Monday, May 25, 2009

Never Forget

A three day weekend.... great weather, fun times which make for great memories. While I'm on the topic of "memories", I think people all too often forget the true meaning of the holidays our country celebrates.

Many people are thankful for a three day weekend (and who isn't!). I write this entry as a reminder to all of us who are able to celebrate this day with friends, family and loved ones. Memorial Day, a day to remember our country's veterans. Many of those veterans who didn't get a chance to live their life's dreams because they made the ultimate sacrifice...

The sacrifice of giving their life for our country so we could continue to enjoy our freedoms. Freedoms we take for granted because we've always had them. Read the papers, watch the news and you'll see there are still many places in our world where people don't have the same freedoms as we do.

Am I patriotic, yeah I am. I fly the American Flag in front of my house. My father retired as a warrant officer from the U.S. Navy after 23 years. He made his deployments to "Yankee Station" off the coast of Vietnam. I followed in his footsteps and served in the U.S. Navy for two enlistments and then some. My oldest son, proudly serves in the U.S. Navy also.

On Saturday my youngest son and I were running errands. We were stuck in traffic on I-80 creeping along very slowly. This SUV passed to my left as I saw this sailor in uniform seated in the right front passenger seat wearing his dress blues. As typical of traffic, they stopped as I slowly came along side the SUV. The sailor's window was rolled down. I rolled my window down and as I stopped in traffic next to the SUV he looked over.

I told him "Thank you for what you do." The word "thanks" just doesn't seem to be enough. Our veterans went to war as young men and returned as heroes in some conflicts and as villains in others. Regardless of the politics they were called on to do a job either by choice or the draft.

My son asked me "Why did you do that Dad?" How can you truly explain to someone as young as him the importance of our service members serving all over our world protecting our way of live and the sacrifices they make and the sacrifices our veterans have made?

Young men and women who had to put their lives on hold, young men and women who's last goodbyes were not long enough before leaving for war, not knowing that it would truly be their last goodbye.

So while we're all enjoying our extended weekend, please take a small moment of your time to honor and thank those veterans past and present .

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Is bad luck better than no luck? Hell No!

One Friday late in the shift Juan Jalisco and I get dispatched to a two vehicle traffic collision on the west side of South City. Typically collisions that happen on that road are usually either out of the South City limits or out of our county.... not this time.

The collision occurred on a major arterial roadway which goes from 3 lanes in each direction down to 1 lane in each direction. This collision happened because Einstein driver needed to turn around. She politely pulled over to the shoulder of the road where its 1 lane in each direction.

When she decides to make her u-turn she didn't realize another car was coming up behind her. So as she pulls into the lane, POW! the other car plows into hers. Thankfully nobody was injured so no follow up required at our local hospital and it was close to the end of our shift. Einstein driver was able to move her car to the shoulder to clear the roadway and keep the Friday afternoon salmon run (commute) going.

I requested a tow truck for both vehicles to get them completely off the roadway and out of here so I could begin my weekend. The tow company arrived on scene and took one of the cars away. The second tow truck was a flatbed and stopped ahead of the car with the major front end damage.

This roadway was narrow enough without the added flatbed tow truck obstructing more of the traffic lane. I request a report number as I'll be the lucky one writing this collision report as Juan Jalisco took a collision report earlier in the shift. Juan and I are standing near the rear of the damaged vehicle as the tow driver is hooking up the car.

Right after the tow driver gets the car on the flatbed and secured, he walked back to where we were standing with the driver to give him a business card for the location and telephone number to the tow yard.

As we're ready to wrap things up and actually get off duty on time I hear this WHAM! I see the flatbed tow truck shaking slightly. I see a flatbed pickup truck park in front of the tow truck. I noticed the foot step and driver door exterior mirror of the tow truck are totally demolished.

So much for getting off duty on time now...

Juan Jalisco contacts the driver, who didn't have a California driver license or any driver license for that matter. He did have a Mexican Consular I.D. card to go with the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath.

Juan runs the driver through a standard set of field sobriety tests (FST's) and ends up arresting Flaco for DUI. The tow truck is still drivable and leaves the scene. The driver tells me he'll be at the tow yard as I needed to get some information from him and give him a report number for his boss.

I had to request a third tow truck, this one to take Flaco's truck to the tow yard for a 30 day impound on his dime. By the time the third tow truck is on scene, off duty time as come and gone (always on a Friday). Flaco's truck is up on the hook and on its way to car jail. I head over to the tow company only to find out the driver's on another call, thankfully within South City.

