Friday, August 5, 2016


Some people are built for grief. Others are not. Some people, in some way, suck it up and go on despite the pain. Others are so devastated over the loss of a loved one that they are unable to move forward.

I always put myself decidedly in the former camp. I've lost friends, fellow Marines, parents and other relatives, and four fellow cops - two by murder on duty, two by suicide. Certainly, these made me sad. Sometimes extremely sad. But there was always the sense that there was light at the end of the tunnel, although sometimes the tunnel seemed very long.

And then I lost Zeke. It's a loss so profound that I don't know how to describe it.

Zeke and I were one. He would often just watch me from across the room, and I him. There was comfort and peace in having him there. I've read that, when a dog looks at his owner, both the dog and the owner experience the release of oxytocin - the so-called "love hormone". I believe it. But more than that, I believe we each knew what the other was thinking. I could get Zeke to come to me, or go to the door to go outside, or go to the kitchen for food, just by the way I motioned with my head. And I knew what he wanted from me just by the way he stood and looked. When we went on our regular long walks in the park or in the woods or by the river, I talked to him like he was a toddler about where we were going, what we were doing,  and what we were seeing and hearing. I knew he understood. I never imagined a day when he would be gone.

Now, that day has come. I think of him every minute of every day. I've cried myself hoarse. I remember places we went and things we did so vividly sometimes, it's almost like reliving them. I see him running and playing when I drive by the places we used to go together. His spirit seems to dwell there. I occasionally catch sight of one of our other dogs out of the corner of my eye, and for a moment I think it's him. It's not. I dream about him.

I've learned that one life can make a person, and its loss can break him. I am forever changed. The world is a different place without Zeke. There are places to go and people to see and things to do, but I don't really care. Real happiness and fun are a memory. There are just days ahead.

I learned I am not built for grief.

I love you, buddy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016



09/01/2002 - 04/25/2016

I could not have loved you more.

You will always be with me.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rain Delay

Well, it was my hope and plan to tell you all that today I unretired, and was sworn in again as a police officer with my old department. The best laid plans.

Last Monday I had my second-ever trip to the ER. I don't go down easy, but this brought me to my knees. In the intervening week, I've been back there two more times. The situation simply is not resolving, and I am as uncomfortable as I've ever been in my life. Of course, I can't get in to see the specialist who can hopefully resolve this until Friday. I will simply have to suck it up until then.

So, Officer Cynical is going away for a while. I'm out of new posts, and right now I don't have the oomph to generate more. I'd hoped being back on the street would give me a new source of fun stories, but that's now on hold. I don't know for how long.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


After my second-ever visit to an emergency room yesterday, I'm taking some time off. Not a huge deal, but I'm pretty uncomfortable. I'll do my best to get back to it on Monday. There also may be some big news coming, so stay tuned. Stay safe, everyone.

Monday, March 21, 2016

When They Stop In The Middle Of The Street With Their Foot On The Brake.....

21-year-old Darriyone Zamone Clark-Brown was arraigned on several charges including attempted murder in the incident after he fired a shot at a police officer at the beginning of a traffic stop. The officer was not hit, a chase ensued, Brown then fled on foot and was caught a short time later with the help of a K-9. Thankfully the officer was not hurt. Great work by the responding officers.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Accent Grave Over the 'E'

W.C. Fields died long before I was born. I don't remember anymore how or when I became aware of him. I do remember spending one New Year's Eve during high school alone watching a W.C. Fields marathon at a local movie theater (yes, I was that popular). I think he is the funniest person ever to grace a movie screen. In my opinion, only Peter Sellers comes close to Fields' comedic talent.

W.C. Fields was born William Claude Dukenfield in January, 1880. He began his stage work as a juggler on the vaudeville stage. He became a world-class act, and toured several continents as "The Eccentric Juggler", dressed in hobo-like attire. Remarkably, for someone who later became instantly recognizable by his voice alone, he worked silently in his early juggling act. He added dialogue later when he took his act to Broadway. Some of his juggling prowess was demonstrated in the 1931 film Her Majesty Love and the 1934 movie The Old-Fashioned Way.

Fields worked in silent films from about 1915 into the 1920s, transitioning to sound films in the 1930s. He made a series of two-reelers, including:

The Golf Specialist
The Dentist
The Pharmacist

He went on to full-length films, many written by Fields himself, for Paramount and for Universal. These include: You Can't Cheat an Honest Man, The Bank DickMy Little Chickadee, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, and many others. Perhaps one of his most famous - and hilarious - scenes is the porch scene from It's a Gift.

