Friday, November 28, 2014

Secret Identity

While working a DUI enforcement shift, I pull over a guy going the wrong way on a 1-way street. He says he doesn't have any ID on him, and gives me a name and date of birth. For some reason, I don't believe he is who he says he is. Partly because I can see he has a wallet in his back pocket.

Officer Cynical: "What's your Social Security number?"

Kit Walker: "I don't know; I can never remember it."

Officer Cynical: (big red flag waving inside brain) "How old are you?"

Kit Walker: "25."

Officer Cynical: "And you don't know your Social Security number?"

Kit Walker: "No."

Officer Cynical: "And you don't have even one thing on you or in the car that has your name on it?"

Kit Walker: "No."

Officer Cynical: "What about in your wallet?"

Kit Walker: "What wallet?"

Officer Cynical: "That one right there. Right there in your back pocket."

He takes his wallet out and starts thumbing through the contents. He tries to turn away from me so I can't see what he's doing, but I can see a driver's license right on top.

Officer Cynical: "What about that driver's license right there?"

Kit Walker: "Right where?"

Officer Cynical: "Right there in your goddam wallet - the one you're trying to hide with your hand!"

Turns out he had given me his brother's name and date of birth, because he had a suspended driver's license and a warrant. He also got charged for hindering a police officer. And a ticket for the one-way thing. Next time, study a little harder, pal - maybe I'll believe you.

Epilogue: Some other tricks to get at fake-namers: 1) Ask for a date of birth, then wait 10 minutes and ask again. A lot of times they won't remember what they told you the first time. 2) Ask for a date of birth, then ask how old they are. Often, they can't do the math fast enough and you can watch them short-circuit. 3) Just look in the computer system. If their name/birthday isn't in there, they're probably lying about who they are.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

It's On Video

I watch a lot of true crime TV shows, especially ones like First 48. They follow investigations from start to finish, and it's always interesting to me to see how detectives manage to wind up arresting a culprit when they have so little information to start with. One thing I've noticed is that these detectives often manage to get incriminating - or at least informational - video from sources that are sometimes quite a distance from the scene of the crime. They'll have a lead on a certain type of car, for example, then find that car on bank surveillance video a block away. It shows that the suspect car was indeed in the area.

Now, I'm no detective, and I likely never will be. But I've learned a few tricks over the years. And one of those tricks is the "I have it on video" ploy. I've made otherwise hard-nosed dipwads fold like cheap suits when I've told them "I have it on video".

I was once dispatched to a vandalism call, where a nice woman had come out of work to find her car keyed and spray painted. She was sure it was her ex-boyfriend that did it, but there was no evidence to prove it.

As I almost always do, I drove to the ex-boyfriend's house rather than call him on the phone. The uniform and badge have a way of working better - at least for me - than my disembodied voice on a phone line.

I began questioning the ex-boyfriend about the vehicle vandalism, and he not only denied it, but talked to me like I was inconveniencing the shit out of him. You could've cut his attitude with a knife. I finally tried this:

Officer Cynical: "You know, there's a video camera mounted on the TV tower that's next to the parking lot where your ex-girlfriend's car was parked. I covers the whole area, including the parking lot."

Mr. Cornfloater: "No fucking way."

Officer Cynical: "Yes, fucking way. When I leave here, I'm going straight over to the TV station and review that video."

Mr. Cornfloater (suddenly all fidgety): "Seriously? Why would you do that?"

Officer Cynical: "Because there's no doubt in my mind it's gonna show you vandalizing your ex-girlfriend's car. And then I'll be back here."

Mr. Cornfloater (now near tears) "I think you're wasting your time, dude. Besides, if I did do something like that, I don't remember it!"

Officer Cynical: "So, it was you that vandalized the car?"

Mr. Cornfloater: "OK, yeah! But I don't remember doing it!"

