Friday, July 29, 2011

My Friday

A few months back I opened my mouth and made a suggestion on some new technology I stumbled into on a traffic stop.  I was asked by my commander to write a proposal about my suggestion.  Like a sucker I did in fact write a proposal.  I expected that my boss would present the idea.  Nope, six months later first thing in the morning I am standing in front of the chief of operations and all of the division commanders “pitching” my idea.  The idea was well received and the meeting went well but caused me to rearrange my normal work schedule.  Because of said schedule rearrangement I was home much earlier than expected.  To celebrate my being home early I was sittin on the sofa chilling watching “The Wire”.  The Wire is not for everyone, but it’s without a doubt the closest look into the game (Cops and robbers) that I have ever seen.  My wife cannot stand even five minutes of it because the language and content is so offensive and she is right, it is; but so is life and the word I work in.

Anyway, Chillin I was, getting my Wire on, then I heard some racing motors and skidding tires and the ghetto bird on a very low orbit.  At first I thought to myself, screw it.  “I’m done with work for the day, it was my Friday, I’m going to ignore it”  But then I heard some more cars zoom by my house and realize the air unit is on a very tight low orbit right above me.  In the event any bad guys had run into my yard, I put my Rottweiler Zoe into the backyard.  (she likes watching The Wire with me even if my wife doesn’t)  I figure, if bad guy does have the misfortune of running into my yard it would be much better to let her enjoy a new chew toy.  In reality it would make it much less likely for bad guy to stay in my yard.  He would most likely will jump right back out as soon as he sees the dog.  So after sending Zoe out back I grab my radio and switch it to “hot” but it’s not the radio traffic I am looking for. 

I peak out of the blinds and see a patrol car in front of my house and from experience I can tell it’s the south end of a perimeter.   I head out my front door and walk north as I see my neighbor two houses up being escorted (not in cuffs) out of his back yard in swim trunks and a towel.   I recognize the officer by name and he recognizes me.  (I know most of you are wondering why I wouldn’t recognize the officer since we work for the same agency, but with nearly 800 officers, the truth is I don’t know them all.)  he tells me they chased a suspect into his yard and asks if I can stand by with the neighbor at a safe distance so they can search for the bad guy.   He tells me the radio channel it’s on (the gang units own channel) so I switch over, turns out my neighbor was cleaning his pool while swimming in it.  A suspect had run from a traffic stop and ran into his yard but he was underwater and didn’t see him.  He did see the cops with guns.  Since his back door was open and he was certain it was closed when he got into the pool, it needs to be treated like he is in the house.  I see the sergeant on scene is a bro of mine and was my last sergeant when I left patrol.  Over the radio he asks me for information about the house to ask my neighbor.  Bing! I’m on the clock for overtime now!  I ask and relay the info.  Back and forth several times with info and if he is willing to press charges for trespassing and such,  I relay that he is just fine with the landshark (K9) being let loose and finding said chew toy (suspect) in his house or yard.  A few of the SWAT guys arrive and they recognize me and we engage in some playful verbal banter about how they are bringing down my property value and such.  The SWAT guys ask me to take my neighbor and the crowd of neighbors from in front of my house to across the street since we would be within the field of fire if the suspect came out shooting. 

So we saunter across the street.  At this point I know who the suspect is and why they are looking for him.  As the intel officer I put his name on our target list of criminals to track down since he had a felony warrant and was wanted for questioning on multiple vehicle and residential burglaries in my work area.  So I start calling the detective that needs to interview him to let him know the a-hole he is looking for is barricaded up in MY NEIGHBORS HOUSE!!.  As I am on the phone, I have to answer some questions over the radio and my personal cell starts ringing.  It’s my wife who is out of state but is getting calls from all over the neighborhood about whisky tango foxtrot (WTF) is going on in our neighborhood.  I give her a brief run down and tell her I will call back.  I get back onto the mix.  I hear over the radio they are going to deploy a “DD” (Diversionary Devise otherwise known as a “flash bang”).  I tell my neighbors to plug their ears.  I should point out that I have the crowd of neighbors positioned behind my neighbors car in the event anything goes bad.  But this teenage couple did not heed my warning when I said they probably shouldn’t stand so close to the police perimeter.  So they were as close as you could get.  And when I told my neighbors to plug their ears they looked at me like I was insane.  So when I hear “Stand By for a report” over the radio, experience tells me in about 2 seconds a very loud BOOOOM will go off.  So instead of watching the flash bang go off I watch the teenage couple nearly jump out of their skin.  The girl was so scared she started crying and sobbing instantly.  I chuckled, I know I am twisted but that is funny. 

In the end, they found the bad guy and dragged him out to cart him off to jail.  I chit chatted with some of my cop buddies and neighbors before they left.   Before going back into my house one of my neighbors was telling me how crazy this whole thing was to her.  I told her this is everyday stuff for me and she was just puzzled when I said.  Isn’t it fun?  She didn’t think so.   I must say, this Friday ended better than it started. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Freak out!

The other day I had a bit of a freak out at work.  With my new assignment my car choice for work changes on a daily basis.  Some days I drive a normal patrol car.  Most days I drive a plain wrap unmarked Crown Victoria with hidden lights so I can still pull traffic.  Sometimes I drive an undercover (UC) car depending on what I am doing.  (I know most people refer to the unmarked crown vics as UC cars but the reality a true UC car you would not be able to pick out, it’s not going to be a crown vic).   Anyway, On Monday I picked a plain wrap pickup truck.  I loaded up my normal kit of stuff in the back of the cab.  Patrol bag with forms, extra gloves, extra pens, extra batteries and such.  My Kevlar helmet and gas mask and binoculars.  My “Go” bag  a man purse with 4 extra 30 round AR-15 Mags, 4 extra handgun mags, a shooting trauma kit, extra radio battery, small binoculars, some energy bars and a bottle of water.  My rifle A (10.5” Barreled Noveske AR-15 with aimpoint Micro sight and weapon light system).  My 870 shotgun with Surefire flashlight forend I use for a Less Lethal (Bean bag) gun. I also had my ballistic (Bust) vest with, taser, OC spray, flashlight and 30 round AR mag mounted on the front.    