I have his dispatcher contact him and tell him I'll meet him at his tow location to wrap up the crash. Now I'm like everybody else, its Friday and I'm ready to begin my weekend.

I fire up the Harley and I'm off like a prom dress to finish up business and get the hell outta Dodge. I'm cruising down a frontage road which parallels I-680 at what I determine to be the speed limit for being late on getting off work again.

SHIT! I see black smoke billowing up into the air coming from I-680. As I ride by I see a car almost fully engulfed in flames. I notified dispatch to get fire and CHP rolling to the location (not that I hated to bother and interrupt the fire guys playing their XBOX game while seated in their lazy-boy recliners) I do a u-turn, park, jump the chain link fence with no horizontal support bar at the top (helmet, motor boots and all, not an easy feat).

I get up to the car and thankfully see that no one is still inside it. I don't see anyone walking along the shoulder. I'm told the fire department and CHP are on their way. Fire got there pretty quick and doused the fire quickly. CHP showed up while the fire guys were doing their magic of putting foam and water on the car.

I inform the CHP officer how I came upon this obstacle for getting off duty, then I'm off again to meet the tow driver. Needless to say, I catch up to the tow driver and conclude business. I get back to the office parking lot and go to retrieve my keys from my duty belt.

Wouldn't you know it, my damn keys were gone. My guess is I lost them as I climbed that damn fence to check on that burning car.

Yep you guessed it, back to the scene of the fire and where I hopped the fence. The whole area was covered with dead leaves which went up to my ankles....

And no, I didn't find my damned keys.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I meant to do that

Some time ago while I was working as a motor cop in North Town we used to run Lidar on a frontage road. When the interstate traffic was way backed up, motorists used to use this road as a bypass. It made for easy pickings.

While I'm posted up beneath some shade, I see this nice BMW sedan haulin ass. The posted speed limit for this section of road is 40 mph. I estimated that she was doing around 60 to 65 mph. I had her speed locked in at 64 mph. I pull onto the roadway behind her waiting to get further south to where the road widens.

I turn on my emergency lights as she begins to move to the right side. She pulled onto the shoulder of the road at the same time I was on the radio with dispatch when she just slammed on her brakes and came to a quick stop. I mean real quick.

I remember grabbing all the brake I could as I saw this clean, shiny pristine rear bumper of a BMW. I'm thinking to myself, "Aw shit, this isn't going to be good."

As I rode onto the white painted fog line for the shoulder of the road my rear tire locked up due to the slickness of the paint compared to the asphalt. Well the back end of my motor began to slide to the right as the rear of the BMW came closer and closer.

The rear of the motor stopped sliding as the motor came to a stop, then high sided as motor and I fell to the right. Luckily I had missed the rear bumper of the BMW. The driver got out of her car and came running back to the rear of her car, you know those tiny little running steps in high heels with arms held high bent at the elbows.

I watched as she stooped down, looked at her bumper to check for damage. When she saw her BMW wasn't touched she then turned and asked me "Are you okay."

Thankfully no damage to the motor and the only damage was to my pride as I stood there embarrassed as motorists drove by looking at the scene of a police motorcycle on its side. It's a sight that any motor officer dreads.

Now to pick up this Harley Davidson Road King..... I could radio for my fellow motor partner to come and help and probably hear about this incident till retirement. The same thing would happen if I called a beat car to come out and help. The driver was kind enough to offer her help, but I asked her to take a seat in her car.

I was able to get the motor upright and I hope to never have to do that again. Next time I think I'll put up with the ribbing from my fellow officers. Luckily I didn't throw my back out. Too eager and being a new motor officer, I figured I had better tone it down if I want to become an "older" motor officer.

Lesson learned: New motor officer, riding too aggressively = bruised ego. I was very lucky. I could have bruised or broken a lot more to the point of a medical retirement if not worse.

I was too eager being a new motor officer. I figured I had better tone it down if I want to become an "older" motor officer.

Since that incident years ago I've learned that you won't catch all the violating motorists and some are not worth my safety to even attempt to catch.

Yeah, she still got her ticket and thankfully she never took it to court.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Old school was meant for another publication, sorry for those of you who got a peek at the darker side. To BTV, you are absolutely right!

