Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Best Wishes

Have a happy and safe holiday, whatever holiday you celebrate. I'll see you in the New Year.

Keep a good thought for all those first responders who are out there working to keep you safe while the rest of us are home with our families.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Luckiest Guy On The Block

This guy is holding off several cops with a knife, and encouraging them to shoot him. Two attempts at using a Taser fail, but as the guy is pulling the Taser barbs out he drops his knife and gets pig-piled. A good ending to a potentially fatal situation.

Monday, December 21, 2015

More Cops And Robbers

Since I did my favorite TV cops, I thought I'd throw in my favorites from the movies. Again, in no particular order:

Leslie Nielsen as Det. Frank Drebin (The Naked Gun, etc.):

Clint Eastwood as Det. Harry Callahan  (Dirty Harry, etc.):

John Savage as Det. Karl Hettinger and Ted Danson as Det. Ian Campbell (The Onion Field):

Gene Hackman as Det. James "Popeye" Doyle (The French Connection, etc.):

Seth Rogen as Off. Michaels and Bill Hader as Officer Slater (Superbad):

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cops And Robbers

I got to thinking about my favorite TV cops. I picked these because, for one reason or another, I just like them. Sadly, only one is a patrol officer. Detectives get all the glory anyway. Here they are in no particular order:

Dennis Franz - Det. Sal Benedetto and, later, Lt. Norman Buntz on Hill Street Blues. Also Det. Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue.

Abe Vigoda - Det. Sgt. Phil Fish on Barney Miller.

Jack Webb - Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet.

Jerry Orbach - Det. Lennie Briscoe on Law and Order.

Kathryn Erbe - Det. Alexandra Eames on Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

Michael Conrad - Sgt. Phil Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues.

Don Knotts - Dep. Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show.

Special Category Winner:
Roger the alien on American Dad!.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Smooth Move, Ex-Lax

Even though you're only in your early 20s, you already have an extensive criminal history. You're a registered sex offender, and you have a reputation of being a prick with police. Didn't you realize that when you made our area's Most Wanted list for your latest stupidity, we were going to be all over your dumb ass? Cops love going after the bigger fish. It's kinda like a contest to see who can catch them.

I bet it was a real eye opener to learn that cops had shown up at your mom's house, your dad's house, your girlfriend's house, your girlfriend's mom's house, your employer's house, and pretty much everywhere else you've been laying your head since those warrants were issued.

And that's why last night you folded up like a cheap lawn chair and turned yourself in. We're all laughing at you, by the way.

Monday, December 14, 2015

DUS Likelihood Scale

On my department, I was known for my ability to tell when a driver was operating a vehicle with a suspended license. Many officers asked me how I did it. Here, for the first time, I'm publishing my super-secret algorithm to detect suspended drivers.

It is based on 20 vehicle characteristics, each graded on a scale of 0 to 5. The total score is equal to the percent likelihood that the driver is suspended/revoked/cancelled, or simply has no license to begin with.

Car Make/Model - Ford Taurus, Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy, Pontiac Grand Am/Grand Prix automatically score 5. Bonus point for Olds Alero.
Car Color - Red scores 5. Dark green and dark blue score 4. Black and white score 3.
Cracked Windows - Score 1 for each, up to 5.
Tin Foil Windows - Score 1 for each, up to 5. Bonus point if the windshield is tin foil.
Duct Tape Windows - Score 1 for each, up to 5. Bonus point if the windshield is duct tape.
Cardboard Windows - Score 1 for each, up to 5. Bonus point if the windshield is cardboard.
Missing Hubcaps - Score 1.25 for each.
Different Sized Tires - Score 1.25 for each.
Mini Spare Tires - Score 1.25 for each. Bonus point if 2 on 1 side, none on the other.
Rusted Body Panels - Score 1 for each, up to 5.
Different Colored Body Panels - Score 1 for each, up to 5. Bonus point if no 2 body panels are the same color.
Primer-Only Body Panels - Score 1 for each, up to 5. Bonus point if entire care is primer-only.
Age of Car vs. Age of License Plate - Subtract the year the license plate was issued from the year the car was manufactured. If the difference is greater than 15, score 5. Greater than 12 score 4, Greater than 10 score 3.
Exhaust Volume - Score 0 to 5, based on your level of annoyance.
Ground-to-Undercarriage Distance (rear only) - If equal to the distance in the front of the car, score 0. Score 1 for each 2 inches the rear of the car is closer to the ground than the front.
Detritus Depth - Score 1 for each inch of trash or other items that is visible above the bottom margin of any window. Bonus point if trash is above the top margin of any window.
Inoperative Lights - Score 1 for each, up to 5.
Red tape Taillights - Score 1 for each, up to 5.
Antenna - Score 2 if bent (3 if bend is 90 degrees or greater), 4 if none present, 5 if a coat hanger.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy, Happy, Happy

It's not uncommon for cops to have to deal with paranoid schizophrenic persons. Law enforcement is often the first line of contact with these individuals, who may be acting irrationally in public.

Just once I want to get sent to deal with a pronoid schizophrenic. The guy who's convinced that everyone is out to help him. He believes the FBI is watching him with the intent of making him their new Director. Aliens are invading Earth so they can give him the secret to eternal life. He wears a tinfoil hat to absorb the rays being beamed at him by the CIA that make him smarter and happier. The voices in his head tell him he's a cool and handsome guy, and give him tomorrow's winning lottery numbers. Why can't I ever deal with that guy???

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No Comment

The shooting of Laquan McDonald, armed with a knife, by Chicago Police on October 20, 2014. I have a personal policy of never judging the actions of another cop until all the facts are known. I know how absolutely crazy it can get out there, and how incredibly quickly situations can evolve in unexpected ways. I also know that a single view of an incident doesn't necessarily show the whole story.You can judge for yourself.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Because Mrs. Cynical and I volunteer for a regional dog rescue organization, I keep an eye on Craigslist for dogs that might be a good fit. And frankly, I'm sickened by what I see.

The list of dogs that people no long want is never-ending. The excuses are also never-ending. The dog is too big, is too energetic, sheds too much, barks too much, isn't house-trained, has health issues. Or the owner isn't allowed to have dogs in his apartment (?), is moving and can't take the dog, doesn't have room for the dog, doesn't have time for the dog, can't afford the dog, is allergic to the dog, is having a baby and no long wants the dog.

It makes me want to puke.

Mrs. Cynical and I wanted a dog for years. But because of our careers, which kept us moving from place to place every few years, we waited. When we finally settled down where we thought would be our permanent home, we bought a pup. He has never been away from us, other than during our work hours, in his 13+ years. About a year later, Mrs. Cynical found a stray wandering in a rain storm. We located the owner, and she didn't want the dog anymore and gave her to us. We still have her. Later still, after we began regularly fostering dogs as part of what we do for the rescue, we twice adopted fosters (only 1 survives).

I cannot imagine any circumstance under which I'd give up any of them. I'd live in my car and eat from dumpsters first. Why? Never mind how much we love them. More to the point, we made a commitment to each of these animals that we would care for them to the best of our abilities, and for the rest of their (or our) lives.

If you don't think of your dog as a family member, you don't deserve to own one. If you don't think that dog loves you, depends on you, looks to you for guidance and affection, and considers you part of his pack, you don't deserve to own one. If you don't take that dog into your home with the intention of giving him the very best possible life for however long that life is, you don't deserve to own one.

I once coined the phrase "pets as furniture". It's my take on the type of person that likes the idea of how a dog looks in their home, but has no intention of caring for it properly. It was great as a puppy, but now that it's grown, not so much. It's fed the cheapest food on the market, and never visits the vet. It's kept in the basement or chained up in the backyard. These vermin have my utter and everlasting disdain.