I went out and checked a few target locations for my targets for the day and came back to the station and parked it in front (not behind the security gate).  I went in and did some more research on my computer for about 20 minutes .  I came back out and the truck was gone.  I had to think about if I parked it out front or in back.  I checked the back lot quickly, not luck.  Damn!  I went back out front to check down the block a bit to see of someone had moved it passed the library.  I had just been telling someone at work how pissed I was when someone moved my patrol car at the hospital one day.  My buddy heard me ask permission of the dispatcher to eat lunch at the hospital.  He got the spare key from the station and moved my car.  So I assumed that since I told people at work about this I was again the butt of someone’s joke.  So I scoured the lot.  I even checked inside the fire station that is adjoined to our police substation for my truck.  Nothing.  I was starting to get a little stressed at this point.  I called dispatch to see if anyone else was logged onto the car.  She told me no.  I called some of the other specialty units to see if they had it. Nope.  Now I am really starting to stress out.  I mean really stressed out.  I am getting to the point where I need to call a supervisor and tell him a city vehicle with guns and a vest was just stolen.  I check one last place.  Some of the detectives from my station were at a murder scene executing a search warrant.  I called them on their cell phones.  No answer.  I tried to raise them on the radio.  No answer. 

At this point I am taking deep breaths to try to calm down.  It’s not so much the money thing, because I had my rifle insured for its appraised value of $2975.00, but it’s a NFA registered item.  Those that know guns know what Class III weapons are.  It means I have to apply with the ATF to have the right to possess a rifle with a barrel with less than 16 inches and pay a $200 tax.  With it being gone I have to report it to the ATF and if I am found to have not acted properly I can get up to 10 years and prison and a $100,000 fine.  This is on top of the internal affairs investigation and everything else. 

So call the patrol sergeant and brief him.  His speech gets rapid as he is feeling the same pucker inducing stress I was feeling.  I doubt as much as I was, but he too didn’t want this to take a bad turn.  I told him my last place to check was the murder scene to see if the dick’s (nick name for detectives, I know I am a detective too so yes that makes me a dick too) have the truck.  He told me to call dispatch and send someone over there.  I told him there were no 10-8 (available or ready to go) units.  He said “grab a patrol car and get your ass over there now, and call me as soon as you know one way or another”.  As he was hanging up I heard him voice a few colorful adjectives, expressing his displeasure with the fact that he may have to call up the chain of command and report that a city vehicle had been stolen and it was filled with expensive stuff that we don’t want in the hands of criminals. 

I hopped into my old steed 1531D my very first black and white patrol car, (I called her Deloris back when she was mine) and sped (I mean obeyed all traffic laws) off to the murder scene.  When I arrived I saw the pickup.  I relaxed and released the small bundle of vinyl that had been puckered up, well you know where.  I got out and smelled the decomposition of a decaying body.  I don’t understand why when bodies look like beef jerky they don’t smell like it.  Anyway, the dicks needed to take something large from the murder scene as evidence so they needed the truck and used a back up set of keys.  And not being very good observers didn’t seem to notice my vest sitting on the passenger side and all of my equipment in the back seat.  I think the Detective Sgt, saw the panic on my face and it clicked when he saw all of the stuff in the back seat.  He apologized and all was well.  I called the patrol sergeant and told him he was off the hook.  I loaded up my stuff into Deloris and drove off.  Now they played it like they didn’t know it was my stuff and it was all a big mistake.  Now is it a coincidence that it happened the same day I told people about being the butt of a joke by moving my car the same thing happens?  I think not.  I believe payback in order.  Since revenge is a dish best served cold, one day down the road when the dicks hop into their car and find a stray dog in the back seat and it scares the poop out of them.  I will get the last laugh.     

My first Black and White

Here at our department we switched from white cars with a blue stripe to the traditional black and white patrol car.  We still have a lot of the white ones in the system getting used up before they are replaced.  The way it works is the senior people get the better cars.  I know what you’re thinking.  I am nearly a senior citizen so he should have an awesome car.  Wrong.  It goes by seniority not age, too bad for me.  After the last shift change I was assigned my first black and white.  She is a Crown Victoria with 34K on the odometer, which as far as cop cars go is brand new.  1531D is what she was known by to everyone else, but I call her Deloris.  It’s so much cooler to be driving one of the black and white cars than the white ones.  Everyone knows you’re a rookie when you pull up in an old white car. Plus the white cars are CNG fueled and are very slow.  I mean very, very slow.  It feels like your driving a centrifugal clutch go kart or autopia car at Disneyland.  So when you get a black and white assigned to you, it’s a status change and you have made it.

Now, Crown Vic’s are a big giant car and under normal circumstances is about as un cool as a car can get.  However a little black paint and a light bar makes it much cooler.  With all of the crap that is crammed into them, it’s still pretty small inside for such a giant car.  Compared to the other women in my life Deloris is quite a big car.  My normal everyday car that I drive to work is a Red 2002 Volkswagen GTi, I call her Gina.  She is a great little car, dainty but with lots of junk in the trunk and a turbo to spice things up.  She gets great mileage, which makes her very practical, but compared to Deloris, Gina is tiny.  But With Gina’s heated leather sport seats and turbocharged engine she keeps things lively.  Gina is very stable and smooth with pleasant curves and lines.  My other car that I drive to work on special occasions is my 1966 Porsche 911, I call her Claudia.  Now Claudia has a body like a supermodel with tight gentle curves in the back and heaving headlight cleavage.  She wears her silver paint like a Versace cocktail dress.  However, she is very high maintenance and like a supermodel with a few drinks in her, you never know what will happen.  If you’re not careful with her 40/60 weight bias she will throw you off the road if not handled correctly; but with proper attention she provides the most pleasure filled driving experience.

Now you might think that Deloris gets jealous of the other woman in my life.  She sees me stroll into the parking lot everyday with one of the other women, drive her for 10 hours then leave with one of the other women. But she’s not jealous.  She knows that I am going to come back to her every time.  Deloris knows that she’s the one that provides more fun any skinny supermodel.  With Deloris, I can flip a switch and make every one move out of my way. She is given right of way at every stop sign.  She knows the real fun I have is with her.   It’s Deloris that I am going to drive fast in with lights and sirens.  I know her every characteristic.  On a regular basis I push her to her limits.  When I push her through a turn in a drift, I know exactly how she will react.  She is supremely stable and she is the quickest patrol car I have ever driven.  She knows she may not have the sound and looks of Claudia or the creature comforts of Gina.  She may not ware her black paint like a cocktail dress, but she will always be my first black and white.

