Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's the harmless one's that'll kill ya...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

An unspecified funk has hindered my putting words to page the last couple days...we'll see if we can't wring something out of ye olde brain today! Lol.

It's a rainy, gloomy Tuesday here...no severe weather, but our thoughts and prayers go out to those that have lost so much during the recent storms.

For some reason, days like this remind me of sitting in a police car...no, no...not in back!!! Let me explain.

My senior year of High School there was a program known as "Optional Semester". The idea was that you worked in the field you planned to go into, and instead of pay you received class credit instead.

As I planned to go into Law Enforcement, I spent my school year working at 51st. District court (to learn about the court system), Pontiac PD, and the Oakland County Sheriff's Dept. Safety Division (an offshoot of the Sheriff's Dept. responsible for policing the County complex and Govt. Buildings). Spending 2-3 months at each.

When I rode with Pontiac PD I generally rode along with a 2 man team, except when with a CSO (Community Service Officer), that was one on one.

The Sheriff's Safety Division was mostly one man cars, except for prisoner transfer or competency hearing transport from Clinton Valley Psychiatric Hospital.

One of the Officers I commonly rode with there, was a fellow we'll call Officer "George" as that was his first name.

Officer George was a bona fide Olympian! He competed in the '76 Summer Games as a weightlifter and won the Bronze in his weight class. For being all of about 5'6", he was a tough son of a bitch! Dark haired and blue eyed, with a 70's era porn star mustache...and a very cool guy. We got along famously, and he allowed me more and more responsibility as he taught me some of the "in's & out's" of patrol.

He really did take his mentoring role seriously, over the many hours we spent on patrol he talked of all aspects of the job...not just what you dealt with as you worked, but family and social matters you had to deal with when not at work!

One of the work related things he impressed upon me was constant vigilance when dealing with a suspect.
"They are at their most dangerous, " he said "right before the cuffs go on."
So he went out of his way to show me the proper way to frisk and cuff a suspect...demonstrating on me several times, then reversing roles to see if I'd learned.

One of the "tricks" he showed me, when you have a suspect against the car frisking them, legs spread...if they try to turn or reach for something, push them forward and knee them in the ass! Instinct takes over and they will reach out to catch themselves and protect their face.

I always wore a suit and tie ("clip on, so it isn't a convenient handle to chock you with!" -Off. George-)
and folks would automatically assume I was "in charge" being I was not the one in uniform. This tickled George to no end...

On a dreary April day we were patrolling the County complex near the Public Health building when we spotted a car parked in the handicapped parking spot with no tag/license plate saying it should be there.

This was Off. George's pet peeve, he had a sister with MS and anyone parking in handicapped parking that didn't belong there infuriated him!!!

"Call this plate in while I take a look in the car, it's possible it could belong here and they just forgot to hang their placard." He said as he got out of the car.

He'd had me practicing radio calls by "pretending".... When he was satisfied I wouldn't embarrass him, he started letting me call things in...as a smaller division we had our own dispatcher.

The dispatcher came back on the radio, and said that CLEMIS (Court and Law Enforcement Enforcement Management Information System) was down so there was no way to check for wants and warrants against the registered owner.

By this time Off. George was back in the car and writing the ticket. He shrugged, said "It happens..." got out and placed the ticket in a plastic sleeve under the wiper...and off we went.

About 10 mins. later dispatch called back...
"Unit Six, Unit Six...be advised CLEMIS is back up, car comes back as registered to: "Anonymous Dirtbag" of Such and Such address...showing two warrants, "failure to appear" and "Delinquency of child support"...copy?"

Before the dispatcher was done we had already pulled a u-turn and were heading back to the car...which was gone! It was sprinkling lightly and there was a dry spot where the car had been...still.
"He can't have gone far," Off. George said "let's see if we can't find this guy..."

We drove the expected route he would take to leave the complex...nothing. Right out to the major road...as we were getting ready to turn around, having been skunked...we saw him! He had gone to the opposite entrance than we assumed by his address...figuring he was heading home.

As he passed us heading South, Off. George lit up the light bar and we set off in pursuit. We were two cars back at the light, and by the time we got clear of the intersection he had a couple mile head start on us...as we got closer he made a right turn onto Dixie Hwy followed moments later by our black and white. He yielded to the shoulder, hoping we weren't after him...no such luck!

Resignedly he pulled over completely.  
"I want you on the passenger side as my second set of eyes...you see him do something "fishy" you let me know."
Off. George said as we got out.

He politely asked the driver for his license, registration and proof of insurance...I could see the ticket we'd previously given him on the passenger seat.

"What iz wrong Officer?" The driver asked. He was in his mid to late thirties, Hispanic, slender build...about average height by the look of things.

"You were going a little fast coming down that hill there..." Off. George told him, gesturing back the way we'd come.

"I am so very sorry Officer, I deed not real alize...it will no happen again."

