out’s Monkey Style Burger

But the award for totally weird goes to …

  • Spaghetti-Os Cupcakes with Velveeta Frosting and Goldfish Sprinkles

Finally, I certainly hope that last night, on 420 Eve, you left out a plate of pot brownies and a glass of milk for jolly old “you know who.”

WillieNelson

*Please know that I am not condoning or condemning anything. This article was meant to be both informative as well as a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor. But, to be totally serious for a moment, if you do celebrate at anytime by consuming any intoxicating substance, please be responsible and DO NOT drive.

For help with substance abuse of any type –  www.samhsa.gov/find-help.

 

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Cecil And Wilbur: After The Shooting

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Cecil spends most of his time thinking about that day, wondering what he and Wilbur could’ve done differently. He doesn’t remember pulling the trigger. Nor does he understand why time seemed to slow down when the bullets started flying.

He can’t sleep and sometimes he even cries for no reason. He’s losing weight—no appetite—and he doesn’t enjoy spending time with his family. Actually, he doesn’t care all that much about seeing them or knowing what they’re doing. His headaches are getting worse, and now he’s started vomiting several times a day. At first, he thought about the dead guy all day every day.

Now, though, the dead guy lives inside his head, clawing at the inside of his skull. He wants out but Cecil doesn’t know how to help him.

When Cecil closes his eyes he smells the dead guy’s sweat and blood. And the guilt …  Self-condemnation is eating at Cecil’s nerves, one at a time. Plucking them like banjo strings. Why must it be like this, he wonders? After all, the kid fired his gun first.

But the worst thing—the worst of all—is that his fellow officers are avoiding him, talking about him behind his back. And he sees the way the brass looks at him. He’s expecting to be fired at any time. And there’s the possibility of a criminal trial. They say the shoot was justified, but now Cecil’s not so sure. In fact, he’s not sure about anything. Well, except that he’d like to be dead.

He feels helpless, and alone …

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It’s been over two weeks since Cecil and Wilbur were in the shootout with the kid who robbed the liquor store over on 37th Street. And Cecil’s not handling the situation very well. Wilbur, on the other hand, seems to be coping quite nicely. So he goes to visit will Cecil, hoping to cheer him up.

The two veteran cops sit at Cecil’s chipped Formica-topped kitchen table, the one with the rusted chrome legs. Cecil absent-mindedly uses a spoon to swirl his coffee around in an over-sized ceramic mug. He looks like hell—bloodshot eyes, cheeks sagging, and the corners of his mouth fixed in an upside-down smile. His hair even looks dull, and grayer by two shades.

“How do you do it, Wilbur? Doesn’t it bother you?” said Cecil without making eye contact.

Wilbur leaned back, balancing his chair on its two rear legs. “Sure, it does. It’s definitely not a good feeling knowing we killed someone. But, honestly, I’m just happier’n a pig eatin’ slop that I’m alive. And I’m glad that I practiced shooting all those years. We could shoot and he couldn’t. It is what it is and I’d do it again tomorrow if I had to.”

Cecil sighed, still stirring his coffee. The spoon made tinkling noises as it touched the sides of the mug. “Something must be wrong with me, then. “Cause I’m wishing it’d been me instead of him.”

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“You can’t think like that, partner. We had a job to do and we did it. Nothing more, nothing less. One less worthless mouth to feed in prison, you ask me.”

Cecil looks up. Tears are streaming down his face. He feels like he’s going to throw up, so he covers his mouth with one hand, the one he’d been using to stir the coffee. The other hand is resting in his lap, beneath the table, clutching his service weapon. The skin on his knuckles is taut. His index finger is easing toward the trigger. Sweat droplets dot the space on his forehead between his bushy eyebrows and hairline.

There’s no other way.

The monster inside his head … well, Cecil has lost the fight.

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Like Cecil and Wilbur, no two officers experience identical post-shooting reactions. But what are some of the more common reactions? Well, lets start with the shooting itself. During the gunfire, many officers experience sensory distortions, such as slow or fast motion and muted or distorted sounds.

After a shooting, like Cecil, many officers experience trouble sleeping, nightmares, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, crying spells, loss of appetite, nausea, sadness, fear, feelings of worthlessness, reliving the incident on a non-stop loop, or they cannot remember parts of the incident. Some officers have actually fired at a suspect and never realized they’d pulled the trigger until their weapons were checked by authorities (all weapons and rounds should be checked and accounted for following any officer-involved shooting).