Sadly, I lost Deloris last week.  I am still dealing with the loss.  One of my friends took her to a call and Deloris got shot by a suspect, she took a bullet to protect officers.  I knew she was faithful to the job and she proved it.  I was not there so I don’t know the details of the incident. I don’t know if the bullet was fatal.  I do know that because of the circumstances, she will not be released for some time, probably not until after the next shift bid.  So I am sad and have to scrounge up a patrol car every night.  However, I will always have fond memories of my first black and white. 

I wrote this a few years ago.  I drove Deloris the other day and it was fantastic.  She now has 152,000 miles but she was eager to show her quick throttle response.  In part because all of the newer patrol cars have level III ballistic doors so it adds a significant amount of weight.  It was nice to have a nice little fling with Deloris again.

Weird stuff

I seem have the unique opportunity to a front row seat to the weirdness of the world.  At work I get to handle all sorts of strange things.  I think back to a warrant arrest I helped out on in when I was first on the street.  I was still under the supervision of a field training officer.  The subject was a pre op transsexual and I wasn’t sure if she was pre op or post op male or female.  So I had to ask, “So, uh.. are you a male or female?”  I needed to ask because male officers don’t search female prisoners the way that we search males.  So my next question was “Uh.., are those breasts uh, real?”  So now is where the weirdness begins.  My FTO tells me you need to get those out.  “What if he has drugs or a weapon hidden in there?”  My response “Are you kidding me?  I have to go into his bra?”  My FTO thought it was good times.  I didn’t.  I had him handcuffed so I had to reach in his bra and pull out the doubled up, rubber/silicon bra inserts.  He told me he got them at Fredrick’s of Hollywood.  They looked like little breasts with nipples and all. He had them stuffed two per side to get the size and shape he desired.  So, now I know where to get bra inserts if I want to start cross dressing.  The best part of the whole encounter was when I had to put his purse and fake boobies into property so he could get them out when he got out of jail.  I had them in a plastic bag sitting next to me on the desk in the report writing area.  Several officers were so amazed at his boobies they were passing the bag of boobs around poking and squeezing away at the imitation boobies.  At the time I was new and thought it was weird to see dudes passing around a bag of boobies.  Now it’s just funny.

By far the weirdest thing that happened to me occurred several years back.  My wife and I were headed to Linda’s Doll Hut in Anaheim to see my buddy Jeff’s band Piggyback play.  I would love to hear “love letter” live again.  That song kicked ass, but they split up so no joy.  If you have never been to the Doll Hut, it’s a hut, not really, but it is a very small house in the middle of a  industrial part of Anaheim. And I know by the name you were thinking strip club but it’s not.  I hesitate to use the word dump to describe the place because it has so much character.  But it had to be a 1000 Sq feet or less for the whole bar.  In order to make room for the band to play the pool table had to be pushed back out of the way.

When my wife and I arrived there was a crowd of 20-30 punk rock types milling around the front of the joint.  I made my way to the entrance and after getting carded to get in, Yep I used to look young enough to get carded, anyway we entered.  Keep in mind the bar is about 5 feet from the door, and then you have your choice of going left or right.  I think left used to be a bedroom and right used to be a living room, but it’s just a guess.  In the midst of the stink of cigarette smoke and booze was a small bar with three trashy older bar flies that did not appear to be there to hear the band, as they looked like characters out of the movie Bar fly.  I notice an older white guy with a fro.  Instantly it struck me at how much he looked like my father.  Yup my dad had a fro.  Growing up I wished I had a fro like my dad because we all know the saying Fros=chicks is true, and when I was younger I needed all the help I could get.  I still scored a hot wife but the fro would have been cool and who knows, maybe pushed me to male super model status.  My good looks and a fro, shoot.., nuff said.

 But as soon as I saw this man, like a bolt of lightning it struck me.  Now, my father died 13 years before this, when I was 10 years old.  But I couldn’t help but think how much this guy looked just like my dad would look if he was still alive.  It was like all of the ambient noise was gone and suddenly the guy looked over his left shoulder at me and it sounded like he said “Hey Aaron, how’s it going?”  I freaked out.  My heart skipped a beat and started to race, I instantly turned the other way to go around the left side of the bar by the KISS pinball machine (very cool).  As we rounded the corner out of sight from what was ‘cool, looks like my dad dude’ to ‘holy crap freakiest moment in life, mind reading, back from the dead dude’.  My wife tugs at my hand (we still held hands back then) and says “do you know that guy at the bar who was calling you?”  I just about pooped my pants.  I was thinking that I misheard the guy.  But now it was turning into a full blown weird out.  I asked her if she heard him say my name, she confirmed she did.  I played it cool like it was no big deal.  We had only been married months so I didn’t want her to think I was a sissy and freaked out by creepy fro guy so I passed it off like we misheard it. 

So by the time we got around to the other side again, dude was gone.  I was glad.  Piggyback played and kicked ass.  Jeff got up on the bar in the same spot where the possessed incarnation of my dad had been sitting and while singing one of the songs, feeling the moment, stuck his head into the moving ceiling fan to stop the blades with his head, which was awesome.  As if him stopping the fan blades with his forehead wasn’t awesome enough, he finished the set with blood running down his forehead.  Bonus.

