Cops are often the target for some pretty nasty verbal ammunition. In fact, they endure some things that would make the average person explode into a fit of rage. But police officers have to stand there and take it. It’s part of the job, unfortunately.

And always, without fail, officers should keep their anger in check, even when people say things like …

1. “I pay your salary, Barney Fife. So do your job and find the crook who stole the three dollars from the purse I left lying on the seat of my unlocked car.”

These types of comments often spill and flow freely from the lips of unemployed crackheads and other folks who often do not pay taxes.

 

2. “I called twenty minutes ago. Where’ve you been, eating donuts?”

Normally said to cops by 325 lb. unemployed geeky guys who’re standing hiding in the foyer behind a locked screen door.

 

3. “I play golf with the chief and he’s going to hear about this tomorrow.”

Words spoken by a great number of people who’ve been arrested for DUI on Friday night.

 

4. “I’ll slap you if I want to because I’m a woman and you can’t fight back. That’s the law.”

Said the sobbing female who struck the police officer’s face and quickly found herself cuffed and stuffed. “I didn’t mean it. Please don’t take me to jail. Pleeeeeeezze!” she said from the rear compartment of the officer’s patrol car.

 

5. “What’cha gonna do, tough guy? There’s six of us and one of you.”

Of course, the other five are standing behind this nutcase, shaking their heads from side-to-side, indicating they don’t wish to support their friend during his sudden and foolish moment of stupidity, a time that often precedes pain compliance and the word “ouch” shouted repeatedly by the “brave” guy as the officer “gently” applies handcuffs to his wrists. The others usually and wisely go on their way.

 

6. “That badge don’t mean nuttin’ to me. Come and get me.”

It’s at this point that, and I’ve never figured out why, the guy starts backing away while forcefully removing his gravy-stained t-shirt, typically exposing one of two classic body types—that of a beanpole with xylophone-like ribs, or a belly that resembles a sideways beer keg encased in flabby and sweaty ,undulating, hairy skin.

Personally, I’ll take the blubbery obese guy any day over the wiry one because they’re slower and easier to handle. The skinny ones, well, you have to use an extra amount of caution when arresting them because when riled they’ll climb you like a squirrel, punching, clawing, gouging, biting, and kicking, up one side and down the other.

 

7. “Umm … there’s no need to tell my wife(husband) about this, is there?”

Spoken by most of the naked people who’ve been caught in the backseats of cars on deserted dead-end roads.

 

8. “I’m gonna %$^# your mama/wife/children/mother-in-law/family dog when I get out.”

Cops hear this, and other combinations of the same thing, all the time. Spoken by every drunk in town.

 

9. “You no-neck son-of-a-bit**. Take off these cuffs and I’ll kick your ass!”

Again, spoken by everyone who blows over a .12 on the Breathalyzer. And who, by the way, had every opportunity to open their cans of “whup ass” prior to the cuffs going on. It always amazed me how the application of handcuffs saved the lives of so many officers who arrest people, especially the people who couldn’t fight their way out of a one-man boxing match.

 

10. “You and who else is taking me to jail? ‘Cause you ain’t man enough to arrest me.”

These unfortunate words normally come from the smallest guy in the room, the guy who’s trying to impress his friends. And this is the guy who, when you make the move to handcuff him, flails his arms like a windmill, with fists balled up. He sometimes breaks down into some sort of martial arts stance. And, he often reaches into his pocket, pretending to go for a weapon that isn’t there. Luckily for these guys, the hospital and excellent ER physicians are often standing by between the point of arrest and the county jail.

 

And, as a bonus, the ever popular … “I know my rights, Kojak. My uncle’s barber’s sister’s husband’s third cousin on my mama’s daddy’s side of the family used to clean the floors at a law school. So I’m suing your ass. Yeah, that’s right. Things about to get real up in here.”

See everyone in the list above.

 

Most cops have dealt with a few criminals who aren’t, well, you know, playing with a full deck. They’re not the sharpest knives in the drawers. One donut short of a full dozen.

Some of these intelligence-challenged folks, bless their hearts, go the extra mile on the dummy scale. For example:

Dumb Crooks of the Day

  • Douglas Kelly, a Florida resident, purchased and consumed what he believed to be methamphetamine, an illegal drug. Then, after consuming the meth he felt as if the drugs didn’t quite meet his expectations—didn’t deliver the high he’d hoped to achieve.