I look at my dogs and realize they've given their lives to us. They live only in the moment, wanting to please us, have fun, and  be content. How can I do anything else but make that life the best I can?

I look at my dogs and think: this is one way I know there is a God.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Where No Man Has Gone Before

The day after I dealt with alien-liaison guy Gregory, I discovered these muddy hand prints on the hood of my squad car where'd I'd had him stand while I patted him down. I'm pretty sure I saw Rod Serling ducking behind another car, too.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Airborne Transmission

Mrs. Cynical was recently at a big-city, multi-day conference. These are folks you would probably assume are pretty smart, especially about science-related stuff.

When Mrs. Cynical and some others decided to sit outside during a break, another attendee warned them that the mosquitoes were pretty bad, saying, "Make sure you light the salmonella candle!"

Apparently, he never did figure out why the entire group was laughing at him

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The View

Here's why the video you see on the TV news may not necessarily reflect the whole truth. Watch video 1. Good shoot? I bet you say no. Now, watch video 2. Good shoot? I bet you change your mind. Note: contrary to what some would have you believe, that is NOT a cell phone in the subject's hand. It's a gun.

Note: I was contacted by someone who states that he works for the agency involved in this shooting, and that the object in the subject hand was, in fact, a cell phone - not a gun (see comment below by jrd151). Regardless, the shooting was deemed justified. I try to be as accurate as possible with information I post with such videos. If I failed in this instance, the fault is entirely mine.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Space: The Final Frontier

I got a call about a suspicious guy out at the airport. He was off in a part of the airport where civilians typically don't go, so I had visions of a) a terrorist with a ground-to-air missile, b) a drunk college kid with a laser pen to blind pilots, or c) a DUI who drove off into nowhere. Wrong, wrong and wrong.

I arrived to find Gregory, covered in mud, wandering around near a restricted area next to the runway. It was raining, windy and cold, but Gregory didn't seem to be affected.

Officer Cynical: "So, Gregory, what are you doing out here?"

Gregory: "I have a meeting out here."

Officer Cynical: "Oh? With whom?"

Gregory: "Some extraterrestrials. They're going to train me to fly their space ships."

Officer Cynical: "I see. And how did you get so muddy?"

Gregory: "I've been burying some stuff, and digging up some other stuff. Some stuff from my past."

Officer Cynical: "OK, well, maybe we can talk about that another time. How did you get out here in the first place?"

Gregory: "Well, something bad was going to happen at my apartment. My cell phone kept overheating, and I was having to spray it down to cool it off. I left a note with it, then came out here.

I decided to just leave well enough alone, got Gregory into my squad car, and called for an ambulance to haul him to the ER for an eval.

On the way to the hospital, Gregory told the ambulance crew that my partner and I weren't real cops. He could tell because our uniforms were different than the ones on the real cops he'd seen in the past.  This was actually pretty astute, because I found out later that a different agency had dealt with him the night before. He also revealed that he was being followed by the FBI, and they may have put explosives in his car.

The biggest surprise was that Gregory admitted he'd been diagnosed as schizophrenic, and had been prescribed a "bunch of medications" that he was no longer taking. Why? "Because I don't need them. Life is highs and lows, and you have to experience it all". How could I argue with that logic?

At the ER, Dr, St, Francis of Assisi asked me, "What's his story? Is he hurt or is he just completely nuts?" I couldn't think of a better diagnosis. Besides, he's the expert.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just Another Day At The Office

This is old and a little long, but worth every minute. I hope the trooper got a promotion after this encounter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

This Isn't Pretend

Imagine this from the officer's point of view. This lunatic is advancing on you and screaming that he's going to kill you, all the while in a bladed position and keeping one hand on the side of his body you can't see. He then pretends to draw a gun. What would you do in that fraction of a second?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Favorite Dream Ever

The other night I dreamt I was dealing with some uncooperative douchebag - some creep who wouldn't answer my questions and was refusing my orders. I finally stuck my finger in his face and said:

"You want an old-man beat down? I'll give you an old-man beat down! Then I'll haul your ass out of here in candy-colored handcuffs!"

Now, I have no idea exactly what that means, but I would've loved to have used that in a non-sleep mook encounter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two For The Price Of One

How do you get two DWIs at once? While dealing with the first one, the second one crashes into your squad car.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Drunk And Stupid

Cutting through people's yards and hiding in that apartment building laundry room after your little burglary spree was a pretty good plan. It was especially timely since we didn't have a canine unit working that night.

However, you forgot one thing: with a foot of freshly fallen snow on the ground, we didn't need a canine to follow your footprints right to where you were passed out behind the washing machines. Perhaps a somewhat lower BAC would've helped you be a better one-man crime wave.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Time Check

Dear Dispatch,

Don't get me wrong. I love you guys. You have a job I could never do. I know you work hard. I know you are my lifeline.

But come on! Fifteen minutes before quitting time, the next shift has been on for 45 minutes and still has every single officer available, and you send me on a call. And it's a call everybody knows will take at least an hour. That's two days in a row. Did I do something to piss you off? Lucky for me, people on the next shift are paying attention and jumping the runs so I can go home on time. Wind your watch, will ya'? Thanks.

Officer Cynical

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day, 2015

At a police training class a while back, we were asked to write down the name of someone we thought of as a hero. I wrote down the name John Basilone. Nobody else in the room knew who he was. But for Marines, that name is very familiar. Here's why we know of him:

In October, 1942, on the island of Guadalcanal, Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was in charge of two machine gun sections. At Lunga Ridge, about 1000 yards from what would become Henderson Airfield, Basilone's machine gunners were set up in a defensive position. For two days, in pouring rain, a Japanese regiment of about 3,000 men staged repeated banzai charges toward Basilone's position. Basilone continually moved between his two machine gun sections, directing fire and keeping his men's wits about them. At one point, only Basilone and two other Marines remained in action. Basilone took over one machine gun and kept it operating, then moved a third gun into position and moved between the two to suppress the charging enemy. He repaired malfunctioning guns by feel in the pitch dark. When ammunition ran low, he twice ran to ammo stashes and returned. Finally, Basilone fended off attackers with just a .45-caliber pistol and a machete. In the end, the Japanese regiment was wiped out. Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal.

After Guadalcanal, Basilone returned to the United States and participated in a War Bond tour. At his request, however, he returned to combat duty in the Pacific.

Basilone was part of the assault wave on Iwo Jima in February, 1945. He led his pinned-down men in getting off the beach and moving inland. A Marine coming in behind Basilone's wave later said, "The only marines I saw standing upright and walking were the Colonel (Louis Plain) and the Gunny (Basilone)." Basilone further led his men in destroying concrete-fortified emplacements from which the Japanese were firing on the assault troops. Later, while trying to direct a tank that was under heavy artillery fire out of a mine field, Basilone was killed by mortar shrapnel. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on Iwo Jima.

NOTE: There's a lot of hype and legend out there about Basilone. My information is based solely on medal citations and published accounts by people who were actually there. Any inaccuracies are my own.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Marine Corps Birthday, 2015

Today marks the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. I am one who proudly served.