At work I see weird things all the time, like two weeks ago when I went to a call.  I went into the kitchen of this dumpy little trailer and I saw blood covering the floor, fridge, all over the walls, ceiling, and dude with a bloody pumpkin head with a wooden chair on top of him with the leg looking like it was stuck into his forehead.  Then the dude says “I’m good, I’m ok” Holy crap I just about shot him.  I thought he was dead; he shouldn’t be freaking me out talking.  We start moving crap away and it turns out that the leg was not stuck in his face, but his face was swelling around the leg of the chair from the savage beating he had just endured.  But the three 40’s of Steel Reserve malt liquor had him feeling no pain.  So I start talking to dude to figure out who he is and what happened, but he is very hard to understand because his face is swelling shut, even though his cheek is ripped open.  He says, “I’m ok, you guys can split... hey, can I bum a loosie (single cigarette)?”  I tell him “dude you don’t need a smoke you need medical help”.  He responds “I’m good” So I take the opportunity to pull a line from Pulp Fiction.  “Dude, you are pretty freaking far from good.”  After I got the gist of what happened, I broke the bad news to him that his stack of vintage porn VHS tapes was covered in blood.   He was bummed.  Well the dialog ended as he was being moved out of the trailer on the gurney.  His head had swelled to the point he went unconscious.  He is still unconscious and may not make it.  As weird as it was to have a guy with his face splayed open ask me for a cigarette, it’s still not as strange as the weird out at the Doll Hut.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Favorite Watch

One of my many hobbies is collecting watches.  My favorite isn’t the nicest looking or the most expensive or even the oldest in my collection.  My favorite watch is my favorite because it has sentimental value.  It’s made by one of the oldest watch companies in America.  Hamilton pocket watches were considered to be the “finest watches made in America” in the mid 1890’s.  Their quality was so high and they were so accurate at keeping time they were classified as “railroad watches”.  They were called this because these were the devices that the railroad companies used  to run the railroad schedules.  Aside from the quality workmanship of the watches, the 17 jewel movement has played a large part in their accuracy.  You see, in mechanical watches the bushings or bearings that the moving parts move on, are in fact jewels.  Garnet and quartz were common in lower cost watches and sapphire, ruby and diamonds were used in higher quality watches.  The low resistance and hard surface make them work exceptionally well as a bearing.  Hamilton transitioned to wrist watches in 1917 to appeal to troops going to WWI.  Pocket watches had seen the end of their functional era and the manual wind wrist watch was here to stay.  Well, until the automatic wind watch came into play.  In this, a simple counter weight moves and rotates around the rotor winding up a spring mechanism.  So, in effect, your natural movements wind the watch instead of having to twist the crown to wind it.  In the ‘60s  Hamilton was purchased by a few different Swiss watch companies and since the early ‘90’s has been owned by the Swatch Company.

I have always liked automatic watches because they are just dang cool.  All of those tiny little cogs and springs moving around and the red glint of the ruby jewels sparkling from within the movement.  This watch in particular I purchased at a watch shop in the Brea Mall.  At the time, I was in the Arizona National Guard and on drill weekends I was going through OCS (Officer Candidate School).  Back then I got a $2000 bonus for referring persons who enlisted so I had my National Guard Charge card on hand.  I was looking for a good quality field watch that would not be affected by EMP (a pulse bomb that destroys electronics) and had a 12 and 24 hour reading on the face.  I settled on the Khaki Field Automatic with a black face and a glass back so you can see the movement. It’s a 25 jewel movement so you get to see the little sparkles from the jewels.  I upgraded the band to a leather /carbon fiber clasp band and it was done.  I happened to be in Brea for the weekend because my mother was back in the hospital.  As soon as I purchased it I went directly to St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton where she was.  I knew the hospital well, as I had watched my first two children be born there, and had been there many times for my mother. 

This was nothing new.  She had been in the hospital so many times I had lost count.  I remember the first time she was hospitalized 26 years prior with vivid detail.  I was in sixth grade and I had just got home from school.  I sat down to watch TV and my sister Kimberly was sitting there in the family room.  I remember thinking it was odd for her to be sitting watching TV since she was in high school and always had better things to do.  She told me that Mom was in the hospital.  She said she had collapsed at work and was taken by ambulance to the hospital and it didn’t look good.  I remember feeling very scared and alone at the time.  My father had passed away the year before when I was in 5th grade and I was so scared of where I would end up if she died. 

It turns out that my mother did in fact collapse at work.  She was working as a cashier at Lucky's supermarket.  When she collapsed, her manager stepped over her and finished checking out the customer.  In the meantime my mother was in full respiratory arrest.  By the time the paramedics got her to the hospital she was a full code and was not responding to CPR.  At the hospital they did CPR for an additional ten minutes before she began to respond.  Ultimately she was diagnosed with something very similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease called Myasthenia gravis.  They gave her a year to live back then.

 However, those that knew my mother knew that the rules of logic and medicine did not apply to her.  She lived for another 26 years getting her Bachelors, Masters and a two PhD’s (one minus dissertation) and taught high school English for 18 years and even taught at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.  She seemed to always beat the odds; most of that could be due to her stubborn nature.   I remember just a month or so before she passed a surgeon was walking new resident physicians thru and stopped by to see my mother.  He gave the new doctors a brief case history and then said.  “Apparently the rules of medicine do not apply to her.  The books said she should have died a long time ago, but here she is breaking the rules, I suppose she will tell us when she is done because it’s up to her.”

The months leading up to her death were filled with severe deterioration of her health.  The years of medication that kept her alive had destroyed her organs.  Her liver, kidneys and heart were all failing nearly simultaneously.  She was in and out of the hospital.  I was back and forth to California several times thinking each time was the time she would pass.  I think the years of her always beating the odds tainted my expectations.  It was good to see her each time because  she was living in California and I in Arizona, so I made it a point to spend as much time as I could afford.  My brain was telling me the end was near but my heart would not listen. 

In  the end, her liver was failing and causing what they were calling “third staging” I don’t know what that means but what was happening was her liver was causing her kidneys to fail and in turn causing all fluid to be trapped in the lower half of her body.  Her upper body appeared emaciated but the lower half was swollen like a marshmallow.  It was hard to see her in such a manner. 

I was always somewhat bitter that my mother had to suffer in life the way she did.  The last few years she suffered from sever rheumatoid arthritis which caused her fingers and toes to protrude off at a 45 degree angle from her hands and feet.  This was incredibly painful as the bones were forced out of position into the new locations.  I can’t remember her not being in pain.  It bothered me because this was a woman who dedicated her life to raising her 5 children alone then teaching high school students.  I always felt like she deserved a peaceful end to her life.  What made it more frustrating for her was that she was never able to hold my daughter Sophie.  She was present at her birth but she was so scared that the weakness of her hands from RA was too much.  It pained her to not be able to hold her grandchildren.  When Sophie was old enough she would climb up into my mother’s hospital bed that she had in her room and watch “Monsters Inc.”   However, she always regretted not being able to hold her grandchildren but she never complained about it.  But I feel she was robbed of that.

