Here are answers to a few of the most often asked questions I receive regarding police and the work they do.

1. How do I become a local FBI homicide investigator?

Easy answer to this one. You can’t. The FBI doesn’t work local homicide cases; therefore, this three-letter federal agency does not employ homicide investigators for the cases in your hometowns. That’s the job of city, county, and state police.

2. How long does it take to become a detective?

Hmm … As “long as it takes” is a good response to this particular question. There is no set standard. It’s all about who’s the best person for the job. One person may be ready with as little as two years experience, while another may not be ready for a plainclothes assignment in, well, they may never be ready. The job of detective isn’t for everyone. Some officers prefer to work in patrol, or traffic, in the schools, or in the division that inspects taxi cabs and buses to be sure they’re in compliance with local law and standards.

3. Why didn’t you read that guy his rights before you handcuffed him? Aren’t you required to do so by law? Don’t you have to let him go now that someone knows you broke the law by not reading him his rights?

Miranda, first of all, is only required when (a) someone is in custody, and (b) prior to questioning. Therefore, if I don’t plan to ask any questions, and that’s often the case, I don’t have to spout off the “You have the right to remain silent” speech. So, no, not advising someone of Miranda is not a get out of jail free card.

4. Why do cops wear sunglasses?

Umm … because they’re constantly exposed to bright sunshine and the glasses help reduce glare and eyestrain.

5. I got a ticket for not wearing my seat belt, yet the USPS letter carrier in my neighborhood doesn’t wear his. How can they get away with breaking the law?

Most areas have laws that specifically address delivery drivers and similar professions—letter carriers, delivery services, police officers, firefighters, etc., whose jobs require them to be in and out of their vehicles throughout the business day. And, those laws typically excuses the driver(s) from mandatory seat belt laws while performing their jobs. However, many of these businesses and agencies require their drivers to wear safety belts when operating a vehicle.

6. Why are there so many sheriffs in my county?

I’ll start by saying there is only one sheriff per county. The rest of the folks you see wearing the uniform and star are deputies. A sheriff, the boss of the entire department, is elected by the people. He/she then appoints deputies to assist with the duties of the office—running the jail, courtroom security, serving papers, patrol, and criminal investigations, etc.

7. No, it’s not racial profiling to stop a purple man wearing a blue shirt and orange pants in a location near a bank that was just robbed by a purple man wearing a blue shirt and orange pants. That’s called good police work.

8. No, you do not have the right to see the radar unit, my gun, or what I’m writing in my notebook.

9. No, turning on your hazard lights does not give you the right to park in the fire lane in front of the grocery store.

10. Yes, I am concerned about your ability to fight well. Please understand, though, that this is what I do for a living, and they didn’t teach me to lose. Besides, I have a lot of loyal coworkers who’re on the way, right now, to see to it that the good guys win. So, Junior, Jr., you’re coming with me, one way or another.

11. You keep saying you know your rights … but you really don’t. Can you hear what you’re telling me?

12. Yes, no matter how much you hate me, my badge, and my uniform, I’ll still come running when/if you call, even if you punched me in the face the last time I saved your butt from the trouble you were in.


Today’s Mystery Shopper’s Corner

Since the holiday season is nearly here, I’ve decided to feature a few fun items for your mystery shopping needs and wants. I’ll post these regularly throughout the remaining weeks of 2018.

So, for day three of MSC, especially for those of you who’re shopping for writer friends who enjoy a bit of research and/or relaxation, here are my picks.

First up, 400 Things Cops Know
 


Show your support for the men and women in blue.


Dazzle your friends with gun cylinder pen and pencil holder/paper weight.


Finally, I thought I’d wrap up with a couple of books by Michael Connelly. Highly recommended reading material because he really does his cop homework. The story and characters ring true, and Bosch is a detective with whom I strongly relate.

Those of you who met Michael at the Writers’ Police Academy already know what nice and humble guy he is and those traits shine through in his style of writing. Bosch … not so humble, though.

Right to left – Michael Connelly, Denene, and me ~ Writers’ Police Academy.

 
Michael’s latest …

 
Finally, one of my favorites …
 

Has political correctness gone amuck in the world of cops and robbers?  After hearing this radio transmission, I’d say yes.

“Be on the Lookout for a morally challenged subject who’s a rube-esque prone repetitive exterminator of respirations and pulse. Subject described as follicularly challenged and metabolic phenomenon. Use caution. He is a person with flesh perforating corpuscle leaker.”

10-2. Morally Challenged Subject: Bad guy

10-3. Person of Unsavory Qualities: Crook

10-4. Understand Request/Statement: Okay

10-5. Residentially Challenged Individual/Displaced Homeowner: Homeless Person

10-6. Authenticity Challenged Subject: Insane Person

10-7. Exterminator of Respirations and Pulse: Murderer

10-8. Repetitive Exterminator of Respirations and Pulse : Serial killer

10-9. Rube-esque Prone: Redneck

10-10. Sexually-Focused Intelligence Gatherer: Peeping Tom

10-11. Mechanically Challenged Automobile: Disabled Vehicle

10-12. Intra-Species Diner: Cannibal

10-13. Living Impaired Upon Disembarkation: DOA (Dead on Arrival)

10-14. Aquatically Challenged Subject: Person Who’s Drowning 

10-15. Chemically Challenged/Inconvenienced: Drug Addict 

10-16. Life Inhibited: Dead

10-32. Person with Flesh Perforating Corpuscle Leaker: Man with Gun

10-33. Crisis Insistent Situation: Emergency

10-36. Appropriate Allotment on Chronograph: Correct Time

10-37. Involuntarily Terminated: Assassinated

10-38. Undocumented Apothecary: Drug Dealer

10-39. Undocumented Acquisitions Expert: Burglar

10-40. Temporary Guest of Government Housing: Prison/Jail Inmate

10-41. Wealth Redistribution Expert: Robber

10-42. Public Service Bonus: Kickback/Bribe

10-43. Population Control Expert: Mass Murderer

10-44. Unplanned Retrospection of Recent Meal Selections: Vomiting

10-45. Metabolic Phenomenon: Fat

10-88. Follicularly Challenged: Bald

10-100. Urgent Need to Eliminate Food and Drink Byproducts: Restroom Break

*Please remember that 10-Codes vary from one area to another. 10-4?

Also, let’s hope that neither of these goofy codes are in use, but these days, well, you never know what to expect. 

 

Police officers face many difficult challenges during the course of their careers, challenges most people would avoid at all costs. For example, exchanging a few rounds of live ammunition with a doped-up bad guy. Or how about working really long, odd hours, or the fear of losing everything you own, including your freedom, family, and possibly your life, should you make a bad decision in that fraction of a split second you have to make it.

