Sunday, September 29, 2013

A little something I wrote for Memorial Day but just got around to posting.

Several years ago while serving in the Navy Reserve I was in Hawaii for training.   One Sunday morning I put on my dress white cracker jack uniform, I even wore my favorite dog dish hat that I had carefully rolled the edges just right to look like a salty sailor and headed across Pearl Harbor (the base) from Arizona Hall where I was staying to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was crowded being a Sunday morning, a few boats of visitors had been ferried across to the memorial. As I went across on the ferry I was the only person in uniform other than the two crew members a petty officer and a seaman. I waited to be last to exit the ferry. As I exited I looked down into the water and for the first time gained perspective of the size of the Arizona. I felt a somber peace come over me as I walked up the ramp to the memorial. It was nearly silent even though there were probably 60 people there. I walked across the memorial to the wall of names. There was a Pearl Harbor survivor there visiting staring at the names on the wall. I could tell he was a Pearl Harbor survivor by the Hawaiian shirt and the garrison cap (piss splitter) denoting him as a Pearl Harbor Survivor from BB-44 the USS California, The same ship that my mother’s uncle Kenny would later die on near the end of the war. As he stood watching I noticed it was just he and I and everyone else had moved back. Without thinking about it, I snapped to attention and rendered a ceremonious salute to the wall of service men that died that day. Standing just feet over the very watery grave of the 1102 sailors entombed in the USS Arizona BB-39. It was a powerful and emotional moment for me. Suddenly the Pearl Harbor Survivor standing just a few feet away snapped a tidy salute in a ceremonious tempo. I pulled my salute and did a tidy about face, but in a ceremonious tempo and started to walk back to the ferry with very foggy eyes. The Vet called out to me, “Shipmate” (In the Navy everyone is your shipmate young or old, it’s like calling someone brother) I stopped and turned around. He reached out to shake my hand. I reached back and he said “Thank you”. Feeling wholly inadequate I responded with a crackling voice “No, thank you… for your service... and... sacrifice” He smiled and embraced me. The conversation was rich and memorable as we talked. It was not the official Memorial Day we celebrate in May, but for me it was ever so memorial. Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to those that served, all gave some, some gave all.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I am not from Utah and I do not live there.  I have had occasion to visit there during my many travels.  It is a majestically beautiful place in the spring and summer, winter it’s just too damn cold.  The one thing most people think of when they hear Utah is "Mormons" and Utah has more than a few of those.  By in large Mormons are considered to be mostly conservative folks which is why what is happening in Utah is so strange to me.  Robert F. Kennedy once said “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”  Citizens of Utah, keep that thought in mind as you watch the evil around you rise and the law enforcement become more and more ineffective.  Not ineffective by choice but by appointed and elected officials forwarding their agenda and clipping the wings of law enforcement.  What is going on seems so counter to the conservative mindset it’s hard to imagine its happening in Utah.  

Before I dig in to the meat and potatoes of it I need to back up and tell a tale of two cities.  Things will make more sense after I do so. I tried to think of the city most similar to Salt Lake City in the US and I came up with Mesa Arizona.  Salt Lake City Utah and Mesa Arizona have a lot in common.  Both cities were settled by Mormon settlers and both still have a mostly Mormon influence.  Mesa AZ’s crime rate looks something like this 4.13 Violent crimes per 1000 (the national average is 3.9) residents, 34.00 Property Crimes per 1000 residents, for a total of 38.13 total crimes per 1000 residents.  Compared to Salt Lake City’s crime rate of 6.46 violent crimes per 1000 residents (again the national average is 3.9), Property crimes 71.21 per 1000 Residents and a total 77.66 crimes per 1000 residents.  

I know what you’re thinking, it has to be because Salt Lake is so much bigger than Mesa, right?  Well, that is not exactly true, in fact it’s not even close to true.  Mesa is the 38th largest city in the nation and Salt Lake City is 124th Salt Lake has a population of about 190,000 residents and Mesa has nearly 460,000 residents, yup surprisingly Mesa has more than double the population of Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City comprises about 110 Square miles so that means it has about 1727 residents per square mile.  Mesa comprises 133 square miles which makes the population density something like 3458 residents per square mile.  Salt Lake has 391 sworn officers for a ratio of 485 residents per officer and Mesa has 773 sworn officers for a total of 595 residents per officer. 

By now you are probably wondering what is going on?  How can a city with more than double the population and pretty much worse ratios when it comes to population density and officers per citizens have such a better grasp on keeping crime in check?  Culturally both cities are more similar than not.  Both have Mormon influence and values associated with its rules and expectations.  Both have a grip of Mormons living there.  Being that Arizona is a border state Mesa is about two and a half hours from the border so it gets its fair share of border crime and Salt Lake is about 13 hours from the border.  Another anomaly particular to Mesa is that Mesa has over 120 Halfway house and 65% of all of the prisoners that get paroled out of Department of Corrections Prisons come to Mesa.   What does that mean?  It means that it has an above average amount of known offenders in the city.