We met with the hospital staff at St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton, California,  to discuss the options on medical treatment.  We were led into a small lounge that was clearly modeled in the 70’s with its vintage furniture that was so past its prime it was again fashionable.  It was positioned at the end of the ICU and its purpose was clear.  This was the bad news room.  It was a small room with no windows and I felt depressed just walking in there because I knew what was going to be discussed and what the room’s sole purpose was.  The doctor was a tall slender man in his late 40’s, but still clinging to his youth with his long fluffy hair.  He sat down with me, my three brothers, and my sister.  The social worker came in and introduced herself to us.  I knew what was going to happen.  I had thought about what my answer would be many times over the last 20 or so years.  The doctor told us that she was suffering multiple organ failure and there was no survival expectation.  He proposed that they put her on a morphine drip then stop giving her the medications that were forcing her body to function.  After the morphine drip kicked in they would remove the ventilator and she would basically fall asleep as her cardiovascular system and her respiratory systems shut down.  I remember thinking, “Well that sounds kind of peaceful, that has to be a good thing.”  The doctor went around the room and asked each of us what we wanted to do.  It seemed a very democratic way to decide if someone lives or dies.  As soon as I had cast my vote, my mind raced as the gravity of what was happening hit me like a freight train.  My mind was spinning as to what my motivation for sentencing my mother to death?  “Why did I vote that way?”  We all voted the same way and we had all discussed it before hand.  But it still seemed so surreal, like there was no way we were really voting someone, especially my mother to death. 

Shortly after the meeting, all of us went back to the room where my mom had been in a coma like state for the last 18 hours or so.  We watched as preparations were being made.  We tried our best to stay out of the way so the hospital staff could do their job.  The Doctor briefed the nurse and she started doing stuff with machines that I have no idea what they are called or what they do.  But I do know that they haven’t hooked up the morphine drip yet.  It appears that the nurse misunderstood the proper sequence or was just in a hurry to get the show on the road and get my mom out of there.  Regardless, she turned off the ventilator which, as I understand it, is what was breathing for my mom.  Suddenly my mother, who had been in a coma like state, sat up gasping for air.  Her eyes had what appeared to be a puzzled look as she looked around the room at each of us as she gasped for air.  It was like I was struck by a bolt of lightning.  I could not speak or move.  My feet felt like they were hundreds of pounds.  I heard my sister yell at the nurse to do something.  In my mother’s eyes it felt like she was asking me “WHY?”  A flash of guilt and pain flowed over my body it was a hot flash and happened suddenly.  It felt like I was personally killing my mother and she was asking me why.  The gravity of the moment was paralyzing.  The ringing in my ears was so loud it was like everything else was muted.  I was frozen in place as my brother and sister moved up and held her by the hand to comfort her.  I couldn’t move,  tears streamed down my face as I felt the guilt of voting my mother to death and now I was watching it.  Under my breath, silently inside I was pleading “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I love you, I’m sorry” but the words were trapped inside me and I could not free them.

The Doctor yelled at the nurse, “I said no visible signs of discomfort!”  The nurse had in fact gone out of the prescribed order.  You see, if she had hooked up the morphine drip and loaded her up out of her mind on the morphine before she unhooked the respirator ,she wouldn’t have had the traumatic response to the air being cut off.  The nurse scrambled to inject morphine into her IV.  Moments later my mother started to lay back and her eyes glassed over as the effects of morphine consumed her.  Her eyes closed a few moments later to never open again.  After several hours the effects of all of the other medications that were chemically tricking her body to resist the multiple organ failure wore off; I watched her breath her last breath.  She was gone.  I looked down to my brand new Hamilton watch, and it was just a few minutes after midnight.  I said a silent good bye and left. 
I wear this watch when I am feeling sentimental and try not to remember the horrible events of that day but the countless fond memories.  I will keep this watch until I die or pass it on to Myles but it will forever be my favorite watch.

Fun and Games

Those of you that know me know that I have an odd sense of humor.  However, I do find great joy in practical jokes, unless they are done on me.  In law enforcement, like any job there is a certain amount of competitiveness in everything we do.  We are measured by our stats, i.e. how many felony arrests, how many calls taken and stuff like that.  Well of course it’s fun to be the leader in competition.  So when the competition turns to practical jokes, the ultra competitive nature of cops tends to get things out of control. 

I will not incriminate myself or others on any disgusting practical jokes but I will share a few.  What caused me to write about this was an incident that occurred on Saturday night, but I will get into that a bit later.  I think one of the best ones that happened to me was at Banner Desert Hospital.  Working late swings, by the time we can break for lunch most decent places to eat are closed.  So we often eat at the hospital, the food is good and you can see them make it so you know you’re not getting an extra portion of spit.  We all park along the side of the emergency lane that ambulances and other emergency vehicles pull in.  It is pretty common to see three or more cars at the hospital, not because we are all eating because there some officers working on a call that takes them to the hospital to follow up.

One night I walk out after eating I walked out and saw that my car had been moved.  I reached down to the key holder on my belt and found that I still had two keys.  Not only was my car moved, but it is now facing the wrong way, and parked 6 inches from another patrol car driver’s door to driver’s door.  So there is a line of patrol cars parked nose to tail along the fence, then mine in the middle parked the wrong way.  I look around to see if I can find any snickering cops.  I am totally puzzled as to how anyone could have got my key from me.  So I crawl over the from the passenger seat, over the center consul filled with buttons, and switches, modems and all kinds of electrical stuff.  It was no easy feat with my 32 pounds of gear on and my vest feels like a turtle shell.  So I looked over and saw that the helicopter flight crew was watching me climb in and chuckling, it must have looked like a hippo trying to squeeze into a VW bug.  So I finally slide into place and look over to the flight crew and give them “What” tough guy nods like “What are you looking at”.  All three of them turned away so I could drive away in dignity.