It is extremely important for police agencies to train their officers about what to expect during and after a shooting. Teaching survival is important, but good mental health is equally important.

Finally, it’s sometimes a good idea to employ a third-party counselor to assist with the debriefing sessions, because officers may feel that a department counselor would not be impartial and side with the agency in court or during a departmental disciplinary hearing.

BUT … no matter what, officers should ALWAYS seek some sort of counseling following a shooting event. Sure, you may feel fine today, but you never know when the dead guy may show up for a visit.

Please, don’t be a “Cecil.”

 

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A Police K-9 Offers Tips To Handlers

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I’m currently working an extremely dangerous undercover assignment in a massive dog-fighting ring, but I’ve blown my cover to speak with you today about a very important subject—K-9 handlers. Still can’t display my scars, marks, and tattoos … you know, the things that could easily identify me when I get back work. For the purpose of this meeting, please call me “Dawg.” Not my real name, of course.

I’ve risked exposing my true ID because, well, sometimes you guys, dog handlers and owners, don’t use your heads. I’m not saying you’re stupid. It’s just that you don’t think before you act. Seriously, it’s okay to leave us in the car while you’re outside standing in the shade yucking it up with your buddies? We enjoy a good joke too. Besides, the grass feels wonderful on our feet. And don’t think I can’t smell the burgers and fries on your breath when you get back inside the bucket of bolts you so proudly call a police car. Nearly an hour inside Mickie D’s …. puhleeze …

And, remember that traffic stop last week? Yeah, you know the one. I know you only issued her a warning. But I’m not stupid. I get it. She batted her eyelashes at you and smelled like jasmine. What I don’t understand, though, is why you didn’t you introduce me to the poodle riding shotgun. You know I’m a sucker for curly hair. Life is not all about you and your shiny badge and big gun, you know.

Anyway, our union, Police Dogs 101, sort of elected me as spokesperson, so I’m here today in advance of the upcoming contract renewal to address a few of our concerns. It wouldn’t hurt private citizens to pull up a chair and listen as well. So here goes, and I suggest you take notes.

1. We notice that you wear shoes to work every single day of your life. And we know why. Oh, boy, do we know why! Snow and ice are COLD. Concrete and asphalt are HOT. And, for goodness sake, would you walk barefoot over broken glass? Well, no one, including dogs, should be forced to walk on those surfaces. So take your narrow hips to the store and buy us some booties! They make and sell them every day. We don’t mind looking goofy if it means no frostbite, blisters, or cuts. Use your head, Sherlock.

2. We enjoy biting a bad guy as much as any dog, but our internal temperatures can skyrocket while tracking and searching on really hot days. That’s right, Ace, you try wearing a thick fur coat in the August sunshine. So keep one of those thermometer things in your pocket. No, we don’t enjoy it when you poke them into the place where the sun doesn’t shine, but it’s better than keeling over from heat exhaustion. We’d do it ourselves, but … no fingers, you know.

3. Another good idea, and goodness knows you’d never think of it, is to wet us down before a search on hot days. It helps keep us cool. But, please, not when the humidity is really high, because the water in those instances would only serve to keep the heat in.

4. Bring some water with you if the search is going to be a long one. We don’t like drinking from mud puddles and creeks. Do you know what’s been there? Well, we do, and it’s not exactly the most sanitary thing to do. Would you drink from something that turtles and frogs use as a toilet? I didn’t think so. And let’s not even think about all the mosquito larvae swimming around in those places. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Do us both a favor and bring some water, okay!

Speaking of water … how about changing the water in my bowl a few times during the day (the one in my kennel). You know me, I drool in it, and even sometimes step in it to cool my hot feet (and you know where my feet have been). Besides, I don’t like tasting the green stuff that can build up in the bowl if the water sits for a long time.

5. If you do insist upon leaving me in the car while you’re off doing who knows what (probably biting someone behind my back), then please have the decency to leave the car and air conditioning running. And for goodness sake, have someone install an alarm that notifies you if either of the two malfunctions or shuts off. Remember, I don’t have fingers to operate the power locks and those window roller-downer-things.

6. Shade. I can’t stress this enough. We want our kennels placed in the shade. If your yard is treeless (heaven forbid) then march your butt down to the hardware store and purchase a roll or two of shade cloth to place over the top of our kennels. It”s an easy project. We’ll even help, if you want. If so, merely place the roll near us and I promise we’ll have it unrolled and divided into bite-size pieces in no time flat. Now that’s what we call fun.

