Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: Pronounciating Rite

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: "Tomorrow, Sunday, the area will be enveloped (pronounced like the past tense of the item in which you mail a letter) with snow and blizzard conditions."

On Sunday, we got zero snow and nearly zero wind.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

That Hostage-Taking Stuff Ain't Like In The Movies

From the Calibre Press website:
Irving police on Friday shot and killed an armed robbery suspect who had taken a woman hostage at a check-cashing store, the police department said.
Officers responded around 1 p.m. to an armed robbery in progress at the Cash Store, after a store employee had triggered the alarm, police spokesman James McLellan said.
When police arrived, 29-year-old Christopher Michael Dew took a female employee hostage and came outside with her. He warned officers that he would hurt her if they approached, McLellan said.
Dew then threatened to put the woman inside a vehicle. Police didn’t say whose it was.
According to police and as shown in video taken by a witness, two officers shot Dew as he moved toward the vehicle while holding a handgun to the woman. Dew, who was convicted in 2007 of aggravated robbery, died at the scene.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Citizen Complaints

It's really common for citizen's to call the Police Department with complaints. Most often, it's about traffic in their neighborhood. On my department, the beat sergeant would assign the beat officer to spend some time there, monitor what's going on, and write citations, if appropriate.

There was one street in particular on my beat that was constantly the subject of complaints. Citizens complained that people were completely ignoring STOP signs at a particular 4-way stop, and that people were driving 50 to 60 miles per hour in a 25 zone. Since I was one of the day shift officers on that beat, I was regularly assigned to check it out. And what I learned was that, at least in that neighborhood, people generally had vision and/or perception problems.

I'd sit at that 4-way stop in a location that, I can assure you, drivers couldn't see me for an hour at a time and never see a citation-worthy violation. Would people "roll" through the intersection? Sure. But so do I, so do you, so does everybody. Occasionally someone would do the brake-check thing and I'd stop them, but it was pretty rare.

Likewise, people rarely would drive more than about 5 mph over the limit on those streets. I actually had some old guy (I'm sure he was the repeat complainer) come out to my squad car and point out cars that were "flying" by. They'd be doing the speed limit, or maybe a little over. The old guy didn't believe me, so I finally had him sit in my squad and watch the radar readout. He was flabbergasted that his judgement was off so far. I don't think I ever wrote a single speeding ticket in all the hours I sat down in that neighborhood.

In the complainers' defense, STOP sign violations are a judgement call. It's easy to point out people who are rolling through STOP signs, because almost everybody does it. I always felt that if a driver appeared to be making a reasonable attempt to stop and be safe, that was good enough for me. And as lenient as I was, I wrote plenty of tickets.

Speed is also very deceiving, even for experienced cops, especially on winding roads with low speed limits. It's easy to misjudge how fast a car is going - it usually looks like it's moving faster than it really is. I was what some would say is shockingly lenient on speeders, and I still wrote a ton of speeding tickets. I learned that there's no reason to be an asshole. There are plenty of violators out there if you're willing to look for them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

His Nickname Is "Lucky"

One day I ran the plate on this car sitting in a convenience store parking lot, and the owner came back with a suspended driver's license. So, I park down the street where I think he can't see me and wait for him to come out and drive away. He finally comes out and gets in his car, but just sits there. After waiting forever, I start thinking he's spotted me. Then, a truck pulls in next to him, blocking my view, so I give up and leave.

I'm driving off - now about three blocks away - and guess who goes right past me on the cross street? I had to laugh. He had at least 15 other routes he could've taken that would've missed me. Don't buy any lottery tickets today, pal!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Priorities

Unified Police Department Officer Brandon Sulich was off duty, outside the Kearns, Utah, precinct. He was waiting for an 8:15 a.m. departure to the funeral of Officer Doug Barney, who was shot and killed a week earlier. That’s when Officer Sulich heard the dispatch for a house fire nearby. 
“Once they put out the address, I realized that I was probably only 30 seconds away from it,” Sulich said Tuesday. The young officer, who is still on probationary status, now had to decide whether to wait for the group to go to the funeral or respond to the house fire. “It was a very quick decision. It almost seemed natural. It wasn’t like I struggled with it. It was about the time it took for my hand to get up to my shifter was about how long it took me to make a decision,” he said. “Of course, the priority to possibly save lives is more important.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Remember Me?

I was always pretty lenient when it came to handing out traffic tickets. I was never the guy who'd write someone for 5 over the speed limit, or for almost - but not quite - stopping at a STOP sign.

One day I was monitoring a 4-way stop on my beat, in response to complaints from citizens in the neighborhood that people were flying through the intersection without even slowing down (Citizen complaints about traffic are the subject for another blog post). As I'm sitting there watching, I see this pickup truck slow down for the STOP sign just enough that I decide not to pull him over. A few minutes later, I see the same pickup do the same thing going the other way. I let it slide. And a few minutes after that, I see him doing it yet again. In the words of George S. Patton, "Alright, by God, that's enough!" I catch up to the guy, pull him over, and walk up to the window.

Mr. Gameshowemcee: (smiling and acting all tickled to see me) "Hey, man, how's it going? Long time no see!"

Officer Cynical: "Uh, I'm OK."

Mr. GSMC: "So, how you been doin'? What's happening?"

Officer Cynical: "The reason I'm pulling you over is I watched you bust that STOP sign three times in about 5 minutes. We've been getting complaints about people not stopping."

Mr. GSMC: "Really? Sorry, I'm looking for an address and I guess I wasn't paying attention."

Officer Cynical: "Can I see your driver's license and proof of insurance, please?"

Mr. GSMC: "Oh, c'mon - you're not gonna write me a ticket, are you?"

Officer Cynical: "Actually, I am. You're just completely disregarding the STOP signs, and I don't feel I have any choice."

Mr. GSMC: "Wow, after all the times we worked together, I can't believe you'd do that."

Officer Cynical: "Sir, I have no idea who you are. You don't look familiar and I don't recognize the name on your license."

Mr. GSMC: "You don't remember me? I drove for We-Yank-'Em Towing Company for years. I retired about 3 years ago."

Officer Cynical: "No, I'm sorry. I don't remember you at all."

Mr. GSMC: "Hey, I apologize if I rolled through the STOP sign. But you can cut me a break for old time's sake, right?"

Officer Cynical: "You have 14 days to either send this in with the fine, or register it for court. I need you to sign right here. And press hard, three copies."