So he did what any level-headed person would do when they believe they’ve been cheated in a business deal—he called the local sheriff’s office to file a formal complaint. He asked to have the ILLEGAL meth tested for purity so he could file appropriate charges against the person who sold the drugs. Of course, deputies from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office were more than happy to oblige.

They politely asked Mr. Kelly to bring the substance to the sheriff’s office, and he did, and the deputies there did indeed test the drug which, by the way, field-tested positive for methamphetamine. Therefore, Dumb Crook Number 1, Douglas Kelly, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine.

  • The title of Dumb Crook Number 2 goes to 25-year-old Ruddy Rodriguez, who was operating his ATV illegally and extremely recklessly on city streets. While driving at dangerously high speeds he maneuvered in and out of and around traffic. He even zipped through intersections when the lights were red.

To top off his careless behavior, this dummy of the day pulled up next to responding officers and actually laughed at them, then said, “You’ll never catch me or stop me!” Then he revved up his engine and took off, driving straight onto the sidewalk where he immediately crashed into a large concrete planter box. Karma…

  • Cops often throw a nice party when one of their fellow officers is about to retire. They’re lively affairs that often take place in a local bar or pub. Such was the case when a Baltimore County PD sergeant’s retirement party was held in a back room at Monaghan’s Pub in Baltimore which, by the way, is across the street from a police station.

Enter Dumb Crooks Number 3 and 4 who picked the absolute worst time in the world to rob Monaghan’s cashier at gunpoint. Both men were instantly placed under arrest, the hard way, as evidenced by the black eyes and bumps and bruises prominently displayed in their mugshots.

  • Dumb Crook Number 5 is one of my arrests. It started with a silent alarm triggered by a clerk working in a local convenience store. When I arrived the doors were locked and the clerk who’d set off the alarm turned the key to let me inside. She was shaken to core. He hands trembled, tears spilled down her cheeks, and words rolled off her tongue at 100 mph.

After a few minutes of “Officer Friendly” smooth-talking, her anxiety eased enough to allow her to describe what had taken place. She said a man entered the store and very slowly walked up and down each aisle while nervously glancing around the place. His gaze met hers a few times and once in a while locked in on the security cameras.

Finally, the man walked to the rear of the store where he opened a cooler door and withdrew a can of beer. Then he approached the counter. The clerk said she asked to see his ID, which he produced. She studied the driver’s license and saw that his date of birthplace indicated that his age as well above the legal limit to purchase alcohol. She also confirmed that the face in the ID photo matched that of her customer. She rang up the sale and he paid in cash. The clerk then placed the man’s ID on the counter and slid it toward him.

It was then when the man pulled a pistol from his jacket pocket and demanded that she give him all the money in the register. Well, apparently she wasn’t moving quickly enough so he grabbed the entire machine, snatching it free from its cables and mount, and ran out the door.

When she’d finished her narrative I started to go outside to grab my handy-dandy Sirchie fingerprint kit. On the way out I stopped to have a quick look at the countertop, and there it was, the robber’s driver’s license.

He’d not only shown the license to the clerk, providing her the opportunity to later identify him, he’d given me his name, date of birth, address, a nice photo of his face, and his social security number (Back in those days, Virginia used a person’s social security number as their driver’s license number. That is no longer the case).

So I hopped in my car, called for backup, and drove to the suspect’s home where we found both him and the stolen cash register. Oh, the gun was a pistol that had been stolen a few months prior to the robbery. And, we found crack cocaine on the stack of wooden pallets he used as a coffee table. I don’t believe he’d ever watched HGTV.

Believe it or not, this, the driver’s license thing at a convenience store robbery, also happened a second time but with a different dumb crook.

In another instance I found a driver’s license at the scene of an arson. Somehow the fire-starter dropped it on the ground. I found the ID while poking around the area as firefighters battled the blaze. He was from out of town so I enlisted the assistance of the local cops in that city to help me with the arrest. The firebug confessed to the arson after a lengthy interrogation session.