So why are there such dramatic differences in crime rates?  Well first off, the Chiefs of both organizations are as different as can be. One seems to be focused on his next career (politics?) and the other on the task at hand. The chief of Mesa PD is Frank Milstead who is a career cop who pushes his officers to increase street level drug arrests and to actively make criminals lives harder.  He has told his officers that he wants criminals to draw the conclusion that Mesa is a bad place to be a criminal.  He is constantly tasking officers with more aggressive policing to reduce crime by actively working on maintenance issues like the homeless drinking and sleeping in public, loitering, panhandling and other quality of life related issues; and it has worked, apparently since Milstead has been chief the crime rate in Mesa is as low as it has been since 1963 for crimes per 1000 residents according to Salt Lake on the other hand is run by Chief Chris Burbank who looks more like a politician than a cop.  In fact he met with Attorney General Eric Holder about Arizona’s Immigration laws.  Wait, what?  He met with the AG about Arizona’s immigration laws but Chief Milstead a Chief of a department twice the size of Burbanks from the state that is affected by the laws did not?  Mesa is 179 miles about two and a half hours from the Mexican border and Salt Lake is nearly 900 miles and more than 13 hours from the border.  Okay, you may also remember him being the face of the anti assault weapons Chiefs after Sandy Hook.  I wonder how many of the 6-8 murders a year are committed with assault weapons?  I think nationally only 323 murders were committed with all forms of rifle .22 to .50 cal (including all forms of assault weapons and hunting rifles too), the vast majority nearly 9000 were with handguns.  But that did not stop him from jumping on the anti assault weapon bandwagon. It seems that he jumps on a lot of political band wagons outside of his state.  But why not, Salt Lake City is well and truly under control crime wise right?  Oops, that’s not really the case is it?  

Chief Burbank tells his officers to avoid stirring the pot on immigration and doesn’t put enough emphases on hassling the drug market down in the Pioneer Park area. He even asked  officers to stop citing transients for sleeping in  public for a while to simply appease a small group who protested about it. In SLC they rarely book criminals on misdemeanor warrants (Mesa books on all warrants unless they have a medical reason that the jail won't take them) and only utilize these smaller warrants as a last resort basis.  Not all of the blame for this fiasco goes to Chief Burbank though, But I still blame him for not standing up and leading to fix it.  Judge Baxter allegedly throws most of the charges out for the same things that Chief Milstead in Mesa has his officers do in an effort to reduce crime. Chief Milstead works with the prosecutor’s office to get integrate them into its maintenance projects including one similar to Pioneer Park in Salt Lake.  In Mesa there were problems with hundreds of homeless who were wreaking havoc at Gurrero Rotary Park.  A zero tolerance approach for a 1 mile radius was adopted and the prosecutor assigned got every case and worked closely with the street officers to help mitigate the issues.  Guess what?  Crime went down in that area.  People could let their kids play in the park again and didn’t have to worry about stepping in human waste or drug paraphernalia.  In Salt Lake City Chief Burbank lets the prosecutors further their liberal agenda any way they chose without so much as a peep.  Are you starting to see why the crime rates are so different?  The difference is SLC says “criminals, you are welcome to do business here as long as you do not cause too big of problems” and Mesa says “Criminals, you are not welcome to do business here and we will do everything constitutionally and morally possible to make you want to leave and take your crime elsewhere”.  

I should probably explain something here that most law enforcement officers know and if they do not it's because they are an administrator and not a cop.  You rarely arrest a drug dealer for dealing drugs or a burglar for burglary.  Drug dealers try to shield themselves from the dope so they have a different person hold the money and yet another hold the stash and so on.  Burglars and sneaky bastards, which is they have taken your stuff when you didn’t want them to.  Most burglars get arrested for drug possession or drug paraphernalia possession because they are sneaky bastards, but they are dope fiends, but still sneaky.  Drug dealers get arrested for loitering since they are not holding the dope.  The deal is you arrest them for whatever chicken shit charges whenever you can arrest them and on the rare occasion that you get to arrest them for the actual crimes it’s a good day.  But locking them up on lesser charges makes the street safer if only temporarly.  Think about this, as the prison population has grown in the US the crime rate has dropped.  So the effective model for reducing crime is to incarcerate the 10% that commit 90% of the crime.  Salt Lake Officers want to do this but they are not allowed to. Chief Burbank was named Utahn of the year in 2011 by the SLC Tribune.  “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on”.  So it looks like you have the Law Enforcement you insist on and let’s take a look at the criminals you deserve.  How about Curtis Allgier.  Read here 

I have to make something clear, I am not saying Salt Lake PD is assed up and Mesa PD isn’t.  Both have their strengths and weaknesses and both are great agencies filled with great officers.  It’s just that they have very different types of leadership running them, which yield very different results. I think the point I am trying to make is, Utah, you are getting the law enforcement you insist on, but is that what you really want? It is clear that the issues do not lay squarely at the feet of Chief Burbank.  Its woven into the elected and appointed culture and I don’t know why.  It really does not make sense to me. But the District Attorney Sam Gill tries with every possible opportunity to prosecute officers on nearly every officer involved shooting.  Even ones that seem so cut and dry, its hard to comprehend.  Again, you Utahns are getting what you insist on.  Don’t think of the Robert Kennedy quote as the rank and file officers but the institution of law enforcement in general.  Is this really what you want?