The truth shall set you free

I was dispatched to a solo vehicle traffic collision which occurred on one of our residential streets. What had happened was one of our Police Explorers was driving home after buying an X-Box 360 game and was in a little hurry.

Let me describe the scene to you. He was traveling westbound on a major boulevard which had two lanes and made a right turn onto the street he lived on, a regular residential roadway with no lane divider. He had actually moved over into the opposing lane of traffic and side swiped this parked car.

I arrived at the location and spoke to the driver. He told me he was driving at about 20 mph when he made his right turn. Now he further said he made his right turn from the right lane of the boulevard. I asked him if he had any passengers with him. He said he was the only person in the car.

I looked at the damage to both vehicles and the physical evidence on the roadway. I noticed a very clear, defined critical speed scuff. A critical speed scuff is a tire mark left on the roadway when the tire loses traction in a turn. I noticed this critical speed scuff began in the left turn lane on the boulevard. He tried to apex his turn by driving across both lanes of the boulevard and turning close to the corner nearest him onto his street.

This critical speed scuff continued onto the residential roadway into the opposing side of the roadway up to where the parked car was hit. I asked him again how fast he was driving. He stuck with his original answer of 20 mph from the right lane of the boulevard.

I told Junior that the gray in the sides of my hair and mustache were indicators that I've been doing this job for a while. I also threw in the comment, "I was born at night, but not last night." I realize young people make stupid decisions. I was young once so I understood why he wasn't being honest. Hell I still do stupid things. This was me giving Junior a chance to come clean.

I pointed out my motor boots to Junior and asked him if he knew why we wear them. He of course said they were for safety. I told him, "No, its to prevent the bullshit as it gets deeper from getting my pants dirty." So I told Junior to think about what really happened and I'd come back and talk to him after I took my photographs of the traffic collision.

While I was taking the photographs, my dispatcher told me that I had a neighbor who had further information about the collision. I contacted this neighbor with my cell phone. This neighbor ranted and raved about the speeding problem on this street as well as the person who was involved was one of the "regulars" who frequently speed down this residential street.

She asked me if the driver was all right. Then she inquired about the passenger she saw get out of the car. I told her that to the best of my knowledge there was no passenger. She was positive that she saw a friend of his get out of the passenger side door.

I walked back up to Junior and had him tell me again what had happened. The only part of this dumb ass's story which changed was he might have been going 25 mph. I asked him again if anyone else was in the car with him. Once again he told me he was the only person in the car.

Listen if a cop asks you a question more than once, realize he or she more than likely already knows the answer. So I asked Junior why a neighbor would request a call from me only to tell me that she saw a passenger get out of the passenger side. Well his stumbling words told me the truth. I told him to call his friend and have him get his butt back up to the collision scene.

I had an ambulance respond due to the complaint of pain Junior had, and figured the passenger should be checked out also, not knowing if he was injured.

I then began to show Junior the critical speed scuff, where it originated from and how it didn't match the speed he had given me. I was able to determine his minimum speed based on the critical speed scuff and it sure as hell wasn't 20 to 25 mph.

The reason his passenger had run was Junior had his driver license for 4 months. He was a provisional driver who wasn't allowed to drive any passengers in his car under the age of 25.

Of course I cited him for an improper position for a right turn, unsafe speed for conditions, violation of his driver license provisional restrictions, and failure to provide proof of insurance at the scene of a traffic collision.

I later spoke to the Officer who is in charge of our police explorers and told him about the traffic collision and Junior's less than honest statement of how the collision happened. Unfortunately for Junior, he is no longer a police explorer with our agency.

This is one of those instances where I don't think I'll be going to court on the ticket Junior received.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Surprise! We eat and drink!

Why is it that just about every other profession can get together in a public place without any repercussions? I guess some people have nothing better to do than to bitch and complain.

You see a group of employees from waste management eating lunch at a local place and no problem. I'll see several UPS trucks parked near a restaurant with the drivers inside eating and no problem. I've even seen a crew of South City maintenance workers taking up an eatery and yeah, no problem. Hell I'll even see a fire truck parked at a local coffee shop with its crew having coffee..... no problem.

You get a motor unit at a restaurant and some citizen complains. Maybe they received a ticket from one of us and figure some type of pay back is due. As usual they don't have the intestinal fortitude to leave a name when they make their complaint.

Of course this person just plain lacks common sense. Lets see, several motor officers all gathered at one location eating lunch.... hmmmm. That probably means nobody is watching the streets for speeders and other violators of the California Vehicle Code. Go figure.