 

I try to be a forward-thinking person and I definitely believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, if possible. Heck, I’ll even go out of my way to avoid killing a bug. Well, there are exceptions to the bug squishing—those gigantic prehistoric Palmetto bugs deserve all the squashing, smashing, and foot-stomping I can deliver. They give me the creeps. So much so that I’d almost choose to face a knife-wielding serial killer than one of those hissing, flying creatures.

And yes, I know it’s tough to avoid mistrusting a known bad guy when working as a police officer because cops deal with the folks whose mere existence is surrounded in some sort of doubt nearly 24 hours each day. Still, I try.

But there is a limit to how far a person could and/or should go. Yet, the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco has, with all due respect, lost their ever-loving minds. They’ve gone bat-&%#@ crazy, actually, and I cannot in good consciousness give them the benefit of doubt, because they’ve boarded Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train, and at this point in time are speeding along the tracks heading straight into the Twilight Zone.

Here’s What They’ve Done

To avoid labeling criminals or hurting their feelings, including those crooks who’ve been convicted of various crimes, the Board of Supervisors have spent hours coming up with a resolution to assign new names for bad guys, the crimes they’ve committed, and other areas of criminal behavior.

If this resolution is passed, no longer will San Franciscans be permitted use the term “convicted felon” when speaking of a mass murderer who’s served his time and is released on parole. No sir. Not in San Francisco. Instead, Carl “The Butcher” Jenkins must be addressed as a “justice involved person.” If The Butcher whacks up another victim while out on parole, the Board of Supervisors now insists that he and other repeat offenders be called “returning residents” once they’ve served their time and exit the prison for another try at life on the outside.

Going forward, a juvenile offender in San Francisco must be referred to as a “young person with justice system involvement,” or a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.” Drug addicts, according to the resolution, are “a people with a history of substance use.”

The 10 supervisors who voted in favor of the resolution argue that because 1 in 5 Californians has a criminal record, “words like ‘prisoner,’ ‘convict,’ “inmate” or ‘felon’ ‘only serve to obstruct and separate people from society and make the institutionalization of racism and supremacy appear normal.” Being labeled as a convicted felon, they say, brands for life, the formerly state or federal housed separator of human limbs and/or vital organs.

The resolution states that by assigning negative labels, such as convicted felon, the returning residents are wearing a scarlet letter they can never leave behind.

After reading the article about this relabeling effort in the San Francisco Chronicle, I thought…hmmm…perhaps I should come up with a few new terms of my own to replace some of the current ones that could offend and . Such as…

Kidnapper – person who relieves family of added burden of extra mouth to feed.

Arsonist – person who assists firefighters with real-life on the job training.

Burglar – second shift housecleaner responsible for the first step of rotating valuables in safes and jewelry boxes.

Embezzler – person skilled in reverse accounting.

Prostitute – stress relief expert.

Pimp – employer of stress relief experts.

Murderer – population control expert.

Okay, this silliness could on and on and on. But the real solution to removing the scarlet letter and stain on a convicted felon’s record is to provide attainable but stringent goals for them to achieve. And once those goals are met they’re able to first regain/earn their lost rights, and then move toward clearing their record after, say, a decade or so of a stellar lifestyle. Of course, I’m not speaking of career criminals and violent offenders. Instead, I’m addressing first-time, nonviolent offenders, for example.

Until this is done, a real second chance, the scarlet letter will always remain attached. They’ll always feel unclean and not worthy of living a decent life. They’ll forever be forced to work menial jobs because most employers won’t hire a former prisoner, and those who do rarely trust them.

Convicted felons are are barred from obtaining employment and/or licensing in certain fields in certain states, such as health care, child care, security, public office, cosmetology, barbering, boxing, wrestling, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), and acupuncture, to name a few. Also, many felons are prohibiting from working as volunteers in places where the public, especially children, are involved, even if their crimes had nothing to do with kids or stealing (drug possession, for example).

Public housing is often denied to convicted felons. Therefore, without a deceit home and no job or educational opportunities available, the temptation to reoffend is great. When the stomach growls and cold rain is pouring down on their heads, well, survival instinct kicks in and they go for what they know.

But changing the names assigned to convicted felons does absolutely nothing to alter the stigma. Call ’em what you want, but in the minds of the public, whether or not he’s called a convicted felon or a formerly incarcerated person, until real change is made, the revolving doors on our prisons and jails will forever be spinning.