Fields also worked in network radio, in particular with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Fields maintained an ongoing feud and insult exchange with Bergen's dummy, Charlie McCarthy.

Fields married Hattie Hughes in 1900, and they had one son. They separated less than a decade later, but never divorced. Fields corresponded with Hattie and supported his son until Fields' death.

Much has been said and written about W.C. Fields and his abuse of alcohol. Like so many quotes that have been attributed to Fields, it becomes hard to separate fact from fiction. I don't doubt that he was a heavy drinker, and that it shortened his career and his life. He spent considerable time in a sanitorium in his final years, and is said to have suffered from D.T.s. He died of a stomach hemorrhage on Christmas Day, 1946, at age 66.

Fields is one of the few persons in films that can make me laugh with a look, a gesture, or one of his sarcastic, cynical asides - usually muttered under his breath. Almost all his characters were rather shady curmudgeons, struggling to make their way in the world and do right by their families. It's amazing to me how alike many of his characters were, but how fresh every scene seems, no matter how many times I see them. Woody Allen called Fields one of only six genuine comic geniuses, the other five including Peter Sellers and two of the Marx Brothers. It's too bad that they're all gone, and there's no more of their work to come. But they were so good, what they left behind is enough to sustain us for a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Little Known Psychiatric Disorders

Yuckophobia: The fear of having Karl Malden ask to borrow your handkerchief.

(Thank you Johnny Carson)

Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14, 1945

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor

Rank and Organization: Private, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division. Place and Date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 14 March 1945. Entered Service at: New Jersey. Born: 6 November 1924, Glen Ridge, N.J.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands on 14 March 1945. Voluntarily taking command of his rifle squad when the leader became a casualty, Pvt. Sigler fearlessly led a bold charge against an enemy gun installation which had held up the advance of his company for several days and, reaching the position in advance of the others, assailed the emplacement with hand grenades and personally annihilated the entire crew. As additional Japanese troops opened fire from concealed tunnels and caves above, he quickly scaled the rocks leading to the attacking guns, surprised the enemy with a furious l-man assault and, although severely wounded in the encounter, deliberately crawled back to his squad position where he steadfastly refused evacuation, persistently directing heavy machinegun and rocket barrages on the Japanese cave entrances. Undaunted by the merciless rain of hostile fire during the intensified action, he gallantly disregarded his own painful wounds to aid casualties, carrying 3 wounded squad members to safety behind the lines and returning to continue the battle with renewed determination until ordered to retire for medical treatment. Stouthearted and indomitable in the face of extreme peril, Pvt. Sigler, by his alert initiative, unfaltering leadership, and daring tactics in a critical situation, effected the release of his besieged company from enemy fire and contributed essentially to its further advance against a savagely fighting enemy. His superb valor, resolute fortitude, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout reflect the highest credit upon Pvt. Sigler and the U.S. Naval Service.

March 14, 1945

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 14 March 1945. Standing the foxhole watch while other members of his squad rested after a night of bitter handgrenade fighting against infiltrating Japanese troops, Pvt. Phillips was the only member of his unit alerted when an enemy handgrenade was tossed into their midst. Instantly shouting a warning, he unhesitatingly threw himself on the deadly missile, absorbing the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body and protecting his comrades from serious injury. Stouthearted and indomitable, Pvt. Phillips willingly yielded his own life that his fellow marines might carry on the relentless battle against a fanatic enemy. His superb valor and unfaltering spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: What Day Was That Again?

"Rain will be moving in on Tuesday, and that'll be arriving on Tuesday. So, look for some moisture in the air on Tuesday".