To compound this issue you have other activist judges in Utah like Justice Nehring who in a recent ruling surmised that although its never happened before but he thinks officer should be responsible for the welfare of a fleeing suspect.  That means if a suspect tries to run and gets hurt it’s the officers responsibility and the officer should be allowed to be sued. Um…Utah…Hello?  What officer is going to chase any suspect ever again?  They could run right into your home and the liability is too high to chase them.  It used to be that they would try to stop them from getting into your home now, if they get injured in the process, it’s on the officer.  Utah, you may want to start treating criminals like criminals and soccer moms like soccer moms.  When you start putting the welfare of criminals at the same level as soccer moms you are sure to end up upside down.  Good luck with this one Utah, can you see how this is going to turn out? 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day

It is on days like this where a fellow officer is buried that my emotions are full. Though I did not personally know Officer Daryl Raetz, He was a brother officer, a shipmate who served in the Navy and husband and father. Forever bonded as brothers wearing the badge and shipmates serving the country we love in the Navy, together we stood the line between good and evil. For Daryl Raetz his watch ended May 19, 2013 when he was murdered by a hit and run driver. A tragic end to a bright and productive life who sought to do go in the world, but more than seeking to do good, He did good and died doing so. 

The Friday before his death I was at the Phoenix Police Academy helping out with the FBI Negotiator School. I was assigned to help with the students going through the evaluation over in the “Tac Village”. I have been there several times on different training events and I always stop to take pause before I enter the village. You see after getting searched and any live weapons removed (it's strictly a simunitions training environment) you walk around the corner and on the wall leading into the village is the names of every Phoenix PD Officer killed in the line of duty. As I was stopped reading each name a fellow officer noticed what I was doing and walked up and joined me in reading the names and quietly whispered “Too many names on that damn wall”. I quietly responded “Agreed”. Neither of us knew it would be less than 48 hours before another name would be added. We both knew and all who wear the badge know that it’s only a matter of time before another name gets added. There are thousands of similar walls around the US and the world. Each and every name has a family that misses them. 

In his case the suspect was apprehended. He was an undocumented immigrant. I was chastised by a friend for using the term illegal alien. The suspect had been previously deported for criminal activity such as DUI and furnishing alcohol to minors among other offenses. When he was arrested with the blood of Officer Raetz still covering his vehicle he was arrested for cocaine possession. My friend that chastised me for using the term Illegal alien and said itshould be reserved for criminals who do more than enter the country illegally. Well if the shoe fits…. Immigration reform is something we hear about in Arizona but nearly half of our officers are killed by them. Yet they represent a much smaller segment of the population. Those who live in other states just do not know what it is that we deal with in Arizona. Questions will be asked, answers to difficult questions will need to be answered. Borders need to be secured like they are in Texas and California. (you may think they are not, but look at the seizures in those states compared to AZ) 

A tragic week for those of us in the valley of the sun, In addition to the loss of Officer Raetz, Phoenix Fire lost Firefighter Brad Harper in a tragic accident. The FBI lost two HRT members in a training event, the week before Arizona DPS lost a state trooper and in London a member of the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Lee Rigby a veteran of Afghanistan. In last few weeks dozens of officers and servicemen serving around the world have lost their lives. This is nothing new. But this memorial day, enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy your barbeques and get togethers. Just take a quiet moment and think of the get togethers and barbeques that are subdued by the absence of a family member or friend who lost their life standing watch on that line between good and evil.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Earnest Hemingway was right

I am often commented to by people that find out I am a police officer “OMG I can’t imagine doing your job”.  Little do they know I think the same thing about theirs.  Most think it’s too dangerous or scary; some too gross or can’t imagine having to fight for your life in a lethal force encounter.  Some just don’t want the responsibility of the world on their shoulders.  Personally I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I have done lots of other jobs but this is without a doubt my calling in life.

When I tell people about near death experiences on the job or arresting genuine doers of evil, people are aghast that I enjoy it.  Little do they know I crave it.  I find so much joy and peace in seeking out those that do evil and bringing them to justice, that it’s hard to imagine that I get paid to do it.  Hemingway once said “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”  When I read that the first time I knew right away that he got it.  I posted this quote on my Facebook page and the response from some that don’t get it was “Yikes” from a few and those that get it and do it were like, “Hell Yeah”.  Those that say “Hell yeah” do so because it rings like a cord of truth to our soul.

It’s not that I don’t care for anything else thereafter but, it ranks pretty high on the list.  Like if I was in a foot pursuit chasing a guy and you threw a medium rare rib eye and mashed potatoes in front of me (my favorite meal) I wouldn’t stop chasing the suspect.  Well unless you threw it Uncle Rico style like in Napoleon Dynamite, then I would probably stop and punch you in the gullet for wasting a good steak, then continue chasing the suspect. 

Now understand that I don’t think there is anything wrong with the “Yikes” and the “Hell yeah” people.  I think that some people are predisposed to being a cop and some are not.  Certainly anyone can be trained to do the job; we have all seen that first hand.  But those that excel at it genuinely love hunting bad guys; I think that comes from within.  We have millions who have served in uniform who get it and understand it.  You don’t need to be a cop to get it and understand it. 

In my case I have three older brothers who either served in law enforcement or the military, so they got it. I suppose we got it from my dad.  He was in the Korean War and after worked at many things including seeking bad men.  On the up side he worked as a bounty hunter seeking those that needed to be brought back to justice.  I remember him picking me up from kindergarten one day with a bad guy handcuffed to the handle on the dash (we called them chicken bars growing up because you were chicken if you grabbed it)  My dad warned the guy to not to look at me.  The guy did in fact look at me and my dad backhanded him with a flashlight and split his face as blood splashed on the passenger side window.  I crawled into the back of the 1969 VW bug, and the guy did not look at me again.  On top of that my dad worked in a covert capacity for the US government seeking evil doers and dealing them death.  That’s all I will say about that.