Well, we now get our lunches to go and meet at an out of the way place, out of the way from whining, butt sore citizens who are the same people who complain if we stop and get a cup of coffee in the morning.

People, we're entitled to a couple of breaks as well as a meal period during our shift. Get over it and get a life.

Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dad is work fun?

My son who is in the first grade asked me one day, "Dad is work fun?" Now I had to clarify his question. Is what I do for work fun or being a grown up and having to work fun? He meant the latter.

I told him that was a good question, IS WORK FUN? I explained to him that its important to chose a path in life which makes you happy in every respect. I told him when I finished my military service I had actually gotten out without having a job set up. Irresponsible? Maybe, maybe not. I was kinda tired of having Uncle Sam running my life and being away from home more times than not gets real old.

So as a new civilian I took the first job that I saw fit my military experience. I started out making $7 an hour back in the day. After almost two years of working this dead end job, my employer saw fit that my hourly wage was $9 an hour. Now I knew this job wasn't my future.

My original plan was to get out of the military and apply for law enforcement jobs. Little did I count on our country being in a recession and little to no law enforcement agencies hiring. Those that were hiring wanted a college education which I lacked. To better my career prospects I had enrolled in night classes at the local community college.

I was fortunate enough to be hired and paid to go through the Police Academy with benefits with a bay area agency. I can honestly say that every assignment I've had in my law enforcement career has been fun and challenging.

So to get back to my son's question. I told him there aren't very many people who work their days living their childhood dream of being a motor cop. Hey I loved working graveyard patrol, but being a motor cop is icing on the cake. I had dreamed of being a motor cop as a child but really never thought it would happen. I was happy enough just wearing the uniform and badge.

I told him every day at work is fun for me. I work with a group of great guys I've known for years, I work for a great department with a great schedule (I work 3 days a week, hell I'm off more days during the year than I am at work).

I told my son to chose a job / career that he would absolutely love. He told me he didn't want to be a policeman. I'm proud that he had the cojones to tell me that at his young age.

So my son's little comment allowed me to reflect on a topic that I too often take for granted. My first job out of the military SUCKED! Every Monday I'd try and think of an excuse I hadn't used before to get out of work. As many years as I've been a cop, I still love going to work. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy my weekends like everyone else, but when my Monday rolls around I'm ready to get back to some fun.

Now the question I asked my son is what he wanted to be when he grew up. He told me he'd like to be a veterinarian or a chef. I told him to go for it and as he grew older he'd realize where his passion lay.

Kind of odd choices together.

Of course the cop humor came quietly to play in my mind...... veterinarian or chef..... the light bulb came on! He could open a veterinarian clinic right next to his Southeast Asian Cuisine restaurant.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

RHIP (rank has it's priviliges)

The Sergeant and I were riding around tandem on a "training" ride. We rode through several local jurisdictions when he remembered he had a meeting to attend.

So we kind of stepped on it and moved out so he'd get to his meeting on time. As we're riding he gets my attention and points at his gas gage. When we stopped at the next stop light he tells me his low fuel light was on and he didn't know how long it's been on.

We were about a mile and a half away from the PD where his meeting was. We round a corner as I heard his motor sputter. He motions to me that he's got to pull over. Now here we are on one of our city's main thoroughfares and he's run out of fuel. It was five minutes to meeting time. My gas tank was almost full.

Yeah you guessed it. He pulled that "I've got Sergeant stripes on my sleeve and you have none." He tells me, "Hey I hate to do this 2WT, but I'm commandeering you motor so I can get to my meeting." I don't think he really hated it as he was laughing when he rode off.

Me I had to request a tow truck via our dispatch center. The dispatcher asked the need for a tow. Of course I had to let everyone know why.... "Because the Sergeant ran out of gas."

I had several motorists stop and ask if everything was okay. Yeah of course, I just figured I'd turn on the motor's hazard lights on, park on the shoulder of the road and stand here looking important.

In retrospect, I should have played ignorant and pretended not to understand the Sergeant's gestures to pull over and ridden off, down the roadway. Next time I'll know better.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Higher education in the Peoples Republic of Berkeley?

This past Friday was a beautiful day. The weather was a little on the warm side to be wearing wool riding breeches, motor boots, you know the typical motor garb. But hey, I'm not complaining. I love working in beautiful weather.

