Bernie plays policeman

Friday night, April 20

  • 6:30pm  The beginning
  • 7:00pm  The first officer
  • The first incident
  • Slow time
  • The first arrest
  • First family disturbance call
  • 9:30pm An expensive parking place
  • Clairvoyant e-mail
  • Computer failure
  • The burning
  • 10:30pm Changing of the guard
  • 11:00pm Child bitten by dog
  • Potential burglary
  • 12:30am  Strange woman
  • 1:30 am Second family disturbance
  • 2:00 More strange people
  • 2:30 am BJ
  • 3:00 am Clothes shredding
  • 4:00 The finale
  • Epilogue

  • 6:30pm  The beginning

    I've scheduled myself to ride with a Richardson Police Department patrol officer whose territory includes the area where I live.  The shift I've picked is normally 6pm to 2am, but on Friday and Saturday it is 7pm to 3am.  Whatever happens in Richardson anyway?

    First I meet with the Lieutenant who I contacted about the schedule.  He just returned from a 2 month management training program run by the Southwest Legal Foundation.  He tells me how RPD invests a lot in training supervisors and managers.  RPD has just recently installed voicemail for everyone and he hadn't checked it the entire two months he was away.  He returned to find lots of e-mail but only 11 voicemail messages.  Two of them were from me trying to reach him to schedule a ride.

    7:00pm  The first officer

    I connect with Officer C, the officer I will ride with.  I've met him before when he was an actor in our Citizens Police Academy class session on family violence.  He isn't tall but he looks like one solid muscle from the waist up.  When we had to "arrest" him in class we wanted to call the SWAT team to do it!  He's been with the police about 12 years and is one of the senior patrol officers and a training officer.  His wife is a police officer in the next town.

    Move the shotgun out of the front seat and stow it in the rack in the trunk so that I have a place to sit and don't have to literally ride shotgun.

    The first incident

    Cruise around all over northwest Richardson.  Beautiful weather, 70 degrees and clear.  I'm lucky, sometimes it rains during ride-alongs.  Eventually he notices a car stalled in a southbound left turn lane at a major intersection.  We pull up next to the car but on the opposite side of the street, so we are now blocking a northbound lane.  There is a friendly conversation about the guy's car problems and how his wife is on her way to jump start his car.  We continue to block the lane we are in.  Wife shows up and C moves his car to provide safe lane coverage for them while they jump the car.  Still doesn't start.  We block all the lanes with the patrol car and C and I and the guy push the car into a gas station and the guy and his wife will figure out what they want to do.

    Slow time

    The computers in the car are pretty neat.  Panasonic laptops with software that connects them to dispatch, state records, and all other officers on duty.  Lots of e-mail jokes about how slow a night it is.  We check me and I am not wanted for anything anywhere in the country and have a spotless driving record.  I don't ask to check on anyone else.

    The first arrest

    We're dispatched to a nice sports bar to provide backup to officers responding to a disturbance in the bar, involving at least one woman protagonist.  Turn on the lights and siren as we zoom across town.  Attractive blond in an evening dress and her boyfriend have had a disagreement with a bartender who told them they couldn't have anymore to drink.  They're outside now taking to the 2 cops who arrived first.  She thinks it is important to tell the cops, over and over again, that she didn't do anything wrong and that she is 28 years old and that her boyfriend is 32 years old.  She also thinks it important to cuss out the bartender, the manager and the situation and deny that she is drunk.  Eventually she refuses to be quiet or to cooperate and gets louder.  Something happens and suddenly it is necessary for two officers to restrain her while she is handcuffed - which proves that she can cuss even better.  C has trained the other officers and somehow he has taken charge.  She is arrested for public intoxication.  Boyfriend gets field sobriety test and passes.  She has a young son who is staying with her mother.  He gets to tell the mother what happened!  She will be in jail for a minimum of 4 hours and until she is no longer a danger to herself.  Bond will be about $500 by cash or credit card.  We'll hear more about her later.

    First family disturbance call

    A woman is trying to repossess her daughter's car in the parking lot of the daughter's apartment.  It takes about 2 seconds to realize that the mother doesn't like the daughter's boyfriend.  Daughter is supposed to pay mother $50 every Friday.  Daughter and boyfriend won't have the money until Saturday morning.  Mom wants to take the car back.  The police know the daughter.  She is 40+ years old and an alcoholic.  Says she hasn't had much to drink but she is clearly drunk and has trouble standing up part of the time.  ID check shows that boyfriend is younger and has been released from prison a couple of months ago where he served 9 months of a sentence for drugs.  Cops advise mother that she can go to constable on Monday and file papers to repossess the car if she wants to do that.  Police treat all parties with respect and courtesy.  Mother and her male companion leave and so do we.