One of my favorite movies is Act of Valor and in that there were many good quotes but this one rings true to me.  “War is a county or will; there is no room for sympathy.  If you’re not willing to give up everything you have already lost”.  Those that put on the badge or the uniform are at war with evil.  We will all battle in that war.  From it we will bring home scars and injuries.  Some physical and some emotional, we will all feel pain and loss.  We will all win battles and lose battles.  Unfortunately some will lose their life in those battles.  Some will lose their soul.  Deep down those of us that gets it, keep pushing on to hunt and catch that murder suspect.  And when we narrowly escape death or injury doing so, we will be glad, and those that do not feel the same ring of truth from Hemingway’s quote hear our stories, they will not understand why we do what we do.

So on the days where I wrestling some mostly or completely naked bloody suspect, I have to wonder if I should blame my dad for passing along the bug. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

H.B. 2204

In the morning I head to California to attend the funeral for Detective Jeremiah MacKay of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office EOW 02/12/13.  He was the final tragic death in the murderous rampage of a crazed ex LAPD officer bent on revenge on innocent people to right his perceived wrongs.  The tragic actions of the suspect (I do not write his name because to me his victims are more important to me) will never make sense.  His final Victim was Detective MacKay.  I did not know him but I go to stand and be counted as one who stood up for a fellow officer. 

A video of some of the funeral.  It was an honor to be a part of honoring a fallen hero.
Detective Jeremiah MacKay Funeral

Just as in the military when it comes to public safety service the saying all gave some and some gave all is just as true.  A political debate on this topic has been brewing in the great state of Arizona.  A bill put forth by Rep. Bob Robson makes it so the family of officers killed in the line of duty will have the city keep the families able to purchase medical insurance at the normal employee rate until surviving spouse is remarried, eligible for Medicare or the children are all adults.   It doesn’t give them free medical insurance for life just that they get to purchase insurance at the same rate as employees (in my case the employee rate is about $700 a month).  It does require the agency to pay the employee portion or in this case the portion for the officer killed in the line of duty after his death. 

Most people would think this is a no brainer and may even expect that it happens that way anyway.  Believe it or not 5 Republican Representatives voted against it. 

Rep. Carl Seel
Rep. Steve Smith
Rep. Adam Kwasman
Rep. Darin Mitchell
Rep. Steve Montenegro

These are the five that felt that organizations should not have to allow the widow of officers killed in the line of duty to be allowed to PURCHASE medical coverage at the same rate as employees.  Why?  I would be speculating but I assume like most Tea Party folks they think my benefits are too good as it is and I should not get any more, especially if I am dead.  If I am dead the far right wing of the republican party think that my family deserves no more bennifit.  I mean if I get killed by some felon that the judicial branch failed to keep their oath and let them back out, why should my wife get to buy insurance at the same rate as when I was alive?  That seems like a waste of precious tax payer dollars.

I guess it goes back to the Tea Party right that changed our pensions a few years back from 20 to 25 years.  Funny thing is in New Mexico an officer can retire at 20 years with 70% of his pay as pension and at 22.8 years 80%.  In Arizona under the old system you could retire at 20 years with 50% as a pension and to get to 80% you had to do 32 years.  Now you have to give 25 years just to get 50%.  I guess cops are worth more in New Mexico to the legislature than in Arizona.  Or maybe in Arizona they like to pay a couple hundred thousand dollars to train officers then lose them to other things and stats and have to pay to train up the replacements sooner.

I know police work isn’t that dangerous right?  Only like 130 officers get killed each year.  But that doesn’t take into account the 60,000 officer assaulted and thankfully not all officers shot die due to better equipment and technology.  To those five, I say shame on you.  Shame on you for spitting in the face of the family of those officers that gave all,  that ran to the sound of the gunshots , that fought a violent subject in a to the death fight and didn’t make it.  To you five, I cannot put into words how much disappointment I feel.  For decades conservatives enjoyed the benefit of Law Enforcement endorsements.  You five will be driving one of the final nails in that coffin.  How sad is it that you have squandered the support of Law Enforcement and Public Safety in general.  When the public safety pension was ravaged by mismanagement for god sakes Kyrsten Sinema was the only elected official to publicly express outrage.  What was the tea party republican response?  Extend the time from 20 years to 25 to get a pension and make us pay more each month.  Thank you for showing your true colors.  Since your spit in the face was metaphorical, I dare you to contact the families of officers killed in the line of duty and tell them personally that you don’t think they deserve to be able to buy insurance at the same rate as employees because their family member that was an employee was murdered.  I doubt you will like the response you get.   

Sunday, February 3, 2013


The other day I was having a conversation with an attorney discussing what is wrong with society.  At one point of the contestation I was expressing displeasure with the fact that the district attorney picks and chooses chases to push forward.  I had just described the details of a horrible neglect case that resulted in an infant death.  I pointed out that the district attorney never charges these because they say, “The death of the child is punishment enough”.  The attorneys response was, “At a certain point don’t you think it’s a waste of tax payer’s money to go forward with a case?”   I have to admit I was stunned but my response was “Nope”.  Conversation was quickly changed by another party and I have to leave before we could debate the topic further.