And there’s this—the joy of being slapped, hit, punched, scratched, spit on, stabbed, cut, cursed at, having urine or feces thrown on you, puked on, bled on, wearing goofy clothing and heavy gear, and seeing people hurt, sick, and even die right front of you knowing there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.

The danger level of the job is extremely high and getting worse every day. All it takes is a couple visits to this blog on any given Friday to know how dangerous the job really is.

And then there’s the ever popular low pay, little time off, missing holiday time with your family (if you still have one), high suicide rate, alcoholism, drug abuse, fear of serious injury or death, and divorce.

Still, through all the pain and agony and odd baggage that’s attached to every police officer, there’s always someone out there who’ll agree to enter into relationships with the poor saps. And that’s a good thing, right? Well, not always, and there’s a secret I’d like to share with you, the writer. First we must address the fact that you guys don’t always get cop romances right.

Here’s why.

The Three “Romance” Categories of Fictional Cops

  1. The ones in relationships, the Hallmark movie/Nicholas Sparks-happy-ending kind of cop. Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware and  Robin Castagna come to mind, even though the partners sometimes experience and on-again-off-again sort of relationship. And there’s Faye Kellerman’s crime-solving duo Peter Decker, a lieutenant in the LAPD, and his Orthodox Jewish wife Rina Lazarus.
  2. The sad sacks who couldn’t hang on to a steady love interest if he/she were a conjoined twin. Little black dress-wearing Kinsey Millhone, bless her heart, well, the closest thing she had to a longterm relationship is with her dear landlord, 80-something Henry Pitts, a baker who spends his free time creating crossword puzzles.
  3. Then there’s the cop who’s so screwed up emotionally even mental hospitals lock their doors when they see him coming. The latter never finds true love, obviously, and remains a loner, stumbling through book after book after book. I’ll leave this one to your imaginations and personal favorites.

But there’s another kind of relationship, one that’s not really talked about in the world of fiction, and it’s definitely kept under wraps in the real world. But I’m spilling the beans, right here and right now. But you must swear to secrecy because, well … it’s a taboo topic!

We Tried to Warn Them!

Part of the exit speech we presented to new recruits leaving the police academy consisted of a few basic warnings about the potential career-ending temptations cops are sometimes faced with, like access to tons and tons of cash, drugs, alcohol, the fast life, prostitutes, abuse of power … and Badge Bunnies.

Badge bunnies? What the heck are badge bunnies? That was my reaction, too, when I first heard about them during the police academy superintendent’s “Welcome to the police officer family” speech during my last day at the police academy.

* Please don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not being sexist, just relaying some very real information. Of course this does work both ways. There are indeed male badge bunnies.

The term badge bunny is often defined as (from Urban Dictionary):

Badge Bunny: A female that goes out with only cops and firemen.

Badge Bunny: A female who enjoys “boinking” and actively pursuing sexual relationships with cops.

Badge Bunny: A female, usually of barely legal age, who spends her time chasing police officers, offering her “services” in hopes of gaining status among her badge bunny friends. (Yes, there are many cop groupies out there).

Badge Bunny Synonyms – holster sniffers, holster honeys, seat warmers, fender lizards, pig pals, beat babes. Cop wives refer to them by other names, such as whores, sluts, cause for divorce, and alimony bait.

New cops, the ones fresh out of the academy, are the officers who are most vulnerable to an attack from the vicious badge bunnies. They can’t help it, though. Recruits are young, good looking, and freshly toned from weeks and weeks of exercise and other training. They have shiny new equipment, sharply creased uniforms, tight haircuts, but more importantly, they have guns and badges! And they’re extremely naive.

Graduation day at the academy is like sending a pack of Roadrunners out into a world of Wile E. Coyotes. Badge Bunnies know the rookie’s weaknesses because they’ve studied the uniformed species for a very long time and they know how to cull the weak from the herd.

How does a badge bunny attack? They’re successful in various ways. For the sake of time and space I’ll list a few their deadly methods of operation.

  • The fake car breakdown, needing an officer’s assistance.
  • The fake prowler call, answering the door in a sexy outfit, or nothing at all.
  • The grocery store maneuver. You couldn’t reach the Special K even though you’re a good foot taller and eighty pounds heavier than the cop. Yeah, right.
  • Tapping the brake pedal repeatedly when they pass a target police car. The rookie officer sees the flashing brake lights each time the car passes his patrol car. Hmm, she must be signaling him. Is she in trouble? Or is she trouble …
  • Speeding, knowing she has all the ammo she needs to get out of the ticket.
  • Hanging out in cop bars.
  • Hanging out in restaurants, coffee shops, etc., frequented by graveyard shift cops.
  • Hanging out at sporting events, especially softball games played by cop teams.
  • Wearing tee shirts with logos that read, I Love Cops.
  • Establishing friendships with police dispatchers for the purpose of meeting their gun-toting coworkers.

Relationships with badge bunnies rarely last. In fact most of them rarely make it into the light of day. These are secret relationships—brief meetings, encounters, and … well, I’ll leave it at that. I know, your next question is, “Since part of the attraction is the uniform and the cool cop equipment, where do they meet for the clandestine ‘encounters?'” How about  …

  • patrol cars – inside and out (lots of things to hold onto – light bars, spotlights, handcuffs…)
  • surveillance vans
  • police station warehouses and property rooms
  • department offices
  • hotels
  • small airport runways (for the deputies working the rural areas)
  • wooded areas
  • industrial parks
  • SWAT vehicles

Well, you get the idea.

Some badge bunnies keep a scorecard and move on quickly to the next guy with a gun. Sometimes, but not often, the encounters turn into lasting relationships, with kids, nice homes, cute puppies, picket fences, and everything else that comes with a solid marriage.

I offered a brief statement to the recruits I trained when I was a field training officer. It went something like this, “Keep your gun in your holster and you won’t have to worry about shooting the wrong person.” Now, there were two messages there, right? However, rookies rarely listened to the hidden meaning.

I could practically read their thoughts the second I said those words, and I knew they wanted to say to me, “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 11.46.03 AM

Okay, so you’re a bit concerned that you may be experiencing a bit of badge-bunnyitis? Well, if you have any two of these symptoms, you should  steer clear of all police stations until the feelings pass.

  1. Like moths to a flame, you are attracted to bright and shiny things, especially badges and guns.
  2. You prefer handcuffs and leg irons over diamond bracelets and anklets.
  3. You often speed past police cars, pull over, and “assume the position” before the officer catches up to you … even if it’s the day of your wedding … to someone else.

 

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4.  In anticipation of a pat-down, you attach your apartment key to a weapon you’ve hidden beneath your clothing.

5.   911 to you is free access to phone sex.