During almost all of my 6 years in the US Marine Corps, I was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (commonly abbreviated as 2/5) as an 0351 (Antitank Assaultman). I served as a rifleman in an infantry company, and later as a platoon sergeant in Weapons Platoon. Although it pains Officer Cynical to admit it, all the weapons my Weapons Platoon specialized in are now museum pieces:

106-mm Recoilless Rifle


3.5-inch Rocket Launcher

2/5 was was initially formed in 1914 to suppress political turmoil in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

During WWI, 2/5 participated in the Battle of Belleau Wood, Soisson, and the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. It was at Belleau Wood that German forces nicknamed the Marines "Teufelhunde" (Devil Dogs) for their ferocity in battle. Belleau Wood is also where 2/5 gained it's motto "Retreat Hell". After repeatedly being urged to retreat by supporting French forces, 2/5 Captain Lloyd Williams responded, "Retreat? Hell, we just got here!"  For their actions, 2/5 was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. This braided decoration is still worn today by 5th Marine Regiment. You can see it on the left shoulders of the Marines in this photo:

In 1941, 2/5 joined the newly formed 1st Marine Division. During WWII, the battalion fought at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa, some of the most savage campaigns of the Pacific Theater.

In 1950, 2/5 sailed to Korea. They fought at the Pusan Perimeter, the landing at Inchon, the liberation of Seoul, the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, and the defense of the East Central and Western Fronts.

In 1966, the battalion deployed to the Republic of Vietnam. During the next five years the battalion participated in combat operations in Hue city, Que Son, Phu Bai, Dong Ha and Phu Loc.

In 1990, 2/5 sailed for the Persian Gulf. They participated in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and the liberation of Kuwait. In 2003, the battalion deployed to Kuwait, attacked into Iraq, and conducted peacekeeping operations. In 2004, the battalion once again deployed to Iraq to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

2nd Battalion, 5th Marines is the most highly decorated battalion in the history of the United States Marine Corps.

The Battalion coat-of-arms is a shield, point down, with scrolls above and below. The shield is divided diagonally into four wedges. Designed during the Vietnam War, the Battalion coat-of-arms reflects traditional heraldry, composed of references to past deeds and unit associations.

The uppermost wedge contains the emblem of the 1st Marine Division. The 5th Marines were incorporated into the Division in 1941, when the division was founded. The 1st Marine Division assaulted Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942 in the first U.S. ground offensive in World War II. From this battle came the division emblem, a large red “1” inscribed with “GUADALCANAL” and the five stars of the Southern Cross on a field of blue. Though the Division emblem holds the senior position on the coat-of-arms, the Battalion and the Regiment both pre-date the Division by over twenty-five years.

The lower wedge contains the emblem of the 5th Marine Regiment, founded in 1914. The Regimental emblem consists of five seahorses, representing sea-going service, on a Scot’s cross. The colors are scarlet and gold, the traditional dress and display colors of the Marine Corps. The cross itself is hunter green, the color of the infantry and the color of the service uniform.

The left and right wedges contain scrolls inscribed with the major combat actions of the Battalion. “MEUSE-ARGONNE” and “MARNE” from World War I, “NICARAGUA” from 1927, “GUADALCANAL,” “PELELIU,” “NEW GUINEA” and “OKINAWA” from World War II, “INCHON,” “SEOUL,” “PUSAN” and “CHOSIN” from Korea, and “HUE,” “PHU-BAI,” ‘AN- HOA” and “QUE-SON” from Vietnam. Battalion combat actions since Vietnam have yet to be added to the Battalion Coat-of-Arms.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mind Reader

One night several of us were dispatched to a "shots fired" call. When we arrived, we were met by a middle-aged woman who turned out to be the caller. She said that her husband had gotten really drunk, threatened her with a pistol, and fired a shot into the living room floor. She then showed us the fresh bullet hole in the carpet. The woman said the guy had gone upstairs and gotten into bed.

We went up to the bedroom, and there he was sprawled face down on the bed, seemingly passed out. We were calling the guy's name and shaking the bed to rouse him, when one of my partners suddenly started saying, "He's got a gun, he's got a gun, he's got a gun!", then leapt Superman-style onto the seemingly unconscious subject. After a short struggle, he had the guy cuffed.

What had the rest of us missed? My partner later said that he had suddenly realized the guy had one hand under his pillow while he was laying there, and he wasn't breathing the way you'd expect a passed-out drunk to be breathing. He just knew the guy was faking. Sure enough, there was the gun under the pillow. The guy had had it in his hand and hidden under the pillow, pretending to be asleep, and apparently waiting for the opportunity to do who-knows-what.

Another bullet dodged.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Food Critic

I get a half-hour for lunch. That includes going to get it, taking it back to the station so I can do paperwork while I eat, and pounding it down. A half-hour. That's it.

So, when the sandwich shop is jammed with customers, there are only 2 people working behind the counter, and I'm right behind you waiting to order, it is not OK for you to ask for samples of each of the sandwich toppings before you decide what you want. A tomato slice is a tomato slice. Order up or get the hell out of my way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Everywhere A Sign

If the fact that, in response to your complaints, the cops are sitting on your street and nailing speeders almost every day doesn't deter people from driving too fast through your neighborhood, I don't think your 8" X 10" homemade cardboard speed limit sign on a wooden stick out by the curb is going to help much. Thanks for trying, though.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


When a driver does all this weird shit before finally pulling over, you know something's up.

The officer was hit 5 times, but survived. The driver fled, was later pursued by other officers, opened fire on them, and was killed in the shootout.

Monday, November 2, 2015


When I started working at the PD, our training program was divided into two halves, each about 8 weeks long. For each half you were assigned a different FTO (field training officer), and after each half you were evaluated by another FTO to make sure you were learning what you needed to know.

My first FTO was a fun guy. We got along great, and I had a blast having him show me around town, introducing me to lots of business owners, and just shooting the breeze with them. We took our calls, did our reports, and I thought all was well.

Then, after about 8 weeks, I went into my first evaluation. I didn't know jack squat. Couldn't do a decent investigation, couldn't do a proper traffic stop, didn't know my way around the city efficiently, nothing. My evaluating FTO was tactful, but at the end of the exam week he made it clear I was going to have to start over with a new FTO. Needless to say, I was devastated. Eight weeks down the drain, and a black mark on my record before I ever got my feet wet.

You see, real police work is a lot of just that - work. You're expected to do many different things: take calls (which by itself covers more than you can imagine), write reports, do follow-up on those reports later, run traffic and write tickets, check on schools on your beat, look out for suspicious persons, run license plates in places crooks are known to hang out and take necessary action when you find something, cruise residential neighborhoods and make nice with people, keep your assigned squad car squared away, try to locate wanted persons living on your beat, back up other officers on calls and traffic stops, assist the fire department and other agencies when they need it, prepare for and attend traffic and criminal court trials, attend regular mandatory training...the list seems endless.

Getting to know business owners on your beat and checking in with them periodically is also part of that list. Hanging out in the business and bullshitting for hours on end is not. I suspected as much at the time, but I was brand new and didn't really know any better. I simply followed my FTO's lead and kept my mouth shut.

I went on to do pretty well. I repeated the first half of training (under a different FTO), passed with flying colors, and finished training without incident. I even became an FTO years later. And my experience made me a better one. I made sure that what happened to me never happened to any of my trainees. They all made it though training without a hitch, and still serve on the PD today.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Your mom didn't find it particularly funny when she learned that you skipped school today. She also wasn't too amused when she found the drugs and paraphernalia in your room. And she was really upset by the video on your computer of you putting a gun to your head and mugging for the camera.

Yes, I realize that none of that stuff was yours.
Yes, I realize your friends made you do it.
Yes, I realize that dumb who-me expression works like a charm on some people.

