Friday, January 30, 2015

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: Time Check

"We're expecting strong storms to hit our area starting at about 3 PM in the afternoon."

Thanks for clarifying that. I didn't want to be looking for storms at 3 PM in the morning.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


20 minutes before quitting time, I get sent to pick up some guy with a felony warrant who's supposedly hiding out at his house. On the way, I come across a 3-car crash that has a major intersection blocked, car parts scattered everywhere, and antifreeze spilled all over the place. It's 800 below 0 outside. I get the scene secured until another officer can take over, then head to the warrant call. Nobody home. What a surprise. On the way back to the station, I stop and back up another officer who's dealing with a group of drunks by himself. After the detox trip, I manage to get back to the station, finish the day's paperwork, and go home. Three hours late. Some days, the OT just isn't worth it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sew or Vac?

Why are there so many "Sew and Vac" stores? Except for the fact that they both run on electricity, I don't get the connection between sewing machines and vacuum cleaners.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I See Dead People

I was on my way back to the station at the end of the shift, when I spotted two teenagers lying across the railroad tracks, grinning away, and a little girl standing next to them taking their picture.This is a very busy rail line, and I know from experience that pedestrians and motorists don't always see or hear trains coming.

I don't know if you've ever seen someone hit by a train, but I have. And I've had to pick up the pieces and toss them in a body bag. I absolutely lost my cool. I jumped out of my squad car, ran over, and snatched the oldest boy off the tracks, while screaming at the other two to move. The two oldest, a boy and girl about 16, stood petrified while I did my best Gunnery Sergeant Hartman impersonation. The little one, maybe 7, started crying. I finally cut them loose and they went on their way, shaken but hopefully smarter.

I ain't picking those pieces up again. Not if I can help it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Call Dr. Spock

Why in hell would you call the police because your 13-year-old son won't get out of bed for school?

First of all, I'm not coming to your house. I'll call you on the phone, because I have to. I'll politely inform you that you don't have a police problem, you have a parenting problem. I'll then explain how the law allows you to do pretty much whatever you need to do, short of abuse, to control your kids.

Secretly, I'm thinking that you're a weak-kneed jackass - someone who's let her kid become a lazy, smart-mouthed, disrespectful punk, and who's now afraid to put her foot down. Let me suggest that you immediately cut off all amenities to this kid other than food, clothing, and shelter. I guarantee that, without an allowance, a car, a cell phone, an mp3 player, or a computer, little Jimmy will be jogging to school with a smile on his face in about a week.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hell On Wheels

When somebody cuts you off in traffic, don't start following the guy all over town, get the cops on the phone, and refuse to stop following the until a cop catches up to you and  pulls the guy over. I can assure you, no cop is going to tear madly through the city to do a traffic stop on someone you say cut you off. In fact, the other guy is probably also calling the cops, reporting that some crazy bastard is chasing him all over town, screaming and gesturing at him, and he has no idea why. And in the end, you can't write him a ticket anyway because you're not a cop, and we can't write him one either because we weren't there when whatever really happened happened.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

See If You Can Make Me Even Madder

Hey, jackass. I don't care if you are the building manager for this sty you call an apartment building. When I'm tending to your elderly tenant who fell in the bathroom and broke his hip, and I'm asking him for information that I can radio to the responding ambulance, and you stand there with a fucking beer in your hand and keep telling him, "Plead the Fifth, man, your best bet is to plead the Fifth", I'm kicking your stupid ass out. You're lucky I don't lock you up for interfering with an emergency call.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Where To Evacuate

While waiting for Dr. St. Francis of Assisi to clear my latest psycho for jail, I spied this sign taped to a file drawer near the nurses' station. After I thought about it for a minute, it struck me as pretty funny:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Are You 10 Years Old Or What?

I want all adults to stop asking me:

"What kind of gun is that?"

"Is that a Taser?"

"Have you ever shot anybody?"

"Do cops really eat a lot of doughnuts?"

And while you're at it, stop yelling, "I didn't do it!", or pointing at your friend and yelling "S/He did it!", with that grin on you face like you're the first one to ever think of it every time I walk in.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Password Is.....

As someone who literally built his first computer from a kit (Heathkit-Zenith 8088), but who also still has a flip-phone that pretty much just makes phone calls, I'm conflicted about technology. I like what it can do, I just don't like doing it. That said, my entire work life is run by machines. And like every good machine, each has to have its own password.