I know, I never offer opinion, opting to write only about fact. This has been my rule. But today I made an exception. Therefore, I am now a one-time official evader of fact-based information who delivered a personal view based on information that does not align with a certain set of beliefs.

 

A dead woman crying: murder in the rain

I’ve seen more than anyone’s fair share of murder victims. More than I’d care to count, actually. I’ve also seen a variety of methods and instruments used by killers to achieve their goal(s)—gunshots, edged weapons, etc.

Some victims were poisoned; others were killed by hanging, strangulation, fire, torture, beatings, blunt instrument bludgeoning and, well, you name the manner and instruments used to kill and I’ve probably seen the end result. Unfortunately, it’s not long before dead bodies—the victims of senseless violence—quickly begin to stack up in the old memory bank.

Sure, cops get used to seeing carnage. They have to in order to survive the job. Still, there are cases that cling to the outer fringes of the mind, remaining fresh in our thoughts for many years. These, the often thought of, aren’t necessarily the most gruesome or the most difficult to solve. Not at all. In fact, what sticks with one officer may not affect another in the same way.

A few homicides occasionally creep back onto the “replay” reel inside my brain—the killing of children, the crazy guy who hacked his sister-in-law with an ax because she wouldn’t give him money for a pack of cigarettes, the kid found hanging from an extension cord in an abandoned factory, and, of course, the case I’m about to describe to you. It came to mind recently because of rains we’ve received lately here in Delaware.

The storms came at night, bringing brilliant displays of zig-zagging lightning followed by earth- and window-rattling thunder. Windblown raindrops the size of chickpeas pounded against our windows and rooftop. This is how it was the night I saw the dead woman crying, and it was the morning after when I had the unpleasant task of doing the “death knock.”

So slip on a pair of boots and a raincoat and join me on a brief journey into my memory. And yes, sometimes tales do begin with the weather…

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It was a brutal storm that night, one that delivered a hard-driving and bitterly cold winter rain. Accompanying winds tugged hard against my long, school-bus-yellow rain coat, sending its tails fluttering and flapping, exposing my brown over tan deputy sheriff uniform. It—the uniform—was not waterproof. Not even close.

The ground at the crime scene was extremely muddy, and with each step my once shiny brown shoes collected gobs of thick, wet soil until it felt as if bricks were tied to the bottoms of my feet.

These were the deplorable conditions in which I met the crying dead woman.

New Picture

Raindrops the size of gumdrops pelted her smooth and round caramel-colored face. They gathered and pooled at the corners of her eyes, eventually spilling out across her cheeks like tiny rivers following the contours of her flesh until they poured from her in miniature waterfalls.

It was one on one—me and the victim.

Passenger door open.

She’s lying there,

Bottom half in, top half out.

Her face aimed at the sky.

Rain falling into her open mouth.

Cheap dollar-store tennis shoes and half-socks, the socks her youngest daughter—the seven-year-old—called baby socks.

Her wet hair, mingled with mud, sticks, and windswept leaves.

Power lines crackled and buzzed overhead.

The yellow Magnate beam, a spotlight on her dim gray eyes.

No life.

No recollections.

No dreams.

Not a flicker.

Tire tracks.

Different pattern than the rubber on her Chrysler.

Driver’s window down.

Three rounds—one to the head and two to the torso.

Five empty casings.

Pistol.

Not a revolver.

Half-empty wine bottle.

Cheap convenience store label.

Not her brand according to the ladies in her church group. “Oh we don’t drink. Neither did she. Except on special occasions. Yep, it must have been something or somebody really special for her to drink that stuff.”

“Was there a somebody special?”

Eyes cast downward.

Blushes and eyelash flutterings all around. “Well … she did stay after Wednesday night preaching a few times. But they were meetings strictly about church business. After all, he is the Reverend. A good man.”

More blushing.

A stammer or two.

A good man.

The rain comes harder.

Droplets hammer her open eyes.

She doesn’t blink.

A dead woman crying.

Footprints.

Two sets.

One walking.

Casually, perhaps.

The other, long strides.

Running away, possibly.

Zigzagging to the woods.

Bullet lodged in base of a spruce pine.

One round left to find.

Water inside my collar, down my back.

Shivering.

Cloth snagged on jagged tree branch.

Plaid shirt material.

Blood?