But see, I've totally heard this crap like 500 times before, and I can tell you you're full of it. It's time to man up and take your medicine. And I have a feeling you're not gonna like it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Driving Like A Raving Maniac

Sir, I don't care what you say. 65 miles an hour on the wrong side of the street in a residential area gets you a ticket. Even if you are late for work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Into Danger

A police officer, responding to a call that a man was threatening to kill his wife and his landlord, is shot in his ballistic vest by the suspect as he goes up the steps to investigate:

 After first retreating, the officer returns to try to get the man to put down his gun, to no avail:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vacation: Days First Through Last

My intention was to write about all the adventures the Cynical family had during our summer vacation. Perhaps, I thought, I can use the trip for the next 112 posts like my pal Dr. Grumpy did, and I won't have to draw from my rapidly dwindling supply of cop stories. Sadly, it didn't work out that way.

The drive itself was uneventful. Myself, Mrs. Cynical, and our three dogs merrily made our way for many hours, finally reaching our destination without incident. As soon as we rolled into the "resort", I felt the first pangs of doubt rising in my craw. While the maps and photos of the place would lead one to believe it was a sprawling acreage, it was not. Indeed, the cabins were very close together, and the entire property was microscopic.

As we approached our assigned cabin, it was clear that it also was much smaller than we had anticipated. Immediately inside the door was a dining table, adjacent to a sitting area with two chairs and a tiny kitchen with a dorm fridge. In the bedroom, the bed was pushed against walls on three sides. The only way for the person sleeping on the wall side to get over there was to crawl across the bed from the non-wall side. This was particularly annoying for the person sleeping on the non-wall side of the bed (me).

Upon closer inspection, the place was downright filthy. One night, Mrs. Cynical tried to use the stove and the grease and other crap around the burner caught on fire. Fortunately, the smoke alarms didn't work:

The oven and oven door were unspeakable:

The shower floor:

The "plumbing" next to the toilet:

The bathroom sink:

The living room lamp shade:

The bedroom fan:

The living room ceiling:

As an added treat, I stepped on a large bolt that had been left on the carpet for no apparent reason, and when I went to open the curtains, I grabbed onto a fishing lure - complete with treble hook - that was inexplicably stuck there. Fortunately, it didn't severely puncture my hand.

Because we were there mainly for the dogs, we took them down to the "beach". I thought it was nice that the management allowed dogs off leash on their "beach", but then realized it was probably because no human being would use it. Near the shore was a thick layer of floating green algae. On shore were the remnants of an apparent recent hurricane - rotting reeds, remains of old fishing gear, and other detritus. The dogs didn't seem to mind, though, and they did get some swimming and fetching time in the lake.

In the evening, we had satellite TV that was about 98% shopping channels, and free wi-fi, which went out the first night and never came back on.

When I finally went to the office, there was no one there. A sign was posted, saying they'd left for a while and please write down any message. So, I left a note that we were leaving. I put the bolt I'd stepped on and fishing lure I'd grabbed onto on the counter along with my note, and we packed up the truck and left.

On the way back, we were able to find this very nice park and spent some time there. I took this photo of Mrs. Cynical and the dogs. But because I forgot my tripod at home, I wasn't able to get in the shot. You ain't missing nothing, believe me:

And that, folks, was my vacation.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Don't Let The Door Hit You

A guy on our department recently resigned for a job at a big east coast agency. This is a person who exaggerated his military service, made marginal arrests, made marginal traffic stops and issued marginal citations, and never knew when to keep his mouth shut. He went to the top of my shit list the night he left me alone in a fairly risky situation because he wanted to go eat.

I'm sure he thinks that his new, bigger and better agency will be a good fit to his approach to the job. I have no doubt he's looking forward to chasing more cars, getting in more fights with bad guys, and being a bigger, badder ass than he ever could have been here. But I think he's going to find himself working with cops who deal with high-risk situations way more often than we do, and they know the value of not recklessly rushing into things, staying safe, and watching out for one another all the time. He's going to pull his cheap shit on one of them, and they're going to tune him up like a cheap piano. At least, I hope so.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


My heart sinks every time I get a telephone call that starts like this:

Officer Cynical: "City Police Department, Officer Cynical speaking."

Mr. Watson: "Yeah. Ummmmm.....So.....Like.....I....Uh....."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Public Service Announcement

I don't know how it is in other cities, but I suspect it's not too different than it is here. Thefts from vehicles (someone entering a vehicle and stealing something from it) and vehicle break-ins (someone breaking a vehicle window, then entering it and stealing something) eat cops alive. We take these reports by the dozens in any given week. They kill us.

I always tell victims the same thing (albeit too late):

If you have a garage, put your car in it. A thief is less likely to burglarize your garage to get to your car.

If you put your car in the garage, shut the garage door. A thief is even less likely to burglarize your garage if the door is closed.

If you don't have a garage, park your car in a well-lighted place, if at all possible. A thief is less likely to enter your car if it's well-lit and he might be seen.

Regardless of where you park your car, put the windows up and lock the doors. Many thieves don't want to make the noise of breaking a window to get into your car.

Don't keep anything of value in the passenger compartment. Take it with you or lock it in the trunk. If a thief does get into your car, don't sacrifice valuables to him.

Don't leave anything - and I mean anything - visible inside the passenger compartment. A thief is less likely to enter your car if he doesn't know for sure there's something in there he wants.

When you look in the window of my car, you see absolutely nothing. Not a pair of gloves, not an umbrella, not a pen.. Why? Because I know from experience that someone might break into my car and steal it. Remember, there are people out there who will steal absolutely anything. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. These are maggots who creep around in the middle of the night, looking for the opportunity to take something you worked hard for so they don't have to. They don't give two shits about how you feel or what it costs you. Their miserable, stinking lifestyles are more important.

Protect yourself.

Friday, October 9, 2015


I feel a little strange taking a vacation, now that I'm retired. It's not like I'm doing much beyond watching TV and walking the dog. But, Mrs. Cynical (who actually has a job), myself, and our 3 dogs will be heading off into the wilderness for a week. I'll be back a week from Monday, assuming I don't get eaten by a bear.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Like A Good Neighbor

Look, I understand that you're having a run of tough luck, and that's why you're driving without insurance. I get it that you promise you won't drive anymore, if I'll just let you park your car here rather than impound it.

Now, I know you would never lie, but let's pretend for a minute that somebody else might. Ten minutes after I leave, that person would come back and drive the car away. Then, let's suppose they hit and injure somebody. Or kill them.

When it comes out that I allowed a known uninsured driver access to his car, I'm going to have writer's cramp from all the checks the court will make me write to the plaintiff. And it'll be coming out of my unemployment check.

So, I'm sorry, but your luck just got tougher. Your car's going to the impound lot.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Pharmacist

Yesterday I had to get a refill of some medication (smegmastatin) that keeps Officer Cynical's cholesterol low enough that his blood doesn't turn into egg yolk. I don't know very much about pharmacy, but just that visit alone was enough to make me glad pharmacists aren't armed (as far as I know).

I go to Great Big Pharmacy. It used to be very convenient to our old house, but is clear across town from our current one. I continue to go there because the pharmacists and technicians are very knowledgeable, helpful and courteous. Yesterday, for some reason, none of the usual staff was there - just one pharmacist and one technician, neither of whom I recognized.