Epilogue: There is a camera on top of that TV tower, but it's about a thousand feet off the ground and points in the wrong direction. They use it to show the current weather during newscasts. It would've been impossible to gain any evidence from the video. Idiot.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shut Your Stupid Face

Have you seen the commercial starring the idiot walking along the beach with his tweed jacket and beard stubble and new-fangled plastic electronic cigarette stuck in his face? He's what I assume is supposed to be a ruggedly handsome shill for a company selling a "nicotine delivery system". Kind of like a smokeless Marlboro Man. He actually just looks like a damned fool with that thing clamped in his teeth, with a blue light flashing on the end of it. At the end, he says something like "It's time to take our freedom back!" Your freedom to do what? Be a nicotine addict? I'm pretty sure that as long as you don't do it in a public building or blow it in somebody's face, you're free to smoke all the nicotine you want. Or you could just grow a pair and quit. Jackwagon.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Please stop calling the police every time your upstairs neighbors argue. I realize it may be disconcerting, because it gets pretty loud and happens pretty often. But there's not the slightest indication anything physical is going on, they're in their own apartment, and it's not against the law to argue.

Also, please consider not calling us whenever someone with even a slightly different skin hue than yours walks past your house. They're not all criminals casing the neighborhood.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Illegal Immigration Kills

The following is reprinted from an article by Lt. Jim Glennon for the Street Survival Newsline, to which I subscribe, published by Calibre Press on 10/29/14. Years ago, I had the great pleasure of attending the Street Survival Seminar, which was then taught by Lt. Glennon and Dave ("Buck Savage") Smith - two of the best instructors I've ever seen. Lt. Glennon hits the nail on the head here, in my opinion. Note: I am in no way connected to any of the aforementioned entities.

Enough is Enough

By Calibre Press
Lt. Jim GlennonToo many officers have been killed by criminals in this country illegally
By Lt. Jim Glennon
“If it saved the life of only one child it is worth changing the law on ___.” (Insert agenda, law, policy, or cultural practice.)
I’ve heard this line used by people of every political persuasion pushing an agenda or belief system countless times over the years. It’s been used for: gun control, driving while using cell phones, wearing seatbelts, 20-oz. sodas, donuts, candy, cigarettes, beer, booze, light bulbs, insulation, windows, fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, smoke detectors, etc. Want to get attention? Talk about saving lives—especially the lives of kids—and if anyone disagrees with your stance, well then they obviously endorse the death of children.
It’s a good strategy because it works. It pumps up the masses and rouses the rabbles. But, not all agendas are driven by altruistic motives. There are often very real counter-consequences once these changes are implemented.
So if we really want to save lives—and, remember, just one is too many—what about the lives of police officers killed by people in the country illegally?
Last Friday, on Oct. 24, Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Danny Oliver, 47, was shot in the forehead with an assault rifle at close range as he approached a suspicious car in the parking lot of a motel. Deputy Oliver, a 15-year veteran of the department, leaves a grieving and devastated wife and two daughters.
A short while later, that same gunman then shot 38-year-old Anthony Holmes of Sacramento in the head during an attempted carjacking.
That gunman and his wife stole another vehicle and drove to Placer County, Calif. Two deputies approached the stolen pickup while it was parked on the side of a road and again the gunman opened up with his an AR-15.  Det. Michael David Davis Jr., 42, was killed, dying 26 years to the day that his father, a Riverside County deputy, was shot and killed in the line of duty. The other deputy, Jeff Davis (not related to Michael), was shot in the arm.
Who shot these people, murdering two and devastating families and communities? Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte; though he was going by the name of Marcelo Marquez. Why lie about his name? Because Monroy-Bracamonte has illegally entered the United States multiple times. He was deported twice for committing crimes, once in 1997 and then again in 2001. 
Let’s look at just a few more.
Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, 32; Mesa, Ariz.; May 12, 2014: Struck head-on and killed by a DUI driver Raul Silva Corona. Corona was in the country illegally, had been convicted of several crimes, had no driver’s license, no social security number and was still able to buy a car.
Officer Rodney Johnson, 40; Houston, Texas; Sept. 21, 2006: Juan Leonardo Quintero, an illegal immigrant, was handcuffed in the back of Officer Johnson’s squad car when he accessed a hidden gun and shot Johnson in the back of the head four times. Quintero was previously deported after charges of indecency with a child, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Johnson leaves behind his wife, three daughters and two sons.
Officer Kevin Will, 37; Houston, Texas; May 29, 2011: Officer Kevin Will was struck and killed by Johoan Rodriguez, 26, who had a blood-alcohol level of .238 and cocaine in his pocket. Rodriguez was previously deported, living in the U.S. illegally again when he killed Will. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Will’s wife was pregnant at the time of his death and they had two other children.
Officer Brian Jackson, 28; Dallas, Texas; Nov. 13, 2005: Shot and killed by an illegal alien. He is survived by a young wife, parents, and his sister.
Park Ranger Kristopher Eggle, 27; Organ Pipe National Monument, Ariz.; Aug. 9, 2002: Shot and killed with an AK-47 by an illegal alien and drug smuggler. He was survived by his parents and a sister.
We could go on and, unfortunately, on. Many argue that the border can’t be secured or that it is secured or that the status of the perpetrators is of no mater. To all I say: “Bunk.”
People cross the border for multiple reasons. Most, yes, for no other reason than to better their lives otherwise legally. But, people also come across because they know they can and the downside doesn’t really exist. They sneak across the border, they get caught, they get released. They make it over the border, commit a crime, they get arrested and again they get released. They’re told they need to show up for a court appearance, they don’t, no matter, they suffer no negative ramifications.
In other words, we allow this, and some say encourage it. Everyone talks about fences. How about just using common sense and enforcing the laws that already exist? How about eliminating the reason to breach our borders and punish anyone who entices or helps the illegal entries?
How about we discuss the victims? Really discuss the victims—not just the cops and their families but—but the people trafficked for sex, the slaves, the kidnapped, the overdoses, the addicts …
Four people shot, two cops dead, by people who know they can come to the United States illegally and with total impunity. Who do we see about this? All we have to do is look in the mirror. We, collectively, have allowed this to happen.
People will continue to die at the hands of these criminals. It’s impossible to totally stop the evil, but we don’t have to open the door for it.
Lt. Jim Glennon, a third generation LEO, retired from the Lombard, IL PD after 29 years of service.  Rising to the ranking of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the investigations unit.  Lt. Glennon is the first law enforcement officer to own Calibre Press in its nealy 35 year history.  He is the author of Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Talking in Concentric Circles