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

March 9, 1945

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Platoon Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 3 April 1918, Sturbridge, Mass. Accredited to: Massachusetts.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a P/Sgt. serving with the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 9 March 1945. Determined to force a breakthrough when Japanese troops occupying trenches and fortified positions on the left front laid down a terrific machinegun and mortar barrage in a desperate effort to halt his company's advance, P/Sgt. Julian quickly established his platoon's guns in strategic supporting positions, and then, acting on his own initiative, fearlessly moved forward to execute a 1-man assault on the nearest pillbox. Advancing alone, he hurled deadly demolition and white phosphorus grenades into the emplacement, killing 2 of the enemy and driving the remaining 5 out into the adjoining trench system. Seizing a discarded rifle, he jumped into the trench and dispatched the 5 before they could make an escape. Intent on wiping out all resistance, he obtained more explosives and, accompanied by another marine, again charged the hostile fortifications and knocked out 2 more cave positions. Immediately thereafter, he launched a bazooka attack unassisted, firing 4 rounds into the 1 remaining pillbox and completely destroying it before he fell, mortally wounded by a vicious burst of enemy fire. Stouthearted and indomitable, P/Sgt. Julian consistently disregarded all personal danger and, by his bold decision, daring tactics, and relentless fighting spirit during a critical phase of the battle, contributed materially to the continued advance of his company and to the success of his division's operations in the sustained drive toward the conquest of this fiercely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His outstanding valor and unfaltering spirit of self-sacrifice throughout the bitter conflict sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 8, 1945

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 22 October 1915, Ennie, Tex. Appointed from: Texas.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to the 2d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Resuming his assault tactics with bold decision after fighting without respite for 2 days and nights, 1st Lt. Lummus slowly advanced his platoon against an enemy deeply entrenched in a network of mutually supporting positions. Suddenly halted by a terrific concentration of hostile fire, he unhesitatingly moved forward of his front lines in an effort to neutralize the Japanese position. Although knocked to the ground when an enemy grenade exploded close by, he immediately recovered himself and, again moving forward despite the intensified barrage, quickly located, attacked, and destroyed the occupied emplacement. Instantly taken under fire by the garrison of a supporting pillbox and further assailed by the slashing fury of hostile rifle fire, he fell under the impact of a second enemy grenade but, courageously disregarding painful shoulder wounds, staunchly continued his heroic 1-man assault and charged the second pillbox, annihilating all the occupants. Subsequently returning to his platoon position, he fearlessly traversed his lines under fire, encouraging his men to advance and directing the fire of supporting tanks against other stubbornly holding Japanese emplacements. Held up again by a devastating barrage, he again moved into the open, rushed a third heavily fortified installation and killed the defending troops. Determined to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally attacking foxholes and spider traps with his carbine and systematically reducing the fanatic opposition until, stepping on a land mine, he sustained fatal wounds. By his outstanding valor, skilled tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Lummus had inspired his stouthearted marines to continue the relentless drive northward, thereby contributing materially to the success of his regimental mission. His dauntless leadership and unwavering devotion to duty throughout sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

March 8, 1945

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 22 November 1925, Columbia Heights, Minn. Accredited to: Minnesota.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Filling a gap in the front lines during a critical phase of the battle, Pfc. LaBelle had dug into a foxhole with 2 other marines and, grimly aware of the enemy's persistent attempts to blast a way through our lines with hand grenades, applied himself with steady concentration to maintaining a sharply vigilant watch during the hazardous night hours. Suddenly a hostile grenade landed beyond reach in his foxhole. Quickly estimating the situation, he determined to save the others if possible, shouted a warning, and instantly dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the exploding charge in his own body and thereby protecting his comrades from serious injury. Stouthearted and indomitable, he had unhesitatingly relinquished his own chance of survival that his fellow marines might carry on the relentless fight against a fanatic enemy His dauntless courage, cool decision and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. LaBelle and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Monday, March 7, 2016

March 7, 1945

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division. Place and date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 7 march 1945. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 8 June 1921, Chicago, Ill.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 7 march 1945. Launching a surprise attack against the rock-imbedded fortification of a dominating Japanese hill position, 2d Lt. Leims spurred his company forward with indomitable determination and, skillfully directing his assault platoons against the cave-emplaced enemy troops and heavily fortified pillboxes, succeeded in capturing the objective in later afternoon. When it became apparent that his assault platoons were cut off in this newly won position, approximately 400 yards forward of adjacent units and lacked all communication with the command post, he personally advanced and laid telephone lines across the isolating expanse of open fire-swept terrain. Ordered to withdraw his command after he had joined his forward platoons, he immediately complied, adroitly effecting the withdrawal of his troops without incident. Upon arriving at the rear, he was informed that several casualties had been left at the abandoned ridge position beyond the frontlines. Although suffering acutely from the strain and exhausting of battle, he instantly went forward despite darkness and the slashing fury of hostile machinegun fire, located and carried to safety 1 seriously wounded marine and then, running the gauntlet of enemy fire for the third time that night, again made his tortuous way into the bullet-riddled deathtrap and rescued another of his wounded men. A dauntless leader, concerned at all time for the welfare of his men, 2d Lt. Leims soundly maintained the coordinated strength of his battle-wearied company under extremely difficult conditions and, by his bold tactics, sustained aggressiveness, and heroic disregard for all personal danger, contributed essentially to the success of his division's operations against this vital Japanese base. His valiant conduct in the face of fanatic opposition sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