I may not be the greatest pharmacy customer in the world (although I now think I am), but I do know enough to arrange for refills on line a day or so in advance. Then, I usually can just walk up to the counter and pay. Yesterday, here's the scene when I arrive:

Mrs. Sourpuss walks up to the counter. She has a long, whispered conversation with the pharmacist, who then goes back, fills a bottle of pills, and brings it to the counter. Mrs. Sourpuss again leans over the counter and has another protracted, super-secret conversation with the pharmacist, who goes back and repeats step one. At the counter again, Mrs. S. is clearly not happy with the two bottles of pills she's been given. I can overhear that the number of pills is wrong, and that her husband's name, not hers, should be on one of the bottles. The pharmacist is looking at labels, flipping through stacks of paper, and staring at a computer screen, trying to sort it all out. Mrs. S is huffing and sighing, and just generally looking like she's sucking on lemons. Finally, the pharmacist tell Mrs. Sourpuss that if she thinks there's a problem with the prescriptions, she needs to contact her doctor to square it away. Mrs. S. leaves in a huff. This has easily taken 15 minutes.

The guy in front of me is next at the counter. He has a scrip he wants filled. The pharmacist tells him to come back in an hour. I see there are at least six people sitting in chairs along the wall next to the counter - presumably they're all waiting for scrips, too. The guy rolls his eyes and stomps out.

Meanwhile, the technician has been on the phone this whole time. He's getting step-by-step instructions on how to operate the software they use for patient records or whatever. During each pause in the conversation, he pokes the keyboard a couple of times and says, "Nope, that didn't work, either". The pharmacist is running the entire show herself. She's looking at the technician like she's trying to decide the best place to conceal his body.

As the guy in front of me leaves, some blue-hair tries to cut in line in front of me by coming up an adjacent aisle and then angling toward the counter. I body-check her into the rack of Sucrets like I don't notice she's there. I'm ready with my name, name of the medication, and that I'd had the wherewithal to previously order my scrip on line. I sign the sheet that says I know how to swallow pills without instructions and get out of there.

If you're a pharmacist in an operation like that, I salute you. And I thought had a tough job!

Monday, October 5, 2015

I'm Funny Sometimes

Officer Cynical: "Sir, this is the second time this week I've stopped you for driving with a suspended license."

Driver Dan: "I know, but I mailed in my application for reinstatement yesterday."

Officer Cynical: "So, if you had applied for a job yesterday, would you just assume you got it and show up for work today?"

My back-up, Officer Sarcasm, almost chokes on his gum he's laughing so hard.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Underline "Hazard"

Block a lane of traffic during downtown rush hour while talking on a cell phone. Pull a U-turn at the busiest intersection in the city, while cross traffic has a green light. Drive 25 miles an hour over the speed limit because the plane leaves in 15 minutes. Pull a friend's old rusted-out junker with a frayed tow rope through the shopping district on Saturday afternoon. Move an entire apartment worth of furniture, including box spring and mattress, by balancing it precariously on the roof of a wheezing '83 Chevy station wagon.

These are things some people feel free to do, because they've turned on their hazard lights. Just flip those babies on, and you're free to drag race down Main Street, drive the wrong way on the interstate, or just take a scenic driving tour of an active runway at the airport.

I suppose they're thinking, "Hey, it seems pretty hazardous for me to be doing this, but if I just switch on these lights it'll be OK."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Medical Disclaimer

As I've said in the past, I really like and respect doctors and nurses, especially the ER variety. I come into contact with them almost daily in my job. Consequently, you'll see a fair amount of hospital/medicine-related stuff in this blog.

But I realize I don't actually know squat, medically speaking. Although I do take the time to at least Google stuff, I'm not a doctor or a nurse, and I've never played one on TV. Indeed, after carefully considering those career paths, I decided I didn't even want to talk to most people I saw in medical waiting rooms, let alone have to put my hands on them.

So, if I get the name of a medication wrong (e.g., smegmastatin), or confuse, say, Carnegie-Mellon Syndrome with Abbott-Costello Disorder, or report an incorrect diagnosis (e.g., axillary rambunctious cerebromyopathy), give me a break, will you? Forgive me and just chalk it up to the fact that I'm only pretending to know what I'm talking about. Medically speaking.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Asleep On Duty

Cops falling asleep on duty is by no means commonplace, but on very rare occasions it happens. When it does happen, it's usually a nightshifter. Not only are they working against a natural sleep cycle, but lots of them have family duties, second jobs, court requirements, and other things during the day that make staying up all night a big challenge. It's not so tough on a busy night, but when the radio goes silent for long stretches, the sandman works against you. I've been there; I know.

One night one of our guys succumbed. He wasn't responding to the radio, so we had to go looking for him. There he was, behind the wheel in a secluded parking lot, a report half done on his computer, arms folded, chin on his chest, fast asleep. He readily admitted his transgression, and the appropriate disciplinary measures were administered.

What he wasn't prepared for was the dozens of copies of a photo of him asleep in his squad, which one cop had taken at the scene and then hung all over the station. He couldn't pull them down fast enough to keep up with the rate at which they respawned over the next several weeks.

Sometimes a little street justice is called for.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Coffee. Thick, strong, hot, black coffee. Lots of it. If I can see the bottom of the cup, either the cup is empty or the coffee is too weak.

In the morning, my first duty after showering and dressing is to get coffee. Sometimes Mrs. Cynical will have set the pot up to start brewing when I get up. If not, I'll reheat what's left from the day before.

My first stop when I hit the streets is to fill up the coffee mug. I bought one at a convenience store chain that includes free refills forever! I'm waiting for the day they put in a drive-up window just for coffee refills.

When my hands shake in the wintertime, I just tell people I'm cold. In the summertime, I tell them it's the excitement of the job.

When I get home, I make another pot or reheat what's been there since morning. I ignore the cardiac arrythmias and wonder why I can't sleep at night.

I'm considering retirement in Brazil or Colombia.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

High Explosives

If, while cleaning out your late grandfather's house, you find a souvenir live hand grenade from WWII, please do not bring it to the police station. It gets everybody all excited and causes them to run outside in inclement weather, and it makes cops point guns at you until they figure out what your intentions are. It also makes the bomb squad guys have to come in on their days off. Call us; we'll come to you.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Marathon Man

There was a convenience store on my old beat, which was a magnet for crooks. I cruised their lot all the time, running plates.

One day, a plate came back with a registered owner who had an open felony warrant. I checked out his mug shot, then went inside looking for him. There he was at the check-out counter, so I went back outside and waited for him.

When he came out, I approached him and said I needed to talk to him about his warrant. He replied, "I don't wanna talk about it", and took off running. As he sprinted across the street, he dropped his wallet. Either he didn't notice or didn't care, because he kept on running. I chased him until it was clear that there was no way I was going to catch him, then I got on the radio to set up a perimeter. Long story short, the perimeter failed and we gave up looking for him after about an hour.

But unfortunately for the runner, I had two things that he probably wanted: his wallet, which had about $400 in cash in it, and his car. I impounded the car, and entered his wallet into evidence. The next day, I was notified that our boy had called the evidence room, looking for his wallet. He wanted the cash released to him. I told the evidence tech there was no way in hell I'd sign off on that. I also found out that he showed up at the impound lot trying to get into his car, and was turned away.

One of our cops lived a few houses away from the runner's mom's house, and knew the guy was staying there. Next time the cop saw the guy, he called it in and we went over and picked him up on the warrant, and a fleeing charge.

Some months later, I saw in the newspaper that a nearby agency was looking for him for another offense. I called the detective working the case, and gave him the information on mom's address. They picked him up there. The detective later called me up and thanked me.

Moral: Don't run from me.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


There's been a real uptick in vampire, werewolf, and other monster types in the movies and on TV in the past several years. They all miss the boat. By a mile. Here are the real deals:

Vampires? Christopher Lee:

Werewolves? Lon Chaney, Jr.:

Dr. Frankenstein? Colin Clive:

And Frankenstein's monster? Well, come on now.....