I found out the perpetrator of the car parking thing was my buddy Brandon.  He heard me check off on the radio and got the spare key while he was at the station at lunch and moved it while I was inside eating.  So the next night I was riding with my buddy Jake as a two man unit.  We heard Brandon check off on the radio at a local park.   So we head that way to see if he gets into anything good.  As we arrive we see him trolling through the center of the park with his alley lights, takedown and spot light on.  So Jake drives up the curb and sneaks our way over to him with our lights off until we get right behind him.  I blast the big horn (like a fire truck horn) and flip on all the over head lights at once.  Brandon later told me he about pooped.  He was not expecting it.  So we played spot light tag for a few seconds and went our way. 

Speaking of lights, our patrol cars have what we call alley lights.  They are essentially a head light mounted to the side of the light bar.  It shoots lots of bright light to the side and is very nice when cruising the alleys behind business at night.  It is also very fun to ask someone if you have left something on the roof and when they look up, hit the light.  LOL, I never get tired of that one.    So one day I was ridding two man with by buddy Steve and we were on our way to a violent subject freaking out at the ER at Banner Desert.  Well as we get to the intersection my buddy Chris pulls up alongside.  He has a sneaky grin because he is poaching our call so he can have fun tackling a violent crazy person.  So as he looks over at us.  I hit the alley light on his side and he squints and turns away from the pain of the bright light.  Steve is laughing so hard he can barely drive as we pull away from the green light.  Chris is still seeing green spots so he can’t tell the light is green so we get there first.  All three of us are laughing very hard as we run into the ER, one of the nurses says, well you’re not going to be any good if you’re all laughing.  Good times. 

So Saturday night I was a bit late hitting the street because I was meeting with my sergeant going over my annual review.  So it was dark by the time I got out of the staion.  I get dispatched my first call as I am pulling out of the QT parking lot.  When I answer up on the air it felt like something fell into my lap.  So I put the radio mic back on the bracket and reach for my hand held flashlight on my vest and light up my lap.  HOLY CRAP!!!!! There is a tarantula sized gray spider on my right thigh, instinctively, I stab my light into my thigh and thrust the spider off.  I throw the car into park and jump out.  By now my mind is telling me that it is not real but is a rubber spider.  But what has me freaked out is in the spider looked very much like one that freaked me out in China when I was there on business 10 years ago. In that case the spider  was the size of a tarantula but was gray and slimy looking like this one but it ran across the room as fast as a rat or mouse, not your typical spider mosey. 

I shine my light to the floor board but the spider is gone.  I look over behind my car and there is a car behind me with a 20 something female looking at me like “what the heck is wrong with you”. And two other people back at the parking lot with similar looks.  So I give them the “What?” tough guy look and nod.  So she drives around and the others go inside.  I still can’t find this wicked fear inducing spider.  Now I am starting to wonder if it was real.  How could it disappear?  It had to walk off, right?  Could this be a real spider?  I am now starting to check all over my body to make sure it’s not still on me.  I am getting freaked out big time now.  I turn on the internal light on the car and search cautiously for this stupid bug.  After a few tense moments I found it in between the seat and the consul.  So I pulled out my collapsible baton and poked it to make sure it was fake.  Yep, it’s squishy, but it’s one of those sticky slimy rubber toys.  So when I pull my baton back, it sticks to my baton and comes towards me.  I freak out thinking its walking and thrust my baton into the rubber spider and jump back.  Now I am just being paranoid so I stare at it for a few more moments, nope it’s not moving.  It’s a toy, were code 4, time to go to my call.  But it was a good prank.  I just don’t know who to prank back yet.  

Gross Warning: this will be gross

I get asked on a regular basis what is the grossest thing I have seen at work.  To me it is just shades of gray.  I see all manner of unbelievable gross things; so many, that I could never remember all of them all, some, I wish I could forget. 

As many of you know I am an odd person and I have my idiosyncratic issues that make me gross out on things that would not bother others.  For example, I  gag every time I see someone eating in jail.  The smell of the jail with all of those stinky gross people just makes it completely impossible to consume any food products.  I seriously wash my hands a few times after each trip to the jail.  I sanitize my cuffs with alcohol wipes, and then I sanitize my hands again when I get back in the car.  And this is when I was wearing gloves when I was dealing with the person.

Some memorable gross outs that I have not yet mentioned in this blog are, the 400 lb naked dead dude that purged his bowels.  On that one when it came time to roll him over for photographs it took three of us.  All of the other dead bodies I have dealt with at work I was able to roll them myself to check for trauma and let the CST take photos.  Since I was junior to the other officers they went to the head and feet, what do you think I got?  You guessed it, I got stuck with the sausage and chili in the middle.  Eeeuuuuwwww.  Then there was the drunk Native American female last night who ripped her clothes off.   With her floppy jelly belly sticking out and swaying more than her breasts, I told her “Holy crap that is disgusting, cover up.”  Or later that last night when I checked off on the air “with a bloody half naked dude” that had been hit in the head with a baseball bat.  He was a bloody mess and he had a three inch long laceration so deep his skull was exposed.  You can ask anyone, I don’t like blood.  I can’t even watch those medical shows on TV without getting completely grossed out.  However, at work it is very different.  For some reason it does not bother me, I just go down my check list of things that need to be done and get it taken care of.

