Friday, November 09, 2007

Successful Enough

In only a couple of days, two favorite cop bloggers wrote on inventive ways of handling a tense situation.

In the PawPaw's House
installment of 7NOV2007, a veteran recalls the resolution of a would-be brawl with a formidable fighting drunk by application of the “Work Smart, Not Hard” paradigm.

And in a blog entry eititled “Wakey, wakey!” MattG
tells of how an inventive officer managed to awake a proven violent individual safely and defuse a potentially lethal situation.

The latter tale produced a rush of memory from 'way back when - - -

One early evening in the late 1980s, I met a new lady friend for drinks before dinner. Our drinks were ordered but hadn't arrived when my pager went off. I returned the call to a sergeant at a nearby small town police department. Seems they had red hot information on a major drug case pending and needed help moving on it RAT NOW. Their chief of police was seriously ill and literally couldn't leave his bed, their (only) investigator was out of state, and they literally had no one who could draw a search-and-arrest warrant affidavit. The sick chief and I were old pals and he said to ask me to lend a hand.

I explained to the lady friend that duty called and she could take her choice of a rain check on dinner, or she could tag along while I interviewed a couple of guys and wrote up an affidavit. She was an enthusiastic new social worker and wanted to come meet some new cops.

This job should have taken an hour of so, but there are always delays. I needed to interview the informants before I'd write the affidavit for the lead cop. Such a tale of drugs, violence, weapons including a machine gun, and a couple of well known outlaws! Over TWO hours later, the affidavit was finished, submitted to the judge, and the warrant signed. I gathered my briefcase, and went to shaking hands and wishing them good hunting. The sergeant asked me to take a phone call. It was the sick-unto-death police chief who asked me to please, help out his troops - - Organize the raid and go with them. He was frankly worried that he'd lose someone if things heated up.

Well, it's nice to be wanted, and to have a measure of respect. I offered my would-be girl friend my car keys to get home. She was a very good sport and insisted that she wanted to go along. Nope, sorry, impossible. Yeah, she was a public service employee, but no kind of peace officer. Can't do it. Okay, she'd stay in my car so that we could leave the scene as soon as things were secure.

The target residence was at one end of a mobile home park. We left the cars down the street and around a corner. One group went wide left and I took my three other guys round the corner and up the street in the dark. Shotguns, carbines, spare ammo - - It reminded me of the final reel of “The Wild Bunch.” One rookie cop was very eager to “kick the door.” "We'll see. Promise you won't until I give the word."

Perimeter secured, we went up on the front porch. I politely knocked on the door. “Who is it?”


“J who.”

“Aw, if you don't want my money, just forget it.” **scamper scamper** Door opens a crack, cautiously.

“Who - - “

NOW, Rook!” The door opened rapidly, knocking the inner guy back, the young officer fell to the floor, the sergeant and I stepped over them, announced, “Police officers with a warrant!” and set about securing the premises. A quick scan of the living room and two young men and two, uh, female persons were set upon the floor to be watched by the eager rookie. I slung my shotgun and went into the front bedroom, saw a lot of pills and some marihuana, and called the designated property logger-and-gatherer.

I heard shouting from the living room and went to see why the excitement. Officers from the perimeter team had entered and the back door was standing open, immediately to the right of the closed back bedroom door. “What's up, Sarge?”

“Guy in there says he just rents that room and says we got no right to come in.”

“Oh. Did you mention that we have an order from a judge to enter and search the entire premises?”

“Uh, yeah, but he's got the door locked and says he wants to go back to sleep. Can we, uh, . . . .?”

“Let me try. Hey, in there - - We're county and city peace officers with a warrant. Open this door at once!” The occupant suggested I engage in an improbable physical act.

“I'm going to count three! One!” CRASH! I weighed about two-forty in those days. The hollow core interior door was no real obstacle to my 13-D black sharkskin Tony Lama boot. The door facing splintered, the top hinge came loose, and there was a good deal of noise.

Two officers with flashlights illuminated the man face down on the bed until the light switch was located. He was well covered with a blanket. His face and both hands were buried in the pillow. I told him, “Mister, don't move an inch until I tell you.” I asked one of the officers to remove the blanket. The fairly large guy wore cut-off jeans. He was bigger and rougher looking than any other occupant.

I told him, “Now listen. You make only the moves I tell you to, okay? Alright, turn your head to the left and look at me. Good. This is a Remington twelve gauge. The safety is off. [A lie, actually.] Good, face forward. That's the muzzle resting between your shoulder blades. Please don't twitch. Now, when I tell you to, you slowly move your right hand out into the open, palm up. Move.” He did so. We repeated it with the left hand. I asked two officers to stand him up.