The day was nice. I had the opportunity to "meet" numerous drivers, all of which were not happy to meet me. We motor guys have an "eye" for things. We can be riding around minding our own business (at least we like you to think we are) and it doesn't matter how fast we're traveling down a city street. WE SEE THINGS! Things like vehicle code violations, such as talking on you cellular phone in a non hands free mode, or not wearing your seat belt, unsafe turns, etc. etc.

I was stopped in a left turn pocket of one of our city roadways. This idiot slows to a stop in the lane to my right slightly ahead of me and I can see through his windows that his seat belt was not being worn. I pulled behind him and sure enough, that bright shiny buckle was dangling from the B-pillar of his car.

I turn on my emergency lights and give a short blast of the siren and motion for the driver to make a right at the intersection. As we're pulling in I watch the driver put his seat belt on, I guess hoping I wouldn't see it.

Our conversation went something like this;

Me: Good afternoon, may I get your license registration and insurance card.
Idiot: Is there a problem Officer, why are you stopping me?
Me: I noticed as you stopped by me you didn't have your seat belt on.
Idiot: But it is on. I think you're mistaken Officer.
Me: It wasn't on when you slowed to a stop near me.
Idiot: But I have it on. (notice he never used past tense)
Me: I need that information from you, you know driver license, registration and insurance.
Idiot: My wallet was stolen yesterday and I don't have it.

So I get his information verbally and ask if there are any past tickets or addresses he lived at to try and verify he's giving me his true name as people never lie to the police.

He shows me a bank debit card with the name he provided me. I told him I was going to issue a citation for the seat belt violation. He told me he was a college student and didn't have a lot of money. When I told him I'd be right back, he tried another excuse of just being headed to the gym for a quick workout... I didn't quite get how that one is supposed to get you out of a ticket. His final one was his brother was graduating. Woo Hoo! Well hell, why didn't you say so? Never mind then, you can go happily on your way then..... bullshit. You're going to get a ticket pal.

I walk back to my motor and begin to scratch out a rag. I heard the driver yell several expletives as I watched him punch the interior of his car. I continued to write his ticket as I would look up quite frequently and noticed his car was shaking from all of his motion. Then he starts blasting on the horn which pretty much drown out his expletives.

This type of behavior really makes me want to make sure that my printing on the citation is SUPER LEGIBLE, you know that really clean, architectural type printing that you sure don't rush.

So I get the rest of his driver license information like the DL number, physical description and any history of violations from the dispatcher. I walked back up to the driver door and explain that his signature is not an admission of guilt, etc. etc. I lay my ticket book on the door and hand him my pen.

Idiot scratches an "X" in the signature box. Then the following dialog occurred.

Me: Is that how your signature appears on your driver license?
Idiot: Yeah.

Well because Idiot didn't have any type of formal I.D. on him I always take a right thumb print as Cal. DMV has right thumb prints on file of all licensed drivers in the golden state.

Me: I need your right thumb (as I open up my small ink pad).
Idiot: I don't think you can do that, I know my rights.
Me: You may know your rights, but I need your right thumb print because you don't have any formal picture I.D.
Idiot: I know my rights, I don't have to give you my thumb.
Me: You know your right, step out of the car because your under arrest.
Idiot: WHAT?!
Idiot: Okay, Okay, I'll give you my thumb. (hands his left thumb to me)

So I get Idiot's right thumb and hand him his copy of the ticket as he says in a very condescending tone, "Thanks for doing your job officer."

Me: Why thank you and you're welcome. Oh by the way, what college do you go to?
Idiot: Berkeley
Me: That explains it.
Idiot: Explains what?
Me: Most people your age, especially those attending higher educational institutions know how to spell and write their names. Oh and most kids in kindergarten know their left from the right too.
Idiot: Thanks again officer (again in a condescending tone).
Me: No problem, oh I forgot to tell you. You have additional violations of not having your driver license with you, unnecessary use of the horn and not having a current insurance card with you.

Don't play me for stupid when I witness a violation. If I'm only 99% sure that I witnessed a violation, tie goes to the runner and I'm not going to waste your time and especially mine by stopping you to give you a warning. I only stop those violations that I'm absolutely 100% sure occurred.

Once again, attitude is everything. You play nice, I can play nice. You wanna be an ass, I'll be a bigger ass. I hope Idiot learned an important lesson here..... Power of the pen Baby!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Entrapment! Bullshit!