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Welcome Aboard

Officer Alpha: "So, what do you think of the new guy? He seems OK, huh?"

Officer Bravo: "I don't know what it is. He works hard, he tries his best, and he asks good questions. He's a nice enough guy, but for some reason every time he opens his mouth I want to hit him in the face with a bat"

Officer Charlie: "Yeah, I know what you mean."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Ex-NFL player claims police officer who pulled him over pointed a gun at his head and he feared for his life. He demands an apology from the police department. The police department releases multiple dashcam videos to show what really happened, and demands an apology from the driver.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Insurance Fraud

I get dispatched to see a guy who wants to report vandalism to his motorcycle. I meet up with him at his apartment, and he tells me some kids in the apartment building pushed his motorcycle over and damaged it. OK, let's go take a look.

We go out to the parking lot and he shows me the motorcycle. One whole side of the bike is destroyed. Foot peg busted off, handgrip torn up, lots of cosmetic damage - all obviously the result of a crash.

Officer Cynical: "So, when did you crash your bike?"

Pinnochio: "What do you mean?"

Officer Cynical: "There's no way in hell this damage came from a kid pushing your bike over. This bike has been laid down.

Pinnochio: "..."

Officer Cynical: "I don't think a little kid could even push this bike over in the first place. And if he did, you might have a scratch or a dent or two. But this thing is practically totaled."

Pinnochio: "..."

Officer Cynical: "You crashed this thing, and you're trying to blame the damage on someone else so you can collect insurance or sue. Does that sound about right?"

Pinnochio: "..."

Officer Cynical: "You know, it's against city and state law to file a false police report. You can do jail or prison time. Are you sure this is the way you want to go? Because I'll do it, then investigate to the very best of my ability. What do you want to do?"

Pinnochio: "..."

Officer Cynical: "Good choice. Have a nice day."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ode To Suicidal Types

Don't put a bullet
into your brain.
Don't throw yourself
under a train.
Don't close your garage
and start up your car.
Don't take 90 pills
from a medicine jar.
Don't act like a dope
and hang with a rope.
Don't make yourself dead
with a bag on your head.

And absolutely do NOT duct tape the trigger of your running chainsaw down, then lower your neck onto the whizzing blade out in your back yard where kids coming home from school can see you.

In fact, don't do any of this where your friends or family will find you and have to carry that mental image to their graves, or where I have to deal with you after you've been lying there percolating for like 6 weeks.

Yes, I've been on all these calls.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: Sleight Of Hand

As I write this, I'm looking at Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman's online forecast for the next three days. He lists the chance of rain as 0% for that entire time.

Mrs. Cynical just walked in the door from work, and showed me a weather alert she just received on her smartphone. It's from the same TV news channel that Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman works for, and says "85% chance of rain within the next 15 minutes".

How hard can it be?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Would You Do?

A nicely annotated video of an actual traffic stop, first from the dashcam point of view, then from the bodycam point of view. I invite you to answer the questions as they're posed. This is how screwy it can be out there.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Taser, Taser, Taser!

One night we got called for a drunk guy who took his infant son away from the mother, then drove home, still plastered, with the child. He wouldn't answer his door, and we legitimately feared for the infant's safety, so we knocked his door down.

As we barged inside, he was standing there threatening us with a wooden post. He just kept screaming obscenities at us and waving that post around, and refusing to comply with any commands. My partner tried to go hands-on with him, but the guy managed to squirm loose. I finally stood on my tiptoes to see past my massive partner, and fired my Taser over his shoulder.

The Taser barbs hit the guy dead center. He briefly assumed the position of attention, made a long "Wooooooooooooooo" sound, then toppled over like a felled tree. I cuffed him up, and the drama was over.

We found the infant tossed into a basket full of dirty clothes in a back room. We bundled him up and returned him to his mother.

Meanwhile, the drunk idiot continued to spew obscenities at everyone present. I knew I was going to be good on the Taser shoot when my Sergeant said, "I wasn't here when it happened, but if anybody ever needed to be Tasered it was that asshole."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hey, Rocky! Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat!

You would be amazed at the number of people who live in apartments, drive cars, and wear clothes, any and all of which contain illegal items and substances that the occupant/driver/wearer doesn't know are there and has no idea how they got there. I can't tell you the number of times I've found a pot pipe on a coffee table, or a bag of weed in a glove compartment, or a switchblade in a pocket, and the occupant/driver/wearer tells me, "That's not mine. I have no idea where that came from."

My favorite was the young lady I arrested on a warrant outside a gas station. As I searched her before putting her in my squad car, a clear plastic bag full of pills fell to the ground.

Officer Cynical: (picks up bag) "What's this?"

Ms. Rolling: "That's ecstasy that doesn't belong to me. I loan this coat out to all my friends; one of them must have put it in there."

Epilogue: She was later found not guilty in a bench trial. No one could understand why, until we learned that the presiding judge was later removed from the bench for "inappropriate conduct with female defendants".

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Feel-Good Moment

I got flagged down by a frantic single mom, whose two little boys had disappeared from in front of their house. They'd been gone for nearly an hour, and she couldn't find them. As we always do in these cases, all available cars responded to the area and started looking. After another 15 minutes or so, the kids showed up at home. I drove over there to check on everybody, and gently admonished the kids about staying near the house unless they had mom's permission. Done.

Later, I came into the station to finish off the day's paperwork. In my mailbox were a 'Thank You' card from mom, handmade 'I'm Sorry' cards from the kids, and a huge Tupperware container of homemade cookies with a note attached saying they'd been made by the whole family.

On some days - on some very, very rare days - Officer Cynical becomes a little less cynical for just a minute.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Phonetic Spelling

Like most first-responder agencies, we use a phonetic alphabet on the radio. It's simply necessary, because so many letters can sound alike over the air. We don't use the military one (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta, echo, etc.), but one that's mostly names (adam, boy, charles, david, edward, etc.).

Having spent a huge amount of time on the radio while in the Marine Corps, I had to practice the "name alphabet" in my off time while I was in police training in order to get used to it. I used to do things like call out plates in my head while driving around, or even do it out loud when I was pretty sure somebody couldn't see or hear me. It was important to get it down so it was second nature, and I wasn't fumbling and stammering when it counted. By the time I was out on my own, I could do it without thinking about it.

A friend of mine in a neighboring agency couldn't be bothered. He would make stuff up as he went along, and part of the time dispatch didn't know what the hell he was doing. He was counseled about it several times, but that didn't seem to make an impression on him.

Finally, one night he was stopping a vehicle, and called out the plate as "1-2-3-bucket-camel-taco". He was removed from patrol duty almost immediately after. Years later, he's still working at the jail.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Have A Seat Right Over There

You may have seen the "To Catch a Predator" series on Dateline NBC a few years back. In these shows, men who had initiated sexually oriented chats with underage boys and girls (actually undercover cops) would show up at houses where they thought those kids were home alone. Once inside, they were confronted by reporter Chris Hansen, who would interview them. When they'd leave the house, they were usually arrested by awaiting officers. All of this was filmed by multiple hidden cameras.

We also do these stings within our department. Working patrol, I'm not usually involved, but twice I've been in on the actual arrest. The initial on-line portion of the investigation is handled by a special group from our Investigations Division. Rather than the elaborate set-up in a house like the one Dateline used, they typically make arrangements to meet the subject in a parking lot - usually by a fast food place or a shopping mall. We have a description of the person and the vehicle he's driving, and park in an inconspicuous spot. When the suspect pulls in, his car is boxed in by marked and unmarked cars, and he's taken down at gunpoint. The looks on their faces show that this is the ultimate "Oh-Shit!" moment of their lives. If convicted, they are looking at serious, serious prison time.

