Friday, February 5, 2010

Never Too Old

Any veteran copper knows to never take any situation for granted. Just because a suspect is handcuffed doesn't mean he is not still dangerous. A copper has to be ready to do battle at an moment's notice.

In the big city, normal conversation is used more often than the 10 series codes used by so many police departments. Telling an officer "a 10-33 in progress" will likely get a "say what?" response.

When an officer is in trouble and needs immediate help all he needs to say is "10-1" and his location. Every copper in the immediate area will fly to the aid of an officer in danger, no matter what agency it is that needs the help.

The other day one such call came over the air and when this big city copper got there there were eight or more officers already on the scene and the offender was on the floor being handcuffed. The situation was under control. Officers not involved drifted away and left the scene. It was in a third floor stairwell where the action had occurred so the arresting officer decided to use the elevator to take the prisoner down rather than walk him down the stairs. Another copper and I decided to stick around to make sure they got in the elevator okay.

The suspect had a friend waiting. The man saw his buddy being walked to the elevator and jumped at the leading officer punching and kicking at him. The handcuffed man head butted and kicked at the second officer. We trailed a few feet behind and saw it coming. I went at the handcuffed guy while the other copper chose the other guy. I was able to avoid his kicks and head butts and helped drag him back to the cement floor. After a brief but intense struggle he stopped fighting. The other coppers managed to control and subdue the second attacker.

We finally got the offenders down to the street and into separate cage cars. None of the officers suffered injuries. Unfortunately, I'll need a new pair of glasses. The frames broke and a lens cracked.

Well I was due a new pair anyway but I'm getting too old to be wrasslin' with bad guys! Hell I didn't even need to use glasses until I turned forty.

Until a copper stops working the street though, he 's never too old to step into crap when it's least expected.

And I'm not ready to give up the street yet.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More "good old days" action.

The team had been watching the dope house for days. One of the young officers had made several controlled "buys" and they had enough evidence for a search warrant.

The house was kept under surveillance while the team Sgt prepared the plan for the "home invasion" style raid. All the team officers were given their assignments both primary and contingency. The coppers were all experienced tactical officers who had raided many dope houses in the past. They knew every raid had to be precise yet fluid enough that any unknown obstacle could be overcome when necessary. The entry teams had to take the front and rear doors simultaneously as the support team created diversions at any windows. The take down team had to enter and secure any occupants upon entering. It all had to be done rapidly with the maximum effort to avoid casualties.

The undercover officer approached the house for one more "buy". This established the availability of narcotics in the house and increased the probability of a successful raid. The teams were staged and waiting for the "go" from the Sgt. The undercover officer was given a few minutes to leave the area then the signal was given.

The street and alley was suddenly filled with police cars as the teams rushed to their positions. The entry teams "knocked" on the doors with their sledge hammers and "chicago bars" (a pry bar used by police and fire personnel). The support teams smashed windows and announced their presence to discourage any escape attempts.

The front door team was having trouble. The door was solid and had a steel reinforced frame. The team leader radioed the problem. The copper assigned to the front basement window had gained entry. He jumped into the room and landed in front of a man who had been watching "Gomer Pyle" on TV. The shocked man jumped up from the couch and ran towards the rear of the basement. The copper heard the radio and realized he was the only copper in the house. All of the doors and windows had bars except for the one he had smashed open. He quickly radioed he was in and ran towards the rear with gun drawn and ready. The fleeing suspect was at the back of the basement trying to shove bags of dope out of the house through an opening in the wall. The copper challenged him, using the old ".45 held to the back of the head" method. The rest of the team had begun to come through the window and was rushing up the stairs to secure the remaining occupants. A large amount of dope was recovered. Several guns were stuffed into the couch cushions where three men had been seated. The ability to improvise and adapt resulted in a successful raid.