My brother-in-law is an ass. When ever we have our family get togethers he always has some smart ass or derogatory remark about Law Enforcement. It chaps his ass when I don't react the way he thought I would. He's the type that is always stopped and cited for something he didn't do...... yeah right. Like I would jeopardize my career, my motor assignment and retirement to cite someone I've never met until I stopped them..... for a freakin' infraction!!!! PUH-LEESE GET A LIFE!

His latest bitch was about his local police agency conducting traffic enforcement on this winding road with no concrete center divide to separate the opposing traffic. There have been numerous traffic collisions with no injuries to serious injuries up to and including fatalities.

If you noticed I didn't use the word traffic ACCIDENT, because there's no such thing. When will people understand that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time?

My butt sore brother-in-law noticed that this local police agency had an officer up in a bucket truck, you know the type the power companies use for work on power lines. Well this officer was using LIDAR at approaching traffic and radioing the lane the car was in along with the make and color to a group of motor officers waiting just down the road.

Now what an ingenious way to catch speeders! I love it. Now that's thinking outside the box (which incidentally is the same shape as my brother-in-law's head).

Now my inbred, uneducated brother-in-law bitched that it was unfair to drivers and it was in fact entrapment. He's of the mind (what little he has) that the police should be out in plain view probably with a flashing neon sign pointing to where the officer is.

You know the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." The same goes for "You can send an idiot to school but you have to have a brain to learn." Hence my brother-in-law's problem.

So to the police agency who does traffic enforcement on that dangerous road, I hope you catch my brother-in-law someday. You'll know who he is when you stop him. He'll be boisterous, he'll try to get your goat by insulting you, your profession, even your mother. And after you cite him, expect a complaint to come your way from him.

He's a spineless pussy and that's how he handles business. He knows nothing about personal accountability. So cite him for what you can and when he's pressing hard on the 3 copies, ask him if his brother-in-law is a motor cop. If he replies yes, make sure you ask him what agency I work for because you've got a loaded starbuck's or peetes card coming your way and lunch is on my dime!

Hell I'd cite him myself if I saw that knuckle head driving head up ass in my city.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

You're not special either!

I worked overtime last Saturday thanks to the State of California's Office of Traffic Safety and their click it or ticket grant. It's pretty amusing to see the faces of drivers as they all know too well that us motor types don't work the weekends.... easy pickings.

I decided to head out to the east side of South City and found a nice spot on the center median of one of our busy roadways we comically refer to as a "speedway". It was a very nice day, bright and sunny. This spot on the center median is a small pedestrian path and it gave me the perfect vantage point along with the direction the sun was shining to watch my prey approach.

It didn't take long for my first "rag" of the day. I see this SUV go by, driver wearing a brown shirt and no shoulder belt over his shoulder and across his chest.

I enter the speedway and quickly catch up to the SUV where I proceed to turn on my emergency lights to let the driver know he's been caught.

Of course as in most cases when I contact the driver the seat belt is on and they don't have the slightest clue about why they were stopped. I noticed the gray belt coming over his shoulder and across his chest and stood out against his brown shirt.

I tell him why I stopped him and he just lets out a deep sigh. After getting his driver license, registration and insurance card he tells me who he is. Yep it said the same thing on his driver license except the other fact which he told me that he was a retired pro baseball player from the Oakland Athletics.

I guess he figured that would get him out of a seat belt ticket... NOT! While I was standing by my motor scratching out his seat belt rag he must have thought "Maybe he isn't an A's fan."

When I re-approached his driver door with his ticket. He looked at me and said "No break for the old Giant eh?" Nope not today, press hard 3 copies.

Remember people, you have a better chance of winning the lotto or some state power ball before being given a break by a motor cop.

So yeah, I got his autograph, right inside the high lighted box with the words "Without admitting guilt, I promise to appear at the time and place indicated below."

I don't find this as blatant or offensive as those persons of the 11-99 foundation who abuse their membership by flaunting their bronze placards, license plate frames and vinyl 11-99 emblazoned vehicle registration holders.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Prying eyes

Once in a great while us motor dudes drop our motors. Not the hard crash into a car or a car into us, just the simple "oops, it fell on its side" type stuff with little or no damage. It's not a fun thing to have happen, number one because it's embarrassing as motorist drive by and see your Harley on its side. Second, they're freakin' heavy and a bitch to pick up by yourself, lest you want to call your motor partners up to give you a hand (usually the clapping type of helping hand and only of course after they've taken their numerous pictures for future humiliation).