"I'm just gonna check your driving record...if everything comes back OK, you'll be on your way..."

"Gracias" the driver replied as we turned and got back in our cruiser.

"Never let them know," Off. George explained "make it something trivial to keep them at ease while you make sure you got the right guy."

He called in the drivers info, sure enough we had the right guy. Seems he owed over 10 grand in back child support (a not inconsiderable amount in the spring of '81) and had a bench warrant for failure to appear from the last hearing he was supposed to attend.

Off. George handed me his cuffs.
"Feel up to doin' a frisk & cuff on this guy? Doesn't look like he'll give us much trouble...and you can get a "feel" for it. OK? Don't worry, I'll be right there."

"Sure" I said, eager to please.

Off. George explained that there was a problem, and would he please get out of his car to discuss it with us...

"I got my boss with me today...help me out?" He stage whispered to the driver.
Giving me a wink.

As he came around the front of the car
the driver asked: "What iz de problem Officer?"

"I'm afraid you've got a couple of outstanding warrants...and unfortunately we're going to have to place you under arrest. If you'll just put your hands on the hood of your car, my partner will search you while I read you your rights."

He placed his hands on the car and I moved behind him to make sure his feet were back, and spread as I'd been taught.

"Please señor, there mus be a mistake..."
I started the frisk at his collar.

"You have the right to remain silent..."

"I cannot go to jail señor, listen please..."
I checked the left arm, then the right.

"Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law..."

"I will lose my job, please...I haf a family..."
Under both arms, down his sides and around his waist.

"You have the right to an attorney..."

"I beg you please don do dis...PLEASE"
 As I moved my hands down to check his front pockets he suddenly turned and reached into his right pocket.

Just as I'd been shown, straightening I shoved between his shoulders and brought my knee up hard into his ass...the hand in his pocket shot forward to keep his face from bouncing off the hood. As that hand contacted the steel, something flew out of it and clattered across the expanse of hood and sprung open with a "thwack". There before us, just out of reach was a gleaming 6" bladed switchblade!!!

I looked to Off. George and saw that he'd drawn his duty revolver sometime during our brief scuffle.

"You didn't Seriously just try to stab my partner did you???"

"No, no Officer...I was giving it too him, eh señor?" He said to me. "You tell him, Si?" He said as I closed the cuffs around his wrists.

"Seem that way to you?" Off. George asked me.

"No Sir, it did not..." I answered.

We put him in the back of our cruiser and waited for the impound wrecker.
Off. George explained to him he would also be charged with carrying a concealed weapon, and assault. Read him his rights again and we sat in silence for a time.

"I'm sorry about that." Off. George said after a while, staring straight ahead through the windshield. 
The rain making little rivers down the glass.

"I got "that feeling" as soon as he started to beg. Ya see, a begging man is a desperate man...and a desperate man is a dangerous man. I should have stepped in..." He said, shaking his head. 
"But you did good, handled yourself well. Did just what I showed you, and it might have just saved your life...."

As he spoke our prisoner began to weep, and mumble softly in Spanish.

"Look at him." Off. George said "Looks harmless enough, doesn't he? But he'd have split you stem to stern to get away...
If you take nothing else home with you today, take this...
Never trust the harmless ones, cause it's the harmless one's that'll kill ya!"

I haven't forgotten George!   ;-)

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear


  1. These are instincts I'll bet they don't teach in class.

    Great story. Interesting stuff, Thanks!

    1. Thanks joeh! I learned a lot from the kind men and women in Law Enforcement that I worked with over those 9 months!

  2. One can only absorb the instructions in theory, but the practical is the true test, and that doesn't always go the way of the theory. Off. George was right about the quiet ones. "A silent river runs deep."

    1. Hi Michelle, thanks again for dropping by! You're right, there's only so much "book learning" and theory can teach you. It's when you actually start applying what you know that you realize how much you still have to learn. :-)

  3. Wow that's quite the story!!!! Pretty cool they let you do all that stuff for just being a student. I bet you anything that they can't let kids do it now for liability reasons. When my ex took the 6 week 'citizens academy' class in my town in WA, he had to sign a bunch of papers releasing the Bonney Lake PD and town from all liability in case he was injured during the ride along.

  4. Yeah, I don't think they would ever run a L.E. program like that now. I do remember the reems of paperwork absolving the school, the Dept. and even the Officers of liability should anything happen to me that my parents had to fill out. My parents were divorced so I had to get two separate sets of paperwork filled out. I remember one phrase from the paperwork that read "With full knowledge of the inherent danger involved in the field of Law Enforcement, I _______________ fully absolve _______________ of any, and all responsibility."
    Still shocked my parents signed it....never told them everything that happened, didn't want them changing their minds!

  5. Wow! On the flip side. I'm so happy you didn't become a Waterford cop, they're such assholes. :)

    1. Wouldn't have wanted Waterford PD! You're pretty close in your acessment, I've only met a couple that weren't! Lol