6.  You often initiate high speed pursuits. However, it is you who’s doing the chasing.

7  The scent of gun oil is your preferred aphrodisiac.

8.  The sounds of leather creaking and keys jingling sends your heart into pitter-patter overdrive.

9.  Blue lights and sirens = foreplay.

10.  The phrase that makes your knees turn to jelly. “Turn around and place your hands behind your back.”

* Obviously, this piece is intended as a tongue-in-cheek look at a situation that’s very real. In this article, though, I’m only referring to the bad bunnies—the scorekeepers. However, please know there are plenty of folks who are simply attracted to a certain kind of person, especially the men and women whose career choice includes wearing a uniform as part of their means to earn a living, and they are wonderful people who have wonderful, loving, meaningful and lasting relationships. The others, well …

 

For the second time in a short timeframe, my credit card information was stolen and used by dastardly crooks who used the numbers to make various purchases. The first time was for shopping sprees at a popular electronics outlet and a well-known clothing store.

I’m guessing there was a plot in play. A scheme that required the genius of Einstein and the well-honed plot-planning of Agatha Christie, or Jeffery Deaver. The latter, of course, is a plotter who strategizes over each and every word until every single letter and minute meticulous detail leads to the conclusion of his latest twisted tale.

Not a wasted word in a story crafted by either of those two, unlike what you’re currently reading here on this blog. I do tend to ramble, don’t I? Well, the reason I do is because when I was a small child back in the hills, where my father was a sharecropper and when our old mule, a feisty and stubborn beast who believed the command “stay” meant “go” and “plow” meant to “drink” … oops, there I go again.

Okay, back to the credit card thing …

I know this dastardly plot to be connivingly devious because, as a detective whose finely-sharpened crime-solving abilities once brought to justice the man who accidentally left his wallet and ID at the scene of a robbery, I recognized a couple of very important clues. I know, Sherlock has nothing on me.

Clue number one. The thieves first bought devices that could be used to play the soulful and romantic music of greats such as Barry White and Al Green, or perhaps the criminals’ turn-on-tastes were more along the lines of Enrique Iglesias or Teddy Pendergrass. My banker agreed and expressed those feelings to me during our cancel-my-card-and-issue-a-new-one phone call.

But, whatever those feel-good-musical leanings may have been, I believe they were the setup for part two of their operation. Their intended goal … dating sites. Their true destination and destiny. To find the love of their lives, even if it meant calling again and again and again, over and over and over, to a variety of numerical combinations and hotlines.

So, once again, my bank alerted me to the suspicious activity and asked that I immediately give them a call. And, once again we cancelled my card and the bank sent a new one. During our phone chat, the fraud department representative detailed several methods of ID protection that I should incorporate into my daily life. All were sound ideas, of course, including keeping my card in a safe place and out of the reach and hands of bad guys. Great information.

So they, the mysterious people behind the curtain of the bank’s fraud department, promised to overnight me a new card with instructions that I must sign for the package. It couldn’t be left on a doorstep. Again, this was after a sort of stern lecture as to how I could better protect myself from identity thieves (as if I don’t know). But I listened politely to the words I’ve spoken to many and various groups over the years, and to people whose fraud and identify theft cases I investigated.

And then I anxiously awaited the arrival of my shiny new credit card. During my wait, since we’re currently living in a hotel while waiting to close on the purchase of our new home, I wanted to be sure to pick up the card at the front desk before it had a chance to accidentally disappear into the deepest and darkest corners of an office supply closet or onto one of the housekeeping carts.

So I monitored the tracking information as the package made its way from the place where tiny hands stamped tiny numbers onto tiny pieces of plastic, to the shipping department, to the first package arrival station, to the next place, and the next, and then onto the delivery truck bound for our hotel.

Finally, the tracking message switched to “DELIVERED.” So I hopped onto the elevator and rode the speedy claustrophobic box down to the first floor where I approached the desk and requested my package. To my surprise, the assistant manager said that no parcel had arrived for me. So I waited for a moment, fully expecting a brown-suited delivery-person to jog through the front doors, as they do, always moving in fast-forward. But nothing.

So I hopped back onto the elevator, rode back up to my floor (this trip was far slower, by the way), where I again checked the progress of my package in case I’d misread or misinterpreted the message. Nope. DELIVERED was the message. Now, however, a memo was attached that read, “Left at front door.” Surely, I thought, the bank, who’d been so adamant about credit card security hadn’t given instructions to leave a credit card outside at a business address. They knew I was residing in a hotel and they’d demanded that someone receive it in person and noted so by having someone sign for it.

So back to the elevator, back to the lobby where the manager gave me side-to-side “no” shake of the head, and out the automatic front doors to see if I could locate a package that had been left outside at a busy hotel where guests streamed in and out like ants busy at whatever it is that busy ants do.

Nothing.

Back to the elevator, up to my floor and to my room. This time I called the office number of the brown-outfitted, jogging delivery folks. Yes, they told me, they’d left the package at my front door. But, I protested, the package required a signature and it had included my name, the name of the hotel, and my room number.

No, the woman told me, the package was merely labeled with my name and a street address. There were no signature requirements included.

So now my shiny new card, the one sent to me to replace the one whose number had been stolen and used for who knows what purposes at this point, was missing.

And then my cellphone rings. It’s the woman from the company of the brown-shirted delivery people. She knew the location of my credit card. She went on to say their driver left it on a doorstep at a private residence, and before I could blow my top she said she could lead me to the home of the STRANGERS who now possessed the shiny and new, plastic gateway into my finances.

Out I go, into the elevator, down to the lobby, past the assistant manager still shaking his head from side-to-side, out the whooshing, sliding front doors, and over to my vehicle, with the helpful lady from the brown-shirted delivery company still on the phone.

She tells me to drive first this way and then that, and then over there and right there, right in the curve is the house where my package lay resting on the front step. So I get out of my vehicle and walk past a group of chatting neighbors whose kids were screaming and crying and poking one another with fingers and short and skinny tree limbs, climbed those steps leading to the door belonging to people I didn’t know, and lo and behold there it was,  a package with my name and the address of the hotel plainly stamped on the label.

I nor my package were nowhere near the hotel.

I scooped up the cardboard envelope and knocked on the front to door to alert the residents that I wasn’t a mail-stealer and that they weren’t victims of package theft, but no one answered. So I passed back by the chatty neighbors who hadn’t batted an eyelash at the fact a stranger with California tags on his vehicle had just swiped a package from the porch of their next-door friends. The no-shirted dirty kids were still crying and still stick- and finger-poking as I pulled away from the curb.