Officer Cynical: (responding to burglar alarm, finds drugged-out janitor sweeping up near one of those giant trash can on wheels): "Hi, I assume you're the cleaning lady?"

Ms. Tripp: "Yeah, what's the problem?"

Officer Cynical: "I guess a burglar alarm was set off."

Ms. Tripp: "No, I punched in the code as soon as I came in the door. The alarm went off after I punched in the code."

Officer Cynical: "Did you maybe punch in the wrong code?"

Ms. Tripp: "No way, I have it written down right here (shows me a number written on the back of her hand). I'm sure I punched in the right code."

Officer Cynical: "Well, then why did the alarm go off?"

Ms. Tripp: "I told you, it didn't go off. I punched in the code right away, and then it went off after that."

Officer Cynical: "So, the alarm did go off."

Ms. Tripp: "No! I punched in the code first. Then it went off."

Voice in Officer Cynical's Head (screaming): "Jesus Cheddar Cheese Christ on a cracker!!!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clean-Up On Aisle 5

Today I was sent to a crappy downtown hotel to pick up a guy whose probation was being revoked. We could hear the TV going in his room, so we had a female officer use the old "Housekeeping!" announcement ploy to get him to come to the door.

He opened the door, and there was all 6'-4" and 300 intoxicated, doughlike pounds of him standing there stark frontally naked. As we were getting him dressed, I realized the room had recently been redecorated: about a thousand scraps of at least 3 large pizzas accented the dresser, a big pool of vomit tastefully adorned the bed, and a massive, artfully arranged turd had been deposited on the carpet in front of the TV.