    9:30pm An expensive parking place

    Dispatched to a call about a car in a handicapped spot.  There is a handicapped sign in front of the apartment of an older, handicapped man and someone has parked in his space.  Driver wouldn't have had to go far to find another space.  Officer knocks on neighbors' doors to see if anyone knows whose car it is so that they can move it rather than get a ticket.  Neighbors are concerned/surprised because a policeman is knocking on their door.  Nobody knows whose car it is so we write a ticket.  Not sure of the fine, but it is over $100.  Tell man to call again if it happens again.

    Clairvoyant e-mail

    Get an e-mail that says a Corvette or a Ferrari may be stolen from the Chevrolet or Ferrari dealerships, and get a description of the suspect and where the suspects vehicle is parked.  We wonder about that.

    Computer failure

    The computer stops being able to transmit or receive communications.  Power off and reboot (Windows NT) but it still doesn't work so we turn the car in and take another car.  Meet the officer who sent the clairvoyant e-mail.  Suspect has been visiting both the Corvette dealer and the Ferrari dealer for several days and both have independently called the police to report the suspicious person.  He has a very distinctive appearance.  Cars have been found unlocked or doors unlatched that shouldn't be but suspect has apparently managed to accomplish that.  Suspect's vehicle is a van with a flatbed trailer hitched behind it and has been parked nearby for two days.  She has written an 8 page report and has photos of the suspect's vehicle.  We go back on patrol in the new car, but the computer system wouldn't let Officer C log off from the defective system so we have to use a new beat number.  Like changing your name, but dispatch and the officer know they have to be careful and may make mistakes for a while.

    The burning

    Dispatched to a family disturbance call and that there are children in the home.  Get a second call that the man left when police were called.  Couple was divorced in January.  He lives out of town and has visitation rights.  While mother was out he entered house and looked through her things and found evidence that was used against him and burned it.  C advises woman of her options, suggests they may need to find a place other than the home to exchange the children, and offers that if the police are not too busy they will come and be in attendance when the children are exchanged.

    10:30pm Changing of the guard

    Officer C has worked a lot of overtime and must leave early.  Police department is 40% over budget so far and city revenues are below budget.  Officers have a choice of comp time or overtime pay, but must take comp time now, rather than overtime.

    Officer C turns me over to Officer J at the beginning of the "deep nights" shift.  I sit through a short briefing, mostly about overtime and setting up your voicemail.  Officer J has been a patrol officer for 14 months.  We sign out a car and she unloads and reloads the shotgun in the trunk of this car and we set out on patrol.  She is small and thin and looks barely 30-ish if you look closely, younger at first glance.

    11:00pm Child bitten by dog

    We're dispatched to a report of a child bitten by a dog.  When we arrive 11 year old girl is in ambulance and animal control is already there too.  Girl is sleeping over at friend's house.  Two girls are tossing candy back and forth.  Pet boxer leaps for candy and misses and gets guest instead.  Dog's owner says girl has a small puncture near corner of her lower lip.  Her father is on his way.  Ambulance driver says he'd like to get going to the hospital that girl has major laceration from lip to beneath chin and a puncture under her jaw, and that plastic surgery will be required.  J checks on girl in ambulance and almost gets sick when she confirms major laceration.  Dog does not have shots.  It is allergic to shots and owner has certificate from vet stating that.

    Father arrives and is trying to figure out who to be mad at.  See his daughter and is shaken.  Asks if dog has had its shots.  J says we'll meet him at hospital and give him all information.  J tries to decide what to do.  Animal Control has arranged for dog to be quarantined for 10 days.  Owner will bring dog in Saturday.  10 days starts Friday.  City charges $5 a day.  He sees no reason to do anything further.  Also says that rabies shots aren't like they used to be.  Now like flu shots and no longer into stomach, but unlikely they'll be needed.  J agrees that nothing further is needed.  Then they both realize that neither one of them has actually seen the dog.  We ring the bell and go into the house where people are cleaning up a lot of blood from the carpet and stairway.  They can't find dog's choke collar so eventually Animal Control gets one.  Dog is submissive and terrified and dribbling urine.

    J and I head for emergency room.  Father is on phone with doctor.  J visits with victim and gets her laughing.  Victim and her friend and friend's aunt are there.  Victim is concerned about dog and starts crying again when she hears that dog will be quarantined.  A plastic surgeon is on his way to hospital to perform emergency surgery on the girl.  J shares information with father and makes sure that he is calm, and I suggest he find out about the owners homeowners insurance.  We leave.