Then it hit me … how was it possible that the helpful lady from the brown-shirted delivery company was able to guide me to my package with such pinpoint accuracy? And why was it that, in spite of giving me such a stern lecture about ID theft and protecting my credit card, the folks at the bank who mailed it did NOT include a notation of someone having to sign for the package and, why and how would a delivery driver simply drop off a package at an address that was nowhere near where it was supposed to go at an address that wasn’t even close either numerically or in spelling to the address for which it was designated?

So yeah, welcome to our new hometown, where both of vehicles have been dinged and dented and where not much has gone as it should, including today when we have tickets to a local college football game. A sold out venue where tickets are extremely hard to come by. Tickets that include VIP parking and a tailgate party.

Yeah, it’s raining …

Every job has its difficulties, and police work is no different. In fact, I don’t believe there’s another job in the entire world that offers more opportunities to screw up than a career in law enforcement. Think about it. What other business provides its employees with high-powered weapons and live ammunition, a car that you can drive like a $29-dollar-a-day rental, and permission to squirt hot pepper juice in someone’s eyes? The major problem with each these quirky, but super attractive perks is that they come with a slight disadvantage, the possibility of having to take a human life, or losing your own.

To further complicate the loss of life factor is the split-second decision-making cops are faced with as a part of their everyday routine.

A plumber’s plans are laid out for him—hot on the left, cold on the right, and crap doesn’t flow uphill. Mechanics rely on a little sing-songy phrase about which direction to turn a wrench—Lefty Loosey and Tighty Righty (turn the wrench to the left to remove the bolt, or turn it to the right to tighten it).

But cops often operate in a world of gray. There are no handy-dandy nursery rhymes to guide officers through their tours of duty. But wouldn’t it be great if there were such a thing—a happy verse or two  to help relieve some of the pressure.

You know, like …

Police K-9

Hickory, dickory, dock,

The crook pulled out a Glock.

The cop shot once,

The thug fell down.

Hickory, dickory, dock.


Hey diddle diddle,

The crook stole a fiddle,

The thief jumped over the fence,

The little cop laughed to see such fun,

When his dog caught up with the goon.


 

New Picture (3)

This old man, he was dumb,

He sold crack vials to a bum,

In a locked up, paddy wagon,

Throw away the key;

This dumb guy ain’t coming home.


How much crack could a crackhead smoke if a crackhead could smoke crack?


Georgie Porgie, a ped-o-phile,

Kissed the girls and made them cry,

When the boys came out to play,

Georgie Porgie lost his mind.


Jack and Sam Went Up the Street,

To sell a stolen gun.

Jack took off and ran away,

So Sam went pocket picking.


Jim Plott could smoke no pot

His wife could snort no coke.

And so betwixt the two of them

They both stayed free and clean.


Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,

Catch a robber by the toe.

When he hollers, take the dough,

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.


Here We Go Round the Gangster’s House

Here we go round the gangster’s house,

The gangster’s house,

The gangster’s house,

Here we go round the gangster’s house,

So early in the morning.

 

This is the way we kick their doors,

Kick their doors,

Kick their doors.

This is the way we kick their doors

So early in the morning.

 

This is the way we cuff their wrists,

Cuff their wrists,

Cuff their wrists.

This is the way we cuff their wrists,

So early in the morning.

 

This is the way we lock them up,

Lock them up,

Lock them up,

This is the way we lock them up,

So early in the morning.

 

Here we go round the streets again,

The streets again,

The streets again.

Here we go round the streets again,

So early in the morning.


Little Boy’n Blue, put on your vest,

The crook’s in the shadows, the gun’s in his hand.

Where is the cop who looks after your back?

He’s lying in the alley, barely alive.

Will you go back? Yes, you must,

For if you don’t, he’s sure to die.


Pease-porridge hot, Pease-porridge cold,

Pease-porridge in the pot, Nine days old;

Some liked it hot, left out to rot,

Some ate from the pot, died on the spot.

 

I know, I’m goofy …

 

The job was fantastic. Everything you wanted and more. Excitement, fulfillment, serving mankind, and action that produces an adrenaline rush like no other. But, along with following your dreams sometimes comes a price. And sometimes that price is quite steep.

Yes, becoming a cop was everything you’d always wanted out of life. And, you’d lucked out when you married the perfect partner, had two beautiful children, purchased a nice home with a not-so-bad mortgage and two fairly new vehicles—a mini-van for hauling the kids to ballgames, scouting events, and family vacations, and a sporty little convertible for weekend fun.

Adding to the perfect lifestyle was an always-by-your-side speckled dog named Jake who the kids forced you to rescue from a local shelter. Work was going great, too, and you’d finally reached the five-year, unofficial, no-longer-a-rookie status. Along with that milestone came a permanent dayshift assignment.

No more graveyards. No more of the Sandman tugging at your eyelids while patrolling dark side streets and alleys. No more trying to sleep with bright sunlight burning its way into your bedroom.

Yes! More awake time at home with the family. Normal meals and meal times. No more Denny’s Lumberjack Slams with a side of hash browns at 4 a.m., or the cold, not-quite-finshed-because-of-the-shooting, three piece, once-extra crispy meals from the Colonel.

Things were definitely looking good.

Better still, you felt good. Well-rested. You’d finally watched your favorite TV show at its actual air time, not as a recording after everyone else has seen and talked about it for days.

You felt so good, actually, that you’d volunteered for extra-duty. Running a little radar on your off time would be an easy assignment, and the extra money would come in handy during the holidays. Besides, little Sally Sue needed braces and Jimmie Joe had already been dropping hints about attending a Boy Scout summer camp.

A few hours each week. How bad could it be?

Your supervisor liked what she saw. You’re a hard-worker. A real go-getter. She wrote a glowing letter recommending you for the Emergency Response Team (ERT). You interviewed and before you knew it you’re on the team. Training was only twice a week, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, your days off. Well, there’s the bi-monthly night training exercises, and the team competitions.

You didn’t get called out all that often—two, three times a month at the most? The last time, though, you were gone for two days, but that really wan’t too bad. Well, maybe you could’ve cut back on the radar assignment. But, the money was nice. After the holidays. Yes, that’s it. You’d promised to cut back after the holidays.

The hostage situation was a tense one. Took 14 hours before the sniper finally popped one in the guy’s T-Zone. That piece of crap never had a chance to think about pulling the trigger before his lights went out. At least his victim came out okay. She’d probably be scarred for life, but she’d live. Might spend a few days with a shrink, but she’d live.

Man, that sniper was good, huh? Blew that guy’s brains all over the wall. Sat him down in a hurry, too. Now that’s what a bloodstain pattern is supposed to look like. TV directors should see this stuff.

To celebrate a job well done the team went to a bar for a few drinks and to unwind. You made it home at 3 a.m., drunk. Your wife and kids were fast asleep. There’s a piece of cake on the counter. The chocolate frosting had dried and hardened just a bit around the edges.