March 3, 1945

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. Place and date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 3 March 1945. Entered service at: Mercedes, Tex. Born: 26 June 1922, Rio Grande City, Tex.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of an assault group attached to the 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division during hand-to-hand combat with enemy Japanese at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 3 March 1945. Standing watch alternately with another marine in a terrain studded with caves and ravines, Sgt. Harrell was holding a position in a perimeter defense around the company command post when Japanese troops infiltrated our lines in the early hours of dawn. Awakened by a sudden attack, he quickly opened fire with his carbine and killed 2 of the enemy as they emerged from a ravine in the light of a star shellburst. Unmindful of his danger as hostile grenades fell closer, he waged a fierce lone battle until an exploding missile tore off his left hand and fractured his thigh. He was vainly attempting to reload the carbine when his companion returned from the command post with another weapon. Wounded again by a Japanese who rushed the foxhole wielding a saber in the darkness, Sgt. Harrell succeeded in drawing his pistol and killing his opponent and then ordered his wounded companion to a place of safety. Exhausted by profuse bleeding but still unbeaten, he fearlessly met the challenge of 2 more enemy troops who charged his position and placed a grenade near his head. Killing 1 man with his pistol, he grasped the sputtering grenade with his good right hand, and, pushing it painfully toward the crouching soldier, saw his remaining assailant destroyed but his own hand severed in the explosion. At dawn Sgt. Harrell was evacuated from a position hedged by the bodies of 12 dead Japanese, at least 5 of whom he had personally destroyed in his self-sacrificing defense of the command post. His grim fortitude, exceptional valor, and indomitable fighting spirit against almost insurmountable odds reflect the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dying At Work

Not long ago, I attended the third police officer funeral of my career. This was the second by hostile gunfire. The other was a work-related suicide. I wish I believed there will be no more.

So far in 2016, total line-of-duty deaths, which includes auto accidents and illnesses, are down a bit from last year. But deaths by hostile gunfire are up 1200%.

The other day I was watching a panel discussion on TV about police officer deaths. One panel member, an attorney, said that he wants to see fewer police officers on the street. He said he wants to see police have less access to "militarized" vehicles and equipment. He said police shouldn't enforce drug laws, because they're "victimless". He said the 1200% increase in police officer deaths by hostile gunfire doesn't really mean anything, because the sample size is "small", and so a small change in numbers can cause a large change in percentages.

You know what? Go fuck yourself.

If you don't think the attitude of various governmental bodies, as well as an appreciable portion of the general population, isn't anti-police, you're not paying attention. Too many want fewer cops, more poorly armed cops, more poorly equipped cops. A few say outright they want dead cops. They'd rather see cops get hurt, or worse, than allow them to be appropriately prepared when the shit really hits the fan. You can bet that if the murders of attorneys were up 1200%, we'd be in a state of national emergency. You can bet if there had already been 12 of them this year, compared to 1 last year at this time, we'd be at DEFCON 1.

This is really pissing me off.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016


I don't know the exact origin of this piece, but it was posted on the Facebook page of Blue Lives Matter. It was sent to me without a reference or citation. I'm going to post it anyway, because I like it. If anyone knows who wrote it, please let me know and I'll give them the credit due. It is priceless. 

NOTE: This appears to be from a 2009 entry on a blog called "Randy's Busy Life". Here's the link:
Thank you, jbt369!