Still visible in the rain?

The missing fifth round?

Maglite never fails, even in torrential rain.

Light finds a shoe in the underbrush.

It’s attached to the foot of an adult male.

Dead.

Bullet in back.

The fifth round.

Coming together nicely.

Church meetings.

Reverend.

Two lovers.

Special wine for special occasion…

A good man.

Sure he is.

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Morning sunshine.

Tiny face peering from window.

Waiting for Mama?

A lump in my throat.

Scent of frying bacon in the air.

I raise my knuckles to the door.

It’s the worst job in the world,

To deliver…

The “Death Knock.”

Door swings open.

Worried husband.

“No, she didn’t come home after church. Called friends and family. Nobody knows.”

Husband, devastated.

Questions unanswered.

Children cry.

“Yes, I have ideas. 

And I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Tire tracks match.

Pistol found.

Preacher hangs head in shame.

Special occasion.

To profess love.

But…

Another man.

Another lover.

Angry.

Jealous.

Handcuffs.

Click.

Click.

Murder.

No bond.

Prison.

Today, our rains have stopped.

But I’m thinking of the crying dead woman and her kids, her loving husband and, of course, baby socks.

Special occasion?

Good man?

Yeah, right.

 

During the course of their days at work, officers hear many excuses, threats and, well, dumb statements. Here are a few I’ve heard over the years.


Me – “Sir, do you know how fast you were driving?”

Driver – “I do, but I’m not telling you that I was going 87 when I passed where you were sitting because you’ll give me a ticket.”


Drug dealer – “You can’t arrest me because you didn’t tell me you were an undercover cop before I sold you the crack.”


Murder suspect – “She was already dead when I killed her.”


Murder suspect – “Yeah, I was in the house. But I didn’t kill that guy in the bedroom. Oh wait, you didn’t mention a dead body, did you?”


Man arrested for fighting – “Take off these cuffs and I’ll whip your a**,” he said to me as I drove him to the hospital for the treatment of injuries he received while resisting arrest.


Man found sitting in the middle of a busy highway – “I’m from Mars. Your laws don’t apply to me. Go away.”


Man who resisted arrest – “You’re not man enough to … Ow! Ouch! I give up!


Burglary suspect – “I must’ve been sleepwalking, officer. I went to bed around ten and woke up inside this strange house just as I heard someone yell, ‘Police!.’ Honest, I don’t know where I got these gloves and tools.”


Robbery suspect – “I ain’t scared of that dog … Ahhhhh!!!! Make him stop biting me! Ahhhhhhh!!!!!”


Tough guy – “I. Will. Knock. You. Out. Take one more step and—”

My grandfather drove an ice truck back in the day. In fact, I still have the tongs he used to muscle around massive 300-pound blocks of the frozen stuff. In his day, ice was made using a salt-brine process inside an “ice plant.”

The ice-making room was a vast expanse that contained a huge in-floor tank of the briny liquid in which large metal cans containing fresh water were submerged. Each tank was fitted with a wooden lid with a small opening where a pencil-size rubber air tube was inserted.

As the water began to cool, air was blown into the water-filled can. Doing so kept the water in motion, a process that allowed most of the air bubbles to rise and escape. This is what made sparkling, clear ice. Ice containing air bubbles is cloudy and unappealing. And, of course, not solid through and through.

Each metal can was fashioned with inverted creases that, when the ice block was completely frozen, those indentions formed the “score lines” that divided the ice into specific sizes. After approximately three days, the ice was ready to “pull.”

Using overhead hoists, workers attached chains to the metal cans and “pulled” them one by one from the brine tank. Then they’d dump the frozen block from the can and using their tongs, manhandled the four-feet by two-feet by one-foot hunks of frozen water into a freezer for storage until delivery time.

Many ice plant workers had their favorite tongs and kept them as their own, much like medical examiners, carpenters, electricians, and writers have their favorite work implements.

My grandfather’s ice tongs

The ice man, the person who carried ice to neighborhood homes, loaded enough 300-pound blocks to satisfy the needs of his customers. Typically, in those days, homeowners placed a card in the window indicating how many pounds of ice they wanted to get them through until the next delivery day. The iceman would then use an ice pick to chop off the desired amount (remember the 25, 50, 75, or 100-pound blocks I mentioned above).