Numerous search warrants were served in this manner by the local district tactical teams. That was the old days. The big city police has since changed the way warrants are executed. The S.W.A.T. teams are full time dedicated positions and execute warrants on a daily basis. It's now definitely a young man's job.

It sure was fun though.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The good old days

We were waiting around before roll call the other day and, as coppers do, started to talk about the "old days." Coppers love to talk, especially, about the good times.

The stories were, properly embellished, funny as could be. Of course this led to the gory tales then the sad ones.

That's the trouble with opening up the memory vault, one never knows what will be stirred up. For me it was a pleasant mish mash of everything....

The early days of running and gunning before they thought of making the police account for their ammo.
The amazement of listening to white Irish guys speaking and understanding ghetto jive like it was their first language then reverting back without missing a breath.
Trying a pig ear sandwich one day, a jew town polish the next, then a bowl of menudo the day after that.
Giving good looking girls a ticket you can see them again in court.
Catching a wanted suspect then hearing him complain that I had violated the "code" by going after him on Sunday when he was walking his mother to church.
Seeing your first murder victim, then becoming jaded after ten or so.
Realizing what a bunch of liars police sometimes have to be to solve a problem.
Finding humor in the strangest places.
Finding out there are good honest people living full decent lives under the most trying circumstances.
Finding ways to help these good honest people whenever possible.
The real thrill of making an arrest that actually solves a crime and seeing the victim or the family happy.
Feeling the pain of loss when a fellow officer is hurt or killed.
Remembering how the number of officer's killed dropped dramatically after the city issued body armor.
Meeting girls.
Laughing about how, instead of bragging about women, we now discuss the last good meal we had and whether it was free or half price.
Meeting the president.
Realizing how much fun it is being the police.

Here are some leftover pictures from various episodes.
Against my own rules I posted my I D picture. I am second from the left in the first photo and in the background of the last one.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To Your Health

It was a crappy winter day as most days in January always are. The snow had been falling for the past two days. The roads were slippery and moving slow as, well, molasses in January.

The call comes from the station. A fellow officer, a sergeant actually, had gone to the emergency room with severe chest pains. He drove himself to the hospital while on patrol so it must have been fearful enough that he didn't call anybody, not even the dispatcher.

It took twenty minutes to drive two miles. Crappy weather, crappy road conditions, crappy thoughts. Most of the officers in the unit are veterans. That means years of street food, stress, and less than healthy lifestyles. Perfect heart attack conditions.

There were three of the guys at the E.R. already. Big city coppers. All ready for bad news.

"No wallet" says one. "Did you check his socks?" replied another. "He usually carries a "choke" on him somewhere. Didja see a money belt?" The third is writing "colonoscopy" on the status board next to the bed.

The ailing sergeant, awake and alert, laughs. "You guys are EFFIN vultures" "I ain't going anywhere!"

In the hard, cynical, and macho police world coppers won't admit they truly care about each other so they break the tension with their own unique humor.

The fates were smiling that day too. It wasn't a heart attack but it provided a wake up call for some of the guys.

Life's short enough as it is. Get healthy and stay healthy. Spend a little money on healthier food choices. Get some exercise.

You don't want some copper looking through YOUR clothes for that "choke" do you?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Call off the hounds, I'm back.

Returning from a nice long vacation, where I traveled to parts of the world that few ever think of visiting, I felt renewed, even happy to be back to work.

The natural cynicism of a big city copper meant when one got too much enjoyment out of something it had to break down, go bad, get ugly.

Tragedy struck the police family again and again, all around the country, Oakland, Seattle, Lakewood, Pittsburgh, heck everywhere, I suddenly felt my spirit go numb.

Going to work lost it's beauty.

This was a horrible experience.

The spirit, the beauty, of being a copper is what made it all worthwhile.

Every copper, deputy, officer, five oh, po po, detective, marshall, whatever you guys and girls call each other, knows what I mean.

The job can become a wicked ugly thing.