One nice sunny morning all five of us were working in separate areas of South City. I had just completed a traffic stop when I hear my Nextel chirp. I see it's my Sergeant. I answer up and he asks, "Alright which one of you knuckle heads dropped your bike?"

I replied, "Wasn't me, I only do that in training. You better check Juan Jalisco, he's good for that every now and then." Well sure enough, it was Juan Jalisco. Thankfully he wasn't hurt or the motor either. What had happened was after clearing his traffic stop, Juan got on his motor to ride off. As he began a sharp turn the engine hesitated and caused the motor and rider to fall over.

Unbeknown to Juan, a wife of one of our Sergeant's worked in the building where the motor fell over. A co-worker of the Sergeants wife asked her if she knew if that motor officer was alright that had "crashed" in front of the building. Well the Sergeant's wife not knowing either, called her Hubby Sergeant and asked him. Well Hubby Sergeant didn't know either so he called the motor Sergeant....

Well the motor Sergeant sure as heck didn't know which one of his guys dropped his motor, hence the round of Nextel direct connect calls.

One of our traditions when one of us does something stupid like dropping our motor or anything else we deem appropriate is to use a pink rabbit sippy cup to drink coffee out of when we go to our local Starbucks.

You'd think pink and LAPD blue would clash.......

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Judicial Notice?

On occasion when there are a tremendous amount of traffic cases in our court, to speed things along some of the traffic cases are moved upstairs to be heard by a criminal court judge.

That happened to me on this day. As myself and the Defendant entered the court room and took our seats another traffic case was going on involving the defendant and officer. The Judge allowed the defendant to express her side of the story. I listened to the defendant claim that she had stopped at the stop sign and had not "rolled" through it.

The Judge finally said the defendant was not saying anything new that he hadn't already heard and found her guilty of failing to stop at a stop sign.

After the defendant and officer left the court room, the Judge addressed those of us seating before him. He told us how his 5 year old son accompanied him to a 4-way stop sign controlled intersection in their neighborhood. The Judge instructed his son to tell him which cars stopped and which ones didn't.

The Judge related how his 5 year old son had positively identified with 100% accuracy which cars had stopped and which ones had not. The Judge then said, "If my 5 year old son can tell if a car stopped or didn't stop for a stop sign with 100% accuracy, I'm sure a well trained Police Officer is just if not more capable."

The court room was silent. Then the Judge threw up his hands and said, "Listen people, if you're speeding down a road and the police catch you speeding by the use of their radar or lidar, they got you, plain and simple, they got you."

The very next case the Judge called was mine. As is customary in our court I identified myself, "Good afternoon your Honor. I'm Officer 2WT, traffic officer for the South City Police Department. This matter concerns a lidar enforced speed violation......"


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This badge ain't made of tin

Many moons ago while I was still pushing a patrol car, working weekend graveyard, my beat partner and I would ride our motorcycles to work. Needless to say we'd be riding just a tad over the posted speed limit as evident from the sonic booms while breaking the sound barrier. My beat partner Philosophical Al never bothered getting his M1 endorsement.

Me, I wasn't any better. I had let my M1 endorsement lapse. Our department decided to start up a motor unit. We already had a traffic car. There was going to be two full time positions and two alternate motor positions. I had just gotten into a fender bender with a patrol car and didn't hold out too much hope of being selected.

I thought my chances were so slim that I actually turned in my letter for the position on department letter head and used crayon to write it out. I used my left hand and purposely misspelled words, wrote some letters backwards and the grammar was horrendous.

During line up (briefing, roll call or what ever you want to call it) our shift Sergeant would see our motorcycles parked in the PD parking lot. She'd ask Philosophical Al if he had gotten his M1 endorsement. Of course Al would take his pen out of his uniform shirt pocket and tap his badge and say "See this. This badge ain't made of tin." We'd all get a good chuckle out of his little statement.

Much to my surprise I was selected for an alternate motor position and thus began the turn in my law enforcement career of a patrol officer prankster to a part time motor officer prankster.

The police motorcycle operations school was fun, although I did get sick and tired of orange cones. 80 hours of slow speed turns and 40 mph deceleration drills.

After graduating from motor school, I resumed my weekend graveyard shift and no I wasn't wearing the "boots" but I was wearing my MOTOR WINGS! You betcha! I had earned that darned thing I was going to wear it.

The Traffic Sergeant (who has since retired in Hawaii) allowed me to ride in the morning to conduct some traffic enforcement on the motor which I totally loved!