However, the call that sticks out in my mind as the bloodiest and grossest was a homicide I went to in my beat last winter.  I responded to a stabbing at one of the high call for service apartments in my beat.  When I arrived I was second on scene, the first unit was a two man unit which one of them spoke Spanish.  The English speaking officer was knelt down trying to do first aid on the guy as the Spanish speaker was getting the info.  The subject was a Hispanic male lying on his back in a pool of blood.  The Spanish speaking officer told me that this occurred at a different apartments and his roommate was the suspect.  Myself and the Lieutenant that just pulled up ran across the parking lot to the other set of buildings to the victim’s apartment.  As we ran west across the lot the team of paramedics were pulling in and they slammed on the brakes as they saw us running towards them with purpose.  I motioned with my left hand for them to keep going on by to go treat the victim.  I suppose they don’t feel that it’s comfortably safe when we are running around like that.  I don’t blame them; they don’t have a vest or a gun.  There was a blood trail leading up the stairs with blood smears all over the hand railing.  We approached the door and saw that blood droplets were crossing into the apartment on the threshold.  I had gloved up while running over.  I reached down to the door and looked at the LT and he nodded.  I turned the knob and found it unlocked.  I opened the door and pushed it wide open.   I had my gun pointing in as did the LT.  He got on the radio and asked for one unit to cover the rear and at least one more unit to the front door to help us clear the apartment and check for any more victims.  Just a few moments later and FTO and his OIT arrived.  (An FTO is a senior officer that trains new officer’s fresh out of the academy; the OIT is an Officer in training that is still being evaluated)  The OIT spoke Spanish so LT had him give verbal commands for anyone inside to exit or make their presence known in English and Spanish.    We went in with me covering long (down the farthest part of the apartment as the FTO and OIT went right to clear the living room.  The LT was behind me and we moved down the hallway with me covering the kitchen now as LT covered long and the OIT went into the bathroom door to the right.  As we move down the hall to the back of the apartment I am in the front position on the stack so the next door is mine.  I peeled right to open the door and LT covers long into the last room that is right ahead of us as I open the door I see blood all over the place.  Spurts of it all over the wall in the south east corner of the room and a pool about 2 feet across on the floor.  It literally looked like a horror movie scene, but it was real.  My heart was pounding and I was starting to feel tunnel vision creep in, but I need to check the far side of the bed. I fully expected to find another victim but I didn’t.  I was glad because as pumped up as I was I probably would have shot them.    I had never seen that much human blood, that was until I went to the hospital later this same night.

We pull back out and I get tasked to go to the hospital while the crime scene gets set up and locked down so no persons in or out until we have a search warrant.  I got to the hospital and they were working hard on the victim to save his life.  I talked to the paramedics who were first on scene and they said his blood pressure was 40 over zero when they arrived.  They were stunned and in complete shock as we watched what the medical staff was  doing.  There was a crowd of about 30 people watching a dozen or so medical staff work this guy.  One of the paramedics leans over and says.  “This is crazy; I have never seen them do this out here before”.  I looked over and they were cutting the victims chest open.  The doctor was yelling for another set of chest spreaders.  I guess it’s not too common to do this in the trauma room so a nurse had to run to the OR to get the second set.  I saw the doctor spread his chest and reach in with his hands and splash out the blood as the suction was not taking it out fast enough.  I could not believe my eyes.  8 feet from me I could see this guys heart and lungs.  I saw the stab wounds in his lungs bleeding into his chest cavity.  It was like watching TV and being right there except I could smell the metallic smell of blood and tangy stink of human organs.  It was amazing to see them apply the internal paddles to his heart and watch his whole body jump as the defibrillator restarted his heart.  They did it three more times as they attempted to stabilize him to get him to surgery.  I observed them putting nearly 20 units of blood into him.  Nearly all of it poured back out onto the floor.  The pool of blood around the bed was about 12 feet in diameter.  All of the carts and machines supporting the effort were in the puddle of blood.  The doctor and all of the staff had blood up to their knees.  The hallway was covered in bloody foot prints from the nurse’s running back and forth getting more blood and supplies.  They worked him for an hour and twenty two minutes.  I approached the middle-aged grumpy lady who seemed to be the drill sergeant nurse barking orders and yelling out times and numbers.  She looked at me and said “Son, this is our crowning achievement, we have never had this much blood on the floor.” I asked her if he was going to make it to which she responded “oh heavens no.” Watching the chaos was like watching some weird sporting event that you don’t know the rules to or what is going on, kind of like cricket or some other foreign sport I know nothing about.  In the end he did not make it.  He was 17 years old.  By know a parade of ghouls (hospital workers) was walking by in to see the carnage.  I guess to people in the medical field this is a cool thing to see.  I suppose it is like when I worked in the body shop of a Cadillac dealer and the owner drove his Ferrari or Lamborghini in, we would all parade by to check out the sweet car.  Anyway, I had never seen that much blood. I hope I never do again. 

TLD Gloves

As you can imagine being a cop I get to carry lots of cool gadgets on my batman belt, on my person and in my car.  Things like a taser, gun (okay, more than one), neato flashlight, weapon light, baton, handcuffs, AR15 rifle, bullet proof vest just to name a few.  But when it comes down to it my favorite tool I carry is a pair of Troy Lee Design gloves.  Now these are not just any gloves.  Sampson in the Bible had his hair, my gloves are my power.  I put them on when I need to overcome the forces of evil.  The most amazing thing happens when I ware the gloves; everyone listens to me and obeys me.  Somehow, I have tapped into the magical powers these gloves possess.  I haven’t figured out how or why they work so well or if they only work for me, and I don’t care as long as they work for me, I’m OK with it.

The gloves look like normally motorcycle gloves with the exception of a carbon fiber shield going across the knuckles.  Now I have to admit that the carbon fiber shield on the knuckles is where most of the mystical power lays.  Normally carbon fiber is a material that is lighter than steel and just as strong, not to mention looks super neato, but this carbon fiber on these gloves is special.  As soon as I put on my gloves everybody listens attentively.  

The first night I found out about the magical powers was when I arrested a huge mammoth of a man for DUI.  It was his third DUI and he was likely to get prison time for his crime and he was not very friendly.  I did my best to keep him calm.  He was wearing an Iron Maiden concert shirt (from the Killers tour, excellent) so we talked music for a bit I told him how I had seen “Maiden” back in the day and they ROCKED live, I even gave the metal horns (you know, forefinger and pinky up, middle and ring finger down with the thumb crossing over the middle and ring finger, you know the international sign for rockin it metal style) as I told him how the 10 foot tall Eddy came out on stage and fireworks went off as they played “Run to the hills”.   “On a scale of one to awesome that is killer bro!” was his response.