A local police station received this question from a resident through the feedback section of a local Police website:
"I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?"
In response, a Sergeant posted this reply:
First of all, let me tell you this... it's not easy. In the rural area we average one cop for every 505 people. Only about 60 per cent of those cops are on general duty where we do most of our harassing.
The rest are in non-harassing units that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents. At any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60 per cent of general duties are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So, roughly, one cop is responsible for harassing about 6000 residents.
When you toss in the commercial business and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 15,000 or more people a day.
Now, your average eight-hour shift runs 28,800 seconds long. This gives a cop two-thirds of a second to harass a person, and then only another third of a second to drink an iced coffee AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to the challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilise some tools to help us narrow down those people we can realistically harass.
PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. "My neighbour is beating his wife" is a code phrase used often. This means we'll come out and give somebody some special harassment. Another popular one is, "There's a guy breaking into a house." The harassment team is then put into action.
CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or drivers with no licences and the like. It's lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.
LAWS: When we don't have phone or cars, and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called "statutes". These include the Crimes Act, Summary Offenses Act, Land Transport Act and a whole bunch of others... They spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people. After you read the law, you can just drive around for a while until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, the book says that’s not allowed. That meant I had permission to harass this guy.
It is a really cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well. We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because, for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to "harass" some people.
Next time you are in the area, give me the old "single finger wave". That's another one of those codes. It means, "You can harass me." It's one of our favorites.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Veteran Status

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know the great respect I hold for military veterans. I'm proud to have served 6 years in the Marine Corps. My dad served 4 years in the Marines, 2 of that in the Pacific during WWII. My uncle landed at Normandy, and was WIA in France. Another served in France and Belgium during WWII. Veterans are a special crowd.

But I've had it with the drunks, bums, slackers, and assorted dirtbags who use veteran status - real or imagined - as a shield against responsible living, or as an advertising campaign for a handout. Here are some examples I've run across while working the street:

Transient drunk on a street corner, holding up a cardboard sign that reads: VETERAN. ANY HELP APPRECIATED. OK, let me see what I can do for this guy. I can get you in the local homeless shelter with no problem. No? OK. The VA Hospital is about a mile from here; I'll give you a ride. No? OK. There are two day labor outfits a block from here, too. I'll show you where they are and help you get signed up. No? I didn't think so.

Drunk wearing a USMC Vet ballcap, hassling people for money in the ER waiting room. With three quick questions, I determine he knows less than my dog does about the USMC. Get out and don't come back, or you're going to jail. Oh, and lose the hat until you brush up on the basic info any real USMC vet would know.

Guy bitches me out because he's a vet on his way the the VA Hospital, and I dare to pull him over for going 20 over the limit in an active school zone. He repeatedly reminds me he's a VETERAN and going to the VA HOSPITAL, then gets mad that I would cite a VETERAN, who's on his way to the VA HOSPITAL. So, which is it: you think vets should be exempt from obeying traffic laws, or vets should be allowed to run down kids in a crosswalk?

I stop a guy with a suspended driver's license. This is a criminal traffic offense. But he's in the Army and has been overseas and doesn't deserve to be cited, and he actually tells me so just like that. Seriously, you think your military status exempts you from having to have a freakin' valid driver's license?

Being a veteran is an earned privilege. At least it is for me and my family. But I believe it entitles me to exactly nothing other than bragging rights. Rather, it places on me the onus of displaying my veteran status in a respectable way, and not shaming it. I consider myself the legacy of all those Marines who went before me, and an example for all those who came later. I understand that many people don't leave the military in one piece, and need medical, emotional, and psychological support. I've been there. I'm glad facilities exist to help those people, and I encourage anyone who needs them to take full advantage of them. And if the VA is really in such poor shape that vets are dying while waiting for treatment, that's inexcusable and needs to be fixed immediately.

But veteran status is not a free ride. It's not an advertising slogan for a handout. It's not an excuse for committing a crime, or a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. It's a responsibility.

Monday, February 22, 2016

People In TV Commercials For Whom I Would Buy 1-Way Tickets To The Sun

Those 2 dipshits sitting in the car at Sonic
The Popeyes "chef"
The AFLAC duck
Ellen DeGeneres
Anyone who sings off-key on purpose
Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman
Everyone bitching that their car insurance rates went up because they wrecked their cars.
Matthew McConaughy
Ellen DeGeneres
Everyone touting
All women talking about erectile dysfunction
The Mucinex mucus blob
The world's most interesting man
Ellen DeGeneres
The Australian-sounding guy selling everything
Peter Pan from GEICO (I would also punch him in the nuts before launch)
The Burger King king
The woman grinding calluses off her feet
Ellen DeGeneres
The reincarnation of Colonel Sanders

More GEICO camel, Robb Webb, and Maria Chudnovsky, though, please.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wasting My Time

I'm dispatched to an address where a 9-year-old boy won't get out of bed for school. I arrive to find Mom standing outside the apartment door. She is laughing.