First, I have to log into Windows to get onto my in-car computer. Once in Windows, I have to log into the program that runs my in-car camera. This one is easy - it's the same as my Windows password. But my Windows password changes every few months, and my camera password doesn't, so they get more and more out of synch as time goes on. So far, I've been able to remember which is which.

Then I have to log into the program in which I do accident reports and traffic tickets. This is a different password altogether, but it's one that never changes, so not so bad. Then I have to log into the program the I use for the bulk of my work - dispatch info on the run I'm on, reports, people checks, vehicle checks, etc. This is yet another password, but also one that never changes. Next, I have to log into the program in which I log evidence. This is the same password as my reports/runs/people/vehicles password. So far, so good.

But then I also have to log into programs that allow me to access state driver, vehicle, and criminal history records. You would think that I was logging into the launch codes for ICBMs aimed at China. I have to change my password about every three months. And each time, I have to meet a mind-boggling set of criteria. It goes something like this:

Please reset your password. Remember, your password must adhere to all of the following guidelines:

1. Your password must be between 16 and 42 characters in length.
2. Your password must contain at least 1 upper case letter, 2 lower case letters, 5 numerals, 7 punctuation marks, a diacritical mark, a polynomial equation, and a smiley face.
3. Your password cannot be similar in any way, or even look or sound like, any other password ever used by anyone.
4. Your password cannot contain any part of your name or the name of anyone else in the galaxy.
5. Your password must use the Runic alphabet.

So, I wind up stringing together my dogs' names in order of age (highest to lowest), my wife's bra size, Grover Cleveland's real first name, the formula for the gravitational force on Saturn, the diameter of FDR's wheelchair wheels, and an antonym for ablutomania. I write it down on a slip of paper, which immediately falls down into the space between the driver's seat and the radio/lights/siren/computer console of my squad car.

I haven't accessed a driver, vehicle, or criminal history in at least 12 years.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Foam In, Foam Out

When am I going to learn? My latest DUI turns out to have Hep-C. Of course, I find this out only after handling the vac tube full of his blood. Without gloves on. When am I going to learn?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Open Letter to American Idol, The Voice, and The X Factor

Dear Contestant:

Opening your mouth and bellowing as loudly as you can, even with vibrato, is not singing. Incorporating as many different notes as possible in as little time as possible doesn't help.

Sincerely yours,

Officer Cynical

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Press Hard, 3 Copies

Here are some rules for how not to get out of a speeding ticket:

1. Ask if I'm going to write you one, then when I say yes, tell me to "bring it on!"

2. Argue that the speed limit is 40 after I tell you it's 35 -
     a) I've been working this beat a long time; I know what the speed limits are.
     b) No, I won't go back and check, but you're welcome to do so when we're done here.
     c) You were going 55, so I don't care.

3. Refuse to give me some of the information I ask for to complete the citation.

4. Tell me your "big SUV is hard to keep under control going down a steep grade like that" -
     a) Your Ford Edge hardly qualifies as a "big SUV".
     b) It has a brake pedal.
     c) You were on the dead level, and not within 100 miles of a "steep grade".

4. Go over the citation with a fine-toothed comb, asking me questions about every stupid little thing, while I stand in the rain waiting for you to sign it.

Please, I beg of you, be true to your word and take it to court. I want to testify to the above and watch the judge's face get purple.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Again Miss The Fashion Boat

Today, I saw a guy in Best Buy wearing pince-nez glasses. Unless you're Morpheus or Henry Limpet, this doesn't seem like a very good idea.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Trigger Pull

One of the first questions a lot of people ask cops is "Have you ever shot anybody?". I haven't, but this is how close I came one night:

We responded to a male barricaded in his apartment with a gun. We'd dealt with him before. He would typically call dispatch and just say he had a gun and wasn't coming out, and rather than just leave him alone to do whatever he was going to do, we of course would respond. We'd have to talk to him through his apartment door for a while, then he'd come out and get arrested or go on psych hold or whatever.

This night I was approaching his ground floor apartment, walking up a grassy slope toward his patio. I could see him through the sliding glass patio door, just inside, seated on a couch. The couch was against a wall to the left of the patio door, so he was in profile to me, facing to my right. Obviously, because of the situation and the distance - about 25 feet and closing - I had my gun drawn and at the low-ready.

As I walked up, he stood, put his left hand in his pants pocket, and pulled out a small pistol. As he did so, I raised my weapon, put the front sight center mass, and applied pressure to the trigger with my right index finger. The feeling of my finger pressing that trigger is still as fresh as the moment I did it.