Once the ice man whacked off a chunk of the correct size, using tongs to grasp the cold and slippery block, he’d carry the ice to the house where he’d place it inside the icebox. Most homes in those days, especially the homes of the middle to lower income families, did not have electric refrigerators. Instead, food was kept cool inside an icebox.

The ice man was a favorite of neighborhood children who’d often beg him for a sliver or small chunk of ice. This, in that day, was a treat on hot summer days.

Today, ice is made differently, of course, and wooden iceboxes are a thing of the past, as are the mule-pulled ice wagon and/or ice trucks. However, we still depend heavily on ice to cool our drinks on summer days. It’s a must for ice skaters and dancers. Polar bears and penguins adore it. Skiers enjoy the frozen wet stuff, and plenty of people in New England earn a nice living pushing it from roadways and sidewalks.

So, for the life of me, I just can’t understand why so many people want to get rid of it. Hardly a day goes by, if ever, without seeing a headline somewhere about some politician who wants to abolish ice.

I just don’t get it, because I like my drinks cold and I like the way those little hunks of frozen water bring back fond memories of spending time with my grandfather in the ice house.

We. Need. Ice.

My grandfather’s ice pick. Printed on its sides are the company name and a telephone number to call for 24-hour emergency ice service

 

  1. Being a writer is like being a politician. You get to make up @#$! and your fans love it.
  2. Being a writer is like being a plumber. Somewhere around the middle of the job you find yourself elbow deep in @#$!
  3. Writers are like prostitutes. They do it for money but the income arrives in small amounts at random times.
  4. Agents are like pimps without the purple suede leisure suits and feathers in their hats. Oh, wait …
  5. A good book is like a side effect of “the little blue pill.” It keeps you up all night.
  6. Sitting at a keyboard while clacking away at random characters is something an illiterate chimp can do. Much of today’s media is proof that chimps are better at it.

    Wandering Eyes

  7. Spellcheck is great, except when it isn’t.
  8. A great book is a like a fine statue. Their creators started with an idea and then carved away everything that didn’t help tell the story.
  9. Writers are like cops. They like coffee and whiskey and telling tall tales … and whiskey.
  10. A bad story is like a snow skier. They’re both start at out on a slow upward climb toward the summit. Then it’s all downhill from there until they reach the end, which is totally uneventful.
  11. The words of a good book remain forever. The words of a politician remain only until the next big donation comes along.
  12. If real-life bad guys would simply take the time to read a mystery book they’d know the good guys always win in the end.
  13. Good books are like the bed in a by-the-hour motel. Lots of action between the covers.
  14. Great ideas make great books, except when they don’t.
  15. Social media can be like a disease. No punch line. It truly can be like a disease.
  16. The bravest men and women in the world today are currently sitting at home, ranting and raving away on Facebook, telling people just how brave they are. Then they get up and go to their day jobs, greeting customers at Weirdmart, or selling fries at Booger Joe’s Burger Emporium.
  17. Lone literary agents at writers conferences are like the innocent fawns that tiptoe through the forest—they both know the attack could come at moment. This is why experienced agents travel in packs.
  18. A firefighter and a police officer enter a bar at a mystery writers conference. They’ll know better next time.

Finally …

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

*Have you got a zinger you’d like to share? If so, please do. (no foul language, racism, cop-bashing, politics, etc., please.).

Police Officers are the brave men and women who’s duty is to protect us and to round up the evil folks who commit dastardly crimes against society. They’re enforcers of the law. They run into danger, leaping mud puddles and discarded fast food wrappers along the way. They dodge kids on tricycles and those licking popsicles.

Officers often work during the nighttime among feeding feral animals and smelly winos. Their nerve are cords of steel and their hearts and minds are filled to the brim with compassion.

They train and train and they train, and they’re given all the tools needed to fulfill their duties with the utmost expertise.

Unfortunately, though, cops are human and we all know that humans subject to making mistakes. Cops are no exception. Here, see for yourselves.

Oops!

Serving search warrants and entering homes and businesses to search for killers, robbers, and thieves is risky to say the least.

Before “going in,” though, there’s often a ton of necessary preparation—surveillance, paperwork, briefings, etc, not to mention the hours of training and practice that goes hand-in-hand with being a finely-honed, well-oiled member of police department’s special team. After all, the goal is to make a swift and safe entry, collect evidence, and to bring out the bad guys with no one getting hurt, including the crooks.