OC: "You think this is funny?"

Mom: "No."

OC: "Well, you're laughing, so I just assumed. Tell me what's going on."

Mom explains that her 9-year-old son won't get up for school. She's done nothing other than tell him to do it once, and when he wouldn't she called the police.

I walk into the  kid's room, pull the covers off him, and tell him to get up, get dressed, and get ready school. He does.

I tell Mom - politely, mind you - that this is not - I repeat, not - a police matter. It is a parenting matter. When I ask her why she called the police, she says the SRO (school resource officer) at her son's school told her to. This is a real cop in an adjacent town, who works in the kid's school.

I call him and ask him what's up. He says the kid has been a problem, and he told mom to call the cops whenever the kid acts up. Good for him, since the kid doesn't live in his agency's jurisdiction. He then tells me to write a report on the incident so "it'll be on file".

I ask him if he's lost his mind. I tell him there's no way I'm writing a report on this. I tell him if he wants a report, he can write it himself. I tell him that his narrative can read "police officer in another jurisdiction wasted 30 minutes of high traffic accident time getting a child out of bed because his mom didn't want to be bothered". He says "OK". He knows damned good and well this is ridiculous. I hang up.

I'm pissed off for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Have A Nice Trip. See Ya' Next Fall

Watch an as-yet unidentified man stops a suspect fleeing from police in London, England. Superb use of less-than-deadly force.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Napoleon XIV

If you didn't want to get arrested, you shouldn't have opened your apartment door and handed us a still-smoldering crack pipe. Yes, I understand you thought we somehow knew you were in there smoking dope, and were knocking on your door to come and get you. But actually, we were knocking on the door across the hall about another matter entirely. Perhaps less dope would help your paranoia. No, I'm sorry, there are no do-overs in law enforcement.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: Pronounciating Rite

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

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

Citizen Complaints

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

His Nickname Is "Lucky"

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

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


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

Monday, February 1, 2016

Remember Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 25, 2016


One night I got sent to a vehicle stuck on some railroad tracks. The caller had told dispatch she had no idea where she was, but a train was coming. Pretty much the whole shift was driving around like maniacs, trying to figure out where this car might be. It was about 2AM, and pouring rain.

As I was passing a dead end side street, which didn't go over any railroad tracks, I happened to spot a woman standing back in the dark, waving at me. When I got turned around and back to where she was, I realized a) she was drunk as a skunk, and b) her car was hung up on an old unused railroad spur. It was adjacent to an active track, but was in no danger of being hit by a train. In her alcohol-induced haze, the driver had thought it was through street.

This person had actually driven her car over both tracks, and it was hung up on them. we couldn't move it, so we called a tow truck to assist. The truck showed up, and the driver affixed a cable to the rear of the stuck vehicle. He cranked up the winch and started pulling.

I was standing right there during this process. When I realized the winch was continuing to turn, but the car wasn't budging, I decided it might be a good idea for me to move.

Sure enough, the was a sudden, loud twang! as the cable snapped. The cable end that was still attached to the car whistled past me, recoiling so fast and so hard that it actually punctured the sheet metal on the side of the car. Had I not moved, that cable would've hit me.

Lesson: tow truck guys are awesome, but they don't always really know what they're doing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

So, You're Just Driving In Your Squad Car When

some fuck runs up and shoots you 3 times. Not to be deterred, you exit your vehicle, give chase, and shoot said fuck in the ass. He is later taken into custody.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: No Shit, Sherlock

Everyone who lives around here knows we are supposed to get wind chill temperatures in the neighborhood of -30 degrees F overnight tonight. But Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman, just interrupted my program to remind us not to go outside unless we have appropriate clothing on, or we might get frostbite.

I guess that nixes my plan to sit out on the patio in my swimming trunks, sipping an umbrella cocktail.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Puppy Mill Dogs

In 2010, we took in Dirk, a male Golden Retriever who had spent his first 8 years in a puppy mill. When we agreed to foster him for the rescue organization we volunteer for, we had no idea what being a puppy mill dog meant - for us or, more importantly, for the dog.

