Bernie plays policeman
Friday night, April 20
The first officer
family disturbance call
An expensive parking place
Changing of the guard
Child bitten by dog
am Second family disturbance
More strange people
2:30 am BJ
am Clothes shredding
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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'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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.