Now you could argue politics in this matter and certainly the law school she went to could make one draw a conclusion as to the politics taught at that school but I am apolitical.  Partly because I have served in the military with both a republican and democrat Commander in Chief.  I have worked on Presidential protection details for both a democrat and republican President and I would have taken a bullet for either of them, and I didn’t vote for either.  Why because that is the role I chose.  I chose to take the oath of police officer to protect others and execute the laws of my jurisdiction.

Now I want to point out first and foremost that I harbor no animus towards the attorney.  She is way smarter than I am and a brilliant attorney by all accounts.  My problem is not with her at all and certainly not her specifically.  My problem is with the mindset we in society have fostered that at a certain point the consequences of our actions are redundant and not necessary.  My problem is the prosecutors deciding based on their belief system on what cases get prosecuted.  This conversation with this attorney merely triggered this response after festering inside me for a week.

Myself and all prosecutors have taken oaths, both to protect and defend the constitution and to carry out our jobs without malice and prejudice to the best of our abilities.  The wordings may be different but its clear the intent is more similar than not. 

I have taken several oaths in my life.  First the scout oath on my way up to Eagle Scout.  Next I took an oath in the Navy and the National Guard.  Both of those I effectively swore to defend the constitution and freedom with a means up to and including my life.   My oath as a police officer was similar except that I also pledge to uphold and enforce the laws of the state and to project the citizens within my jurisdiction (the entire state I am sworn in). 

If I was able to use the logic of wasting tax dollars to make decisions I would make very different decisions on the street.  I think back to many situations where I knew that saving the life of a person was going to cause more crime and cost taxpayers more money, but I still did everything in my power to save their lives.  Why?  Because I took an oath to do my job to the best of my ability!  I know there have been situations where I had my gun pointed at an armed suspect and was just about to serve them a dinner of hot lead biscuits when they dropped the weapon.  Wouldn’t it be better for taxpayers if I just dispatched criminals the very second I was legally able to rather than trying to peacefully resolve the situation?  Well, allowing me to deicide based on taxpayers needs who lives and who dies about as ridiculous as prosecutors deciding which cases are cost effective.  I am sorry but if society expects me to risk my life and potentially get killed doing their work, then I expect that my work not be in vein and exercise in futility.  

Why do I have to keep my oath to the letter by prosecutors get to dance around the requirements.  The simple answer is I don’t.  I chose to because my ethos is what drives me.  Every man (and woman) has an ethos that drives them to do what they do.  My ethos is a personification of the oaths I have taken.  I think Tecumseh said it best and this is the ethos that guides my life. 

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

So yes both the prosecution and I, and all attorneys for that matter have taken the oath.  This is what guides me.  What guides you?  

Friday, January 25, 2013

RIP John Noveske

Fans of black guns know the name John Noveske.  His company Noveske Rifleworks produces some of the finest rifles to be had.  In fact I paid nearly twice as much for a Noveske barreled upper for my patrol rifle than I would have for nearly any other brand.  The reason is the quality of Noveske barrels in the combat rifle realm is nearly unmatched. 

It’s a sad time in the black gun industry as John was killed in a car collision on January 4, 2013.  To John I say rest in peace brother and thank you for making products that I on a daily basis use to defend my life and  I do so with full confidence in his product.  Gods speed brother, you are and were a true American Badass.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Top 50 Law Enforcement Blogs

My blog is going to be added to “Top 50 Law Enforcement Blogs”  Look for it and other interesting blogs and tidbits of stuff over here.  Click on the link below and check out my other links to the side as well.
Top 50 Law Enforcement Blogs

Feeling guilty

(I know I promised more funny stories and I will work on some, but I needed to get this off my chest so to speak)

I know I am outing myself on this but, I’ve been a fan of Les Miserable’s for years.  I have seen the musical on Broadway at least 4 times.  The Story is great, the music is fantastic.  I even have the music to the play in my IPod.  So I had the fortune of seeing the new Movie recently and WOW!  Amazing.  I have never been an Ann Hathaway fan but, her performance was nothing short of amazing.  I felt her pain as she sang and acted out the part of Fantine AMAZING!  Hugh Jackman was amazing too, don’t get me wrong he owned it but all in all it was an amazing representation of the story and musical.  I aint gonna lie I always get emotional when Eponine dies and when Fantine sings Jean Valjean home. 

What has me feeling guilty is not the movie or musical.  It was event last week that I worked.  I have worked all manner of heinous crimes.  But like any cop will tell you, when kids are involved it’s exponentially more challenging.  The call I went to was an infant death.  These are always hard as the parents struggle grasp at the reality of what is happening.  Sometimes like in this case you have to use physical force to protect the crime scene.  I will not get into too much detail on this case because it needs to be adjudicated first.  In general, imagine the deplorable living conditions of a “shooting gallery” (shooting gallery is a place or flop house where heroin users go to inject their drugs and pass out while high) truly a scene right out of the movie Trainspotting.  The conditions alone, knowing an infant lived there pulls at the heart strings with titan force.  Knowing the circumstances that the infant died in make it nearly unbearable to comprehend. 