There has to be a sense of purpose, a love of the street, a craving for the adrenaline rush, for a good copper to survive the years and years of grief it takes to collect the pension.

Without a true love of the spirit and energy it takes to make the job the fulfilling vocation it should be, the evil can take over and ruin a copper's soul.

Fortunately, good friends, good coppers, and good sense revealed the demon to the light.

People noticed the Big City Copper blog was dormant. Questions where asked. "Where are you? Why are you so silent?"

You gotta love those friends that noticed these things and cared enough to say something.

I still love the job, just not so much any more.

The pension light is visible and not so far off in that tunnel.

I know now that I'm leaving the police world in 18 months or so. I'll be maxxed out in pension, wisdom, and spiritual effectiveness.

I'll miss it but health and sanity is a beautiful thing too.

For now though, I'm back.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A slow day

Every copper knows every day police work can be slow and filled with mundane tasks. That is what the big city copper has experienced since returning from vacation. Oh, the usual stuff goes on, like watching an SUV roll over trying to avoid the crash that was already blocking two lanes of traffic. The idiot barely looked up in time to avoid killing the responders already there. Like I said, every day stuff.

While most coppers are having a good day, others found the hands of fate needed to amuse themselves. Good honest officers found their fate in the hands of murderers. Lakewood, Washington followed closely by Pittsburgh Pa. had officers slain. There might even be more since I read the news last.

Is it a form of survivors guilt to feel bad? Being unable to attend the memorials of these guys saddened me. I sent a small token and prayers for the families instead.

I hope to continue having boring slow days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter and fire safety

The onset of cold weather reminded the big city copper of some of the worst memories of a copper's experience. Fires.

True, the fire department does all the fire fighting and are the usual "heroes" but more times than not it is a copper or two that are the first to arrive and get involved.

One night two young coppers were responding to a disturbance in a large apartment building. They stepped off the elevator and into a smoked filled hallway. They turned the corner and saw a bucket of tar with a mop. Further on was an apartment door on fire with the flames spreading to the ceiling. Seeing flames spreading across a ceiling was a shock. There had to be ten apartments on this floor and the building was at least twenty stories high.

They put in the emergency call for help and began to pound on apartment doors. The tenants, realizing the danger , began to gather their families and head for the stairs. Several helped to warn their neighbors.

The sound of sirens announced the arrival of help. The coppers went to the top floor and pounded on doors. They assisted as many people as they could find. The fire spread rapidly so the coppers had to get out.

The street was filled with fire equipment, ambulances, and police cars. The coppers had saved a few lives by their quick reactions. They were exhausted and had breathed in smoke so were driven to the hospital to get checked out.

The fire and evacuation was intense but the real trauma was in the ER. The coppers were taken immediately. A nurse approached with the nastiest looking needle the copper had ever seen. "This might hurt a little" was an understatement. She inserted the needle into the coppers wrist to obtain arterial blood in order to check for carbon monoxide. She missed the artery and had to look for it by moving the needle around while in the wrist. The most intense pain the copper had ever felt almost made him vomit. The code prevented him from crying like a little girl especially since the screams from the next room were from the copper's female partner.

The nurse finally ended the torture and got her blood. The copper went and puked in private. The partner wept without embarrassment. They had done their job and saved some lives. The boss said nice job. No medals or accolades, just respect from the guys and girls on the watch.

The worst part of fire jobs was the casualties. The firemen find them and bring them out but coppers do the paper job and follow up.

Seeing fire victims on the clean white gurney at the morgue didn't make it any easier to do the job. In order to see a body burned beyond recognition or children burst open like plumper hot dogs, a copper needed to flip the switch that let him step out of his self and be the professional he needed to be. When a copper suppressed all emotion, the experience was fascinating. The smell wasn't any worse than burnt meat and burned beyond recognition really meant what it implied. Gender identification was visibly impossible but every muscle was clearly visible.

Thank goodness for the ability to suppress emotions.

Practice and preach fire safety.


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