But, after all those grueling hours of aforementioned training, often in harsh conditions, repeating the same tactics over and over again until they come as naturally as taking a breath, well, things still happen while executing warrants. Such as …

Knock on Wood

We’ve all seen the TV cops, the officers knocking and announcing their presence and purpose. Bam! Bam! Bam! “Police! Search warrant!” Then the door-kicking starts (battering ram, actually) until the jambs and locks give way. Officers are then able to storm the house like ants on a dropped lollipop.

That’s how it’s supposed to go, right? But then there’s this …

Officers kick and kick and kick, and pound and pound and pound, trying to get inside a crack house. But the door won’t budge. They’re frantic that evidence is being destroyed with each passing second, so one cop decides to break a window when he suddenly hears a voice calling out from inside the home. “Use the door knob, dumbass. It’s unlocked.”


Lookin’ Through the Window

It’s mid July and a baby is trapped inside a locked car. The motor’s running and the mother is hysterical. She accidentally hit the lock on the driver’s door as she was getting out. “Please hurry! My baby’s so scared, and it’s really hot inside. Hurry!”

The responding officer peeks through the glass of the driver’s side window and sees that all four doors are securely locked, so he uses a Slim Jim to try and pop open the latches. But it just doesn’t seem to work this time and he curses those “newfangled” electric locks and all the wiring that becomes tangled around his cardoor-unlocking device. Precious minutes tick by as the temperature climbs past 90. The baby seems to be okay and the ambulance and fire crews are on the way. Another five minutes of jabbing the metal tool inside the door panel passes before a fire truck finally pulls up. Whew! They’ll have the right equipment to get the kid out safely.

The fire captain hops out of the truck and walks up to the car. He steps around to the passenger door and calmly reaches inside through the OPEN window. Then he gently scoops up the cooing baby and hands her to her sobbing mother.


The Old “Mattress as a Shield” Trick: Please Help Me I’m Falling

The prison Emergency Response Team has been called to extricate a suicidal inmate from his cell. The prisoner is extremely violent and he’s well known for hurting staff members. He’s also built like a bulldozer and is as strong as twenty men.

The team assembles at the cell door waiting for the command to go in. The lead officer, typically the largest of the group, is in charge of a cot-size prison mattress. His assignment is to hold the mattress in front of his body, vertically. The idea is to rush the guy and pin him to the rear cell wall with the padded shield. Doing so allows the team to easily restrain the guy. No problem. They’ve used the tactic several times before with great success. Never had an injury, either. When everyone is ready, someone begins the countdown. One. Two. Three. Go!

The door opens and the 6’4, 250 pound ox of a man, the officer who’s wielding the mattress makes his move. The only job for which he’s responsible, to be a human battering ram. However, he steps on the bottom corner of the mattress and tumbles inside the cell. The rest of the team fall on top of him while the inmate looks on. He slowly begins to laugh and then starts to chuckle uncontrollably as the team scrambles to get to their feet. The prisoner, of course, is laughing so hard he has tears streaming down his cheeks.


Slim Jim

Before the introduction of electronic locks, it was a simple matter of slipping a Slim Jim between the window glass and rubber weather strip, feel around until the tool hit the “lock rod,” and wiggle it around a tiny bit until the lock knob popped up.

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So presto, bingo, all was well and the happy citizen went about their daily routine.

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Slim Jim

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Notches used for “hooking” the lock rod and other mechanisms

After electronic locks replaced the simple, manual ones, things changed. No longer was unlocking a car door an easy task. In fact, it was quite the opposite and many officers, especially the old-timers, found themselves jabbing Slim Jims inside car doors while pushing and pulling and pumping the darn things in and up an down motion that brings to mind a frazzled grandma in the kitchen using a hand-mashing implement to frantically and wildly smash the heck out of a pot full of potatoes.

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Grandma pounded out a week’s worth of frustrations using one of these things while preparing Sunday lunch.

Sometimes during a particularly violent Slim-Jimming session, the device became entangled in the nests of wiring, rods, gadgets, and connections inside the door. When this occurred it sometimes was impossible to remove the “Jim” without damaging an entire network of electrical, well, car stuff.