Damn, you forgot your kid’s birthday party.

You couldn”t sleep. Brains and blood. That’s all you saw when you closed your eyes.

Brains and blood.

You knew she was awake and could smell the cheap whiskey, cigarette smoke, and drugstore perfume.

Hadn’t smoked in ten years. When had you started, again?

Whose perfume?

Didn’t matter.

Brains and blood … that’s what was on your mind.

You’d stared at the ceiling, knowing that in two hours the clock would ring. Would the Jack odor be gone by then?

Brains and blood, that’s what kept your eyes open and your mind spinning.

The buzzer sounded and you showered and dressed. Skipped breakfast because your gut felt sour and no matter how many times you brushed your teeth, you felt as if your breath reeked of dirty ashtrays and stale booze.

A domestic he-said-she-said, a lost kid, and an overnight B&E at a midtown mom and pop grocery store. Your head pounded. Pearl-size beads of sweat ran down your back, following your spine until they dipped below your waistband. You dreaded the overtime radar detail. Two more months. Only two more months and the holidays would be over.

A drug raid at 10 p.m. A good bust, too. Two kilos and some stolen guns. What’s a couple of beers to unwind? Sure, you’d go.

It was 3 a.m., again, a few hours after switching from beer to hard liquor, when you’d fumbled with your keys, trying to find the lock on the front door. This, after parking your car askew in the driveway with the driver’s side tire on the lawn and leaving the car door wide open, an act you’d very much regret when trying to start the car the next day.

Passed out on the couch. Late for work, again. Forty-minutes late, actually, due to a head-splitting hangover and a dead car battery. A written warning.

A week later you’re late again, but this time the sergeant smelled the alcohol on your breath. Suspended. Ten days.

Your wife went shopping with her friends. You stayed home with the kids. She came home late. Really late. The stores closed hours ago. No shopping bags and you could’ve sworn she’d been wearing panty hose when she left.

Back at work. Another shooting. This time you fired a few rounds at the guy. He ran. You chased. He turned and fired, so you popped off a couple of rounds in return. He dropped, bleeding and twitching on the pavement.

The kid died. He’d turned thirteen just four days before you killed him.

Suspended pending an investigation.

The department shrink prescribed a couple of meds to help you sleep.

The media hounded you relentlessly. Published your name and address along with a photo of your home.

Another paper published your department and academy records, including the one where your  scores on the firing range were darn near perfect. You’d meant to kill him, they’d said. Your skills were that good. Sure, you knew better, but …

Brains and blood.

Pills helped, some.

And Jack Daniels.

She was out shopping, again. This time she wore her “going out” makeup and the tight skirt and top she once wore on the night of an anniversary. The one she called her “you can’t resist this” outfit. She was right, too, because those legs went on for days.

More Jack Daniels and a pill or two or three. Lost count.

She came home drunk at 3 a.m., smelling of Jack Daniels, cigarette smoke, and cheap aftershave.

You’re awake, staring at the ceiling, knowing the clock is set to go off in three hours. She’s snoring gently. You smelled the Jack with each tiny exhale. The aftershave burned your nostrils.

Two more pills. No, make it four.

Then a trip to the garage, in your pajamas. Barefoot.

The concrete felt cool on the soles of your feet.

An owl hooted outside, somewhere far in the distance.

A cricket chirped from behind the old, rusty furnace.

Boxes filled with old clothing meant for Goodwill sat against the block wall where they’d been for a couple of years.

Moonlight wormed its way through a narrow window next to the ceiling. It painted a milky line that reached from the center of the floor to a tall stool next to a dusty table saw.

You slid the stool next to the workbench where you’d mended countless toys, appliances, and fixed the heels on her favorite shoes. You stood still for moment, taking in the surroundings—your tools, the kids’ old bikes, a couple of rickety sawhorses your father used when he was young, the water softener equipment, and a trunk filled with years of memories.

Then you sat on the wooden stool top, resting the balls of your feet on the bottom rung, and glanced down at the off-duty weapon in your hand, your favorite pistol. Never missed a single target with it.

You couldn’t remember taking out of the dresser drawer, though.

Didn’t matter now.

It would be over in a second.

You opened your mouth and placed the barrel inside, tasting bitter gun oil.

The metal was cool against your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Familiar. Comforting in a peculiar sort of way.

A lone tear trickled down your cheek.

Brains and blood …


In 2016, 108 police officers died as a result of suicide. That’s more than the total officers killed by gunfire and traffic accidents combined in the same year.

  • One officer completed suicide every 81 hours.
  • For every one police suicide, almost 1,000 officers continue to work while suffering the painful symptoms of PTSD.

*Source – Officer.com 


The blue line flag above was painted by author J.D. Allen and presented to me as a gift at the 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. For those of you who don’t know, JD was one of the organizers of the first Writers’ Police Academy held in North Carolina. Thank you, JD. You’re a wonderful friend.

You can learn more about JD Allen and her books by visiting her web page at JDAllenbooks.com

 

 

Have you hear the rumor? You know the one, that some people are simply not wired to be cops.Shocking, isn’t it?

There, I’ve said it. And and I’m not spreading gossip because, sadly, 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, and to live and work in a manner that coincides with their sworn oath.

Sure, “law dawgs” come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors, and from varying backgrounds. But there was one officer who, for numerous reasons, shouldn’t have made it past the interview stage, let alone advance to actually working the streets. This pint-sized, woefully inadequate cop was quickly nicknamed “The Little Cop Who Couldn’t.”

Before I delve into the tale of the cop who had to sit on a pillow to see above the steering wheel in their patrol car, we need to assign a name to the officer—a gender-neutral name to protect the identity of the thumbnail version of a real police officer. By doing so, it’ll allow you to paint your own mental picture of him/her. The name I choose is Pat (could go either way with this one – remember Pat on SNL?).

The story goes something like this…

Pat was a unique police officer who stood at a towering 4’10” tall, with shoes on. Not a single supply company stocked police uniforms in toddler sizes, so Pat’s clothing had to be specially made and ordered from a company located in a remote corner of None Such County.

Even then, with None Such’s finest clothing maker assigned to the task, a good bit of onsite tailoring was required, snipping here and stitching there, to insure a proper fit. To provide a better picture of the size of this person, had someone bronzed Pat’s Bates work footwear 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.

The hat was the thing that sent the rest the class over the edge. The minuscule officer looked like a kid playing dress-up in adult clothing.

Not the actual Pat.

We each took a turn in the intersection, stopping traffic  to permit left turns, right turns, and allowing cars to travel forward. We repeated the process until our instructor felt comfortable with our ability to control traffic flow.

Then it was Pat’s turn. So the recruit in the intersection, a full-sized officer, successfully stopped traffic in all four directions to allow Pat to assume the position in the middle of the street.