So he was pretty cool till we got to the jail.  Then I guess it sunk in that he was located in unsanitary tributary without locomotion (up poop creek without a paddle).  As I helped dislodge him from the back of the car, seriously he was 6’4” 340 lbs, and it was a major squeeze to get him back there.  He was very verbally abusive and started trying to pull away and bump back into me to push me into stuff as we made our way through the corridors.  He told me he was going to “kick my ass” as soon as the cuffs came off.   I sat him on the bench; I pulled my magical gloves from my left cargo pocket.  It was like they were glowing, his eyes got bigger as I put them on.  The other dude on the bench looked at the gloves, them me, then the big boy then he looked away like he didn’t want to see what was coming.  I put the gloves on slowly, making sure they were snagged up.  I punched my each fist into the other hand to try out the fit.  As I was putting them on I told him the following.  “I am going to take off the cuffs to process you for DUI and this could go one of two ways.  The easy way, for all involved or the hard way, the choice is yours.  His eyes were staring at my gloves as he said “I’m cool, I won’t do nothin”.  To which I replied, “Excellent, that makes it easier on all of us” as I gave him a sly smile.  He did in fact stay cool.

The gloves have become a ritual for me as I talk people from the precipice of getting a beating to a calm submissive state.  The conversation usually goes something like this.  “F-you cop, I aint going to jail.”  In most cases I put on the magic gloves before I get there so I check the fit of my gloves and tell them.  “This can go a couple of ways here, the best way is with you putting your hands behind your back (or sitting there being cool, depending on the situation) or with me kneeling on the back of your head and you spitting out blood as I cuff you up.   I get paid the same either way.”  Now those words said with those gloves  is like mustard on a hot dog, it always works. 

My gloves have a couple of mended tears in them.  The mends I did myself, so I don’t disturb the mystical powers.  As you can imagine, I am no seamstress so the mends look like Frankenstein scars, but I think that adds character to them.  I am about ready for a new pair and you can bet that I will get another pair of TLD APEX gloves, the best gloves a cop could ever ware.  I just hope the next ones have the same magical carbon fiber.

Adrenaline Junkie?

A friend recently accused me of being an adrenaline junkie.  Not in a pejorative way, it was kind of a joke more than anything. Never the less, it made me wonder, am I an adrenaline junkie?  I don’t feel like one.  I drive very average (except at work).  I only ride my bicycle as fast as I am willing to crash, which these days, isn’t terribly fast and I always wear a helmet. I don’t climb rocks or go rappelling.  To be honest, I am afraid of heights.  By nearly all accounts I am pretty dull when it comes to taking risks.  The only exception is my work.  I don’t take unnecessary risks at work, but there is some inherent risk in doing my daily tasks.  Now let’s be honest.  Everyone has risks in their jobs not just me.  People take risks every day just traveling to and from work.  There are thousands of accidents every day involving people on the way to or from work.  So clearly I am nothing special. 

As I pondered why I would be considered an adrenaline junkie I was forced to ponder when the last rush of adrenaline I experienced was.   It wasn’t too hard to remember.  It was a call I was on a couple of years back.  I remember it being a cool January night around midnight.  I was standing outside of some crapy duplex helping two other officers out on a domestic violence call when I heard. Pop pop pop pop pop….pop..pop pop pop pop pop………pop pop pop.  I got on my radio and asked the dispatcher if there were any shots fired calls east of my location coming in.  I must have broke her away from a good book or something because all I got was a smart assed “No!” as a response.  I checked with the other officers who were good with me leaving since they had it under control.  I again got on the radio again and told her I would be in route to the shots fired call that was inevitably coming in.  As I neared the area  I advised dispatch on the now hot call of multiple people calling in of a fight with shots fired.

As I skidded up to the location I observed the surreal.  It was a white Crown Victoria just like mine with the front doors open and bullet holes all over it and a Hispanic male laying on the ground in next to the open drivers door.  It was also clearly the scene of a party.  And dozens of people (gangsters) were still in this courtyard.  Not knowing any of the details of the incident yet since it had been less than 2 min since I heard the shots until I arrived.  I exited my patrol car drew my weapon and advanced making certain to “slice the pie” on the corner that was to my right and had who knows what exposed.  I looked over and saw that the shooting victim had a gunshot wound to the chest and his friends were doing chest compressions.  But each compression only forced blood out of his mouth and nose and there was no bleeding coming out of the bullet hole.  With my weapon still drawn I told everyone not doing first aid on the subject to move back.  Keep in mind I was still alone and there were 30+ gangsters there.  Now you might ask how can I make a judgment like that?  How did I know they were gangsters?  Well, let’s just call it OJT (on the job training)  I remember on one had the word BITCH in 2 inch high letters across his forehead.  His  face was so covered in tattoos it was hard to read the whole phrase but later I read it up close and it read in whole “Trust no BITCH”.  Now I know this is a tangent but, I pretty sure that you have resigned your life to prison or construction with a tattoo like that.  I mean  you can’t even work fast food.  I mean who wants to order a Big Mac from a guy who’s face has BITCH among other  things tattooed across it.

As other officers arrived we started to try to take control of the  chaotic scene.  It was clearly a homicide scene.  I checked for a pulse and the subject had none.  But the party goers were mad that we weren’t doing CPR on their friend.  With my gun still drawn and pointing at them I told them I didn’t know if one of them shot him and I wasn’t going to turn my back on any of them.  As more officer arrived the harder we pushed to secure the crime scene.  We were trying to restore peace and order, but we were still deep into the jaws of chaos.  It turned into a 9 minute brawl amidst the blood, broken glass and bullet shells.  I pulled the tape of the event and it was seriously 9 minutes of wrestling bloody people to the ground and handcuffing them until they calmed down.  It was absolute insanity for 9 solid minutes.  Now 9 minutes may not seem like a long time.  But it is.  Think about it.  A UFC round is 5 minutes. 

In the end it turned out that two gangsters shot and killed each other.  The other half got into his car and drove about a mile with half of his face blown off until bled out and died.  The fortunate thing was that no bystanders got injured in this event.  (notice I didn’t say innocent bystanders, because I don’t think there were too many if any innocent people there).   It was however a massive rush of adrenaline and very gratifying to battle so hard to restore peace and order and triumph. 

So it’s been at least two years since I had a massive adrenaline rush.  I sold my Porsche.  I don’t race go karts or bicycles anymore.  So I work as a cop and occasionally fly around in a helicopter.  Do I really sound like an adrenaline junkie to you?