When I remarked on what a freaking mess the room was, the guy replied, "Whatsa matter? You never had a bad night?" I said no, not THAT bad of a night. And then he wanted me to take the cuffs off so we could fight. I demurred, saying that window of opportunity was now gone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hit and Run Detection Kit

Sometimes, simple little offenses really get under my skin and piss me off enough that I go to great lengths to see that the responsible party gets his/her just dues.

A while back I took a hit-and-run accident report in a crappy part of town. It was obvious that the blue car parked all crazy behind the white victim car was the responsible vehicle. There was blue transfer paint on the victim car, the damage location on the victim car was consistent with damage on the blue car, and the blue car appeared to have been parked by a decidedly intoxicated person.

I contact the owner of the blue car by phone and set up a time to come talk to her in person. When I get there, she doesn't answer the door. Further phone conversations produce no results. She's always too busy or not home or whatever. So, one day I just show up at her apartment door. Her kid opens the door, but I can see her peeking around the corner from the doorway of another room.

I get her out in the hallway and begin questioning her about the accident. She admits she had been driving on the night in question, but denies she hit the other car. I then produce my homemade hit-and-run detection kit, which I had put together the night before.

The hit-and-run detection kit consisted of two clear plastic zip-lock bags, each with a Q-tip inside, and with a bunch of nonsense numbers and letters written on the outside. I hold up the bags in front of her and say:

"OK, here's what's going to happen. I'm going to take swabs of the blue paint on your car and the blue transfer paint on the other car. I'm going to send these swabs to the boys in the lab (I actually said "the boys in the lab"!). And if they come back as a match, which I believe they will, you're going to have way more problems than you're going to have if you just admit what happened."

Her response? "OK, I did it."

I wrote as many tickets as I could, and informed the owner of the victim car so she could get her damaged vehicle fixed.

I felt really good about that for a long time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Sky Is Falling

I get a call to see a woman about her missing son. According to the info on my computer screen, the son is 25 years old and had a fight with mom, then left in his car.  Dispatch tells me over the radio that "she's very distraught", which can usually be translated as "nuts".

As I pull up to the apartment building, she comes running up to my squad car. She gets right in my face and starts yelling.

Mrs. Benzo: "Who's looking for my son!? I wanna know what you're doing to find my son!"

Officer Cynical: "Um, I just got here, so I'm not doing anything yet. Tell me what's going on."

Mrs. Benzo: (look of utter shock) "You're not doing anything?! You have no idea how serious this is! This is really bad! Why aren't you doing something!?"

Officer Cynical: "Before I can do anything, I need to know what happened and who I'm looking for and why. Can you stop screaming at me long enough to tell me that?"

Mrs. Benzo explains that the previous night her 25-year-old son, who has a criminal history a mile long, moved out of his girlfriend's house after an argument and into mom's place. Then this morning, after an argument with mom, he moved out of her place and didn't come back. She has no idea where he's gone. She's positive "this will end badly" and "this is as bad as it gets", but can't give me a straight answer as to why.

Eventually, I call her ex-husband. He tells me he put up with similar incidents for 15 years before he left because he couldn't take the drama and hysteria anymore. He says she needs to be on meds, but won't take any.

I finally get out of there and put a BOLO out for the "missing" son. Mom calls me numerous times during the rest of my shift to find out what all the law enforcement agencies in the region are doing to find her son. I don't tell her "nothing".

The next morning she leaves me a voice mail saying that her son is in jail in a city not far from Cynicalville.

All's well that ends well.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Target Practice

I was on a traffic stop one evening, and because of heavy traffic I was standing at the passenger side window instead of out in the street on the driver side. The passenger was smoking a cigarette. When she finished, she tossed the smoldering butt out the window. It hit my trouser leg and landed on my boot. I was a little incredulous for second, and the passenger didn't even seem to notice.

Officer Cynical: "Excuse me, is there an ashtray in that car?"

Ms. Chesterfield: "Yeah, why?"

