Here is a hint, a tip of the trade for any criminals reading today’s blog: Don’t run and the police won’t chase you. Seems simple enough, right?
One night, on patrol, I was traveling down the main thoroughfare of my city, routine stuff. I noticed a man walking from a 7-11 store, holding a 12 pack of beer, he appeared to be about 35 years old. I would have kept right on driving save for the fact that when the guy saw my patrol unit he started sprinting! Looks interesting, I thought, so I gave chase and caught the guy about 3 blocks south of the store. “Why are you chasing me?” was his first comment to me.
People usually don’t sprint like an Olympian, in street clothes, while holding a 12 pack of Bud, I responded. The dispatcher came over the radio and stated the clerk at the 7-11 had just called 911 to report a theft. Is it a 12 pack of Bud, I asked? The dispatcher, now thinking I am super cop, described the culprit that stood before me.
Do you really need a beer that bad, I asked? “They charge more than the grocery store, it is a rip-off!” No, I said…you just did the ripping, not 7-11. I ran a check for warrants on the guy that came back clear. I decided not to arrest him, but instead issued him a misdemeanor theft ticket. I took the 12 pack, evidence you see, and set the guy walking back towards his house….no beer, but with a ticket and fine of about $250.00.
On the west side of town we had a trailer park that was adjacent to a major four lane highway. On night, after hours of drinking and partying….a man decided he desperately needed a cigarette…the tobacco kind. It was about 2am when he decided to cross the four lanes of traffic on unsteady feet. He did not make it.
Our officers arrived on the scene to find that approximately 7 cars had struck the guy…3 actually stopped and waited for us to investigate. His friends at the trailer park didn’t even know he had left the party…and couldn’t identify him…dental charts had to do the trick. What was left on the highway of the guy…well, adjectives won’t do it justice. Moral of that story? Cigarettes will kill you.
One day the dispatcher asked me to come to the station to take a theft report. I arrived and met with a blonde woman of about 40 years of age. She wanted to make a report that an unknown man had stolen $50.00 cash in the parking lot of the local Target store. Here is how she related the story: “I was in the parking lot and he asked me if I wanted to buy something…I gave him the money and he ran off. I want my money back or what I was buying. Fair is fair!” When I asked her what she was buying, she did not hesitate, “weed!”
This woman was so irritated at being taken or so blonde, she wasn’t processing the big picture. So you are volunteering to me that you were screwed on an illegal drug buy in my city? Is that what you want to say? The light bulb went off and I wish I had a picture of her face! Do you really want to report this theft today or do you just want to walk away? “Can I walk away?” I wished her a good evening and went inside for my dinner break. It reminded me of something my 7th grade English teacher did one day. He saw graffiti painted on the side of the school building that said, “SMOKE DOPE.” He wrote the two words on the chalkboard then added a well placed comma, “SMOKE, DOPE.”
I wonder if she was related to a kid I met on the first violator contact I ever had as a cop. I had my training officer with me and we were patrolling by a high school looking for truants. We saw a older Chevy sedan pulled up by some benches at a park about 5 blocks from the school. As we pulled up the windows went down and plumes of smoke exited all four windows. Four teenage males were inside the car. The smell took me back to the rock concerts of my own high school years.
My FTO (field training officer) was approaching the driver window and I walked up and stood at the right rear of the vehicle. As the FTO was inquiring if the boys had any pot in the car…the back right door started to open…ever so slowly. A hand came out and dumped a baggie of weed right on top of my left foot. The boy turned his head and noticed me for the first time! He tracked up from my shoe the entire length of my 5’11” frame and our eyes met….it was priceless. Being a cop was going to be fun I thought. Stupid is a growth industry and will provide me with life-long job security!
Fast forward 22 years….I got a new client five weeks ago and asked him to come to my office for a meeting. He was on probation for felony criminal mischief and got caught smoking weed at school. I asked him his goals in life, what did he want to be when he grew up? Answer: Bum. It was his birthday and he was sitting across the table from me stoned. I twisted off on him…letting him have it for over 30 minutes. His mother seemed stunned, but thanked me profusely afterwards.
We went to court yesterday and were able to get him into a drug treatment program for youth, plus probation. The young man that walked up and shook my hand was completely different in appearance and demeanor. He was neatly dressed and sober. I couldn’t believe the transformation! He thanked me and said he hadn’t drank or smoked pot since that day at my office. “I didn’t remember what it felt like to be sober.” He told me he had applied at 7 different stores and fast food places the previous day and was intent on finishing school…his mother had tears in her eyes.
I left the courthouse and got into my car. I closed my eyes and thanked my mother. I had channeled my mother that day when yelling at the poor kid. My sister Junene, actually gave me a bracelet after my mother died with the letters WWJD inscribed on it. Meaning no disrespect…she knew I would interpret it correctly…What Would Jewel Do? The kid was lucky I just used words that day and didn’t pull out the 60s model fly-swatter. A few grill marks on the rear-end could only help some of these junior criminals…even if it does reduce my future earnings.