Then, with arms outstretched and a short blast from a whistle, Pat then sharply and crisply motioned for one lane of traffic to move forward. And, for a brief moment, all was going well until Pat gave the whistle another tweet to stop the oncoming traffic and then turned to the left to start the next lane of traffic moving. Well, Pat’s cantaloupe-size head turned left, rotating inside the big-man-size cap. But, instead of moving in sync with the turning head, the too-large hat remained facing forward. The entire class erupted in laughter, as did many of the drivers who were absolutely confused about what they should do next.

Our instructor rushed out into the ensuing traffic jam to straighten out the mess and calm the drivers who used their car horns to blast their displeasure. Pat, in a moment of self-induced blindness because the hat had slipped even further down the face, totally blocking any hope of seeing, well, anything. Unfortunately, during the melee Pat dropped the whistle onto the pavement and when attempting to retrieve it, lost the hat. Of course the swift evening wind gusts sent it rolling into the lines of moving cars and trucks.

Pat once responded to a shoplifting call—an 11-year-old girl swiped a candy bar from a local K-Mart—and just as Pat was about to enter the store the little 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, said the child was absolutely beating the tar out of Pat. One witness told responding officers that Pat closely resembled one of those blow-up clown punching bags that pops back upright after each blow.

Then there was the time when Pat’s fellow officers had 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 of answering a domestic he-said/she-said when the call came in.

When officers responding to the brawl saw the massive crowd they 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 a tough battle and officers and bad guys were basically going at it, toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow. Officers were outnumbered 4-to-1, 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. And then, out of the darkness appeared Pat’s patrol car, bearing down on the parking lot and the fight that was well underway.

File:London Polizei-Einsatz.gif

Pat didn’t bother stopping at the curb. Instead, the teeny-tiny officer who, if you recall, had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel (no, I’m not kidding), pulled the car directly into the parking lot beside the action, flung open the car door, and stepped out. Well, sort of.

Pat’s pistol somehow had become entangled in the seat belt, which sort of reeled Pat back into the car like a Yo-Yo on the upswing. Pat’s Maglite hit the pavement, coming apart and spilling batteries in all sorts of directions. The pillow fell out of the car and slid beneath the vehicle. And the hat … Pat had donned the cop/bus driver hat, which, of course remained motionless while Pat’s head spun around like a lighthouse beacon as he/she surveyed the scene.

Suddenly, as if a magic spell had been cast, the fight stopped, with everyone turning to watch “The Pat Show” unfold. Even the bad guys chuckled at the ridiculousness before them—Pat on hands and knees retrieving lost gear and, of course, the pillow. But, at least the fight was over.

By the way, Pat’s hands were so small that the department had to purchase a pistol that’s a bit smaller than standard cop issue. However, Pat’s index finger was still too short to reach the trigger. So he/she learned to shoot using his/her middle finger when firing the sidearm. Didn’t matter, because Pat failed to shoot a satisfactory score during the first annual weapons qualification.

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.

 

You, Cap’n Rufus “Tater” Jenkins of the Cornsqueezins’ County Sheriff’s Office, had a long night answering call after call—he-saids, she-saids, chasing a Peeping Tom through back yards and alleys, a couple of drunks arguing over a near-empty bottle of Strawberry Hill, kids spray-painting stop signs, and the guy who insisted he was Jesus and attempted to prove it by damning you to hell a few dozen times after you refused to give him ten dollars for a hamburger he promised to repay on Tuesday.

Cap’n Rufus “Tater” Jenkins

Yep, a looonnnggg night and it was only half over when Jimmy Bob “Peanut” Lawson, Jr. decided to join forces with his good friend Jack Daniels to blacken both his wife’s eyes.

Well, Erlene, the wife, wasn’t about to stand for that nonsense so she poked ‘ol Peanut in the gut a couple of times with a dull kitchen knife. Didn’t break the skin, mind you, but the act was just enough to send Peanut off the deep end. Oh, he was plenty mad about it, a yellin’ and screamin’ and a stompin’ his Doc Martens across the linoleum, and kicking at Porkchop, the family’s adopted and long ago retired police dog. But Porkchop, having been to this freak show one too many times in the past, was a nervous wreck and knew to stay six or seven dog-dish-lengths away from his master’s size twelves.

Porkchop, having seen his better days, religiously adheres to the seven dog-dish rule of thumb.

After about ten minutes of plate, bowl, and pot-and-pan-throwing, one of the kids, a snot-nosed, freckle-faced boy, aptly named Junior Lawson, Jr., of around ten or so years of age, picked up the cordless and punched the speed dial button for 911.

That’s where you show up with lights and siren blazing and blaring to all get out. And Peanut, a Friday night regular, meets you in the dirt and weed-infested driveway, huffing and puffing like an old-time, coal-fired locomotive engine. In each hand, a backyard chicken he’d been choking in preparation of the Sunday noon meal.

Peanut is well-known in his town as a backyard chicken-choker.

Now here’s where things could get a little dicey. So it’s best to run down the checklist before diving right in. You know, size him up. Is Peanut armed this time? Is he really going to attack? Or, is all that chest-thumping and Tarzan-yelling just a show for the neighbors? Well, you’d better find out in a hurry because he’s starting to spin like the Tasmanian Devil.

So how can you tell if this guy means business, or not?  Well, there are a few telltale signs that could help you evaluate the situation since weapons and other items that are capable of puncturing your flesh, bones, and organs should be your first concern.

Here are some common indicators that Peanut, or the cousin visiting from the big city who’s standing off to the side of the trailer, is carrying a hidden gun or knife. Some are obvious, while others … not so much.

The first is a clear indicator.

Cousin Jimmy Buck from Swamp Holler, West Virginia

Signs the Suspect May Be Carrying a Weapon

1. It’s 97 degrees outside and Peanut, standing smack-dab in the center of the intersection at 9th and Main, is wearing his heavily-insulated, knee-length, blood-stained orange hunting coat. Yes, Einstein, he’s probably wearing it to hide a sawed-off shotgun, the one Daddy gave him for Christmas when he was three.

2. The tail of his flannel shirt is out, but one side is riding higher than the other. A great sign that he’s wearing a weapon on the “high side.”

3. Even wearing a shirt tail on the outside is a sign that he might be carrying a weapon. Unfortunately, it’s also a sign known to bad guys, which means they might recognize you as an undercover officer.

Signs that Peanut is about to attempt to stomp your butt into the mud

1. For some unknown reason, many offenders/would-be attackers seem to feel the need to rip off their shirts prior to delivering the first blow. So, when a drunk starts ripping cloth and zinging buttons across the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, well, that might be a good time to reach for the pepper spray because he’s subtly announced his intentions.