One night while working my shift I was contacted by my shift Sergeant. It was evaluation time.... no problem, lots of self initiated activity, loads of DUI arrests.

Enter the patrol officer into the Sergeant's office and the first words I hear her say in a surprised and shocked tone, "You don't have an M1!?" My reply, "Uh, yeah, so, aaah, this badge ain't made of tin?....." I was forbidden to do anymore enforcement on the motor until I had gotten my M1 endorsement. Of course I wholeheartedly agreed! But it sure sucked.

When the Traffic Sergeant came in, my Sergeant had told him about the lack of an M1 endorsement. Needless to say when I ended my shift and was walking toward the locker room we crossed paths.....

Traffic Sergeant: "I thought you had an M1!"
Me: "I did have one but I let it lapse."
Traffic Sergeant: "How the hell did you get through motor school without an M1?"
Me: "You don't need one. It says you only need required safety gear."
Traffic Sergeant: "Bull Shit!"
Me: "No really Sarge, just safety gear."

Well he checked the POST (Peace Officer Standardized Training) website and looked up the motor school and was shocked that an M1 wasn't a requirement.

Luckily for me the Traffic Sergeant contacted the local DMV office and verified that my graduation certificate was enough to get the required M1 endorsement. He ordered me to take one of the motors just in case they made me take a riding proficiency test.

I walk into the local DMV office and contact the clerk my Traffic Sergeant had spoken with. I showed my motor school graduation certificate, had a new picture taken and given that temporary paper driver license with my M1 endorsement.

Later that year at our annual picnic, the officers I worked with made up a huge drivers license with an M1 and presented it to me.

So far, Al is still riding without an M1 because "This badge ain't made of tin."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

California Peace Officers Memorial

On Friday May 8, 2009, I was privileged to attend the California Peace Officers Memorial in Sacramento, CA. Myself and my motor partner whom I've worked the last 10 to 11 years with met up at a breakfast joint in Vacaville. That was our meeting point with the 6 strong motor unit from an adjoining Police Department.

So while we ate our hearty breakfasts' we noticed a Lieutenant, Sergeant and two Officers approaching the front door of the establishment. The front door happened to have some dark tint on it as one of the motor officers quickly went to the door and locked it. We all had a good laugh at their expense as they thought the business was closed (with a full parking lot) and turned to walk away. Of course we unlocked the door so they could have their fill of good food. Even on such a day, leave it to the motor officers to keep the humor going.

While I sat there eating my breakfast I could hear that familiar sound of "rolling thunder" as I watched groups of motor officers riding eastbound towards the State Capitol.

After breakfast we rode on I-80 eight deep making our own rolling thunder as car after car moved to the right to allow us to pass.

I along with my Sergeant and fellow motor partners met up at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento. At 9:00 AM sharp, the procession of police motorcycles and police vehicles began the slow ride / drive to the State Capitol. The police agencies who provide the traffic breaks to allow us an uninterrupted ride to the Capitol building always do an awesome job.

To see people standing along the streets with American flags, and signs of "thanks" as we slowly rode into downtown Sacramento is always an impressive sight. The mounted officers on horses were a sight to behold as we rode by.

Once arrived at the Memorial, our motors parked in neat rows we always bump into fellow colleagues whom we haven't seen for a while. It's kinda sad that on such a day old acquaintances and friendships are renewed.

The pipe and drum band began to play as we were all lined up along the walkway of the Capitol building. To see the family members of the fallen Officers being escorted by their fallen spouses Police Agency is somber. To watch their children be so strong and brave as they walk down with their parent, many wearing a Medal of Valor awarded to their fallen parent really brings home the sacrifice which these Officers made.

There walks a child who will miss all those memorable and important moments which would have been shared. As I watch this, I can feel a lump in my throat as I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache felt.

The fallen Officers names are read and added to the Memorial. I can hear the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace followed by the bugles playing Taps and then the 21 gun salute. We truly stand on hallowed ground as we honor the fallen Officers, their families, police agencies and friends.

As I stood there, I thought what a wonderful world it would be if we never added another fallen Officer's name to the Memorial, but thats not the world we live in. Hell I'd settle for just one year we didn't have to add someones name. It's too bad we live in a world where predators take advantage of the law abiding.....

....but thank god we have dedicated professionals who are willing to put themselves between those who need protecting from those who willingly do harm.