Officer Cynical: "Well, you threw your cigarette butt out the window and hit me with it, so I thought maybe there was no ashtray in there."

Ms. Chesterfield: (rolls eyes) "Oh, sorry." (looks away)

Officer Cynical: "OK, how about this? Either haul your ass out of the car and pick up your cigarette butt and put it in the ashtray where it belongs, or I give you a ticket for littering."

Ms. Chesterfield: (gets out, picks up butt, gets back in, and puts butt in ashtray) "Anything else?"

Officer Cynical: "Nope. As soon as I finish your boyfriend's speeding ticket, you can both go."

Thursday, November 13, 2014


We get calls all the time about "marijuana odor" in the hallways of apartment buildings. I think those callers believe we'll just start kicking doors open until we find the renegade pot smoker and haul them off to jail. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. And if you think it does, you might want to give the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution a read some time.

Generally, what we do is see if the odor is definitely traceable to a specific door. It almost never is, but if so, we can knock on the door and see if the person will admit to it (I actually had a guy do that once). More often, we send the information to our Narcotics Bureau, and they can write a search warrant for the place based on the odor emanating from the door. In a vehicle it's a different story. A marijuana odor emanating from a vehicle is probable cause to search that vehicle (see Carroll v. U.S., 1925). So, smoke it at home at your own risk; smoke it in your car if you're feeling particularly lucky.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

They Paid It Forward

On my first leave from the Marine Corps back in 1971, I went home to see my parents. One night I went, in uniform, to a neighborhood bar. I was 19 years old, and the legal drinking age was 21. The bartender asked me for my ID, and after he looked at it he said he couldn't serve me. It just so happened that the bar owner was also behind the bar. He came over, pulled the bartender aside, and spoke two words: "Serve him."

I paid for that first beer, but none after that. Every time I ordered up another, one of the other patrons had already paid for it. And every time I said "Thank you", I got back, "No, thank you".

I had quite a buzz on when I left there. And I had a great time. If anyone who reads this was someone who bought that kid a beer that night, he thanks you from the bottom of his heart for the memory.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy Veterans Day and USMC Birthday To All My Fellow Marine Corps Vets

For Veterans Day and the Marine Corps Birthday, I thought I'd rerun this post on organization within the USMC. For all the info that's now outdated, I apologize. This is my best recollection of how it was when I was in.

First of all, unit organization is not totally cut and dried. Some units may be assigned to more than one operational group. For example, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines is part of 1st Marine Division, but it also part of 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit - a quick-response interdiction force. But in general - and I'm just talking about combat arms here - the layout is this:

The Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy.

The Marine Corps provides the ground (and part of the air) combat arms for the two Fleet Marine Forces (Pacific and Atlantic), which also include naval forces. When I was in, my unit was part of FMF (fighting motherfuckers) Pacific.

Within FMF Pac is the 1st Marine Division (1st MarDiv). Anyone who's been in the Marines will recognize this:

1st MarDiv is based at Camp Pendleton, CA. The current commander is Major General Regner, who presides over 15,000 to 20,000 Marines. Other active Marine divisions are the 2nd, based at Camp Lejeune, NC, and the 3rd, based in Okinawa, Japan.

1st MarDiv is made up of the 1st, 5th, 7th and 11th Marine Regiments. When you read or hear that someone was in "5th Marines", they mean 5th Marine Regiment. I have no idea how it came to be that the "Regiment" designation was commonly dropped in speech and writing. In addition to these infantry regiments, 1st MarDiv includes 1st Combat Engineers, 1st Tanks, 1st Force Recon, 3rd Amtracs, and other units. Marine regiments are typically commanded by a Colonel, who oversees 3,000 to 5,000 Marines. My old regiment was 5th Marines:

Marine infantry regiments are usually (but not always) made up of a Headquarters Company and three infantry battalions. A battalion is usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, who oversees 500 to 1,200 Marines. My old unit was 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, or 2/5:

Infantry battalions usually consist of a Headquarters and Service (H&S) Company, three or so infantry companies, and a Weapons Company. The infantry companies are designated by the phonetic alphabet (A=Alpha, B=Bravo, C=Charlie, etc.). Weapons Company typically consists of both rifle infantry and support weapons (anti-armor, mortars, machineguns). My old unit was E/2/5. Infantry companies are usually commanded by a Captain, who leads 100 to 300 Marines.

