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.