In cases like this there are many details that get investigated and you have to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.  As in any death investigation, you must detach and objectively look at the facts and evidence as presented and avoid jumping to conclusions.  However this detachment comes at a price.  You become accustomed to death and even immune to much of the emotion that would normally be present until the emotion is triggered later.  I suppose all of the death investigations and sad and tragic things we see are what comes out at funerals for fallen officers or close friends.  For me in this case, I was tremendously bothered by the circumstances.  However, what troubled me more is how little emotionally it affected me.  Honestly I felt more emotion watching Les Miserable’s.  This bothers me.  In a way the metaphorical scar tissue on my soul from the emotional wounds of doing the job have precluded me from feeling the full dose of pain from that incident.  But the sad reality is that the pain is like a virus or flu bug and it sits inside us until it makes us sick when the emotional scar tissue that acts like our immune system is weakened.  At some point, I will feel the full weight of sadness over this incident.  I am certain tears will accompany that sadness, but I will still feel guilty for not feeling more than I do right now.  Now understand that we look after each other and several other officer including sergeants and lieutenants checked in on me to make sure I was “okay” and I was fully okay to do the job, I just hate the fact that I am so numb to such a tragic situation.  But, like all of the other wounds that built that scar tissue, this too will heal and it will make me better prepared to handle heinous, disgusting, tragic things down the road.  So, I guess that is the upside of the job. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jingle Bells

So besides being a beat cop, I have a couple collateral duties.  I am part time on the SWAT team and part time in our aviation unit.  When I fly I am an observer or what we call TFO Tactical Flight Officer.  Basically I do the law enforcement function so the pilot can focus on flying.  We Fly MD500E helicopters and we have an awesome surveillance plane as well.  Most of the time I fly in one of our helicopters and the basic duty is to monitor in a scan mode our normal 4 district channels to listen for stuff to go to as well as two other PD channels for highway patrol and other agencies as well as two aviation channels so I know when my pilot is talking on his channels so I don’t try to talk to him at the same time when he is talking to tower or other aircraft.  I run the same computer we have in a patrol car, a spotlight and a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) camera which is thermal imaging which is operated with an Xbox like controller.  So you hands are full so to key the mic to talk you have two buttons on floor one to talk to the pilot and the other to talk on which ever of the 7 channels I am listening to I select.  It gets busy to say the least.  Now you fly around a have to be able to know where you are, where “they” are and describe in a clear enough manner that the bad guy gets caught.  Its serious multi tasking.  Now factor in leaning out the cockpit to look for things find flying in circles and not getting sick, it gets pretty tricky.

One night a couple years ago shortly before Christmas I was flying as TFO and we had a passenger in the back.  It’s always neat to fly around Christmas time because its fun to see all of the Christmas lights.  But since its cold we fly with the doors on, which looking through the curved Plexiglas makes things look funny so I don’t dig doors on very much.  It was my first time flying with NVG Night Vision Goggles and they were not set up for me (which I would learn later in NVG School at the local Air Force Base is a bad idea)  Within moments of taking off my inner ears let me know they were not happy to be flying.  Looking though the curved glass and flying in circles did not help the nauseous feeling in my gut. 

A few calls into it were flying circles around a house and I am keeping the spot lot on the target while officers search in side for a suspect.  My job is to notices any squirters (people who come squirting out of the building running) and start calling out their description and direction of travel and talk the ground units in to apprehend them.  My pilot asks me on the intercom (ICS)  “Hey, you ok?”  My response was something similar to Ving Rhames line from Pulp Fiction when Bruce Willis comes down to the basement of the pawn shop to free him.  “Nah, I’m pretty freaking far from okay” He could tell I was struggling to not puke.  I must have looked pretty green even in the darkness.  He says “Okay I will level out a bit, fly  a wider orbit and when we are done head back to the hangar”  and when we are done we start to head back to the hanger and another priority call came out and he does an banking S turn to change direction to head toward the call. 

For 68 minutes I had been doing everything in my power to not barf but that was too much.  I put my hand up to my mouth, moved my mic out of the way and up it came.  I didn’t want to clean it up so like a champ I swallowed down the first batch, which pretty much guaranteed a second batch which was now blocked by my hand so it took the path of least resistance, out my nose.  Yup, peas carrots and Raman noodles shooting out my nose.  I moved my mic back down and shouted “barf bag” and reached back to the lady in the back, who promptly threw a barf bag at me.  I’m retching my guts out and my pilot gets on ICS “No, no, no I’m a sympathetic puker” he looks left away from me pulls collective, shoves the cyclic forward and starts singing jingle bells to distract himself between radio transmissions to the tower. “Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way….Falcon five are we clear for direct approach…negative on gecko approach….request direct approach…Jingle bells, jingle bell”  We came skidding in and I pulled my mic cord and jumped out to finish my business. 

After when I was done cleaning up myself and the helicopter the lady in the back and pilot were both laughing at me and she said I heard you ask for a barf bag and wave your hand like “Look bitch, hand me a barf bag now! So I threw it at you as soon as I could”.  We all laughed. I haven’t barfed again since.  I now have my NVG set up correctly and my pilot still sings jingle bells from time to time to make me laugh.  The rest of the guys made me special barf bags with my name on it and a happy little picture of me.  I still get grief about it every time I fly.  Good times to be had by all.  But I won’t eat Raman.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Officers Newton and Pauli

I read through my posts and it seems like it’s been a while since I posted any funny stories.  I will lay off the hard stuff and write about something a little lighter, so here goes.  For the most part these days I pretty much forget about what happened at work the night before then some time down the road someone says something that causes you to chuckle, and people think your coo coo for coco puffs.  Someone said something the other day and it reminded me of this funny story. 