Marine infantry companies are made up of three rifle platoons and a weapons platoon. The rifle platoons are designated as 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The weapons platoon (my old assignment) handles support weapons (recoilless rifles [video at 2:35], flames, and rockets, in my day - I don't know what they are now). Platoons are usually led by a 2nd Lieutenant, commanding about 40 to 45 men.

A rifle platoon is made up of three 13-man squads. Each squad consists of three 4-man fireteams and a squad leader (Sergeant). A fireteam has a fire team leader, a rifleman, an automatic rifleman, and an assistant automatic rifleman ("ammo humper"). In my era, all four carried M-16s, which could be selected for semiautomatic or fully automatic fire. Alternatively, automatic riflemen were equipped with M-14s with full-auto switches on them (a handful to shoot). I don't know what the current weapons are. The Marine fireteam is the basic tactical unit in combat, and typically moves 2-by-2: 2 providing covering/suppressing fire while the other 2 move.

I hope this helps those of you who enjoy reading my posts about Marine Corps history.

Disclaimer: A lot of this is from memory. It's been a few weeks since I was in, so overall organization may have changed some. In general, organization is fluid and flexible, depending on the situation (e.g., peace time vs. war time) and numbers of available troops. Numbers within a unit vary widely, depending on available manpower, type of unit, numbers of supporting troops, casualties, etc. Units are also reorganized and renamed over time. In other words, this is all ballpark. And I haven't even touched on the Air Wing or other supporting units. Any errors are my own.

Friday, November 7, 2014

No Sale

If you give me a massive ration of shit when I pull you over for speeding, don't expect me to select you to help me when I go shopping at the new car lot and find you selling cars there. You may not recognize me out of uniform, but I recognize you. I'd walk before I help you get a commission.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If Ben and Jerry Call, Don't Answer

I'm amazed at the number of "suicidal" calls we get. I work in a fairly economically sound, low-crime city, but there's no shortage of people who claim they're about to kill themselves. Happily, those that actually do it generally don't call the police first.

My most memorable suicidal guy lived in a rundown apartment near downtown. When Officer Sarcastic and I arrived he was clearly depressed, and so we tried to talk to him about what was going on. Since one of our biggest concerns on a call like that is the weapons the person might have, we asked the guy how he intended to kill himself.

He thought about that for a minute, then said, "Well, I thought I'd eat a gallon of ice cream before bedtime, then have a stroke in my sleep". Officer Sarcastic and I just looked at one another for a minute, then he asked the guy, "So, what flavor ice cream would you use for that, rocky road?"  "No", the guy replied, "I don't like rocky road". We never did get a clear answer, and the guy went off for his psych eval.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cocktail Hour

Oxycodone plus Cyclobenzaprine plus beer is probably the reason you hit 3 cars while trying to park your car. I'm thinking the accelerator wasn't really stuck, and the brakes didn't really fail. Plus, how do you explain the fact that half your driving was in reverse, a faulty transmission?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Deaf and Dumb in Both Eyes

When I'm a car-length behind you for a quarter-mile, emergency lights flashing and siren blaring, no, I don't believe that you didn't see or hear me. What I think, and every other cop who's dealt with you in the past and knows you're a meth head thinks, is that you refused to stop because you were getting rid of your dope. Since I didn't find it, I'm guessing it went in one or more of your many orifices. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Paranoid Much?

I get sent with another officer to a loud gathering in an apartment building. As we knock on the door of the apartment we were sent to, the door to a different apartment across the hall opens. A guy steps out in the hallway and hands my partner a smoldering crack pipe.

Mr. Tweak: "Here. I knew you guys were going to come and get me."

We hook him up and haul him off. We have another two units handle the disturbance.

Win, win, and win.