The standard shirt-ripping ritual is usually accompanied by lots of top-of-the-lung screaming and yelling, especially nasty comments about your wife and mother. Nasty comments about the family dog are optional.

They sometimes decide to rip off their shirts before engaging in battle. Other times, if the mood to fight strikes ’em just right, they’ll throw punches while wearing nothing but …

2. Another clue that Peanut is about “go for it” is when he starts glancing at a particular spot on your body, like your throat, stomach, or even a knee. Instantly, you should go on alert for a possible strike to that area because Peanut is announcing his intentions and he’s ready to pounce. Watch the eyes, for sure, but more importantly watch the hands.

New Picture

3. Peanut constantly glances to a spot behind you, or to a place off to your right just out of your line of sight. Watch out, because his partner may be approaching for a rear ambush. And, his partner just might be Mrs. Peanut. Yes, even though her “loving husband” had just moments ago beat the ever-loving snot out of her she’ll often defend her man until the bitter end. Unfortunately, the end sometimes results in a funeral … hers.

These quick glances are also good indicators that Peanut has a hidden weapon nearby. For example, you’ve stopped Peanut for drunk driving and he’s constantly glancing toward the glove compartment. Well, there’s a good chance that a weapon or other illegal items are concealed there.

The Spud family

4. The Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home – You arrive on scene and you approach Peanut, who is standing still, staring off into space. His jaw is clenched and he’s sweating profusely, even though you’re both standing in two feet of freshly-fallen New England snow (New England snow, to me, is the coldest snow on the planet). He doesn’t respond to you in any way, but you see the anger rising. Face is growing redder by the second. Veins poking out on his forehead. Eyes bulging. Yeah, you get the idea. Believe me, it is time to take a step back and start pulling every tool you’ve got on your duty belt because this guy’s getting ready to blow. Silence is definitely not golden in this case.

5. Peanut might be a “I’m not going to look at you” kind of personality. This is another indicator that an assault may be on the way. If he’s staring at place on the ground, refusing to listen and obey your verbal commands, then be prepared for an attack. At the very least, be prepared for a battle when the time comes to snap on the cuffs.

I guess a good rule of thumb is to always assume the worst, hope for the best.

Sometimes “the worst” happens when Mrs. Peanut becomes fed up with her abusive husband. Next thing you know she’s living in Swamp Holler with Cousin Jimmy Buck in his new doublewide.

Crime headlines these days sometimes cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to lock up, like a cheap virus-infected computer. My body treats today’s barrage of click-bait headlines like the often and instantly-denied foreign organs introduced into the bodies of transplant recipients—immediate and total rejection. My brain, the leader of the shut-down attempts, does so because today’s crimes, simply put, just aren’t what they used to be.

Honestly, I sometimes find myself longing for the good old days when most crimes, including the vilest of all—murder—were easy to solve, and catching many of the bad guys was as easy as shooting fish in a well-stocked galvanized metal washtub, the kind we took baths in at grandma’s house.

In fact, it wasn’t all that odd for the old-time murderer himself to phone the police, confessing his dastardly deeds to the gum-smacking dispatcher on our end of the line. A guy robbed a liquor store … we all knew who did it because he’d done so over and over again. So we simply hopped into our patrol cars and drove at a leisurely pace to his house to wait for the thug to come home. Sometimes the crook’s wife or mother offered us a glass of iced tea to sip on during the vigil, which usually wasn’t too long.

But enough time passed during our wait to allow us to play with freeze tag or Simon Says with a couple of the crooks’ snotty-nosed kids, or to toss a saliva-soaked rubber ball a couple dozen times to the family’s three-legged, one-eyed dog. You know, I often wonder about the correlation between bad guys and dogs with three legs and one good eye. They do seem to go hand in hand. It’s a mystery that’s never been solved.

Back to the bad burglars back in the day, though. There were a dozen or so of them in each small town, and each had his own style (M.O. for you writers who insist upon using TV terminology). Again, cops most often knew the names of most suspects, sometimes even before the sleuths broke out their handy-dandy Sirchie fingerprint kits (notice how I subtly worked in the name of a Writers’ Police Academy sponsor).

Anyway, a quick glance at crime headlines today never fails to start the all-too-familiar eye-spinning.

Murder, Kidnapping, Shooting Spree Leaves Four Dead, Teen Strangles Neighborhood Girl, Python Kills Small Boys, Cop Beats Man, Man Beats Cop, Parents Charged With Killing Their Kids, and on and on it goes.

Did you know that in 2011 (another headline), There Were Four Arrests Per 100 U.S. Citizens

Four Arrests for Every 100 Citizens

That one definitely stopped my eyes in mid whirl. Could the stat be true? Because, if so, then out of everyone at the WPA—instructors, volunteers, and recruits (attendees), well, we should automatically handcuff a dozen of them right there at the registration table and immediately deliver them to the nearest jail.

Two full Greyhound buses pass by on the highway—4.5 of the passengers inside are destined for incarceration.

The FBI says (in the year 2011) that 1 in 207 of us were arrested for drug crimes. 531 out of 100,000 went to lockup for property crimes. 172 for violent crimes (rape, murder, assault).

Has it always been this way? If not, what are the differences in how crime is handled today as opposed to “back when?”

Let’s take another look at the headlines for a moment and choose just two, and then reminisce to days gone by to learn why there weren’t as many people arrested in those days.

1. Erbie Bowser, Former Dallas Maverick’s ManiAAC’s Dancer Arrested For Killing Four, Wounding Four Others

Okay, for starters, I don’t normally associate murder with men who belong to a troupe whose hobby is to dance at pro basketball games while wearing oversize Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader uniforms. But, it seems that Bowser was searching for his girlfriend at two separate houses where, for some reason, he killed four people (two of the wounded were innocent young boys—11 and 13).

In the old days, had Mr. Bowser entered my childhood home, ranting and raving about his girlfriend, the entire family would have shown him and his barely-there sparkly costume to the door. Had he resisted, then Pops and Uncle Percy Jenkins, who by the way, always stopped by on Sunday for a fried chicken leg and a heapin’ helpin’ of good old tater salad, would have enhanced their message of “Go away,” with a couple of Louisville Sluggers.

Our three-legged, one-eyed dog might have joined in as well, taking a chomp on the intruder’s rear end.

You see, back in the day, guns weren’t used all that often as a “first-resort” like they are today. Not at all. A fellow would first have to endure, at minimum, a black eye and a roll across a gravel driveway before going back to his pickup to retrieve the Saturday Night Special he kept beneath the tattered cloth seat. And back then everyone knew to get the heck out of Dodge when a man reached under his seat. It was indeed time to scatter.