I was thinking, Well, that was all pretty melodramatic. I reached and flipped the pillow to the floor. On the dirty bottom sheet was a revolver - - A German-made copy of a Colt Single Action, caliber .357 magnum. The hammer was at full cock. It was loaded with three magnum and three .38 cartridges. A magnum was in the top center chamber. I asked that the evidence guy come and take a couple of photos. I went outside to light my pipe. It took about six matches.

The lady I'd left in my car was standing across the street, about thirty yards away. She had my binoculars and had been looking right in the back door. Walking back to the car, she said, “Well, that was pretty exciting.”

This would be a better story if the guy had been some prison escapee or a wanted murderer. Nope. He had a lengthy misdemeanor record: Theft, drugs, assault, resist arrest – but no felonies. Or, if I'd thought to finish the count after crashing into the bedroom. Or if there was a proper celebration with the new girl friend. We just had a sandwich at a Jack-in-the-Box and went to our respective apartments. Oh, well.

Five to jail, a few pounds of weed, a few hundred pills, some white powder, and one gun logged in. No bloodshed, no shots fired, no uneasy calls to the boss, no interviews with the Rangers or the Grand Jury. Something to laugh about in times to come. Not a BAD evening's work, really.


Don Gwinn said...

Now that's a war story.

(Insert obligatory derail here about War On Some Drugs, prohibition, blah blah blah. You've heard this before, you can fill in the blanks yourself.)

Makes you wonder what a guy like that is thinking. Does he think the cops will go away? Does he think he's going to shoot you, but his nerve breaks? Does he think if he acts like he's going back to sleep, maybe nobody will think to look under the pillow?
Or is he just sleeping with a cocked single-action under his pillow because he's a moron, and he can't think of anything to do when the cops arrive, so he stalls in a stupid fashion?

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Truth be told, how many plans actually work exactly as..... planned?

Training, good reactions, clear thinking if possible... Good things to have when the plan gets changed on the fly.

Sounds like a good job well done.

Tom said...

Five to jail, a few pounds of weed, a few hundred pills, some white powder, and one gun logged in. No bloodshed, no shots fired, no uneasy calls to the boss, no interviews with the Rangers or the Grand Jury. Something to laugh about in times to come. Not a BAD evening's work, really.


And, a few additional things I hope you realize but are just too humble to mention...........

The respect and love of your friend, the sick Chief, who you helped in his hour of need. The respect and admiration of everyone of the guys who went through that door with you. The knowledge that the job got done, and done right. And most importantly, everybody went home kissed their wife and hugged their kids in large part because of your knowledge and experience. These things are the true reward of law enforcement and they can be very useful to remember, especially when you look at the numbers on your paycheck.

There are times when I look around and I see my co-workers. I think what a privilege it is to be associated with such people and have the opportunity to do this job. Granted, there are some wherever you go that probably shouldn't be there, but for the most part the police are as good of folks as I've met anywhere. It truly is the greatest job on earth.

JPG said...

Replies to comments - -

Don - -
You'll have a hard time finding an old time cop who is more opposed to the way the War on (Some) Drugs is fought than yours truly. I've long advocated decriminalization, if not outright legalization, of practically all controlled substances. The details can wait for another day, but we manage to prosecute those who commit crimea under the influence of alcohol. Regulate it, tax it, make it legal to sell it over the counter only at licensed premises. Oh, and any person who delivers or sells drugs to any person under age 17 --not his own child-- gets ten years in prison, without possibility of probation or parole.

And what was the moron thinking? All I can figure is that he'd made his brag to those younger people - - "I ain't goin' back to jail. They'll have to KILL me, and I'm takin' some laws with me!" Yeah, right. Maybe, if they have the chance. Some of those blowhards picture a stand in a dusty street, a gun in each hand, going out in a blaze o' glory. Given a situation where it's suicidal to attempt to fire even ONE shot, most of 'em reconsider.

a good question. I'd say about half the plans work out pretty much as projected. The most successful ones are those with a minimum of personnel and very little complicated planning. I think the operation under discussion worked out well because, other than warrant preparation, we spent about ten minutes on the tactical plan and briefing, and used a grand total of --I think-- eight participants.

tom - -
Thanks very much for the nice words. May your job always be emotionally rewarding, and may you always be glad for the coworkers you have. Best of luck in your career.

Don Gwinn said...

Yeah, I thought it best to spare everyone the lecture. I know you better than that.

phlegmfatale said...

wow - mischief managed!

comatus said...

Well, not long ago I called LawDog a true professional--writer, that is--for what he did with the old fellow's hat-feather. I reckon those six matches for your pipe put you in the same category. It's not just a nice touch. It's how Ray Chandler would have told it.