Therefore, it was not all that unusual for an officer to leave the device protruding from the door of a high-end vehicle while the owner called a professional for help. Then off they’d drive (the car owner), heading to the dealership with long, flat piece of metal flapping in the breeze.

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 a 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. 

 

The 38th parallel, where perhaps 1 million soldiers faced each other across an area boobytrapped with over a million land mines, was the line drawn in the sand during the Korean War. Cross it and a soldier could quickly die in a hail of bullets.

My uncle, Pete, was there in the 1950s, stationed just across the 38th parallel. And during his entire 26-year career in the U.S. Army, the time he served in Korea was possibly one of the worst times of his life. More on this in a moment.

Now, after turning 82 just last month, my uncle is in a Philadelphia hospital where doctors recently performed emergency surgery on his already weak heart. When I left the hospital last Thursday, well, things looked pretty grim. He hadn’t been awake since surgery the previous Monday, and his vital signs were diminishing, along with the function of his kidneys which were heading into a slow downward spiral.

Denene and I traveled back to Philadelphia last Saturday morning, just two days after the doctors’ pessimistic opinions regarding recovery, we found him sitting up in bed chatting with a neurologist. No ventilator, no more blood transfusions, no mechanically-forced inflation of his lungs, etc.

He was fully conscious and alert, and extremely hungry. So the nurse ordered him a solid and nutritious lunch.

His kidney functions were back to nearly normal. Heart rate and blood pressure were absolutely fine. Although, he was was experiencing a bit of numbness along his right side, possibly caused by compression of fluid on a nerve in the neck. Other than that, though, he was doing well, considering.

Actually, he was feeling well enough to be frantically searching the TV for his favorite show, SpongeBob (Don’t ask me). SpongeBob, golf, Jeopardy, and The Wheel of Fortune. Those are his “can’t miss” programs.

After having no luck with the TV our conversation turned to the days “back when,” and the topic of Korea came up. He told us about standing guard at night, hearing the enemy soldiers just across “the line” yelling, firing their weapons, and banging on things, an effort to prevent sleep for our soldiers. Then, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, groups of them charged across the line, firing their rifles and pistols in short bursts aimed at the U.S. soldiers. Then they’d run back from where they came. This occurred night after night after night.

He told of having very little to eat except rice. Rice, rice, rice, and more rice. After he left Korea he swore he’d never touch rice again. Just the thought of it turns his stomach.

He recalled nights when soldiers were forced to burn drums of alcohol to keep warm during -60 degree temperatures. They’d remain huddled around those barrels, moving away only to start the tanks every thirty minutes to prevent the grease in the gun turrets from freezing solid. If that happened the tanks would only fire once since the frozen grease would prevent recoil of the tanks’ gun barrels.

He told war tales that would curl the toughest and straightest of toes. Then he switched to stories about other assignments around the world, from different bases where he was stationed throughout his career. His favorites were in Germany and a long term serving at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

Back then, he said, D.C. was a fun city and his job at the Pentagon was quite rewarding.

On January 20, 1961, Uncle Pete was one of the sixteen thousand U.S. soldiers who marched along Pennsylvania Avenue in President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade. It was a proud moment for him when he passed the reviewing stand, seeing out of the corner of his eye, President Kennedy; First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy; the President’s parents Rose Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; and Lady Bird Johnson and other dignitaries. He also received an invitation to the president’s inaugural ball. This was a high point in my uncle’s life.

But there were times when things in Washington weren’t so rosy.

In November of 1963, Uncle Pete again marched as a soldier along D.C. streets for President Kennedy. This time, though, the march was for President Kennedy’s funeral procession after he was assassinated.

My uncle has seen and done a lot in his day. He’s been “there” when times were tough, and he’s been practically on top of the world.  He’s a fighter. Always has been.

Today, Uncle Pete is receiving physical therapy to help him walk again, and to help regain the use of the muscles on his his right side. He’s very weak but his spirits are high and he grows stronger each day. He thanks you for your prayers and well-wishes, as do I.

*Remember, I said my uncle’s appetite is back and he’s now allowed solid food and that the nurse ordered him a nice hot lunch? Guess what they brought him … turkey, and a steaming mound of RICE!

Needless to say, he sent it back untouched.