So “back in the day” wins this round. No one dies. Just black eyes and a whole lot of a**-whuppin’.

2. Man Won’t Face Animal Cruelty Charges For Blowing Up Family Dog

Christopher W. Dillingham of Stevenson, Washington was the proud owner of a fireworks stand. He also used to own a golden retriever. Ah … you already see where this is going. You should be detectives.

But, authorities say they couldn’t charge the man with animal cruelty because the dog died instantaneously (duh …). Instead, the  suspect was charged with reckless endangerment and possession of an explosive device.

Dillingham told police that his girlfriend had given him the dog and that she’d “put the devil” in it. Prosecutors considered other charges. I don’t know the outcome, “doggone” it.

But way back when, if a man killed his dog at 4 a.m. it was sort of his business. Neighbors most likely would have assumed the animal was rabid, or something of that nature because people simply didn’t harm Rover or Spot or Rufus. No way. Well, not unless there good reason, and foaming at the mouth was certainly a solid reason to break out the pump shotgun. Even then, the animal was usually afforded a fair chance to run away. After all, it was a part of the family.

But to set off an explosion that early in the morning, when Pops and Uncle Percy had to be at the foundry at 6 for another 12-hour shift in the grueling heat. Well, Mr. Dillingham had better hope there was enough black powder left to immediately send himself to the moon, because two angry foundry workers would be on their way over in their boxers, each carrying a ball bat and a whole lot of mad.

I believe “back when” is again the winner since justice would’ve come immediately in the form of several lumps on the head and a few kicks to the hind parts, courtesy of Pops and Uncle Percy who, by the way, had consumed too much corn liquor after the Sunday lunch, so our mother had him sleep it off in my room, which then forced me to sleep on an ironing board stretched across two rickety chrome-legged kitchen chairs. The grown-ups called it camping. I called it, “Uncle Percy’s too snookered to drive home so I gotta suffer.”

Here’s a third headline, as a bonus.

3. Man Accused Of Attacking Pig To Appear In Court

Benjamin Fullwood of Effingham County Georgia was arrested for attacking and stabbing a pig multiple times. Then, as if the edged weapon attack didn’t do enough damage, he had his two pit bulls repeatedly bite the unarmed porker.

Fullwood told officers that he was afraid Oliver (the pig) might hurt nearby children. Neighbors told the cops they’d witnessed Fullwood chasing after the fleeing and frightened and oinking porker as it ran between rows of rusty mobile homes and jacked-up picked trucks and plastic, pink flamingos.

They told of him “a screamn’ and a hollerin'” and of the pig screeching loud oinkity-oinks and growling grunts.

“Darn-near skeert Bobby Sam’s pet possum plum to death,” said one of the bystanders, a man wearing bibbed overalls and fuzzy lime green bedroom slippers.

Then, they all said in unison, that Fullwood gained on the pig as it rounded the far corner of Jimmy Buck’s pop-up camper, the one with the rebel flag sticker on the trailer-hitch receiver. They went on to say that just when it looked as if Porky (they named it somewhere around three minutes into the action) was going to escape for good, Fullwood launched his wiry, shirtless body high into the air, landing smack dab on the swine’s back where he commenced to trying to slay the animal with his whetstone-honed deer-skinning knife.

Okay, I confess, I embellished a little bit and definitely overwrote it, but the story is true. And it’s timeless and typical. Today or way back when—you attack a pig in the south and you go to jail. And the reason why is obvious. There’s no loyalty among swine.

They’ll squeal on you in a heartbeat.

How many times have we all heard that truth is much more difficult to believe than actual events? Well, let me be the next person in line to confirm that statement.

Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, these folks picked up the phone and dialed 911. And yes, I was the unfortunate officer who responded to these “emergency” calls).


“911, what is your emergency?”

“Help me, please!”

“Ma’am, calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”

“My house is on fire. I just moved in today and turned on the heat and, and, and, that big metal thing in my living room caught on fire, please huuurrrrryyy! There are flames inside and it’s getting hot! Huuurrrryyy!!! Oh, God, oh God, oh God … MY CAT’S GONNA DIE!”

Okay, so she’s standing there on the front porch with the front door wide open. It’s 20 degrees outside and all she has on is a t-shirt. Nothing but a t-shirt. And she’s crying and screaming and begging me to go inside to rescue her cat, a cat that was trapped inside the inferno.

I step inside.

“See, it’s on fire. Look through that little glass and you can see the flames.”

“Ma’am, that’s your heater. It uses fire to warm your home. It’s perfectly safe.”

That’s when she realized she was wearing nothing “butt” a t-shirt.

I blushed and departed … quickly.


“911, what’s your emergency?”

“I think my house is on fire.”

“You think your house is on fire? Do you see flames or smoke?”

“No, but my wall’s hot. Would you please send someone over to check it out?”

I go to the door, peek inside, and see the gentleman sitting on his couch watching Jeopardy.

I knock.

“Thanks for coming officer. My house may be on fire. The wall is hot. See. Feel right here.”

“Sir, you have a roaring fire going in the fireplace. Naturally, the wall above it may get a little warm.”

“Thank you, officer. That never occurred to me.”


“911, what is your emergency?”

“Please help me! I’ve been locked inside my bedroom for several hours and can’t get out. I’m getting really hungry, too. And I’m pregnant. Please help me!”

I break a glass beside the front door and turn the deadbolt latch (see how easy it would be for burglars. Please use/ install a keyed deadbolt for better security, but remove the key from the lock). I open the front door and go inside. Sure enough, she’s locked inside the master bedroom.

She’s crying.

“I think I’m going to lose my baby because I’m so upset.”

More sobbing.

“Ma’am, did you try turning the little button in the center of the knob?”

Silence.

Click.

“I think I have it now. Thank you for coming by.”


“911, what is your emergency?”

“Yeah, um … could you send a cop over here right away, please. I just moved into this apartment and can’t figure out how to turn up the cold water temperature on my kitchen sink. It’s too cold and the landlord won’t help. He just hangs up on me.”

I politely explain to the gentleman that water temperatures are not a true emergency and that cold water temperatures occur naturally. They are what they are because tap water is piped directly from the city. He responds by telling me that I’m a waste of taxpayer money and that I’m part of the reason the country is going down the toilet, another place where the water temperature is non-adjustable.


Finally, my once or twice monthly 911 call.

“911, what’s your—“

“You gotta send someone over right away. Elvis is back inside my refrigerator and he won’t stop singing. He keeps up that wild racket all night long.”


And, while working in plainclothes, I sometimes heard …

“Are you a cop? Because if you are you have to tell me now that I’ve asked. You’re not, cool. Now we can do business. You say you want two kilos … hey, wait a minute, you can’t arrest me because you lied about being a cop. This isn’t legal.”