We brought Dirk home, and he met our two resident dogs without incident. But that was where any shred of normalcy ended. He was afraid of everything that our resident dogs took for granted: the TV, the ceiling fan, carpeting, tile floors, stairways, doorways. And when I say "afraid", I mean cowering, trembling, frozen fear. He had no idea what to do with a toy. He was startled by every loud noise and sudden movement. I didn't see how we could keep him.

But miraculously, over many months, Dirk's dogness began to shine through. He watched our resident male intently and followed him everywhere. I will never forget the evening Dirk lay on the floor, watching our resident male chewing on a rawhide snack. When our resident finally tired of it and walked away, Dirk slowly made his way over to it, sniffed it a few times, then lay down and began chewing it. It was a genuinely moving moment to watch this little soul find within himself a little bit of what it means to be a dog.

Dirk eventually learned how to play, and would dash around our backyard with our other two. He was incredibly fast, and seemed to delight in just running free - perhaps for the first time in his life.

One day, Mrs. Cynical announced that Dirk would no longer be our foster dog, and we would no longer be posting updates on the rescue website. We would be adopting Dirk ourselves, and he would be the next member of our family. I knew better than to argue.

Today, now 13+ years old, Dirk still exhibits some of the traits he first came to us with. He still startles at loud noises. He hesitates before climbing stairs. And, oddly, he still does not like having a camera pointed at him. I have many photos of Dirk with Mrs. Cynical, in which just one of his eyes is peaking out from behind Mrs. Cynical. But for the most part, Dirk is just a quiet, gentle, happy boy, soaking up all the attention we can give him.

My point here is this: If you want a dog, please look into what puppy mills are and how their dogs are treated. Very often, they are isolated for years with little human interaction. As a result, they are very poorly socialized and without the skills and knowledge you expect in an adult dog. Your local pet store very likely gets its dogs from a puppy mill.

My suggestion? Go to your local dog pound or Humane Society. Lots of great dogs are looking for homes there. If you're bound and determined to get a specific breed, look into the many rescue organizations out there. Many are breed-specific, and have dogs of all ages looking for homes. Please don't contribute to the suborganic scum who are creating dogs like Dirk, then casting them out when they're done with them so that someone else can fix the damage they've created.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


I'm admittedly a TV addict. And I've noticed the increasing number of shows that involve "war". Storage Wars, Whale Wars, Parking Wars, Design Wars, Cupcake Wars (for Christ's sake!)...the list goes on. Basically, they're shows that try to inject contrived drama and suspense into the miserable lives of mostly unpleasant people who, for one reason or another, take pleasure in abusing others (including animals), being abused, or just generally not getting along with others.

It made me think of how the word "war" has degenerated into something meaningless for so many. Anything even remotely resembling conflict, no matter how stupid and trivial, is now a "war". Even recruiting commercials for the armed services, where people are shown parachuting, SCUBA diving, touring foreign cities, going to college, and the like - all presented with a backdrop of nothing. No context of the genuine risks of getting captured or wounded or killed.

I read a lot of WWII history. I'm especially interested in firsthand accounts of Marine infantrymen in the Pacific Theater, I guess because that's what my Dad was, and I followed in his footsteps 25 years later. One of the most vivid personal, and for me terrifying, accounts I've read was by Robert Muhlbach, related in John Wukovits' One Square Mile of Hell: The Battle for Tarawa:

There was a lot of bayoneting. The strangling and gouging is kind of movie stuff. It happened where there was occasion when we had to use our knives. You wanted to get it deep inside to make sure that it was a kill, and you'd get it in there and wiggle it around, and then extract it. You'd hold onto your rifle. Just as soon as you had a chance to do it, you'd kick the body and pull on your bayonet, wiggling it a bit and loosening it, then pull it out and put it into the next guy. It's hard to explain, but you're in a fight, like a fight in a ring between two boxers. You're just thinking of trying to find an outlet where you could get a punch or a kick in. That's what you're thinking of, damaging the other guy, and there's not much thought of anything else but trying to find that outlet to kill the other guy. Those movie versions - I guess they've got to come up with something that's dramatic. It wasn't dramatic with us. We were supposed to fight, to find a way of killing the other guy.

That's war.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why We Wear Ballistic Vests

This Deputy was attempting to stop a robbery suspect. The subject exited his car with one hand raised, then opened fire on the Deputy as he approached. The Deputy was hit in his ballistic vest and returned fire. The subject was later apprehended, and had been wounded twice by the Deputy.