A few years back I was working as an FTO (Field Training Officer).  That’s when you train a newbie the ropes, teach them how to apply what they have learned in the academy in kind of a walk before running environment so rookies don’t go out and get killed their first week.  In this case my OIT (Officer In Training) was a veteran officer that had been terminated but had been rehired by the agency.  I avoided getting involved in the why he got terminated however, I assume that since he was hired back and given back pay for the time he was separated from the agency it was one of those wrongful termination situations.  Regardless he was a vet so it was more like we were partners and I just had to write evaluations about his performance and since he was a good cop it was easy. 

One of our first nights we were out trolling around midnight in a high crime area and a car flagged us down to tell us there was an extremely drunk guy stumbling around nearly waking into the street.  So we pull around the corner and just as described is an intoxicated male subject.  He looks back at us as we approach then he takes off running, Or stumble/running.  My OIT had already checked off on the radio that we were going to be out with the guy but we didn’t feel a need to report he was running yet and get a bunch of cops flying our way lights and sirens and since his motor skills were impaired, I was pretty sure we could catch him.  My OIT speeds the car alongside then in front of him then up a drive way to pinch off his path.  I open the door and miss hitting him with the door by inches.  Suspect turns and runs the opposite direction; I jump out and take off running after him back towards the rear of the car. The car was still moving when I jumped out so the car was nearly halfway passed me by the time I started running.  On about the third or second and half step I failed to take into account the elevation change between the sidewalk and the curb down the street.  Being more top heavy than normal with my vest and equipment I feel myself falling forward. Picture Velma from Scooby Doo running with that forward lean she had, but when she needed to her legs would speed up to that blurry speed and she went faster.  I desperately try to peddle my legs faster to try to compensate, but no blurry speed for me, I was already at a full sprint, at least for the two and half steps.  No love, I feel it coming so rather than do the superman slide I do the TJ Hooker tuck and roll, we call it the SWAT roll too (vintage swat videos).  My roll was pretty successful, for the most part.  With the exception of thumping my melon mid way through, causing a flash of white in my vision and possibly concussing myself it wasn’t too bad.  I was back up and running without even missing a step.  My OIT was next to me by now looking at me like Whisky Tango Foxtrot.  He had no idea why I chose to do a sweet tuck and roll in the middle of the street for no apparent (to him) reason.

We round the corner together and apparently suspect failed the TJ Hooker tuck and roll of his own and was getting up and we didn’t have enough time to slow since the train was a movin, me at 250Lbs and my OIT at least that it probably felt like freight train hit him.  We start cuffing him up as a car is approaching us.  They roll down the window and my OIT says “Keep moving, nothing to see here” Which is the typical cop line and it’s fun to say just to say.  The man in the car says “I just want to make sure that Officer that fell is OK”. I felt like I left my dignity back in the street where I did my SWAT roll, but this confirmed it.  I assure them I am fine as we pick suspect up off the ground.  He is spitting out dirt and grass as we walk. 

This was at the height of the “Four Locos” fiasco where someone had a bright idea of mixing malt liquor and energy drinks.  Normally they would pass out from being drunk but now they were full of energy and ready to fight or do other stupid things.  So we are trying to ID this kid.  My OIT asks him his name but as he is saying it he keeps spitting out dirt and grass making a “Spitzth” sound.  My OIT asks jokingly “Is that spelled one Spitzth or two”.  The OIT asks his height with a heavy slur “I’m nine feet six inches” the suspect says.  I laugh and respond “Dude your are not nine feet tall, you’re a Hispanic male and historically you are probably going to be five feet four inches to five feet six inches tall” in the same slurred speech “Fu#$ you, I’m nine feet six inches tall” After a few minutes of mumbling he comes to the realization he is in fact five feet six inches tall. 

He starts complaining “You mother fu#$ers kicked my ass” I laugh and tell him, “I am sorry but you got your ass kicked by Physics, Primarily Newton’s first law and that a body in motion tends to stay in motion and Pauli’s exclusion principal that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time” He pauses, “well those mother fu$#ers Officer Newton and Pauli kicked my ass then.”  He is so drunk in fact he has no idea what I am telling him and the fact that he was arrested for being drunk on campus and assaulting a teacher at high school leads me to believe he may not be the best student.  In fact this little gem turned out to be a genuine menace to society.  He later (all while still being a juvenile committed a string of armed robberies including one where he forced the victim into the trunk of her own car and kidnapped her then stole her belongings at knife point).   We took him home to his mother with a coupon to return to court at a later day for being a minor consuming alcohol. 

Later we both laughed about my tuck and roll and how awesome it wasn’t.  But in reality as lame as I looked, I would have looked way more lame if I just slid into home plate right there in the street.   

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Rules

Last night I respond to a disturbance call.  I find one of the parties involved away from the scene.  The guy is huge so as I am talking to him I put on my carbon fiber knuckled gloves.  The poker match had started, and me by putting on my gloves it was like I threw a big ass bet down after looking at my cards.  I did not know at the time but he was an old school criminal and he knows the rules of the street.  He metaphorically looks at his cards and folds.  He knows respect gets respect and static gets static.  He politely tells me he has served five different prison sentences for nearly 20 years and knows the rules and does not want trouble.  This means he has at least once, been at the crossroads of “The easy way and the hard way” with the cops before, so he knows the pain that comes with the hard way.  He knew the cops had been called so he was smart enough to not have any weapons or contraband on him since he was expecting to get contacted by the police and being a seasoned professional in the justice system knew the situation would likely not lead to his arrest. 