    Potential burglary

    We're dispatched to a report of glass breakage at a nice clothing store in a large outdoor mall.  First we have to find the store!  Officer J has only been on this side of town for a week or two.

    The officers have the option of "disregarding" routine dispatches to backup another officer for common things that are unlikely to be a problem.  They would have done it for this one, but an e-mail came from a more senior officer that said don't disregard, the last time this alarm went off there was a burglar in the store.  We park nearby and check the windows and the side doors.  Find the other officer behind the building.  Officer S is a little older, but considerably shorter than the officer I am with.  She has been a patrol officer for about 4 months.  She had a non-officer job with the police department for about 6 years before that.  We find no signs of breakage but Officer S says she did find an open door elsewhere in the mall.  Officer J says it may be the vacant theater area that another officer showed her once and that is sometimes used as a gang hangout.  We go to the door which is wide open and contains an open wooden stairway to a dark second floor.  Walls are painted with graffiti.  The 3 of us, with their flashlights go upstairs and explore.  The place has been cleaned up a bit and we don't find anything nor anyone.

    Officer S handed in her resignation the day before so they discuss that for a while.  S will become an officer in the town where she lives and save herself at least an hour commute each way.  Less money but more time at home and she has two school age children.

    12:30am  Strange woman

    See a woman leaning propping her head up against a car in a shopping center parking lot.  Is she OK?  Yes, her husband has gone some place, she's not sure which store, and she is waiting for him to come back.  We wait with her to be sure she is safe.  He returns from distant all night grocery store and we leave.

    1:30 am Second family disturbance

    Dispatched to a call about a girl who wants to run away.  Officer S joins us as backup.  We enter very neat apartment.  Father says 17 year old daughter didn't go to school that day and wants to leave and go with her 17 year old boyfriend.  She told boyfriend's parents that she hates her father and was being abused at home.  She has been on probation for truancy, but that expired 4 months ago.  Father would rather see her locked up for the weekend than see her leave the house, especially at this hour.  She used to go to a different high school but they were concerned about her friends so they moved to this neighborhood hoping things would be better, but she still hangs out with her old friends.  There is an older brother there who translates when necessary and also tries to reason with his sister.  Mother never says a word.  Officer J takes the girl to her well furnished room and tries to calm her down and make her think realistically.

    At 17 the girl does not have to go to school and can leave the house if she wants to.  But parents are still responsible for any damage that she may do.  Legally it is a Catch-22 age.  J advises parent that Neighborhood Youth Services offers counseling that may be helpful.  We wish them well and leave.  J says this is very common for girls at this age.  That girls tend to runaway and that boys tend to tough it out or fight.

    2:00 More strange people

    See a pickup parked far from any stores with what appears to be a person slumped over the steering wheel.  S is dispatched to provide us backup.  Pickup is not running but radio is blasting and male inside is not moving.  Not clear if he is unconscious, drunk, or dead.  Doesn't respond to light shining on him.  J opens door and he wakes up startled. Says he is fine and J say he hasn't done anything wrong, just want to be sure he is OK.  Paramedics arrive and check him out and he leaves.

    Horn blaring across the street.  Car is stalled at intersection and somebody felt the need to lean on their horn - at 2 in the morning.  Car won't start and we push it into parking lot and drive guy home.

    2:30 am BJ

    Pickup truck is doing 57 in a 40 zone as it approaches us.  Pickup turns at stop light and we pull it over.  Officer S is dispatched to provide backup to us.  Male driver gets out of his pickup and approaches us rapidly.  Tells J that he is sorry and embarrassed.  She says no reason to be embarrassed and returns him to his vehicle to check registration, insurance and his id.  He says "we were just getting started".  She asks what that means.  He says woman in the truck was putting her head in his lap.  More than she wanted to know!  Pickup cab also contains a pitbull type dog.  J aims video camera mounted on our windshield toward the sidewalk and administers several field sobriety tests.  He passes and is sent on his way.  J and S speculate on what might have happened if the couple had been in an accident and S has a story about actually hearing of one.

    3:00 am Clothes shredding

    Dispatched to another family disturbance call.  Report that woman is cutting up man's clothes.  There may be knives involved.  There are young children in the apartment.  Street names within the apartment complex are very confusing with the same name existing as a street, drive, alley, circle and road.  4 officers and Sgt march around looking for right place.  Realize we're not quite there and we race off to the right part of the complex.  I'm asked to wait in the car until they know what the situation is.  Later J tells me that they ran upstairs with guns drawn.  She didn't know why but saw the more senior officers with weapons drawn so she followed suit.  Fortunately situation was calm when police got there.  Father had given 9 year old a sip of beer and mother got enraged and shredded all his clothes with a scissors.  Reason for guns was that an officer knew that the man next door, who happens to be a cousin or uncle, had committed a homicide on another occasion.  That was one expensive beer.