NOTE: I don't know why there is a brief blackout in the video at 1:05 in the second (backup Deputy's) video. I'm sure someone from the "chemtrails" conspiracy sect can fill me in.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Shots Fired

With New Year's Eve recently upon us, I was reminded of all the "shots fired" calls I've taken on 4th of July and New Year's Eve.

Where I worked, it was pretty unusual to deal with actual "shots fired". However, on those holidays on which fireworks are commonly in use, "shots fired" calls skyrocketed (no pun intended). For whatever reason, people were convinced that what they were hearing couldn't possibly be fireworks - it was "shots fired".

I can't tell you the number of times I was confronted by someone who gave me his whole life history with respect to firearms handling, and told me that he could differentiate without fail a gunshot from a firecracker. Of course, producing expended fireworks from where the caller said "shots" were being "fired" did nothing to dissuade the caller of his expertise.

Now, I understand there is the occasional loony that cranks off a round in his backyard at midnight on New Year's Eve. I was even present one time when this happened. But there is no way the frequency of such idiotic acts matches the frequency of the "shots fired" calls. If it did, there'd be wounded lying all over town from the projectiles raining out of the sky.

So, if you hear a bang at midnight on December 31st, or a boom on the evening of July 4th, don't panic. It probably isn't "shots fired".

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: Measurements

As I write this, I am warming up my snow blower to remove the "< 1 inch" of snow that Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman, predicted we would get overnight. I will have to do it again before the day is over. But, hey, it's just "< 1 inch".

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reckless In Seattle

This guy brandished two handguns in several stores in downtown Seattle, carjacked three vehicles at gunpoint, and fired at pursuing officers before this insane climax to the incident.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Getting Pulled Over

I don't routinely respond to comments on my blog posts. I feel that space belongs to my readers (both of them) to respond to me or to each other as they wish, without me getting involved. But I was recently asked, and have been asked many times before, the correct "protocol" for a driver being pulled over by a police officer.

First, it's not set in stone. Different law enforcement agencies have different routines. Some I agree with, some I don't. Also, drivers do a lot of different things because they're nervous, and most of the time I don't care. But in general, this is what I like to see.

1. When the lights and/or siren come on, pull over to the right and stop. The officer has decided this is where the stop is to take place, and it's up to the driver to comply. Pulling into a driveway or a parking lot is OK, provided it's your driveway or the parking lot is right there. Don't just drive along until you find a place you're comfortable with. That's a red flag for officers, wondering why this person isn't stopping right away.

2. Stay in your car, unless the officer directs you to do otherwise. Now, I understand some agencies routinely have drivers exit and come back to them. But no one on my agency does that, and I would never let that happen. If the person exits with a weapon, you're a sitting duck closed up inside your squad car.

3. I don't really care whether the driver already has their license and proof of insurance ready when I walk up there (I never ask for registration - that info is on my computer when I run the plate). In fact, I love it when people just leave their hands on the steering wheel until I get up there. If they don't already have their documentation in hand, I just ask for it. What I don't like to see is a bunch of bending and reaching as I'm approaching - especially into center consoles or glove boxes - because I don't know what they're reaching for.

4. If you have a concealed carry permit and are carrying a handgun (or have it in the center console or glove box), by all means keep your hands on the steering wheel and advise the officer of those circumstances. Then, follow their instructions. By no means do you want to be going for your insurance card in the glove box, and have your .45 slide out. That tends to alarm cops.

4. Be polite. I always said that I'm as nice to people as they allow me to be. I understand you don't want to get a ticket. But my job is to enforce laws, and that includes traffic laws. If I have any discretion in writing the citation, I'm way more likely to exercise that if you're decent with me. If you're going to be like the lady I once stopped for 15 over in an active school zone, who told me "Just write the motherfucking ticket", you can bet I will do just that.

5. Take the citation to court if you feel you've been unfairly ticketed. You always have that option, and I always encouraged people I stopped who were unhappy with me to register for court. But remember that a violation is almost certainly on dashcam and/or bodycam video. I was always very lenient in writing tickets, so the violations I did cite were pretty obvious. I never lost a court case.

Remember: this is just me.It isn't intended as anything other than personal advice. Other cops and other agencies have their own routines. Theirs may be better or worse than mine, but I'm still alive and kicking after thousands of traffic stops.