Speaking of fun … we demand a few hours of play time each day. You cannot expect us to work every minute. Throw something for us to retrieve. Hide something and let us find it. Let us roll around in the dirt, etc. Anything like that will suffice.

And whatever you do, please don’t forget to tell us what a great job we’re doing. We absolutely adore praise for a job well done. Also, a little loving goes a long way. Now don’t go getting all mushy on me. A pat on the head and back and an occasional hug is all we’re asking. You can save the kisses for your spouses.

Okay, that’s it for now. We look forward to your response in advance of our next meeting.

By the way, if you happen to see that poodle again, tell her to give me a call.

 

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Search Warrants: The World “Behind The Door”

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Ah, the search warrant.

Many officers can’t wait to go on their first door-kicking, battering-ram-bashing, and flash-bang-tossing raid. Beats writing traffic tickets, right? After all, what good is that training and equipment if you can’t use it?

Sure, the excitement is there. The adrenaline rush is over the top. And the danger level…WHOOSH! It’s through the roof.

But there’s another side to executing a search warrant, an unpleasant side that most people don’t see. Yes, after the door is breached officers often encounter a host of unpleasantness, such as:

1. While pawing through the kitchen drawers you (the officer) notice an abundance of tiny, black pellets. There are more on the counter tops, and on the stove top, especially near a large container of used, congealed bacon grease. A closer look reveals hundreds of teeny-tiny footprints in the thin layer of grease that’s coating the top of the range. The top of the dried bacon fat, too, along with obvious chew-marks and tooth prints in the grease and around the edges of the cardboard container. A frying pan with remnants of the morning’s scrambled eggs sits on a rear burner. And that’s not freshly-ground pepper dotting the top of the eggs. Listen closely and you can hear faint squeals coming from inside the walls of the range. You don’t want to, but you do it anyway. You lean down. Yes, there are baby mice living inside the stove, and they’re crying for their mother.

And this is only the first room …

2. A favorite place to hide drugs is in or behind a toilet’s water storage tank. But there’s no bathroom in this house. Odd. So you continue the search by moving to the bedroom, if that’s what you want to call it. Four walls, a tattered mattress (no bed frame), and lots and lots of filth and dirty clothes on the floor. Chicken bones, beer cans and bottles, yellow-gray sheets that were probably white a few years ago, a clock radio with its guts hanging out of the broken plastic casing, and ROACHES EVERYWHERE. Thousands of them. All sizes, too. On the floor, the bed, the walls, a wooden chair in the corner, the ceiling, in the closet, under your feet, and on YOUR PANTS LEGS!

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But the search must go on…

3. What’s in the white five-gallon bucket in the corner? There’s a dishtowel draped over it, as if they’re hiding something there. So you pull back the cloth and WHAM! You now know the location of the bathroom, and it hasn’t been emptied for days.

4. In the darkened corner of the room, a malnourished skin-and-bones mixed-breed dog sits on its scrawny haunches. Most of the fur is missing from its back and around the head. Its lips are pulled back to expose a mouthful of plaque-coated teeth the are presently aimed in your direction. A low rumble comes from the animal’s throat. There’s no time to call for animal control so you pull out the pepperspray. Never mind that it rarely works on dogs, but you feel better with the can in your hand. You back out and close the door.

5. The next bedroom is better. Five little kids there, playing with two or three broken plastic toys—a dump truck and, ironically, a battered three-wheeled police car. The oldest child, a cute little round-faced boy of about four, or so. The tiniest spattering of freckles peppered his smooth but grimy cheeks and nose.

“Where’s your mommy?”

Five sets of shoulders inch upward.

No shoes. Dirty pants. No shirts. Faces crusted with food and sleep. Lint in their hair.

A rat, the size of a squirrel, walks nonchalantly across the floor near the baseboard. It disappears into a large hole in the sheetrock.

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Roaches crawl across the boys’ feet and legs.

A microwave on the nightstand. Overflowing ashtray. Drinking glass half full of room-temperature tea. Aluminum foil. Plastic wrap. A glass cookie sheet covered in wax paper. A plastic bag. White powder. Baking soda. Crack cocaine.

Kind of takes the edge off the adrenaline rush, huh?

And that, my friends, is what cops often see “behind the door.”

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