Maybe I should have more empathy for these losers. We all have our foibles, peccadilloes and kinks, and sometimes that little voice in our head that tells us a certain thing is weird goes unheeded. And I have no problem with that when it's among competent, consenting adults, and nobody gets hurt to the point that I have to take a report. But when you're bending the mind of some little kid to gain their trust, then taking them down a life-altering path just so you can get your rocks off, you need to go away somewhere for a very long time. Never mind what this person might have been willing to do to cover his tracks had it been a real kid that showed up rather than the cops. I'm checking my sympathy meter - it appears to be stuck on zero.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Hero Passes

I was once dispatched to a medical at an assisted-living facility. An 86-year-old man had keeled over and was unresponsive. I did CPR while the ambulance crew did their thing, but to no avail. I tried to recite the correct platitudes to the son, who happened to be there, and I left.

I learned later that the old guy had served in the 4th Marine Division during WWII. He fought as an infantryman on Roi-Namur, Saipan (WIA), and Tinian, and was in the first assault wave on Iwo Jima. All these landings were savagely opposed at the beach by the Japanese. Over 10,000 Americans died and over 32,000 were wounded in just those four campaigns.

These places are holy ground to we Marines who came later. We stood on the shoulders of men like him. It was an honor to have been there in his final moments. I'm sorry I couldn't have done more.

Marines and the Battle of Roi-Namur

Marines and the Battle of Saipan

Marines and the Battle of Tinian

Marines and the Battle of Iwo Jima

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How Fast It Can Happen

Officer approaches man who was confronting women in a university parking garage:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Boom Goes The Dynamite

Hold your right hand up in front of your face, palm toward you. You have four fingers kind of sticking straight up, and one thumb sticking out to the right at maybe 45 degrees, right? That's your frame of reference.

One day - I forget exactly what I was doing at the time - I was out of my squad car when I heard this very loud boom. It seemed like it was quite some distance away, but loud nonetheless. I wondered for a second what it could be, then didn't think much more about it.

About 5 minutes later I get dispatched to a boat landing on the river, a good 3 miles from where I am. When I roll up, there's a teenage boy standing there holding up his right hand. He had four fingers kind of sticking straight up, just like your frame of reference. He also had one thumb. But unlike your frame of reference, it was pointing straight down at the ground, with the thumbnail side up against his forearm. All that meat between the thumb and fingers was gone.

He had been holding a homemade firework of some description, and it had gone off in his hand. The explosion had essentially ripped through the web of his hand and down through the meaty part of the palm, all the way to the wrist. The thumb was dangling there by a thin strip of skin.

The kid looked relatively calm. He held this mangled mess up in front of me and actually asked, "Do you think they can fix this?" I doubt it, son. I doubt it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Marine Corps Hymn Redux

The Marines' Hymn is arguably the most recognizable military theme on the planet. It still sends chills up my spine whenever I hear it, even all these years after leaving the service.

The music itself is from the 1859 Jacques Offenbach comic opera Genevieve de Brabant. Ironically, it's the piece called the Gendarme's Duet, in which two French cops sing about how lazy and afraid of confrontation they are. Supposedly, a Marine officer stationed in Paris heard this popular tune, and it later was used as the basis for the Hymn.  Here is the Gendarme's Duet.

I think most people know at least the first part of The Marines' Hymn lyrics: From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.

The "halls of Montezuma" refers to the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War. In 1847, Marines led an attack on artillery emplacements within the Mexican army stronghold, Chapultepec Castle. The elimination of the artillery allowed other forces to enter the citadel. Some other pretty good, albeit non-Marine, fighters present included Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and George Pickett (of Pickett's charge).

The "shores of Tripoli" refers to the Battle of Derne during the First Barbary War. In 1804, 1st Lt. Presley O'Bannon and just eight Marines spearheaded a force of 500 mercenaries in assaulting Derne, Tripoli. O'Bannon raised the American flag on the fortress wall. He was later awarded the Mameluke sword by the Ottoman Empire monarch's representative. Swords based on the Mameluke design are still worn by Marine officers today. It looks like this:

Put it all together, and it sounds like this: Please stand at attention while this plays!

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Lied

I'm dealing with a very large, very belligerent DWI. We're standing in his driveway, and he's refusing every instruction I give him. Then, he squares up to me like he wants to fight.

Officer Cynical: "Shane, I'm not going to fight with you. I'm just gonna taze your ass. Now turn around and put your hands behind your back."

Shane: "Fuck you."

I start to put the habeus grabbus on him, and he immediately resists. In about 3 seconds, he's pig-piled by me and the three other cops who showed up to help, cuffed and stuffed. Why waste a perfectly good Taser cartridge?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Captain Obvious

Yes, I do know you're not going to run from us. Yes, I do know you're not going to fight us. Because three of us have you pinned up against the side of this building so you can't. Yes, I do know we're fucking assholes. Thank you for reminding us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015


When I ask someone something like, "Is there anything on your person or in this vehicle that I need to know about? Drugs? Weapons? Anything like that?", I often get one or more of the following responses:

"Not that I know of."

"I loan my car out to a lot of people, so I don't know."

"These aren't my pants."

"I don't think so."

"On me?"

"In this car?"

"Can you repeat the question?"

"Do I need an attorney?"

"There shouldn't be."

"I'm not gonna lie."

"I'm gonna be honest with you."

"If there is, I don't know anything about it."

All of these responses mean the same thing. All of these responses mean "yes".

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Today, a guy wanted to report that he had parked his car in his apartment building parking lot last night, and when he got up this morning the back end of the car had been moved 4 feet to the right. The front end was just where he left it; just the rear end had been moved.

There was no damage to the car and no marks on the ground. I told the guy that I couldn't think of any crime that would apply to those particular circumstances, but I'd keep my eyes open for any apparatus that might enable someone to engage in such activity.

I did not tell him to not drive with a .25 BAC, which would likely reduce or eliminate the likelihood of such mysterious circumstances recurring.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bond. James Bond

You fell for the first e-mail from Somalia, and wired money to help the woman who said she needed it to come to the U.S.

Then, you fell for the second e-mail from Somalia, saying the woman had been kidnapped on her way to the U.S., and wired money to pay the ransom.

Now, you've gotten a third e-mail, asking for yet more money for airfare. She's even e-mailed you a copy of her passport, and you want me to confirm its validity.

It's hard for me to fathom why you never asked yourself why you, of all the people on the planet, were selected to solve this case of international intrigue.

But you have to believe me when I tell you I don't have the resources to run the passport number to see if it's real. You'll have to call the U.S. State Department. And no matter how many times you call me up and yell at me, and call my supervisor and complain, we're both going to tell you the same thing. Your money is gone, man. Gone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

There's One Problem With Traffic Stops

You eventually have to walk up there, even when it's a murder suspect and you don't know it.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Coming Close

Last winter, I stopped a guy in a full-sized pickup. I knew his license was suspended, and that he had a minor local warrant. The streets were slippery with ice and compacted snow.

I exited my squad, and began to approach the driver's side window. When I got about halfway there, the guy suddenly floored it. He made this screaming, fishtailing, U-turn, and the next thing I know he's barreling right at me. There was nowhere for me to go, so I just stood there like a dumbass, screaming at him to stop. If I hadn't leaned backward as he went by me, his outside rearview mirror would've taken my head off. And lucky for me, the ass-end of the pickup was fishtailing away from me as he went by, or it probably would've killed me.