    4:00 The finale

    Things seem to be slowing down and we discuss going to eat.  J suggests that I become a police officer and that I am not too old.  Then a call comes over radio that an officer has secretly requested assistance.   We're off.  Lights and sirens this time,

    We arrive at apartment parking lot to see two male officers wrestling and trying to restrain a man.  All three are on the ground.  Another officer arrives about the same time and the three officers manage to put restraints on his arms and legs.  He is yelling at the top of his lungs but difficult to understand because of his accent and the nonsense.  Officer J watches the car he had been driving that contains two other males.  The guy on the ground has been screaming for them to get out of the car and help him.  They stay in the car.

    Screamer is carried to a police car and continues to yell and struggle.  Man in front passenger seat is asked to get out and he almost has to peel himself out of the car.  He is thin and about 6'6", soft spoken and drunk.  Man in the back of the two door car then peels himself out and is the same size and also drunk.  Field sobriety tests are administered with difficulty because the men are so drunk, having trouble with English, and have trouble keeping their eyes open.  Police treat both with respect and courtesy.  Both are arrested and protest quietly but don't struggle.  Police find copies of Soldier of Fortune magazine in the car.  I see a tire iron on the back seat of the car.  J finds a prescription bottle of pills in the car.  They belong to the guy we've put in our car and she takes them in case he needs his medicine.  Car will be impounded.  It can't be left open and unattended.  Everyone goes to the police station.

    Jailers, 2 husky women and one husky man, come to bring screamer inside.  He is still screaming and struggling and saying he will never give up his life.  He is brought into an airlock type structure that has padding over the concrete walls and separates the police car area from the jail.  Items are removed from his pockets and jailer begins to remove an earring from his ear.  He struggles, then agrees that it is OK but he won't stop moving his head.  Suddenly he slams his head, hard, against the wall.  Incredible.  Police suggest that if he weren't so drunk he would have knocked himself out.  Police hold his head against padded wall so he can't hurt himself and earring is removed.  He has to be carried, struggling into a holding cell and continues to scream.  One of the tall guys is brought in from another car.  He is quiet and cooperative and very drunk.  Says his father is a police.  Says he is a medicine man.  Says they are from Sudan (this part is probably true.).  Other tall man is his brother, screamer is their cousin.

    Finally our guy is brought into the airlock and we allow doors at both ends to close.  Our guy is quiet, cooperative and drunk.  Jailer and J start to place his things in a bag and I hand over his pill bottle.  J asks him if they are for allergies or what they are for.  He says not allergies.  He says they are for TB and he is supposed to take one a day!  The prescription was for 30 pills and is dated in January and the bottle has at least 15 pills in it and this is mid-April.  He says he has/had TB in his bones but points to his chest.  General panic.  I am pushed out of the airlock by J.  J and the jailer leave the airlock and they have our prisoner sit on a bench.  There are 3 jailers, 4 officers, myself and 2 other guests that have all been exposed to this person.  One of the other riders is a pharmacist and says the prescription is for congestion and not TB.

    Screamer is still screaming and now starts kicking the glass in the door of his holding cell as hard as he can with his bare foot at least 15 times, probably more.   Most of the drunks in the other cells sleep through it somehow.  Jailers are concerned about him hurting himself.  Police discuss taking him to intoxication evidence room for videotaping, or putting him in a restraining chair that is in the jail.  Decision is that it would only be another fight to get him out of the holding cell.  He is read his rights to agree or disagree to a sobriety test.  He babbles and it is taken as his not being in condition to consent.  In Texas if you consent to a test DWI and you are drunk your license is automatically suspended for 90 days.  If you do not consent but you are found to be DWI your license is automatically suspended for 120 days.

    The blond we arrested at the beginning of the evening is there and they are moving her out of the area to get her away from the commotion..  She is now dressed in a jail top and pants, sort of like pajamas with white and black horizontal stripes.  I ask and am told that she should be able to leave jail soon and that someone is waiting for her.

    Lots of discussions about what to do among the officers and jailers because of the TB guy.  He is now in a holding cell.  We all wash our hands a lot. All of the police supervisors have gone to eat but they get hold of them and one comes back to the station.  Decision is to take TB guy to hospital for chest x-ray and any other tests.  It is after 5:00am and I leave.  They'll let me know the results of the TB tests.

    I leave the jail and see the blonde's boyfriend waiting in the lobby.


    I received e-mail from J the next night saying that chest x-ray was clear and there is no other evidence of TB.  RPD will be notified of further test results and if necessary I'll be notified.