The trigger on a Glock Model 22 .40 cal S&W requires just 5 lbs of pressure and a travel of less than a half-inch to fire a round. I don't know how much pressure I applied to that trigger. Obviously, less than 5 lbs, but not by much. As the guy turned toward me, he tossed the pistol onto the floor and put his hands in the air. I released pressure on the trigger, and my partners and I swarmed him and took him into custody.

I didn't even have to think about it. Years of training kicked in, and I was on autopilot. Only afterwards did I blow my stack. For some reason, it just made me mad. Really, really mad.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reason #112 Not To Call Me

You saw a car going down the street, and it had both a temporary sticker in the back window AND a permanent license plate on the bumper. You think that's suspicious, and you want me to look into it. You didn't get a license plate number and can't describe the car. Don't you have anything better to do?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The 3-Second Rule

Mr. Craddock: "I was behind her, and she slowed down to turn, and so I ran into her."

Officer Cynical: "You mean on purpose?"

Mr. Craddock: "No. But she was driving straight, and she went and slowed down to turn, and so I rear-ended her."

Officer Cynical: "Well, she has to slow down to be able to make the turn."

Mr. Craddock: "I know, but she slowed down so much I crashed into her."

Officer Cynical: "So, what you're telling me is you were following too closely."

Mr. Craddock: "Yeah, I guess you could put it that way."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Childhood Fear of Hospitals Validated Yet Again

So, last winter this knucklehead decides to flee on foot from me during a traffic stop. He runs into this department store, with me right behind him. He cuts to the right and I try to do the same, but both my feet slip ceilingwards and I hit like a ton of bricks on my ass. I get up and manage to catch this dickwad, and haul his ass to where he needs to go.

Two days later, I have this shooting pain from my butt, down the back of my leg, and into my foot. After months of PT, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and every other thing they can think of, they decide an EMG is in order. No problem. How bad can it be?

Let me educate you. It hurt like a motherfucker! The first part was a series of electric shocks up and down my foot and leg, while the technicians gazed intently at a computer screen full of jagged lines. No fun, but not a big deal. Then, Dr. Mengele comes in with the needle. A big needle. Like a knitting needle, but connected to a 10,000 volt generator. He starts by sticking this needle into my shin, and continues to stick it in every inch or so around to my calf and all the way up to my ass. I'm thinking to myself: "This can't be right! Nothing in modern medicine is supposed to hurt like this!" I tore the sheet on the exam table almost in half, and taught Dr. Mengele curse words that even I've never heard before. It was all I could do not to rip the needle out of his hand, stick it in his eye, and run for my car. It was a nightmare.

When it was all over, his diagnosis was - and I swear I'm not making this up - that I had a sciatic nerve injury from a fall. He said the injury was "in this area" (pointing to where I'd hit on my ass). I refrained from punching him in the throat, and just said "No kidding?". I took the rest of the day off and went home.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Grow Up

If you're a grown man, who votes and can buy liquor and has kids and a mortgage and a real job and everything, here are some things you might want to avoid doing, so you don't look like an idiot:

- Riding a 20-inch bike, so that your knees go up to about eye level when you pedal.

- Wearing the hair on any part of your body braided or in a pony tail.

- Raising your fist with your index and little fingers extended, and hollering "Whoooooooooooooo!" at any gathering of any kind for any reason.

- Burning rubber when the light turns green.

- Faking being a military veteran when there's any chance whatsoever that you're talking to one. Or any other time, for that matter.

- Getting into a physical domestic with your wife or girlfriend, then telling the cops that she hit you first and you were defending yourself when you gave her a fat lip.

- Getting drunk and disorderly in public, especially when you're out alone.

- Vandalizing anything that belongs to someone else to get back at them for something.

- Getting into a neighbor dispute with anyone over the age of 80.

- Unless you're at the pool or on the beach, walking around in public without a shirt on.

- Wearing a baseball cap with the brim at any orientation other than straight ahead.

- Dating someone not old enough to drink legally.

- Getting something pierced.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Technology Fail

We have cars that can parallel-park themselves.

We have wireless telephones that can take photographs, surf the web, and understand verbal commands.

We can land unmanned probes on Mars and remotely drive them around from Earth.

Why can we not come up with a jam jar that doesn't become a sticky, coagulated, disgusting mess around around the top where the lid screws on?