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.