I was confident he'd head home, and sure enough his pickup was in the parking lot of his apartment building when I got there. I didn't need to call for back-up - cops were flying in when they heard me call it out on the radio. Several of us went up to his apartment, and of course he wouldn't come to the door.

Meanwhile, another officer was in the parking lot, and calling out on the radio that he could see the guy looking out the window. He compared the face looking out at him with the guy's mug shot, and reported it was one and the same. We were going in there one way or another, so I got a master key from the building manager.

I repeatedly tried the key. Every time I'd get it partway turned, the guy, who was obviously standing on the opposite side of the door, would turn the deadbolt knob the other way. Finally, a brainstorm. I carry a multitool on my duty belt. I got it out, put the pliers on the head of the key, and cranked it. Leverage is a beautiful thing. The door flew open, and three of us piled inside.

The guy went over on his ass as we barged in, but started fighting right away. He didn't stand a chance. I had the pleasure of hooking him up and dragging him to his feet. The guy looked me square in the eye and said, "I didn't try to run over you, you know." Of course not.

Months later, it went to trial. The DA contacted me and asked if I'd consider reducing the endangerment charge to a misdemeanor. I told him absolutely not. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to all of it, and was sentenced to a year in jail.

I hope he rots in there.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Uplifting Bedtime Story

I get dispatched to a guy masturbating in front of a small neighborhood grocery. I get there, and sure enough there he is lying on his back on the grass just outside the store, playing punch-the-clown.

By the time I park and walk over to him, he's gotten to his feet and is now standing perfectly still with one hand covering his eyes. I ask him what the hell's going on, and he says he's talking to the wind. Well, of course you are. What is the wind saying? It's saying I murdered my two daughters. Oh, perfect.

The ambulance arrives to take Windtalker to the ER for his psych eval, and I go to his residence to check on the kids. Big surprise - it's one of our crappiest neighborhoods. The yard looks like a landfill. A woman comes to the door, sucking on a cigarette and sporting tattoos worth about 6 months of my pay. She tells me Windtalker is her ex-husband and father of her two kids. She has a restraining order out against him. She just got out of jail herself, and the kids are in custody with protective services.

Experience tells me that no one in this happy little family has hit rock-bottom yet, and I can only imagine where that will be.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: We Interrupt This Program

Where I live, regularly scheduled programming is routinely interrupted whenever there is a cloud. It doesn't matter the severity of the weather, or where the weather is. Programs just stop without warning, and we then see Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman, standing behind a desk, staring into a computer monitor, with an expression on his face like he just stuck his finger in a light socket. Then he proceeds to describe every law of physics that applies to the weather that is occurring somewhere, and shows weather radar maps enlarged so much that you can see individual pixels.

This evening it happened again. There is a completely blue sky, and there hasn't been a drop of rain or strong wind in a week. However, my program suddenly stops, and there is Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman, wearing (I swear I'm not making this up) a gold shirt, brown and black checkered tie, and black and purple suspenders. No sport coat. And no fright wig, clown nose, or great big shoes.

He shows us a view from a "towercam" on the edge of town. There, in the next county, is a cloud. Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman, then says that they just want people to see this, they don't anticipate any severe weather from it, and they won't be updating us unless "things change".

My program finally comes back on. Mrs. Cynical manages to wrestle the gun from my hand before I put a bullet through my head.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

See You In Court

Parents are suing the PD for excessive force, because a cop shot at their kid as he ran over him. No word on whether the PD will sue the parents for raising a nitwit child who would run over a cop. Special thanks to all the citizens who just watched while the cop lay injured in the street.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dinner Bell

When I worked night shift, about half-way through the night a few of us would to meet at this pancake house for whatever meal you would call that. One night, I pulled my squad into a parking space a few rows back from the front of the place.

As I pulled into the space, I noticed that the guy in the driver's seat of the car next to me had his head back on the headrest, and his eyes closed. At that time of the morning, I figured he was passed-out drunk, so I walked over to check on him.

The driver's side window was open. I looked inside, only to see that he had no pants on and what appeared to be baby oil all over his hands. And elsewhere.

It turned out he wasn't asleep after all - just relaxing after his adventure. He was more than surprised to see a cop standing there when he opened his eyes. He proceeded to tell me he was waiting for some friends. No, he wasn't doing anything other than waiting, and his pants were off because he was hot. He had no explanation for the baby oil all over the place.

My partner was a little unhappy when I radioed him to come outside and help me deal with the guy. He had to leave his plate of pancakes behind to get cold.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bad Mom

So, you don't live at this apartment complex, but you bring your kids over here to use their pool. The building manager asks you three times to leave, but you refuse. The manager finally tells you to get the hell out of his pool and don't come back, and you call the cops on him for using the word "hell" in front of your kids. I don't know, but I think he's probably the better role model.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

If You Don't Know, How Should I?

I don't care if you want to turn yourself in. You don't have any warrants anywhere, and no one here is looking for you for anything. I understand that you "want to clear this mess up", but I'm clueless as to what the mess is. No, I can't take you into custody. No, I have no idea why the FBI or the CIA might be looking for you. Why don't you call them up and ask? Here's their numbers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Zigging When You Should Be Zagging

This is squad car dashcam footage of a drunk moron driving on the wrong side of the road, and the resulting crash. The Oklahoma City deputy and his K-9 partner sustained only minor injuries.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Last Straw

A few years ago we had a natural disaster here that made the national news. Our department was working 12-hour shifts with no days off.

On about the 10th day in a row of this nightmare, I was dispatched to deal with two shoplifters. They turned out to be teenage girls from a neighboring town, who admitted that they came here specifically to shoplift. They said they thought that with everything else the cops had to deal with, they were less likely to get caught.

I have a pretty short fuse sometimes, but I'm almost always able to keep a lid on it. Especially at work. It just doesn't pay to lose your temper, and it can put you at a real disadvantage. But this time - maybe it was the exhaustion of so many long work days in a row - I absolutely lost it.

I carry a metal clipboard when I'm on calls that require me to manually fill out forms. Shoplifting is such a call. I raised the clipboard over my head with both hands and slammed it into the concrete floor as hard as I could. Forms went flying. The corner of the clipboard sustained a big dent. The security officer had an expression on her face like I'd just opened fire with my sidearm. The two shoplifters shrank in their seats, while I proceeded to verbally ream them multiple new orifices. I was so mad I couldn't see straight. One girl actually had the nerve to tell me it wasn't her fault we were working such long hours, and I shouldn't take it out on her. That made me even madder.

We usually hold juvenile shoplifters at the store and wait for mommy and/or daddy to show up. I used the state of emergency we were in, plus the fact they were from out of town, as an excuse to haul both of them to detention. They got booked in like real criminals, and got to spend some time in the tank while they waited for their parents. It almost made me feel better.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I have bad news for you, Mr. Lippiercing: When you tell me that you tried to drink yourself to death last weekend but "it didn't work", and you're gonna try it again this weekend, I'm obligated to consider that a suicidal statement. Now, the paramedics have to call Dr. St. Francis of Assisi, and he's gonna slap a psych hold on you. Then, you get to ride to the ER in the ambulance, whether you want to go or not, and security's gonna keep you there until the Doc says you can leave. Not so funny anymore, is it?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: If You Change Just One Letter, "Idiom" Becomes "Idiot"

This latest storm after a series of earlier storms is NOT "the icing on the cake". It may be "the straw that broke the camel's back", but it's NOT "the icing on the cake". Also, it's NOT a "weather phenomena", but then we've already had that talk.