Now just because we are using please and thank you’s and I am not kneeling on his head with him spitting out blood does not mean I am not aware that this is a person to keep my guard up and never turn my back too.  History has shown it could pop off at any time and just because he is being cool now, doesn’t mean that he isn’t in his head, planning to hurt or kill me.  I know that as I am talking to him I am envisioning scenarios of things he might do to attack me and what my response will be.  Our interaction is congenial and in the end he is released because the disturbance has not risen to a criminal level.   As he is starting to leave (me still watching him until I am safe to stop) he asks “So what do you think of all of these new gun laws”   Earlier in the day President Obama presented his first 23 steps to reduce gun violence.  I responded “well I like the fact that they are looking to tie the mental health to background checks and stiffer penalties for lying on the application and such, but banning high caps and assault weapons is not going to be terribly effective.  In the end I’m still gonna have mine and your still gonna have yours” and I chuckle.  Understand that this is a person who has been prohibited from firearm possession since his first felony conviction in 1990.  Him having a single bullet is a crime.  He chuckled “well…you know how it is” I quipped “so will you start obeying the new and improved laws” he laughed “You know the laws don’t make no difference to me” My response “tru dat”.  Then we went our separate ways.

So later the same night around 2300 hours and I am finally getting a chance to eat my Double Double with grilled onions.  I hear a shooting call come out.  I cram into my gullet as much as I can and run out to my car.  I respond to the scene which ultimately ends up being a murder scene.  I am tasked with certain tasks which I complete and report back to the scene supervisor so he can brief the homicide detectives when they arrive.  Not to toot my own horn but beep beep, I’m kind of an intel expert and have access to more databases than the average officers from my time as a criminal intelligence detective and the scene supervisor recognized this so I get those tasks.  The last few hours on the call I am stuck freezing my nuggets off in the uncharacteristically cold weather on the outer perimeter.  Since its 0200 in an industrial area there isn’t much traffic to move along so my duty is pretty much raise the crime scene tape when the detectives arrive and let them into the crime scene.

It’s during this mindless time that my mind wanders to try and comprehend how the new gun laws announced earlier today will impact this crime that I am standing at right now.  The gun used here was not an assault weapon and it didn’t appear to be a high capacity gun either.  It was a small caliber, pistol most likely based on the spent casings found.  The victim was a lifelong criminal with a longtime addiction to illegal drugs.  Statistics will ultimately bear out that he knew the suspect and they too were a criminal and probably a 90% chance that this was a “drug deal gone bad” and the suspect was a prohibited possessor of firearms.   So what has changed?

It got me thinking, so banning high caps from law abiding citizens that haven’t done anything wrong yet is kind of nutty.  I hear the common phrase that normal people don’t need them so they shouldn’t have them.  It seems to be a common belief that only Military and Law Enforcement should have high capacity mags and assault weapons.  Okay, so let’s dissect this.  It’s likely that there are people bad enough in the world that cops and military need to be armed up to deal with them.  But the average citizen that hasn’t done anything wrong shouldn’t.  For demonstrative purposes I will use hyperbole to illustrate this. 

When I am at work in uniform or when I was in the military I am fully capable of possessing these tools to defend others, but when I want to defend myself at home in my jeans and T shirt I should be limited to low capacity mags and no assault weapons.  So when I am willing to die to keep others safe it’s okay but not when I am off duty at home.  Well guess what I am still willing to die to protect myself and family.  And if my NFA registered SBR with a 30 round magazine is the first weapon I grab, I will use that tool off duty as well. So when I am not at work I am now not worthy or capable of buying or possessing these weapons because what?  I may go on a shooting spree in my civilian clothes?  Or I may go in a shooting spree because I have 30 round mags and I won’t if I have 10 round mags?  I can’t be trusted when I am off duty but I can when I am on duty.   So we will take away the ability of those that don’t commit the crimes to posses these tools because we don’t want criminals to commit crimes.  Right? 

Look, I am more motivated than the average person to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and nut jobs but this makes no sense to me.  I am all for linking mental health to the background checks and actually prosecuting those that lie on the applications.  What is tragic is that it took a tragedy like Sandy Hook to make this happen.  I just don’t see how restricting those that don’t commit crimes will solve the problem.  In fact I am going out on a limb and going to call it now.  The ban will go into effect and there will be another tragic school shooting.  There I said it.  Does anyone besides me find it ridiculous that David Gregory committed a crime by showing a high capacity magazine on TV?  That makes sense to someone?  How about making it legal for David Gregory to show the magazine on TV (as long as he doesn’t use it to commit a crime, he is sane and not a felon) and lock Mr. 5 trips to prison up forever instead.  What is the likely hood that David Gregory is going to feloniously kill people or steal from them or assault them?  Just guessing not very high.  How about Mr. 5 trips to prison?  What are his chances to commit those crimes?  Based on his violent history, I’m going to say pretty good.  You, Mr. Gregory and everyone else including Mr. 5 trips to prison is not going to be allowed to posses high cap mags, which in the group do you think will obey this?   Who is going to follow the rules of society and who is going to follow the rules of the street?

So standing there in the cold I had to wonder how any of the proposed gun legislation would have kept my dead dude from getting dead.