Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thanks Dad, and Happy Birthday!

What can I say about Dads,

They can be some of the most influential people in our lives. My Dad is the typical "old school" Dad, you know the type who supported the family working long hours. Dad always had something to impart upon me and believe it or not, a lot of it has stayed with me throughout the years.

My Dad is a 20+ year Navy Veteran. He enlisted near the end of the Korean War and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer at the end of the Vietnam War. I used to really enjoy the times he'd take me aboard whatever ship he was stationed on. I think it was those times that got me hooked and wanting to join the Navy as a youngster.

I tried the college thing for a while. It just didn't work. I did have a great grade point average considering my class schedule was something like this, English, jogging, architectural rendering, tennis, architectural graphics, swimming and racquetball. Pretty tough schedule huh.

Needless to say the class schedule didn't go over too well with Dad. Seeing that I was spinning my wheels I decided to follow in Dad's footsteps and enlisted in the US Navy. I worked my way up through the enlisted ranks and attained the rank of E-6 in 7 years.

I spent four and a half years of hell on a small gator freighter as an independent duty machinist. My son was born while I was stationed on that ship. Shortly after his birth I was deployed to the Western Pacific for 6 months. Seeing my infant son in his mother's arms as the ship pulled away from the pier was a heart breaker.

I decided then (with three years left in my second enlistment) that I was going to get out of the Navy and not watch my son grow up through pictures. It really wasn't a hard decision when the time came. Already half way to a retirement I weighed my decision and called my parents while they were on vacation. It was the hardest thing I've had to tell my Dad, especially since he was a "lifer".

Although my decision to get out of the Navy was not a popular one with Dad, he made no objection when I told him I wanted to get into Law Enforcement. I knew he was concerned about the inherent dangers of the profession but he never said anything to deter me.

My Dad always liked listening to some of the stories of calls for service handled and reached the same conclusions.... "some people really are that stupid aren't they."

The years went by, different assignments came and went. Then came the time when an announcement for 2 full time and 2 alternate motor officer positions became available for my department's anticipated motor unit. I had just been involved in a fender bender in one of our patrol cars and received the appropriate corrective counseling.

Thinking that I really didn't have a chance due to the recent faux pas in the patrol car, I wrote out a memo in crayon, writing in my left hand for one of the positions. By the time I had finished, it looked like a 1st grader had written it. Much to my surprise I was selected to be an alternate motor officer. I felt like I had just won the lottery. I've been wanting to be a motor cop since "Chips" was on t.v. Living up to the motor creed of R.A.L.B. (ridin' around looking bitchin'")

Well I just had to share this great news with Dad. I was surprised when Dad's response was pretty sour. He asked if I was crazy and why in the hell would I want to be a motor officer for. I told him it looked like a lot of fun.

Of course Dad pointed out that his friend, a retired motor sergeant from a local agency in the same county I work in told him it's the most dangerous day to day police job there is. I guess this Sergeant told my Dad about all of the horror stories about motor cops.

Dad never complained when I became a US Navy pilot rescue swimmer, never complained when I spent my last tour as a US Navy Shipboard Firefighting Instructor, never complained when I got into law enforcement.....

I had to point out to Dad that he was the one who bought me my first motorcycle at 8 years old and taught me how to ride it which caused my first brush with the law riding it on a public street (and getting caught by the pole-leece). Because of him I had this two-wheel bug in me. That kind of quieted him down (somewhat), but he still wasn't happy about my decision to attend a police motor academy.

I told him my gene for adventure had to come from somewhere.

So here I've been doing enforcement riding for 5 to 6 years now. I love what I do and consider myself to be the luckiest man in the world living my childhood dream. I know that there are very very few of us who can claim to be living the dream. Dad, I like to think that I'm a safe rider because of the early start you gave me on motorcycles.

So Dad, thank you for supporting my decisions even though I knew you felt at times that I was making the wrong ones. And as they say in the world of motor cops, I'll keep my head on a swivel, keeping the shiny side up and the rubber side down.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Monday, March 15, 2010


During the Christmas season I received a text message from a motor cop buddy of mine working several jurisdictions to the north of South City which read "Commence O.O.L.P."

Not knowing what the hell "O.O.L.P." meant, I sent a text back, "WTF?" (no explanation needed I hope). Next thing I hear is my phone ringing.

Not being in the "know", my buddy explained to me that every Christmas season they spend a lot of time checking the handicap parking stalls at their local shopping centers and malls to cite those drivers who are too lazy to walk and chose to park in a marked handicap stall meant for those who need them.

So I have since been educated and also spent time with the same thing in mind. Needless to say, I was able to write numerous citations for people parking in a handicapped parking spot without the required placard or license plate.

Oh yeah, "O.O.L.P.", Operation One Less Present...... HO! HO! HO!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Butt Cold + Puddles = ICE x OOPS = "photo op"

A few months ago we had a very cold spell out here on the west coast. I rode into the parking lot of the Police Department and noticed a puddle of water had frozen during the night chill. I told myself, "Watch out for that ice when you ride out of the parking lot."

So after the rest of the motor squad arrived, we decided to head out to our local coffee shop for our morning ritual before the morning salmon run of motorists.

Just like I told myself as I rode into the parking lot, I watched that frozen puddle. I watched it as it lined up with my front fender, as it passed beneath my front tire and then both tires were on the frozen puddle. Thankfully I was the last in line which prevented any others from "dropping" their motor.

Luckily I was riding at about 5 to 10 mph when the laws of physics came into play and a remedial lesson in gravity and the coefficient of friction came into play. My motor gently (if there's such a thing in laying down 700 lbs of steel and chrome) went down and slowly spun around 180 degrees before it came to a stop, and yes I was still in the saddle.

My buddies having the situational awareness of eagles, noticed the beam of my headlight striking the second floor windows of the neighboring building. My partners being the concerned friends they are, quickly turned around.

Of course they wouldn't think of making me upright my motorcycle by myself. They all quickly parked and dismounted their motors and saw that I was now standing next to my motor uninjured.

Now as if they had practiced precision drills at opening their saddle bags simultaneously, digital cameras were produced with blinding flashes going off for several seconds. Once the photo opportunity was completed, I was assisted with righting the motor.

Once all was in order, it was back to our usual morning ritual of coffee with some small talk to go with it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

All in the family

We have numerous duck ponds throughout South City. I guess that's one advantage of working in a larger city compared to a smaller one, meaning more cars on the road.

This one spot allows us to watch oncoming traffic as far away as 1,500 feet or more. When the cars don't appear to be speeding we'll watch them drive by and more times than not, end up seeing a driver on their cell phone or not wearing a seat belt.

Watching this one group of about 5 to 7 vehicles traveling toward my parked location, I noticed a small sedan drive by and saw that the right front passenger wasn't wearing their seat belt. Not wanting to miss a chance to "educate" the passenger, I quickly fire up the 103 cubic inch V-twin and quickly catch up to it.

I turned on the pretty flashing lights and notice the driver's seat belt is just hanging from the B-pillar instead of being worn. It's not too often that you catch two in one car.

After the car pulled over, I contacted the driver and obtained his driver license, vehicle registration and evidence of car insurance. After speaking with "Dad", I then contacted the adult daughter whom I initially spied not wearing her seat belt.

I got the usual story of them knowing a "friend" who was involved in a terrible vehicle collision and had they been wearing their seat belt they wouldn't be alive today.

My reply to that story I've heard so many times is, "Well I've never seen anybody killed in a vehicle collision where the cause of death was a direct result of wearing their seat belt."

Needless to say neither were happy about getting seat belt tickets, "Press hard 3 copies times two please."